Urias and Uriah in tandem – Making the world a more loving place

Urie and Urie are twins. Their lives began in tandem with deeply connected minds. They share undeniable similarities and striking contrasts. Urias, born two minutes after his brother, was diagnosed with autism at an early age.

His barely eldest brother has been his greatest protector and defender since his earliest childhood. “They’ve always had their own language,” said Karen Williams, the twins’ mother. If Urias was in his crib or car seat and got angry, Uriah responded immediately. Uriah also reacted quickly when he heard Urias’ tiniest cry in the adjacent kindergarten room. He would simply stop what he was doing, cross the hall and comfort his brother. The teachers understood.

These 17-year-olds stay close. Uriah is a humble, people-oriented young man. Urias stands a little to the side, watches intently, then quickly warms up. Their two older siblings bring their own personalities and an abundance of support.

While Urias is considered “non-verbal” on the autism spectrum, his mother has a different perspective. “Talk to him, he’ll answer you,” she said.

Urias’ education began under Roanoke City’s REACH program, which provides special services for children with developmental delays or disabilities. He entered enCircle’s Minnick Main School when he was in middle school and later Minnick Vocational School where he excelled.

Urias’ parents described his development like this: “When he was a baby, he didn’t look at you. As he grew, he still gave you very little communication. Now he will look you straight in the eye and tell you, in his own way, exactly what he wants. Its independence alone is a success.

“Urias exceeded expectations,” commented Ashley Wittl-Osborne, assistant director of educational services at Minnick. “His confidence and sense of belonging are shown in a broad smile that has become his trademark.” Both parents agree that love – yes, love – is what made the difference in Urias’ progress.

“Everyone in the school system took the time to fit in with him beyond the classroom,” Urias’ father explained. “They came to the house for birthday parties and found ways to let him know they really cared about him. They did wonders to help raise him. You really need a village. “Urias feels the love,” his mother added. “He knows it’s there and he gravitates toward it.” With this solid foundation, there is room to grow, in all sorts of ways.

“Come and find out, Urias is a prankster,” his father said. “He loves jokes. We thought the other kids were the instigators, but Urias is the straw that stirs the drink!

Love leads the way. It provides guidance, gives strength and makes room for our humanity. It is the source of countless investments made by family, friends, educators and supporters. It manifests itself in moments of accomplishment. While Uriah and Urias may not have sat side by side at their high school graduation ceremony, love was the bridge in the room as they twirled their acorns — in tandem.

Minnick Schools, licensed by the Virginia Department of Education as private day schools, serves students from the Harrisonburg, Roanoke, Wytheville, Wise, and Bristol areas. The group helps students ages 5 to 22 who have struggled in public schools to achieve their academic, behavioral, career, and developmental goals. Their educational staff supports them so they can successfully return to their home public schools or transition to life after school.

– Cindy Adams / Encircle: https://encircleall.org/

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