Alumna Melody Jones honors son by spreading autism awareness

It was the mother of Alcorn State University alumna, Melody Jones, who noticed that there was something different about her son, Rylan. After taking heed to her mother’s observation, Jones sought medical attention to find out what was going on with her son. Once the doctors diagnosed Rylan with autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communication and interact with others, she was shocked by their conclusion. The news prompted her to research ways of properly caring for an autistic child.

“My mother was the first person to realize that things were not quite right with my son,” said Jones. “She has owned a daycare for 30 years and knows when children should reach certain milestones. My initial thought was ‘What?’ ‘Autism?’ I had never heard of it before and it was something I never expected to hear. It hit me like a ton of bricks. You know, when you’re getting ready to have a child, you pray that they’re healthy. It was very scary, but we immediately took action.”

Since the diagnosis, Jones has become a voice for autism awareness in her community. The Waynesboro, Mississippi native and 2005 Alcorn graduate started the organization, “ForRYSSake: Autism in Action,” which was established to assist parents and families in the Wayne County area whose children are affected by autism. The organization recently held the “Light it up Blue” breakfast and balloon release Saturday, April 2, which was World Autism Awareness day.

“Our goal is to provide support, education and community resources to those who desire assistance with acknowledging, coping and fostering autism.”

Because of her experience, Jones knows that there are others out there who are seeking ways to handle children who live with the disorder. She went into detail about why spreading awareness is vital.

“Autism awareness is important because so many people just don’t understand it. It can be hard to understand because most children with autism don’t have physical disabilities. An example would be if you saw a child in a store who’s on the floor kicking and screaming uncontrollably. You may think that the child is having a temper tantrum, but it may be an autistic child having a meltdown due to a certain smell, the noise around them or the way their clothing feels on them because of sensory issues. Often times, they may become over stimulated by their surroundings and they do not know how to handle it.”

“There are a multitude of things to be learned about this complex disorder. The more people learn, the more they can share with others and the cycle of learning will hopefully continue.”

Jones draws inspiration from her son’s journey with autism to lend a helping hand to others who can relate to her.

“Rylan inspires me in every way! Watching his struggles and accomplishments made me more thankful than ever to be his mother. I realized the lack of resources and information that I had when I found out about his diagnosis and wanted to be a bright light for other parents. I wanted to be able to tell my story and listen to theirs and together, find the best possible way to help our children.”

For more information on ForRYSsake” Autism in Action, call Jones at (601) 410-7300.

  • ForRYSSake resized.jpg
  • ForRYSSake resized 2.jpg