Story

A boy with autism connects with the world in a Polo

Following her son Beckham’s diagnosis of autism, Lisa felt pulled to connect. So she used Marco Polo to foster a community of autism families. These were the people she could bond with, share information with, laugh and cry with. Then Beckham himself began using Marco Polo to communicate – with powerful results.

When our son, Beckham, was diagnosed with autism, I was already using Marco Polo with a friend. We were both stay-at-home moms with kids. Once our husbands headed off to work, we’d hop on and just check in or reach out when the kids were having meltdowns. We’d Polo each other just to say, Help me stay calm right now. It always eased the chaos. Without that interaction, it can feel really isolating to be home alone with the kids.

Connecting with friends became even more important when we received Beckham’s diagnosis. It didn’t change the way we saw our son. We love him just the same. But my husband and I realized it was going to dramatically change our lives, forever. There was no way we’d be able to do this on our own.

It was frightening. And my heart broke for Beckham. I feared that he would never have a normal life.

I know that every child is different. So every parent has a different set of challenges that are unique. Not everyone would be able to relate to what my husband and I were going through. And I really needed to connect with parents, with families, who understood firsthand what we were facing.

Family

Using Marco Polo as a way to connect with families of autism started with my friend, Miquelle, whose child has autism as well. Sometimes we just needed to gripe or vent. Sometimes we just needed the space to talk about the challenges, like, Oh my heck, Beckham was on the bus, and the driver had zero patience with him. Miquelle would Polo back, I totally get it. People just don’t understand what it’s like to have a child with autism.

Just hearing those words – I get it – seemed to let the air out. I felt heard. I felt understood. Otherwise you just feel alone in the moment. It’s all bottled up.

Soon we were connecting with an entire community on Marco Polo. We were able to tap into a group of people who we could rely on for advice. They’d walked similar roads. We could lean on these people, listen to their stories about autism, and help lift the fear around the situation.

Beckham is pretty non-verbal. We are starting to hear him form words now, but at three, he was way, way behind. But he loves technology, and he really loved jumping on Marco Polo with me and making his way around the app. He quickly realized Marco Polo could give him a way to talk to his dad. So he sings to his dad, and changes the voice filters.

Two dads and two boys

He especially loves talking over Marco Polo with his friend, Miles, from school. We can’t always understand what he’s saying to Miles but they seem to understand each other.

With autism you can have a hard time connecting. So it was an incredible moment when Beckham found a way to communicate. As limited as it is, he is connecting! And he even started to repeat words he learned while using Marco Polo.

We’ve gotten so much out of the app. It has created a bridge for so many of us facing otherwise isolating situations. Beyond reaching out to friends and building a community that supports one another through the challenges (and joys) of autism, our son has discovered a way to connect with the world around him. That is way beyond what I could have ever hoped for.

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