University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

The Shaw Family

Mom and young boy laughing in front of colorful wall
Our typical day is beautifully chaotic.

Arianna and Parrish Shaw have two sons, Amaren and Arden, and their typical day is "beautifully chaotic." When he was two years old, Amaren was diagnosed with autism. "I'm an 'on the go' person," said Arianna. "So I had to learn how to slow down for him." Following his diagnosis, Amaren received occupational therapy and along with his mother, completed Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. He had an Individualized Education Plan for a while, but able to achieve all his goals, so the plan was discontinued.

Amaren's parents have always encouraged him to participate in activities that interest him including engineering camp, wildlife camp, swimming lessons, and soccer. Arianna applied for "summerships," grants, and scholarships to fund some of these activities. "The public library is our second home," said Arianna. "We make weekly trips to find books about Amaren's new interests." 

Amaren is in first grade and is doing well, but he still has challenges. He won't eat a lot of food with textures, including meat, fruits, and vegetables. "And he can't get wet," said Arianna. "The other day he got a drop of water on the wrist of his shirt and insisted that he had to change." Arianna attributes Amaren's success to the early interventions he received and the support of her extended family. "My hopes are that he never lets anyone determine what he's capable of," said Arianna. "His dream is to be a train engineer, doctor, or police officer."

Boy smiling at the camera in libraryMom and sons walking through tunnel