Victoria and Moses Rodriguez of Charlotte are the parents of two autistic sons, Moses Rodriguez Jr. and Maximus King Rodriguez. Along with sisters, Isabella Cortez and Ariana Rodriguez, the family is among those across the nation working hard to increase autism awareness and understanding in April and year round.
While their lives are sometimes filled with challenges, Victoria said it is not something she would change.
According to the Autism Society, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability. Signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.
Moses, also known as MJ, turned 8-years-old on April 14, while Max is 6-yearsold.
Max attends school in Charlotte, while MJ, who needs more assistance, attends school in Poteet.
When MJ was younger, his mother noticed he did not talk often.
“He would grunt and point. Actually, the one who pointed it out was my mom, Maria Garza,” said Victoria.
Maria used to work with special needs children.
Later on Victoria noticed similar characteristics in her other son.
“I went on the same process. I thought, if I know now, it will help them. Better to know when they are young, rather than waiting. I wanted to get as much information as I could, to help them in the future.”
Victoria wants others to understand that when they are out in public and notice how one son is extremely sensitive to noise, it is because of his autism. For example, at basketball games, she brings head phones to help drown out the noise and loud buzzers. Of the two sons, Max is more sensitive.
“Those can be our biggest challenges, as well as behavioral issues. They throw tantrums if they don’t get their way, but what little kid doesn’t?”
Victoria has also learned about the importance of patience.
“I can’t always have everything my way. With a lot of parents, you’ve got to listen to mom. In my situation, I have to feed off of them to see what is right for them,” Victoria said.
This semester, son MJ was moved from Poteet Elementary to Poteet Intermediate.
“He was a little bit above the other children. Since the beginning of this year, they’ve been doing Special Olympics. MJ is a little athlete.”
MJ will be participating in the upcoming Somerset Bulldog Relay and later the Atascosa-McMullen Cooperative Special Olympics on May 10, which will move to Jourdanton this year.
Son Max amazed his parents earlier this year, when he learned the Russian alphabet.
“He can even say it for you,” said Victoria.
When it comes to birthdays, she prefers that the family celebrates at home. At home, her sons are more comfortable.
“If we go to parties, we are fine, but they want to be the first to do things,” Victoria said.
As for eating, Max has issues when it comes to texture. He also has to eat the same thing every day. Each day his mom packs his lunchbox- a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, package of Lay’s potato chips, Fruit Gushers and Kool-Aid Jammers Juice.
When Max comes home, he wants five Dinosaur nuggets.
“He has to have it, to a T. We have to count it out, or he flips out.”
MJ, however, does not have any food issues and is not a picky eater. He eats a variety of foods and loves lettuce, other veggies and fruit. The family calls him a little rabbit.
Victoria thanks both Charlotte ISD and Poteet ISD and her sons’ teachers for their assistance.
“Max’s teacher Amy Lopez has been a big impact, and my mom and mother-in-law. So have MJ’s teachers Mrs. Wagner and Fannie Guerra, who helps at Special Olympics.”
Max and MJ are always excited to visit their grandparents and other relatives.
Victoria does not want anyone to feel sorry for them, as she knows they are all truly blessed. She encourages others to light it up blue and make a difference.