By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Johnathon Chubbs marks his fourth year delivering Four Points News newspapers each week to businesses in Steiner Ranch.
He is a local fixture at his “second home” at Cups & Cones where he faithfully rolls more than 40 papers to hand-deliver every week.
“He loves C&C and his Steiner Ranch family,” said Sherise Hunter, Chubbs mom. “He takes great pride in delivering the newspapers.”
He also maintains the bookshelves at the eatery for Viper Nation Academic Booster’s book swap program, and helps make lunches for athletic and band programs requesting meals from Cups & Cones.
Although not easy, Chubbs loves his work and does everything with an attendant since he was diagnosed early in life with pervasive developmental disorder which is on the autism spectrum. He is verbal but communicates more through a letter board, which is used to spell out words.
Chubbs, 24, graduated in 2018 from Vista Ridge HS where he earned his letter jacket in choir.
He has been a longtime fan of the Longhorns, Cowboys and Saints. “He loves eating out, gospel music, walking and dancing,” Hunter said of her son.
Chubbs attends informal classes at the University of Texas for adults with disabilities. He is also currently a citizen of BIG Light in Georgetown where he continues to develop his talents in the arts “and tries not to eat the cookies,” his mom added with a smile.
“He loves his job there,” Hunter said. “For him it’s not about the money but the new friendships, acceptance and purpose.”
Hunter has learned a lot from raising a child with special needs. She shares some of her insights on the opportunity in this Four Points News Q&A.
1) What are some of the things that make Johnathon Chubbs so amazing?
Johnathon lives life confidently and unapologetically embracing his disability. He has a warm, gentle and happy personality with a smile that melts your soul and calms all your fears.
He loves unconditionally – his love is not demanding, just simply giving. Even when you feel like you are failing or in pain, without a word, with the smallest of gestures (coming closer, extending a hand, forehead to forehead touch) — he gives hope.
The most amazing message he has letter-boarded was the shift from “I wish I did not know I had Autism. It makes me doubt myself and my intelligence.” to “Autism is in the eyes of others – I am perfect!”.
2) What is your perspective as a parent on raising a child with special needs?
As a parent of a child with special needs, the most important thing for me was to keep dreaming and exploring opportunities. As with all children, we pray and dream about them being successful. We enable them by finding the right tools and resources to make it happen. So for special needs parents it’s ARDs instead of simply report cards. It’s potential therapies instead of cheerleading or football. It’s budgeting for trusts/guardianship vs college.
We tap into their God-given gifts to help them find purpose. Try not to be frightened by statistics/numbers or overwhelmed by new terms. Each journey is different — filled with wild turns, unexpected stops, disappointments yet breakthroughs around the corner. Focus on the yesses. Let the downs be the springboard for the next up!!
3) Some days it takes more fortitude than others. What are some of your tips for other parents in general?
Create your village of support with teachers, doctors, friends and family.
Education yourself as much as you can — but in small bites. Sometimes you can plan for years. Sometimes you need to get through the season and just that day. Remember to exhale. Continue to build a plan with “sticky notes” — flexible, changeable and moveable.
They are many resources to tap into: Autism Society, Texas Parent 2 Parent, Transition Fairs, Special Needs Alliance, and attending Special Needs Forums hosted by Nickerson Law Group.
Also find a team of doctors/therapist that support specific needs. We were blessed in having most of Johnathon’s teachers engaged in his life all his life.
Enough cannot be said about the Leander ISD support staff, teachers, aids, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, janitors… they all are key in creating a safe and positive environment for your child. Get to know them. Stay engaged with them in building the plan, contribute, advocate and own it where your child can’t.
We’re just embarking on the journey beyond graduation. It seemed so far away from elementary school.
When young, the key is to begin gathering information on the beyond, to be better prepared for what is to come. So, for me, there are still sticky notes and God’s plans for Johnathon’s life. Jeremiah 29:11 – “”For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
4) What are some of Johnathon’s favorite things to do?
Johnathon’s favorite thing to do is GO — anywhere, anytime and with anybody. He loves eating out, gospel music, walking and dancing. Johnathon has lots of interests and hobbies. Johnathon enjoys the Disney and Harry Potter Theme Parks in Orlando, Schlitterbahn Water Parks in New Braunfels, Galveston and South Padre Island and attends Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans.
He loves riding airplanes and staying in hotels. Johnathon likes video games, puzzles, reading, horseback riding, swimming, bike riding and pictures. He is a fan of the Longhorns, Cowboys and Saints.
His top three favorite foods are cheeseburgers, chicken and waffles and chopped beef sandwiches. And of course, desserts… strawberry smoothies, chocolate covered strawberries, french fries and cake.