A Mother’s Thoughts about FMK

October 5, 2013

I had a column for this May 2011 issue, but I would like to let my subject matter wait a bit to make room for an article that meant a lot to me. So please read on and find out about a mother who has found great meaning and benefit in our school for her son. These words mean more to me than I can adequately express. Thank you Wendy. – Sensei Kushner.

By Wendy Schoelier, Extremely Proud Mother of James O’Bryan.

I have been wanting to write for the FMK newsletter for some time now but thought I would wait until April, and you will understand why after you read this.

After many attempts to get my son’s attention I was finally able to ask him, “What do you like about FMK?” This was his immediate response. “I like it!” I asked him again, “WHAT do you like?” “I like TAI-KYO-KU NIDAN. TAI-KYO-KU GODAN. (Yep I had to look that spelling up HAHA) “I like the exercises. My favorite kick is the crescent kick. I like the katas.” “Who do you like at FMK Jimmy?” “My favorite guy is Frank M. Kushner (Jimmy really does use his full name) and Joe. And Lily and Joe…Scoobers…Alias…and the guy with the purple belt.”

There were many more names mentioned but I couldn’t type fast enough. And then he went on to tell me that Frank was on TV with the ‘Move It’ kids on PBS and then started naming all the katas, grouped by belt, without taking a breath. Then he saw something on the TV that interested him and he was off. Anyone that knows Jimmy can hear him saying all this, exactly the way it is typed. You also know he has a great sense of humor, how smart he is and that he has an exceptional memory of events and languages. You also know how hard it is to keep his attention and keep him focused. You know he repeats a lot and says things out of context. What you may not know is this: Jimmy has Autism…

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today. In December 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 110 births in the United States and almost 1 in 70 boys. http://www.autismsource.org/

Some children do not speak at all, others speak in limited phrases or conversations, and some have relatively normal language development. Repetitive play skills and limited social skills are generally evident. Unusual responses to sensory information, such as loud noises and lights, are also common. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/pdd/pdd.htm

I felt comfortable from the minute I walked into the doors at FMK. Joe DiMacio was the first person I met and he was very informative, but more importantly, he was assuring. Jimmy’s dad and I decided to enroll him and he was hooked from the first day. Everyone is so helpful and patient while keeping Jimmy on task, which is what Jimmy needs. This kid works so hard every day at everything he does. He has come so far in the last couple of years. Frank is great with him. He is appropriately stern when needed and funny which thrills Jimmy and he thrives on that. FMK has given Jimmy some purpose in life with goals to reach, and role models worth looking up to. He loves it. I love it.

The hardest thing for this kid has been making connections with other people. We have all
worked very hard on getting Jimmy to the point of initiating a conversation. It breaks my heart when he says hi to people and they ignore him because he is a little different. Please, just say hello back to him. Not only is it respectful to do so, It helps him build his social skills, his self esteem, and it makes him so happy. I have never met a better group of people and I am so thrilled to be part of FMK.

Thanks for doing what you do with Jimmy. It does matter. April was Autism Awareness Month, For more information, please take a moment to check out what Autism is and how likely it is that it will touch your life in some way.