BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– When Chuki Naylor received a diagnosis of autism for her then two-year-old son Dante she said it was like having the life knocked out of her.
“You have dreams and goals and aspirations attached to your perfect Gerber baby and in that moment she said he has special needs, all of those dreams felt like they died.”
But she was determined to find different avenues for him to develop important skills, making sure his life was filled with faith and love, the same as her neurotypical older son.
“We were going to figure out how to not have autism be a marquee feature in our lives. Certainly, it would be a part of our lives, but when you saw my son, and you speak to my son, it would not be a situation where every time you saw him you would say he was autistic.”
After a scary experience where Dante wandered off inside of a story but luckily made his way to the customer service desk, she started documenting her struggles and triumphs on Facebook, creating the #Kingof Ausome.
“He would do something, or something would happen, a major life event positive or negative and I would write a social media story as a way to decompress.”
She soon received so much support that she decided to write a book and in 2020 released “Unexpectedly Ausome: Parenting a child on the spectrum with Love and Faith.”
“The first thing I would say is give yourself a break, it’s not your fault. Autism is a beautiful exception to the ordinary because it’s the only thing in my opinion, that truly makes a person unique.”
The book gives tips on how to get services for children with special needs and how to cope with behaviors using faith, love, and celebrating the little victories. Naylor says she hopes that in sharing her journey, she can help other parents find joy in raising a child that is unique in all the best ways.
“We all want to be set apart and different, but as a parent, we really get the honor and privilege to raise someone who is truly different. And if you can’t find a way to celebrate that you’re going to miss a lot.”
Kelly Khatib is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.