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Speaking volumes

by Archives October 19, 2005

At only three years of age, Julian Miozzi was diagnosed with a severe level of autism. Physicians told his mother and father that he would never be able to speak, understand or learn anything and that Julian would most likely be institutionalized by his 18th birthday.

No news could be more frightening for a parent. Nina Miozzi, Julian’s mother, recalls the day she found out what her son would be plagued with for the rest of his life. “I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t even know what it was,” she said. She looked over the information pamphlets the doctors had supplied her with and cried herself to sleep that night.

After contemplating the seriousness of the situation, Nina realized something had to be done. She and her husband devoted themselves to making Julian better. They decided to make sure Julian did all of the things the doctors said he would never be able to do.

At 12 years of age, Julian is now a sixth grade student at St. Paul Elementary School in Laval. He speaks, reads, writes and can even beat nearly every PlayStation game he is challenged with.

According Julian’s parents he is a miracle. “He’s inspirational. He’s the living proof that anything can happen and nobody can tell you that you can’t do anything,” said Nina.

The struggle for Julian was a perilous one. In order to teach Julian the basic motor skills that he was unable to use, Nina and Joe, Julian’s father, had to force Julian against his will. This was risky and difficult to do. Although they had the support of instructors and friends, the Miozzis wondered whether Julian would get better or would just feel tortured.

“I prayed so many nights, asking God if I was doing the right thing,” said Nina. It was so hard because he would scream and resist, but I knew in my heart that it was the only way to save him.”

Julian worked daily with a psychologist, his parents and tutors. Over time Julian’s instructors became more like family. They forced him to sit by physically restraining him. They set up a reward system. He would receive M&M chocolates for every correct word he repeated and would be denied the reward if he simply moaned and yelled.

Nina said that the Lovas Program was also an asset to Julian’s progress. “It was a tough program, but I urge every parent of an autistic child to stick with it.” she said.

The Lovas Program is a strict and rigid program designed to train autistic children. It was designed with an understanding that these children do not have the same comprehension skills as others and consists of extreme discipline that forces the child to understand.

Most of the training Julian underwent was videotaped for future analysis. When the footage is played for Julian now, he looks at the screen in awe. “How come I couldn’t do those things? Why am I not talking? It’s so easy!” he said, barely able to believe his own eyes.

More often than not Julian would be brought to tears during his training sessions. He resisted and fought, but after much work, Julian was finally able to speak. At that point, it was time for five-year-old Julian to start kindergarten. His parents enrolled him at an elementary school for special needs children. Julian was unable to grasp the concept of cutting along dotted lines. Again, Nina and Joe were told that he would simply never learn and they should be happy with the progress he had made.

Convinced their son could beat the odds, the Miozzis pulled Julian from the school and Nina began home-schooling him. Within two weeks, Julian was cutting along dotted lines. “I knew then that he was a miracle and nobody was going to tell me that my son couldn’t do anything,” she said.

In the spring of the following year, Nina decided her son needed to be integrated into mainstream society. She asked for him to be accepted into a public school and her request was declined. Having learned the word ‘no’ is never written in stone, Nina called up every major newspaper and television station she could think of. She gave numerous interviews and made several statements about the injustice her child was faced with. The spotlight on the school system was bright and uncomfortable and in September, Julian was admitted.

He was supervised by an educational aid and has since been progressing at a steady pace. According to his family, Julian has overcome adversity. He has proven that with every door that is shut, a window is opened.

Julian’s sister feels that his autism has been somewhat of a blessing.

“Julian has brought our family closer together,” she said. Julian feels he has come a long way. He knows he has worked very hard and must continue to strive for further progress.

At times, Julian must work his very hardest to accomplish what other children can do with minimal effort. The important thing, however, is that he can still do it. Julian accepts the challenge, knowing full well that it will be difficult.

The idea of hospitalization is now a far and distant memory to the Miozzi family and Julian is a spirited young boy filled with laughter, love and a tremendous zest for life.

Julian’s message to others is that no one has the right to tell you that you cannot do something. It’s somewhat ironic that the boy who was never supposed to speak is now speaking louder than life itself and showing everyone that the sky truly is the limit.

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