She is on a mission to help her son and others with the same condition.
Irisa Leverette is mom to 16-year-old Darius, who was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old.
Darius is considered nonverbal, but does say a few words, his mom told PIX11. He’s also an excellent cook and enjoys music.
“He knows all the ingredients that he wants to go in there. If I miss a step, he’s right on top of me,” she says.
To shine a light on the many challenges families like hers face, Leverette reached out to recording artist Nikki Paige on Instagram and asked her to create an anthem for autism — it’s called “Our Own Way.” The song was produced by two-time Grammy Award Winner, Timothy Bloom.
For Leverette, the words to the song hold special meaning.
She’s a professor by day and a warrior mom 24/7; she said the key to balancing it all is taking it step-by-step and day-by-day.
Paige, the artist behind the song, said growing up with a speech impediment, she can relate to the family in some ways, and saw project as a fun challenge.
The message is close to home for Leverette.
“I want people to hear the song. No matter what you’re doing in life, no matter who you are, I want you to know that it’s OK to be yourself, to live your life. Have an awesome life, no matter what challenges you have,” she said.
Leverette and Paige said they plan to donate all of the streaming earnings to the N.J. nonprofit organization WallynZavy’s Autistic Kids Can Do. The goal is to help other families with special needs children.
For more info on how people can donate, visit Darius and Irisa’s GoFundMe page.