Spotlight on Special Thinker: Raiden

Today we meet Raiden, son of Rachel Reynolds (Ms. Rachel’s Rainbow Room blog).

My Son Raiden

Raiden has taught me so much. He has taught me to enjoy the simple things in life. He has taught me about honesty. He teaches me to celebrate daily, no matter how small. He teaches me to dance. He is the most authentic and beautiful person I know. He only sees good in people. He gives compliments like it is going out of style. His smile lights up a room. IF you need a hug, this is your guy. Raiden has made me a better person. He has changed my life. 

Raiden loves to travel. Staying in hotels is the best thing in the world to him. He has certain criteria for a “good hotel”. It has have a FREE HOT BREAKFAST (even though he eats a bagel and cream cheese), it must have a business center (so he can print off points of interest- like bridges and buildings with cool elevators), it must have an elevator (his other passion), and POOL. Once he called various hotels asking questions. I think he made over 200 phone calls in one night. We found out when we received the high phone bill. 

ELEVATORS!!! This guy is crazy for elevators. He watches elevator videos on youtube. Yes, there are tons of videos about elevators. Who knew? He knows all the brands and can tell you what brand they are just by looking at the shape of buttons, placement etc. One of his science projects was about elevators. He collects elevator parts and I want to make a pretend elevator in his room using these parts. 

BRIDGES!!! Bridges are another one of his passions and was one of his science projects too. haha. When, we go on trips we look up cool bridges that we can go over. Sometimes, we will go out of our way to find a bridge for Raiden. He really enjoys the beauty of these bridges. Who is to blame him. They really are beautiful. He wants to go over the Golden Gate Bridge one day. He has a poster of it. I can’t wait to take him. 

PIZZA!!!! Yeah, I know lots of people love pizza. But, Raiden really loves pizza. This kid can eat some pizza. He loves finding little hole in the wall pizza places when we travel. His favorite in our area is “Dewey’s”  and “Pogolino’s” and in my home town Columbia, MO he loves Shakespeare’s and Gumby’s. 

Raiden is 15 years old now and is in high school. He has had so many accomplishments over the years. He began therapies at 11 months old. He was diagnosed with autism right before he turned 3. He was late doing everything. He had to work so hard to do the things that come naturally to a lot of children. We shed many tears along side him as we worked so hard doing therapies in and out of the home. He had speech, language, OT, PT, & ABA. He was nonverbal for awhile. Then, we only heard his voice during his flashcard time. I plastered the house with pictures. I put pictures and labels on everything. I love hearing his voice!!! It became our fun game. As we ran around the house naming the pictures. Certain tactile sensory was so hard for Raiden. I remember placing him in a bucket of rice and brushing him with each diaper change. I remember him crying in the sand box. Then, the joy of seeing him laughing and giggling one day while he was throwing sand in the air and it was getting in his hair. I remember him crying when the grass touched him, then giggling as the grass tickled him. He was so scared to walk. He liked being close to the ground and crawling. We gave him “magic shoes” that we had him fitted for. They squeezed his legs and provided him pressure so he could feel his legs while he learned to walk. Swinging was always his thing. He loves to swing. He loves water and always loved bath time. He still does. He will fill the tub all the way to the top and lay down so his nose and eyeballs are out of the water. I can hear him talking in the bath tub. I stand on the other side of the door listening to what he is saying. Sometimes, he is reciting shows. Many times he is reciting our conversations. He listens to what I say to him, more than I realize sometimes. He talks about bridges he wants to see and places he wants to travel to. My heart just oozes with love for this kid. 

He is kind of realizing things are a little different for him. But, he can’t quite articulate it. Recently, we were in DisneyWorld. We went to a 4-D movie, (A Bug’s Life). I thought he would love it. Not so much. He was squeezing my head, pulling on my ear and yelling. We left. My husband told Raiden he shouldn’t hurt me. He asked him what was wrong. He told us that he didn’t like it, that he is autistic. It was the first time he said something like that. We asked him what that meant to him. He was upset and yelled, “I have no idea.”. Sometimes, that is how I feel. I have no idea. I wouldn’t say this journey gets easier. But, it’s definitely interesting and its our journey. I have laughed, cried, been angry, but most of all I’m just in awe of this kid. 

Yes, Raiden has made me a different person. A better person. He has taught me what really matters in life. I dance, I smell those roses, I smile. I look into his eyes and I feel love. He doesn’t have to say it, he radiates it. He is my son. I have devoted my life to him and teaching children with autism. I will make this a better place for our babies. That is my goal in life. I want to make a difference. 
Rachel Reynolds 
Mom of Raiden & Raena 
& Autism Teacher 
Rachel, thank you so much for sharing Raiden with us today – You are one amazing mom and he is one amazing boy! 🙂

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