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Different OK with Bastian PDF Print E-mail
Friday, May 24, 2013 12:11 AM

BY NANCY SPENCER

Herald Editor

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DELPHOS — For many students, graduating from high school can seem effortless. They take the tumultuous rite of passage in stride. Adam Bastian had to work at it — and work some more.

Bastian was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests, in second grade. His parents, Dan and Sandy Bastian, knew their youngest son was different but once armed with a diagnosis, they were able to teach their son — and themselves — to deal with it.

 

“Once we realized why he was different, we knew how to build on his strengths and work on his weaknesses,” Sandy said. “It used to be an event just to take him to the grocery store. He would get very upset. Little did I know, all I had to do was tell him what was going to happen. Once he knows the routine, he’s fine.”

 

The young man, who is now set to graduate with the Jefferson High School class of 2013 on June 1, has no illusions that he has to work a little harder to get where he wants to be.

“My biggest problem is socialization,” he said. “Change makes me nervous and I don’t like it if it’s not my usual routine.”

High school math teacher Stephanie Braun is his favorite teacher and his biggest fan.

“I’ve had Adam in class since the eighth grade. I struggled to know how to talk about his condition to other students but it helped them understand him better,” Braun said. “We all know when something’s different and when you make it OK, it’s still different but the kids accepted him.”

Adam appreciates Braun because she seems to “get him.”

“She gives me extra time on tests and gives me the confidence to do well,” he said.

The Bastians pushed for their son to be put on an Individual Education Program to guide the support and services Adam needed to be a productive student. After he received an IEP, teachers learned how to assist Adam to be successful in his studies.

“Once we had Adam on a detailed IEP, the teachers knew what to expect and how to help Adam learn. He’s really smart and that was re-inforced when he passed all five sections of the Ohio Graduation Test the first time when he was a sophomore. He even excelled on Social Studies portion.” Braun said. “He’s good on the computer and is currently working on the Senior Presentation for awards day. He’s worked for everything he’s gotten. Nothing comes easy but he doesn’t give up.”

Braun and Adam often work on crossword puzzles together and if they can’t, she might find one on her desk with the tougher answers filled in.

Another of Adam’s accomplishments is perfect attendance in high school. Sandy explained that for Adam, the saying “miss a day, miss a lot” is too true.

“It would be more stressful on him to miss than to go school not feeling well, so he went every day,” she said.

Another tool the Bastians used to help their son was the Equestrian Therapy Program at Fassett Farm in Cridersville.

“He went in kicking and screaming at age 5 and we made bets he’d never go back. Now we can’t keep him away from there,” Sandy said with a laugh.

Adam still rides and now volunteers his time to help care for and exercise the horses. He earned his driver’s license to gain independence so he could drive himself to the farm whenever he wants.

“The program has given me confidence,” Adam said. “My horses are my family.”

His favorites are Emma, a Gyspy Vanner; and Bjorn, a Norwegian Fjord.

Adam’s dream is to become a horse leader and help others overcome their challenges.

Sandy and her husband have been very open about their son’s Asperger’s and after his diagnosis, never considered pulling from his home school to be educated somewhere else.

“We never even thought to take him out of Jefferson,” she said. “It’s what he knew.”

After graduation, Adam will make the drive to the barns in Cridersville as often as he can and spend time with his dog, Millie Mae, who may have given the family it’s most important lesson.

“She came to us a stray and I’m just sure she was abused in some way. I think she barked for the first two weeks we had her and now she’s a good dog,” Sandy said. “She taught Adam that you don’t get rid of people or things because they don’t work out at first.”

Adam still has many challenges ahead and Sandy says they’ll meet each one as they come. For her son, the future is open.

“College is still on the horizon but on hold for now,” she said. “His senior year was very stressful. It will all work out. The most important thing is that Adam has accepted that he’s different and he’s OK with it.”

Last Updated on Friday, May 24, 2013 12:23 AM
 

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