COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) - Lavinia Magee decided to get her son, Jaylen, tested for disabilities when he was only three years old.
“He wasn’t responding to when we called his name. He wasn’t making any sounds. That’s when the red flags started. ‘Let’s get him tested and see what’s going on,’” said Magee.
Jaylen was diagnosed with Autism, a neurological disorder that affects a person’s developmental skills.
Since discovering his disorder, Jaylen has received special schooling for people with autism. He attends Columbia High School and graduated in 2019, but, because of his disorder, the school system will allow him to remain until he is 21.
Jaylen has also attended a special program for autistic kids at the University of Southern Mississippi, to which his Lavinia accredits much of his success and progression
“He knows how to groom himself, put on clothes and fix his own microwavable foods,” said Magee.
Having a child who is Autistic is not easy. Lavinia remembers her challenges.
“He’s been through a lot,” Lavinia said. “I have been through a lot as a mom. My life was put on hold and I sometimes asked God what I did to deserve a child. I was very envious of people who had a normal child and could do things with their kids but with Jaylen, I couldn’t do that because loud noise and stuff like that would trigger him and people would look and stare.”
Lavinia has overcome many of the feelings she had during the early stages, and now she wants people to understand her son the way that she does.
“A lot of people, when we’re out in public, they think he’s just a bad kid and they stare. But if people were to come and just ask questions, I’d be willing to tell them,” says Magee.
Lavinia’s sister, Lia, feels the same.
“A lot of people look at special needs kids as if they are different, or something is wrong with them. It’s just that we have to learn how to get inside of their world see how they look at things and look at their perspective,” said Lia. “You have to get to know them in order to learn them, to communicate with them.”
Lavinia has mentioned how important a support system is for parents like her with autistic children
“I have a great, great, support system,” said Lavinia. “My mom, my sisters. Although without them I don’t know, I don’t know.”
When times get low, Lavinia always remembers a quote that her mom once told her.
“My mom told me, ‘God gives those kinds of kids to special people,’ and I believe in that, and that’s why I have to. That’s what pushed me to keep going.”