Mother hopes to publish children’s book soon
Ivory Sims has taught her son Dryston so much since she welcomed him into the world five years ago, but she says her “little ball of energy” has taught her just as much, if not more.
“You couldn’t imagine the things he can teach you,” Sims said.
The St. Rose woman and budding author has been on a journey along with her son during that time that many could not fully understand. Dryston was diagnosed with autism when he was approximately two years old, meaning his path with his single mother wouldn’t and couldn’t be a traditional one.
“He’s taught me patience,” Sims said. “Even though he has autism, he has taught me so much how to handle myself and other people … he’s made me realize things will be OK, as long as I take my time, and everything will work out.”
Her experiences with her son have inspired her to write a book, called “Dryston, it’s ok,” for autistic children. She’s finished the book and is working to have it published.
“The book deals with how autistic children have trouble sometimes dealing with mistakes or when things don’t go a certain way. Things that seem small to us can be big to them. But talking to your child, they get what you’re saying to them, and you’re telling him that it’s OK, it’s OK.
“The theme is really about that idea of knowing things will be alright,” Sims said. “That we’re all human, and sometimes we go through things. But we can do it. Ultimately, we can do it.”
Dryston is nonverbal—approximately 30 percent of people diagnosed with autism never learn to speak more than a few words. Those with autism can be prone to bursts of distress or emotion that can be difficult to manage — not limited to children —for both the afflicted and their guardian or companion at a given time.
Sims said the latter such times can feel lonely.
“You go to the store, and he has an episode or outburst … people start looking at you and wondering, ‘What’s wrong with him,’ or ‘Why can’t she handle her kid,’ and look at you funny,” Sims said. “They think, ‘oh, she’s horrible.’
“They don’t understand what you have to go through or what your child is going through. You can’t treat your child like every other child. This child is special. It takes time and effort.”
Sims began to have concerns about Dryston’s development when he was 10 months old because he was having difficulty crawling, then at the age of one he wasn’t learning to speak at the expected pace. She had his hearing checked out, and it was “perfect.” She was referred to an early steps program, and at that point the prospect of autism was discussed.
“When he turned two, we had him evaluated, which we had to do to explore enrolling him in school early,” Sims said. “And, sure enough, they said he had autism.”
It was an emotional trial for her.
“I bawled. I asked what did I do wrong in my pregnancy … I felt like I did everything correctly, but I thought it had to be my fault,” she said, choking up as she recalled that time period. “The people who did the evaluation said, ‘no, you did nothing wrong,’ but I didn’t want to hear it and wouldn’t accept it for awhile. These were just the cards we were dealt. It taught me how strong I am as a woman.”
As hard as the news was to hear, she’d never trade the boy who is her world and inspiration.
“He a Mickey Mouse lover … he’s full on athletic,” she said. “He’s jumping around … no nap. No nap at all. He refuses. He’s my little ball of energy. When I don’t have it, he gives it to me. He makes sure I have it.”
Her book has been accepted by Fulton Books, a publisher in Pennsylvania. The news came as a thrill to her, but she’s still attempting to make ends meet financially to fulfill her fees in the proposed contract, which would enable the publisher to promote the book at both national and international fairs, have it sold in stores like Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.com among other services. She’s begun a GoFundMe (titled Dreams of being a published author) to that end.
“I got the news and had a pretty joyous feeling for a good week, but once they sent the contract, it felt like a bit of reality slapping me in the face. So I know now everything’s set except for finances, but they assured me when I’m ready, the offer will be there and we’ll get it done.”
She believes it will be, that confidence and patience perhaps largely owed to her inspiration.
“I remember having an issue awhile ago … being a single mother and trying to juggle bills, and I was upset,” she said. “He was looking for me, and when he found me, he tells me, ‘Mommy, it’s OK.’
“When your non-verbal child opens his mouth and actually says that to you, you know you’ve gotta take the medicine that you give. We teach one another about patience.”
- In 2018 the CDC determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
- Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
- 31% of children with ASD have an intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] <70), 25% are in the borderline range (IQ 71–85), and 44% have IQ scores in the average to above average range (i.e., IQ >85).
- Early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development and deliver benefits across the lifespan.
- There is no medical detection for autism.