Ty Three Ribbons

Another year has gone by ,
time to write about Ty Ry.
His birthday is approaching soon,
the living room will be filled with balloons.
This year he may be in the room,
or he may opt to be a little cocoon.
It is not that he is rude,
it just depends on his mood.
Sometimes he hates all the noise,
Unlike so many other boys.
Ty finds joy in simple things,
Like listening to other people sing,
Things that give him joy,
Are not wrapped up like toys.
They are gifts from the heart,
This sets him apart.
His needs are many,
His wants are few.
When he tries to lead you by the hand,
Don’t ignore his lead,
His hand is his way to plead,
"Walk with me, help me grow, 
       I have seeds to sow.
           You may find that  I am a key
                 In another way God wants you to see
                         What a wonderful world this can be!"

Another year has gone by and my grandson’s birthday is approaching. It seems only fitting that I would write, once more, about our special Ty Ryan Glasmeier.  This is not simply about an adorable little boy with autism.  It is about a million of children he represents with the same diagnosis. His story is probably not that much different. But yet, since it is my grandson, it feels much more personal and unique to me, he seems more special.  What grandmother doesn’t have a bias towards her grandchildren?   

Often times, as I watch Ty play or run to me with his smile on his face this year, I can’t believe that a grandma can love a little boy as intensely inside as I love him sometimes.  That is something new this year, a greeting with a smile.  For a long time, smiles did not grace his face.  He now kisses often those he is near when asked to do so.  It is a wonderful big step in our lives, and his. He has become so affectionate, thanks to his parents working diligently with him on accepting touching.

 Funny how your heart can love a child  and yet hurt at the same exact time.  I watch him and want so much for him and yet, my mind tells me  grandmothers that have autistic children feel the exact same way about their special grandchildren as I do. They know, with increased funding, research and therapy for these children, the sky is the limit.  They pray, as I do, for advancement and miracles. They want others to understand and to care also.  Autism is a hard thing to understand when you have no direct exposure to a child with it or an adult, especially when many can’t  speak or express what they feel or go through day in and day out.  Those of us that have an inkling, as none of us truly know, must try to make a voice, and put a face to autism. Ty has a face, he is the face of autism.

Last night, a new American Idol was crowned.  I read his life was forever changed. Our lives were forever changed with Ty’s birth and subsequent diagnosis.  The young man who won the coveted award, Philip Phillips, for American Idol gets a tremendous amount of money and a recording contract. Meanwhile, my son and daughter-in-law  get  to take their son to therapy sessions.  The joy they experience is much different than sitting at a recording studio. Phillip hears great playbacks but my kids greatest joy is when the therapist comes running out and tells them of a great stride Ty made in therapy in any given day! Then a phone call comes later in the day to tell Grandma the latest new step in his development so we can all celebrate another victory.   

The money frivolously given on reality television shows  gets spent  on promoting themselves.  My children’s goal is to come up with over $15,000 one day to buy Ty a service dog.  Right now, some of the best coveted therapies are not covered by insurance policies.  This limits the doors open Ty, the days he can spend in a special type of therapy that benefits him the most. But we treasure the  windows of opportunities that are presented to him just the same. Ty has taught us all more about life than anyone we have ever known; small steps matter,  joining hands for a common good is Christianity at its best.

For many years, I detested celebrities that took on social and political issues. I must say, with the influx of bullying going on, my attitude has forever changed. This issue has become epidemic and too many children are dying and suffering daily. My daughter in law forwarded to me that horrendous story making the news this year of the child bullied for being autistic. Our hearts were heavy with the mere thought of someone so vulnerable being made fun of by someone trusted and respected.  We all thought of not only Ty in the future but every one of the million autistic child and adults in our society.  Vulnerable people are already at a disadvantage.   Society tolerating this type of behavior is unfathomable, for anyone. Whether you are a Lady Gaga fan or not, how can you not respect a celebrity who puts all of her efforts behind promoting and embracing this issue.  She is driven towards making a difference and denouncing bullying and admitting she too was bullied throughout her life.  Our differences are blessings not curses. This is true of autism also.  We can learn from those that are different, that is why we are different.

While the whole world listened to news of Whitney Houston’s death, it was in close proximity to my daughter in law having a tear filled moment of her own. After a exceptional productive therapy session Ty had with his therapist , my daughter-in-law was told her Ty had uttered five words out of the blue. This is the same little boy who was never supposed to speak.   He may never say them again but for that day, he had, out of the blue, spoken.    Her heart sang.  As she drove home, cars around were riveted to news about Houston dying.  I imagine some drivers were teary eyed like her.  But her silent tears flowing from her face were from gazing at her darling little boy in the car seat from the back view mirror as she beamed with pride at the joy of learning he was uttering audible words.  Her Ty Ry continues to surprise her.  His love has no boundaries of his mommy as he stares back at her, oblivious of why she is crying  but he senses she loves him intently.   Ah, what a wonderful world we live in!

Political debates are continually being played on television. Healthcare issues are always front and center.  My son works in the healthcare field as a independent family dentist.   The debates are  heated on these healthcare issues, and affect small business owners such as my son.   My son could be paying more attention to this on a Saturday. But here he is,  out in a soccer field with his son Ty at an Easter egg hunt. Ty is unnerved by crowds so to help him stay calm but still participate and not miss the moment, his dad is with him.   Dad and son walk, hand in hand.  He lets his young son walk him, where ever and whichever direction Ty would like to go. Not a care in the world, this proud father lets his small but determined two year old son lead him at will.  Very few eggs or candy get picked up and that seems to matter little to the father, only that his son is smiling and they are together.   

See, autistic children don’t always like to be led and if forced to be led, at times, they can throw a fit.  The debaters on TV could learn from my son,  something about compromise.  Sometimes it is not about who is right but about learning that sometimes it is better to follow and get something done than being the leader and spending all your time fighting.   Pick your battles wisely.  Then you can focus on getting things done.  And thus, make the world more harmonious. 

The news focuses daily on gossip, scandal and celebrities.    We have our business news, our sports heroes and our updates on stock trades.   Our family has our news too, of Ty regularly. It consists of the good therapy days, mastery of a new skill set that has been worked on for quite some time, a new program Ty is eligible for, an additional sign language symbol he is using, and behavioral changes.   And we too have our hero, it is that same small fellow, a little boy who is never far from our thoughts and prayers.  He is representative of so many others in society. 

 Our hero  doesn’t really change from day to day. It remains the same little person. He just gets a little bit bigger, a little brighter over time and continues to amaze us, teach us about life and  about ourselves. He is oblivious to the effect he has on us .  Ty Ry doesn’t even ask for any recognition. Ty Ry doesn’t want to be the center of attention, he will avoid it.   I understand, by nature, autistic children and adults don’t want to be.  We all need to respect that BUT they need support. Their families and their therapists need our support.   Not enough is being done in this area.  Take note, please.  The numbers are staggering.  Ty is only one of many.   I pray Ty is a vessel for that to happen, a catalyst for change.

Happy Birthday Ty;  you make the world more beautiful!
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