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Trusting God through the challenges of autism

Raven Brown is on a journey of faith, hope and love that began with heartache and now is flowing on a river of hope and success.

Inspiring Brown’s courageous venture into endless possibilities is something she initially thought was the beginning of her end – autism.

To celebrate Autism Awareness Month in April, Brown told a compelling story about the power of love and the joy of accepting and embracing a once-despised diagnosis.

Smart, vivacious, and creative, Brown is a popular, charming young woman who is poised and socially astute.

While visiting her grandmother in Clarksdale, Mississippi, she met a young man who was immediately smitten with her.

And that’s how this journey began:

Gerald Pegues met Raven Brown, and the two became inseparable. Their relationship flourished, Brown got pregnant, and the couple welcomed a baby girl.

They named her “Genesis” for she was the beginning of their “happily ever after.”

But new parenthood went off-script when Brown took Genesis’ for her 12-month, check-up.

“The doctor asked me questions like, ‘Is she trying to pull up?’ and ‘Is she saying ‘mama’ or ‘da-da’?’ I wanted to say ‘yes,’” said Brown. “But the truth was my baby was not pulling up or trying to say words. It was then that Genesis was diagnosed with autism.”

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or autism, is a complex neurological and developmental disorder that affects how a person acts, communicates, learns, and interacts with others.

Because it affects a child’s development, ASD is called a developmental disorder. ASD can last throughout a person’s life.

Social skills and personal interaction with others are most often delayed. Sometimes, there is a tendency to exhibit repetitive behaviors.

“I started to feel like, ‘Why did God do this to me?’ ‘Why did it have to happen to my baby?’ I cried and I cried. I cried everyday for the next three years.

“Genesis was non-verbal. I sheltered my baby. I kept her hidden away from everyone because I did not want her to be hurt by some insensitive person.”

Brown continued, “Thank God for a Christian mother. I have a praying mother and auntie, whose faith strengthened me through those initial, dark days. When my own faith faltered, they were there.

“Praying mothers have always gotten future generations through hardship. I thank God for my two prayer warriors. They got our family through.”

God heard prayer, Brown said.  When Genesis turned 4, something amazing happened. Genesis experienced a burst of verbalization. She was no longer non-verbal.

“It’s like she started talking, and she never stopped,” said Brown. “It’s hard to get her to stop talking sometimes now.”

Faith and family make the Pegues-Brown household a wholesome place. Pictured from left are: Dad-Gerald Pegues, Rhyliee Pegues, 3, Raven Brown, and Genesis Pegues. (Courtesy Photo)

Genesis grew and developed but lagged a couple of years behind children her age. But Brown discovered that Genesis is extremely artistic.

Genesis commands a mastery of sketching and coloring well beyond her years.

On July 2, 2022, Frogs & Lillies, a boutique for children, opened at 6099 Mt. Moriah Road Ext., and Brown centers the business around Genesis.

The 7-year-old has designed a line of vibrantly colored t-shirts that express her giftedness. The line is called, “I Am Me.”

Genesis designs her t-shirts for children who have autism, down syndrome, and other disabilities that prevent youngsters from developing on the normal scale.

“I have learned to step back and let Genesis speak for herself,” said Brown. “She has her own voice, and she can express herself through her art. Genesis has a memory that is extraordinary. She will do well in her studies moving forward.”

Raven Brown and her daughter, Genesis Pegues, 7, are business partners. Brown’s boutique, “Frogs and Lillies,” markets a T-shirt line designed by Genesis called, “I Am Me.” (Courtesy photo)

Brown has matured into a patient, knowledgeable, and intuitive mother of two incredible daughters.

She is giving the world fair warning:

“Expect great things from her brilliant daughters,” Brown said, “especially the budding entrepreneur.

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