Tag Archives: autism awareness

Autism Awareness Month

This is late in coming, but I’ve had some trouble finding my inner-blog for a while and I still wanted to get the word out there…even though it is the end of April!  But I hope y’all will appreciate my feeble attempt to share what is a big part of our lives with you! 

Fourteen years ago, our lives changed forever…we became parents to the most beautiful baby boy ever born.  Five years after that, our world was rocked in a way I will never be able to adequately describe here.  We have been blessed beyond measure and experienced the depths of sorrow.  We have celebrated victories and walked through challenges.  We have cried, but more often we have laughed.

In April of 2000, our son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism.

April is Autism Awareness Month

So, what, exactly, do I want you to be aware of?  What do I want you to know about my son and others like him?

  • 1 in 150 births are affected—this makes autism more common than pediatric cancer, juvenile diabetes and AIDS combined.
  • 1 – 1.5 million Americans are living with autism
  • autism is the fastest growing developmental disability
  • every 20 minutes, a child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder
  • autism is disproportionately more common in boys than in girls
  • the cause, though often speculated about, is unknown and there is no cure

People with autism experience challenges in three primary areas—social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors.  These challenges vary in severity from mild to debilitating.  There is a huge amount of information on the web now about Autism, PDD, and Asperger’s Syndrome.

What I want people to remember most of all is that people with autism are people.  People who want to be loved, understood and accepted.  People who have gifts and talents to offer the world. 

This is a video I made last year for Autism Awareness Month…thought I’d share it here again.

 

 

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A refreshing slice of aspie, indeed.

 

 

"We are not puzzles. We are people." ~lastcrazyhorn

————–

 

I have been off the blog wagon lately.  Seems like things have been very busy and I haven’t just had time to sit and blog it out.  So,  I am having lots of blog fodder swirling around in my brain and I may just have to break it down into some separate blogs.  SO much going on! 

*Hmm.  What to choose, what to choose*

Something cool happened to me last week. 

Just as Jacob is working his way through the beginnings of puberty and we are readdressing some challenges that he has experienced in the past, autism awareness month comes along and I am searching cyberspace for some good quotes regarding autism.  *POOF*  I was led here.  This is the blog of lastcrazyhorn. Her blog is titled "Odd One Out: Reality with a refreshing slice of aspie".  She is a woman who has Asperger’s.  She, and many folks similarly diagnosed, refer to themselves as "Aspies".  I kinda like it myself.  😉 She is a graduate student studying music therapy.  She is not only a musician, but an artist as well.  Be sure and check out her drawing for Autism Awareness Month–very cool.  Check out her blog–she has some great things to share.  And lots of Asperger’s/autism resources! (Thanks for allowing me to give you a SHOUT OUT, lastcrazyhorn!)

I don’t believe in accidents or coincidence.  It is not a coinkydink that I came across her blog.  When I commented on her blog and asked for some suggestions with Jacob, she was so gracious to reply.  Her insight into some of the things Jacob is dealing with is invaluable–since she has personal experience!  She is the real deal.

Here are some of the things she shared with me, after I expressed my concerns about Jacob coming to a place of self-acceptance :

"Acceptance of one’s Aspie qualities truly starts with true acceptance of one’s self. I developed that before I ever discovered the aspie part of the deal.

I worked intensively on this for one summer, and have made it a continued part of my existence ever since (that makes it a time period of about 4 years).

First I established what I things in life I knew to be true–what aspects of the world that I believed in (I went really simple at first, starting with gravity). From there I worked up into who I trusted, what I believed about the world, what I knew to be true of myself.

Next, I followed up by telling myself I loved myself every day, but I didn’t leave it at that; no, I told myself that I loved myself, but I also said why. I gave myself examples to look at, and in turn, I started to see those examples in real time in real life.

I think this might be an aspie thing, because I’ve talked with a few others here and there about it. It’s not enough to say something like "I love you," without explaining why, because so often in life, it is proven to us that people will say one thing, but then do a completely different thing. Not saying that this applies to you personally, but I think that’s just how the thought pattern gets established."

I really, I mean, REALLY, loved this:

"Humans are like pieces of art.  Some of us are dull, predictable, standard . . . and then there are aspies.  We challenge the standard.  We invent new colors.  We change the perspectives of our viewers.  We highlight the details that you thought were unimportant.  Our ideas last from century to century, while the standard pieces get shoved away in the basement.  To call an aspie "defective" is like calling Picasso’s cubism style "defective."  Sure, it’s different, and not everyone understands it, but it is known far and wide as his style, and while it is often imitated, it is only infrequently mastered." 

WOW. WOW.

She also suggested some helpful links, and in the spirit of autism awareness month, I thought I’d pass them along as well.

The Gray Center for learning and understanding.  This is a great article called "The Discovery of Aspie Criteria".

Top Ten Traits of Autistic People

Wrong Planet. This is a website, as lastcrazyhorn put it, with a whole bunch of aspies, all experiencing the same sorts of things.

-Lastcrazyhorn is studying music therapy.  Here’s what she had to say about it:

"Music therapy is a type of therapy that helps treat the entire person, in a non-invasive way.  I think for aspies, music therapy’s main two benefits are the release of otherwise unspeakable/nameable emotions and then also some extra social skills training (they often do this through drum circles; an experience that requires some give and take on the parts of those involved). 
Of course, I’m in grad school for music therapy.  On one hand, you could say I’m biased towards it; but on the other hand, you could say that I just know what I’m talking about.  Also, music therapy has been shown to especially have a good effect (usually–there’s always the exceptions) for people on the autistic spectrum.  Besides, music therapy is just fun." 

These are just a few things she shared with me.  But she has shared even more…more than I think she knows.  For me, she has become an unexpected friend, an ally in our journey into the spectrum.  Someone who has truly given me "a refreshing slice of aspie"…and I think it is really yummy.  Thanks.  Here’s to YOU, lastcrazyhorn.

 

 

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Autism speaks. Let’s listen.

 

 

First I would like say thanks for all the allergy well wishes!  Thanks to my new over-the-counter friend, Zyr*tec, I am feeling MUCHO better.  It took about 4 days after starting the medicine, but it really did the trick.  My eye finally stopped crying and now I am just dealing with the aftermath of that…skin that is dry and patchy and trying to regenerate!  Ha!

On a more serious note…

Today, April 2nd, is the very first World Autism Awareness Day.  April is Autism Awareness Month. 

“Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.”  ~Autism Speaks

Eight years ago, almost to the day, my son, Jacob was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism.  Though it was a shock at the time, we know we are incredibly blessed to have this gifted child as our son.  I see his giftedness.  But many don’t.  This is why I feel spreading awareness about autism is so important. 

Autism is a hidden disability.  Because children with autism look like everyone else, they are often mistaken by “well-meaning onlookers”, who have perfect children, as a disciplinary issue that could easily be solved by a good solid butt-whoopin’.  Oh, that it could be that simple.

Chances are, you have encountered someone with autism. 

Next time you see a kid having a meltdown at your local Super Wal*Mart, think twice before you pass judgment on that kid and his mom.  Think twice before you offer free advice to her about her parenting skills.  Perhaps instead you can be understanding.  Be aware of the possibility that there is something more going on.  Maybe the crying baby on the next aisle has assaulted his sensitive ears to the point where he is screaming and falling down boneless on the floor.  What is just background noise to you may very well be causing physical pain to an autistic child and without the ability to verbally express what is upsetting him, he reacts the only way he can.  It’s probably not because his mom won’t let him get the Cap’n Crunch he likes for breakfast.

The social cues that you and I naturally pick up on are foreign concepts that have to be taught to those with autism.  Something so natural as responding when someone speaks to you, for example.  Or turn taking in a conversation.  He may have no friends.  He may react wildly when he loses a game of checkers.  He may never be invited to birthday parties.  He may scream and tear up a test he made a mistake on.  Or he may not speak at all. 

He may learn to tie his shoes and ride a bike.  He may one day say, “I love you, Mom.”  Maybe one day he’ll let you see into his world.

Or he may be the first chair trumpet.  He may be the math whiz.  He may have 500 Pokemon cards or be able to name every brand of vacuum cleaner ever produced.  He may be a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  He may have composed famous symphonies.  He may have been a famous physicist or a famous author.  You just never know. 

Don’t underestimate persons with autism, try to understand. 

“Autism is about having a pure heart and being very sensitive… It is about finding a way to survive in an overwhelming, confusing world… It is about developing differently, in a different pace and with different leaps.

Autistic beings develop and bloom if their spirits, talents and self-esteem are not destroyed by bullies, prejudice, ‘doggie-training’, and being forced to be ‘normal’.”  ~Trisha Van Berkel

For more information about autism:  Autism Speaks, OASIS: Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support, Autism Society of America

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