April is Autism Awareness Month. In honor of Autism Awareness and our extraordinary Autistic girl, I have decided to share some of my thoughts on the subject, by starting this blog.
Welcome to Our journey through the life of Autism, please come walk with us through the unknown door, down the untrodden path and through a world of possibilities. This blog will serve as my way of embracing our differences and attempting to show the bright side of Special Needs. I feel that beliefs/thoughts/treatments on Autism are as broad as the Spectrum itself. I typically choose not to discuss my Autistic views in cyber-space, because it is so hard to determine the tone of the cyber-word, and because I respect other’s opinions and choices on how to handle Autism Spectrum Disorder.
How we choose to handle Autism in our house, which is right for us, does not mean it is right for any other family. Personally, we feel Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a simple black and white issue, but is one of the biggest gray areas that has ever existed. Therefore, we feel that judging others on how they choose to deal with the big A is unjust and unfair. We have not walked in other families’ shoes, just as they have not walked in ours, so we cannot and should not judge each other. Each and every one of us are doing the best we can for our children and family, we should support each other in that journey, regardless of the different paths traveled to get there. In the end, we can say we did it our way, we are proud of that way, and our children will stand tall based on the foundation we gave them.
Whether you agree or disagree with our feelings and beliefs, please keep in mind that I am simply sharing our personal thoughts, feelings and beliefs, on our approach to dealing with the big A. It is not easy, and some days I am angry, frustrated and downright exhausted. However, I don’t let it keep me down; I tell myself the same thing I tell my daughter: “I know its hard and its okay to feel the way you feel, but now its time to help yourself feel better.” Together we can always feel better and even smile, if not laugh out loud. I can only hope that this may help people understand our life better, and perhaps help others who may have a difficult, but rewarding, journey as well. May God Bless us all with the strength, love and faith we need to help us along our path.
To begin with, be informed, I have always been a bookworm, and love lots of facts and data on subjects. We have read several books, countless articles, and done endless hours of online research. We have talked to family & friends who may be in similar situations, done their own research, or simply want to understand and help. We have talked to various members of the medical community. We are greatly involved in our daughter’s schooling and therapies. I love talking to other parents and seeing and hearing their thoughts and approach when it come to life and the Big A.
Evaluation, Research, Trial/Error, and then even more Evaluations of our situation and methods are almost a daily part of our life. Therefore, make No Mistake, we are Not uneducated, uniformed, ignorant or in denial. We have the same facts and information that the rest of the world has in relation to ASD. However, our interpretation of that information may be different than others. Please remember different does not mean less.
For every medical study or research project out there, I feel you can give 5 people the same exact information and you will receive 5 different views and/or interpretations of that data. It is simple human nature that we see and hear what we want/choose/expect to see and hear. The recent coverage of the CDC report regarding ASD in our nation is a great example. Upon reviewing the raw data versus what was presented to the public via the media, I found the reports to be misleading and confusing. The information distributed to the general public does not appear to accurately represent the purpose of the study, nor does it provide thorough enough data to support/explain the conclusions being broadcast. This is a prime example of why we believe that the best thing to do for our family is to arm ourselves with as much information as possible (from all viewpoints, even the ones we may not necessarily agree with), because that is how you learn and grow. We then use all the knowledge combined with our gut feelings, beliefs and theories to decide which course of action best suits our family and the goals we are trying to achieve for our children.
Our Story…Our Oldest Angel was always different and not on the same page as “typical” children her age. When we finally admitted that fact, we sought out help and answers. On November 1, 2011 we received THE ANSWER, it was not the one we wanted, but the one we knew was coming, and the one we needed, Autistic Disorder. Although we knew it was coming, I was devastated. I cried and mourned for the simple life I had prayed our girl would have. The thought of her having to work at least twice as hard as everyone else was horrible to me. Now as time has passed and the Big A has become our new way of life, I do not mourn as much. God does not give us more than we can handle, and he chooses different paths for each of us. Perhaps our oldest daughter may encounter more hills and mountains on her journey in life, and it may not be easy, but she will be strong and have faith. She will also have us there every step of the way to help her, and in the end, regardless of the paths, the journey will be magical and memorable. She is a blessing and a miracle. We know her path will be as extraordinary, unique and amazing as she is. Autism…..imagine the possibilities!
For those of us trying to understand Autism, I can almost guarantee that you will end up playing the “Who, What, Where, Why and When of ASD.” We did, to an extent, but in our household, we feel those questions are no longer important. Dwelling on the past and the events leading up to our diagnosis day, and playing the “what-if game”, will not change them. We feel our valuable time and energy are better put to use learning about our Angel and all her special needs. Following her cues, gives us the ability to help our oldest daughter in the best way possible to overcome weaknesses, build upon strengths, and learn how to independently navigate this world. Our main concern is, assisting our Autistic Girl in reaching her God-Given Potential. We believe our Angel was born with Autism, and therefore does not need to be cured, fixed or recovered. She just needs to be accepted for who she is, an awesome little girl, who has much to offer this world. Our Beautiful, Intelligent, Funny, Autistic Girl is perfect and exactly the person God intended her to be. She is a blessing to us and to all who know her. I look forward to watching her grow into a young woman and am filled with pride and anticipation at the endless possibilities she has in her life. A life that she will live being proud of who she is, including her ASD which simply makes her more unique and more special!
Our Thoughts…Spiritually, we believe God created our Autistic Angel with ASD for a reason. She is perfectly different and all her differences make her that much more special and lovable. Although we have our bad days where the big A can make life almost miserable, and I am not sure how will we survive the day, something always happens to bring out the wondrous joy of life! There are always negatives and difficulties in life, but we choose to concentrate on the positives and lessons/growing experiences through thankful hearts.
Physically, we think there are at least three main components of ASD: 1) a genetic predisposition, 2) A weak or compromised immune system and 3) environmental factors (vaccines, medicines, supplements, foods, toxins, injuries, etc…). We think #1 plays a huge part in how #2 & #3 will affect your system. Our oldest daughter has always had a weaker immune system, but we are using supplements to help her system build strength, and are seeing some wonderful results. Whatever environmental factors contributed to her behaviors and symptoms becoming more pronounced, I am thankful for them. Without her symptoms becoming more noticeable we may have waited even longer to get her the help she needed. I simply cannot say enough about Early Intervention and finding the right therapies for your Autistic child. Our daughter is blossoming before our eyes, and some days all I can do is smile, thank God and shed tears of joy. Our Angel is going to change the world and show them just how Awesome Autism can be!
Some of you may ask where our youngest “Typical” Angel fits in our Autistic World. She falls right where she belongs; beside her mommy, daddy and big sister. We walk our journey side-by-side, as a family filled with love, hope & faith. Thus far, our second daughter appears to be typically developing by society’s standards. Now she has her own unique behaviors, but we are not sure they indicate anything at this point in her life. We will continue to monitor her development and, if the need arises, we will seek answers for her as well. Until we are given any cause to believe that she has special needs, we will treat her as a “typical” child with her own developmental time-line.
Be prepared for the unexpected…Society may look at us and pass judgment on us, but we will not let their stereotypes and closed-mindedness change the love and pride we have in our hearts and home. As parents of a special needs child, you learn very quickly that people may snicker behind your back or give you dirty looks in the grocery store. Sometimes it is hard to handle and it makes me sad, but I try to smile and keep moving forward. As our girl gets older, we will need to teach her that different is not less, and to never let anyone make her feel badly, because she has so much to be proud of. Everyone, especially parents, has experience in the “comments made by virtually every well-meaning person in your life” arena. As parents of a child with special needs, you get more than your share. Some comments help, hurt, frustrate, or amuse. We always try to keep in mind that these people are usually attempting to help and mean no harm, so we say Thank You for your concern and advice, and then we do what is in our family’s best interest.
Regardless of what a child is labeled, they are their own person. Every child is a blessing and brings many gifts to this world. Every child develops at his/her own pace and blossoms at different times. We choose to let our children dictate the pace of life in our household. Together, we know when each girl is ready for their next step on life’s path. Many people may not understand our approach to parenting and/or Autism. Some may even mistake our different approach for misinformed, undisciplined, lackadaisical, and/or basic poor parenting. We cannot change how people feel or believe, and although it hurts to be viewed in a negative manner at times, it is simply their thoughts and is not a true reflection of our life. We are not perfect, and we make more mistakes then I care to admit sometimes, but we are all learning together. In the end, all we need is to watch and cuddle our happy, healthy girls to know we are doing the best we can and they are the better for it.
Growing Stronger Together…Our world can only grow through diversity and the attempt to understand those who are different. We live our lives for our children and strive to make them the strongest, kindest, loving, and self-respecting girls/women they can be. If something we do confuses you, please Ask us about it. We are always happy to talk about our life and explain why we do things a certain way. I love when people actually want to discuss the big A, normalcy, parenting, etc… The more you know about my children the better you can have realistic expectations of them. The more realistic your expectations, the better your patience and the more you love and take joy in their wonderfully unique personalities. The more you love them unconditionally and embrace their differences, strengths, and weakness, the more they will know and feel that they matter and are worthy of respect.
Strength in Numbers…It takes a village to raise a child, so we ask Please Help Us to do ONE thing. Help Us to Raise Self-Confident Girls who know they are Amazing, Beautiful, Intelligent, and LOVED. Please Help our girls be PROUD of who they are, special needs and all.
If you read this novel, Thank You for helping us spread Autism Awareness Our Way. I would love if you shared your story as well. Whether we are parents or not, whether our children are Autistic or not, we can all learn from each other. Thank you to all my wonderful peers and teachers for always challenging me to be better for my family. Thank you and God Bless! I leave you with an Irish Blessing: “May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home. May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam. May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures. May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours.”
Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.