Faith, Love and Respect for ALL

Archive for the ‘Autism’ Category

ABCs Autism Style Index

I wanted to put all the ABC’s Autism Style entries into one post, so they can easily be viewed from A to Z. I am overjoyed to complete this project, because I can see how my writing has evolved in the past 16 months. This has been a wonderful project, which challenged me on many levels, and has provided me with a strong foundation for my next endeavor.

A HUGE Thank You to Marie for always believing in me, proofreading posts (when I had no confidence in myself), and honoring me with her perpetual support and inspiration. I love you Marie, and I would not be here without you, I thank God everyday for blessing me with such an extraordinary friend.

Intro to ABC’s Autism Style

A is for ACCEPTANCE        

B is for BEHAVIOR              

C is for COMMUNICATION

D is for DIFFERENT           

E is for ENVIRONMENT     

F is for FAMILY                  

G is for GRATITUDE           

H is for HAPPINESS                      

I is for INNOVATIVE          

J is for JUDGMENT          

K is for KNOWLEDGE         

L is for LOVE                                   

M is for MISSION           

N is for NEED                    

O is for OPTIMISM               

P is for PROGRESS             

Q is for QUALITIES             

R is for RESPECT                 

S is for SUCCESS                  

T is for THERAPY                 

U is for UNIQUE                  

V is for VALID                      

W is for WORRY                    

X is for XENOPHOBIA        

Y is for YEARN                      

Z is for ZEAL

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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.

Z is for ZEAL

ABCs Autism Style Z

Z is for ZEAL

Zeal is defined as: “fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor.” – Dictionary.com

Zeal is a perfect term to describe how Autistic people approach many aspects of life. When a person hones in on their Special Interests, they ignite a desire to learn everything about those topics. Autistic individuals zealously pursue their interests because knowledge, understanding, and experience in these areas provide them comfort and joy. These special interests can be utilized as a way of educating and teaching new concepts to children with Autism. When an Adult with Autism obtains work pertaining to their area of expertise, they become extremely valuable members of the companies they work for, and the communities in which those businesses operate.

When I observe members of the Autism community, I envy their ability to remain passionate about their interests, despite what life may throw their way. This quote by Edmond Mbiaka, is the best way I can convey my admiration for Autistic people, because they instinctively do what most of us struggle to achieve:

“We are all born with some great abilities to excel in all circumstances, but unfortunately, negative thoughts always tend to blindfold a lot of people from realizing their true potential in life. However, anyone can take back their true destiny by always challenging every thought that doesn’t keep their mind fully focused on the prize ahead.”

The Autistic adults in the world, like our children today, struggled with learning according to society’s standards of typical education. For all the negative thoughts and actions people have directed toward them, they remain passionate about the things they love, because they do not look at life the way most people do. It is an amazing gift, which should be treasured and applauded. We must be ever diligent to not change an Autistic person to fit societal norms, but simply assist them in learning how to navigate the world on their terms. Ignacio Estrada stated it perfectly: If a child can’t learn the way we teach; maybe we should teach the way they learn.”

As a parent of an extraordinary Autistic child, I am thankful for the different angles I now see the world from. I would not have these unique views without Beth and her amazing gifts, which stem from her Autism. Her road may not always be easy, and she will face all kinds of ugly in the world; however, she will persevere and she will remain passionate and full of life, because she is Au-Some.

Zeal “Our Way” is defined as: “One of the many blessings of  having Autism, because it allows the Autistic individual to always explore and cherish the subjects that speak to their heart, which brings them and those around them an immense joy.”

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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.

Prayers and Love Nationwide

The past week was filled with immense tragedy for the Autistic community. Three children, Mikaela Lynch (age 9) in California, Owen Black (age 7) in Florida, and Drew Howell (age 2) in Ohio, died due to wandering and subsequent drowning. As their devastated families try to come to terms with their tremendous loss, there have been many ignorant people who dare to cast blame on them, and it is sickening. My heart is heavy with sadness for the loss of three young lives; and it is filled with outrage for those who carelessly judge what they cannot know and do not understand. Today I am joining hundreds of other bloggers to support these families by showering them with prayers and love via cyberspace.

 

Rest In Peace Sweet Angels * Mikaela Lynch * Owen Black *  Drew Howell

As a parent of an Autistic child, who is a wanderer, I know the terror you feel when you realize your child has slipped away. We have had several close calls with Beth in the past 2 years. I have learned the hard way that I cannot control people, places, or things; therefore, I do the best I can and pray that it is enough to keep her and Anne safe. Although, I have stopped blaming myself for past events, I relive each one of our close calls every time I hear of other families who were not as fortunate. I grieve for all the wonderful parents who have seen their worst nightmare come to life. In the blink of an eye, any of us could lose our child due to wandering/elopement and the dangers they face while out of our care.

For the Lynch, Black, and Howell families that is exactly what happened, in less than 30 seconds, their lives were forever changed in the most tragic of ways. They are NOT bad parents; they are NOT inattentive parents! They are humans, who did all that was in their power to keep their children safe. They LOVE their children, and probably blame themselves for the horrible accident that took them from this world, even though they are NOT to blame in anyway. They lost their Autistic Angels under the worst of circumstances, and are grieving their loss in ways that most us will never know or fully understand.

 

 

Please keep this in mind when you share and comment on posts regarding them and their Angels. Please attempt to put yourself in their place, and imagine how you would feel, then decide what you want to share. A general rule of thumb I use is the acronym THINK (T – Is it Thoughtful? H – Is it Honest? I – Is it Intelligent? N – Is it Necessary? K – Is it Kind?). If I can answer Yes to all those questions, then I hit submit/share; if the answer to just one is No, then I must step away and pray for guidance before I put my thoughts out in cyberspace. I am pleading with you to stop the spreading of cruel misinformation and judgment, instead help spread love and support for families in crisis. Please keep the Lynch, Black, and Howell families in your prayers today and in the future months. May Angels surround them in love and light as they grieve; and bring them hope that tomorrow it will hurt a little less.

 

 

If you would like to read some of the other wonderful posts that are part of An Outpouring of Love for the Mikaela Lynch Family, please visit the ever growing list of  amazing, informative  and touching blog posts.

If you would like more information about wandering/elopement and how to help keep the Autistic children in your community a little safer, please visit theNational Autism Association and the AWAARE Collaboration.

 

 

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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.

Water Danger for Autistics

Water Danger for Autistics;  **The background image is property of Lindsey Schultz, who graciously granted permission for use to Jest_Tu_Positive.**

Another sobering statistic from National Autism Association: “Roughly half, or 48%, of children with an ASD attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings.”

Autistic individuals are drawn to water. Parents of Autistic children do all they can to keep their children safe. Unfortunately, our kids have the ability to figure a way around almost every safeguard, and it only takes a few seconds for a child to disappear. Once they are on their own they follow whatever catches their interest, which usually leads them to water and danger. Please do not judge or attack the broken-hearted parents who just lost their beloved child.

Praying for the Lynch, Black and Howell families as they mourn Mikaela, Owen, and Drew; may they find solace in their loved ones, and know that the Autistic community is sending them love and support during this tragic time.

 

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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.

Pirate Princess Clown

Just a cute little share…

Ms. L took this picture of Beth during their session today. Her imaginative play gets more creative and fun everyday. As her imagination grows, so does her vocabulary. Just one of the many reasons we LOVE Play-Based Therapy.

imaginitve play

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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.

Pulling and Pushing for Peace

Not that it is anything new, but today was really bad with the girls’ sibling rivalry. They could not be anywhere near each other without meltdowns, or UFC style fighting. When they are in this kind of a mood, it is like a war-zone in our house, and I find myself constantly praying for peace, while trying to keep Henry calm.

Since I have been doing Home Therapy with my fun tools, we have discovered that the girls like to do my exercises too. My newest Home Therapy Tool is a measuring tape, which I use with the bar for their swing to simulate a pulley. I took one to work the pulley, and Henry took the other to work the resistance band. When they got too worried about what sister was doing, we switched. Although there were still some tears and yelling, it was a sensational way for them to work off some pent-up energy and aggression.

Once the pulling fun lost its peaceful effect, we took them shopping at Costco. Both girls love heavy-lifting and helping. So putting items in the cart at Costco makes them extremely happy. Anne is content to sit in the cart the entire time and watch the chaos that surrounds her. Beth on the other hand, wants to push the cart, but she settles for helping take stuff off the shelves; until after we check out, because it is not safe for her to be walking around there. Once we have the cart packed, then she gets to help push it out to the car; it is her favorite part of the trip, and she is always in a phenomenal mood afterwards.

When we got home there were still moments filled with sisterly angst, but the choo-choo-box-train quelled most of the unrest. They gave their animals rides in the train; they pushed each other, and even got rides from Daddy. It was a wonderful, mostly peaceful, way to end the day. They even enjoyed a bubble bath together, with no fighting, which is a rarity.

A picture of our day, creatively Pulling and Pushing for Peace:

Image

On a side note… Beth was so excited about the watermelons she helped Daddy pick out, carry and cut up; that she actually ate some and said it was delicious. This is HUGE, because she has always refused to taste it in the past. I am trying not to get too excited, but can’t help hoping this is a sign of good things to come, and perhaps her eating more healthy foods.

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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.

Boo’s Bubble Brigade is Stepping Up For Autism

The last two years we have participated in the Chicago Autism Speaks Walk. In 2011 we walked with our former playgroup to support the organizer’s son. At that time we were unaware that Beth was Autistic; it would be another 2 months before we would even call Early Intervention for an evaluation. We were amazed by the 15,000+ people in attendance, and it was a wonderful feeling to part of something so monumental. We did the entire route, but were one of the last families to finish because our daughter required many breaks, and by the end of the walk she was so overwhelmed and out of sorts that we headed home; passing up the opportunity to join our friends at the cool party that was at the end of the walk.

In 2012, with a fresh diagnosis of Autistic Disorder for Beth, we supported the Walk Now For Autism Speaks campaign. We planned to walk with the playgroup again, this time supporting Beth and the other woman’s son. We did the fundraising, and even had team shirts made, but were unable attend the event due to inclement weather.

In 2013, to continue our efforts in promoting Autism Awareness, Acceptance and Action we have decided to participate in a walk supporting a local organization that assists Autistic individuals of ALL ages and ALL abilities reach their God-given potential. Here is an excerpt from the Little Friends About Us page, which describes this extraordinary organization:

“Little Friends has been serving children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities for over 40 years. Based in Naperville, Little Friends operates 11 dynamic programs that include three schools, vocational training programs, community-based residential services and the Little Friends Center for Autism”

This year, we will participate in Little Friends fifth annual Step Up for Autism walk on Sunday, June 23, 2013; which offers a fun-filled morning for families along the Riverwalk in downtown Naperville.

Having attended many seminars and trainings conducted by the staff of Little Friends, I am excited and proud to support fundraising efforts for this phenomenal organization. Even if I had not already been acquainted with many of their remarkable staff, the mission statement for Little Friends would have been enough to inspire us to support them. Here is their magnificent mission statement:

“It is the mission of Little Friends to empower children and adults with special challenges to live, learn, work and participate in the community. We believe everyone should have the opportunity for a rich, full life in their own community with meaningful work, their choice in living arrangements, an education, strong relationships, fun and laughter. Just like you and me.”

On June 23rd Boo’s Bubble Brigade, our team of family and friends, will spend an Au-Some morning helping to ensure the future availability of Little Friends outstanding services for Autistic individuals, their families and their community. We will Step Up, bubbles in hand, and help build a brighter future for everyone.

If you are in the Chicagoland area, please consider joining us, or creating your own team to Step Up For Autism. If you are not in the Chicagoland area, but would like to donate to this extraordinary organization, you can donate to Boo’s Bubble Brigade or make a General Donation to Little Friends. If you are inclined to pray, please keep this amazing organization and everyone they touch in your prayers. We pray they meet their fundraising goal of $175,000 in order to continue assisting Autistic individuals reach their God-given potential through nurturing programs, which promote Pride and Respect for ALL.

Boos Bubble Brigade Rainbow Heart Bubbles

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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.

Happy First Birthday Jest_Tu_Positive

Happy FIRST Birthday to Dorothy Stronglove and Jest_Tu_Positive. Today is one year since I started sharing Our Journey with the world through this Blog and its corresponding FaceBook page. It is hard to believe it has been a year already. I cannot believe that the blog has had over 7,200 views, across 73 countries, in that time. I also cannot believe that there are currently 419 people and 139 pages following us on FaceBook, in 27 different languages.  I am humbled and filled with pride all at the same time. I never dreamed that this adventure would become something so pivotal in Our Life, and reach so many people around the world.

The birth of Dorothy Stronglove and Jest_Tu_Positive was a way for me to combat all the negativity I was seeing and experiencing a year ago. It had only been 5 months since our eldest daughter’s diagnosis of Autistic Disorder, and we were struggling to find the right path for Our family.  Between the people in our life who were attacking me about Our choices, and the angry blogs/pages I was finding online, I was feeling overwhelmed, confused, angry and lonely. A former friend helped me see why I was feeling like I did not belong in most of the Autism groups. Her words that made the light bulb go on were: “You are obviously not ready for all that recovery entails…”  When I read those words, everything became clear. The pages/blogs I was following did not share my beliefs, and it left me feeling like an outsider. We do not believe our daughter needs to be recovered, cured, or fixed; we think she is exactly the person God intended her to be. I realized that I needed to find people/blogs/pages to surround myself with, who felt the same way. Although my former friend and I had to part ways, she was one of the people responsible for pointing me in the direction of Our current path, and for that I will always be grateful.

I figured the best way to find like-minded people was to put out there how I truly felt about everything. Thus Autism Proud began; while I was eager to share, I still wanted to protect my family’s privacy, which is why I write under a pen-name and use different names for the major stars in our life. Thankfully I had Marie supporting me, and proofreading my early posts; without her help Jest_Tu_Positive would never have come this far. Even with her edits and assistance, I look back at my early posts and they read as though I am defending Our views. Marie helped me take a lot of the negativity and anger out of my posts, by gently reminding me that for a person who was asking people not to judge others, I was doing just that. With her as my editor-in-chief, and all that I am learning in Al-Anon, my writing has evolved into something more positive and less argumentative/judgmental. Since starting Autism Proud I have found so many wonderful people/blogs/pages who feel the same way we do, and that has helped keep me on the positive side of the road as well. I will not say we agree on everything, because each person and their journey are unique, but I can say that I am learning to be a better me because of them, and I am extremely thankful to have found all these Au-Some people to share our journey.

Our journey is not always easy or simple; sometimes it is hard and more complicated than I ever imagined it could be. We walk in the bright sun some days, and others we are stumbling through the dark rain looking for shelter. Fortunately, most days are a happy medium between the two extremes, which makes for a colorful, Au-Some journey. We try not to take things for granted, and we strive to live in the moment, simply enjoying all the blessings we have in life. This past year Autism Proud has helped me grow as a person, wife and mother; you have all helped me become a better me, and I appreciate that more than words could ever express. I look to the next year with a child-like anticipation for all the wonderful possibilities.

In the coming year Jest_Tu_Positive will focus on Faith, Love, and Respect for ALL. I will attempt to promote unconditional acceptance of EVERYONE, regardless of ability. Most importantly I will be listening to Autistic Adults, to learn the best way to assist Beth in her journey. Autism Proud will cover all facets of our life, because although Autism and Al-Anon are big parts, there is much more to us than those two aspects.  I will never pretend to know what is best for someone else, or tell another family what they should or shouldn’t do. I can only share Our family’s beliefs and journey, in the hopes that it touches another person and helps them feel a little less overwhelmed, confused, angry, or lonely. I pray that we all enjoy the coming year and make new friends, while walking on the rainbow path of life.

Life Is Like A Rainbow ~ Bubble Heart

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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.

Support Hair-twirlers Unite to Bring Equality to Nevada

We are extremely blessed to be part of an all-inclusive school district, which treats Beth and all its Special Needs students like every other student in the district. Sadly, we are in the minority. Most parents have to fight to have their children receive the education they deserve, please support this family in their efforts to change the way Autistic children are treated in Nevada.

Hair-twirlers Unite

April is Autism Awareness Month, and today, April 2nd, is Autism Awareness Day. You might be aware already that my 5-year-old, Gage, was diagnosed as autistic at age 2.5. He wasn’t talking, wasn’t gesturing, wasn’t great at eye contact, and would sit in his room and look at books for hours. I googled “toddler not talking” and started to get worried when all kinds of autism links came up. Our pediatrician blew us off when we told him these things. “Wait until he is 3,” he said. “He is a late bloomer.” But I was afraid he was wrong. I called Gage in to early intervention when he was 26 months old to get him evaluated. A 4 month waiting list later, it turned out I wasn’t just a paranoid mom. I was right. It hurt to find out. All that Gordon and I knew about autism was Rainman, and…

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Autism and the Three A’s

One of my favorite concepts/tools in Al-Anon is the Three A’s (Awareness, Acceptance and Action). This excerpt from an Al-Anon Online Forum explains it perfectly:

“In dealing with a change, a problem, or a discovery, awareness is often followed by a period of acceptance before we can take action. This process is sometimes referred to as the “Three As”- Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. Coping with a new awareness can be extremely awkward, and most of us are eager to spare ourselves pain or discomfort. Yet, until we accept the reality with which we have been faced, we probably won’t be capable of taking effective action with confidence.”

I have been a Proud and Thankful member of Al-Anon for 1.5 years now. As I work my program to transform myself into the woman I want to be, I see so many ways to apply our program to Autism and the Special Needs world. In Al-Anon we learn to Love, Value, and Care for ourselves. Despite whatever we have faced in life, and how low our self-esteem may be, we learn that we Matter. Many of us who have been touched by the disease of Alcoholism, have extremely low self-esteem, and truly feel that we are broken and worthless.

I would not wish these horrible feelings of self-hate and self-doubt on anyone. For this reason, some of the verbiage and attitudes which surround the Special Needs Community fill me with immense sorrow. Often when we feel passionately about something we tend to Speak/Type before we Think. We do not stop to consider the ramifications of our words for our children, or others who have Autism. There are many Autistic children who hear, and even more Autistic teens and adults who read, on a DAILY basis that they need to be fixed, cured, recovered and even prevented in future generations. Can you fathom what that does to a person’s self-esteem? Can you even imagine how that must feel, and how that message affects Autistic people everywhere?

It is time for a new, more loving light to be shed on Autism. The verbiage and attitude with which we discuss our Autistic loved ones, is how the world will view them and their peers; therefore, we must be ever vigilant to make sure we are Honest, while also being Respectful. Please let us stand together as a community, embrace all facets of Autism, and create a brighter future filled with Respect and Appreciation for ALL individuals. Our way to do that is by applying the Three A’s to Autism.

Autism & The 3 A's

The background image is property of Lindsey Schultz, who graciously granted permission for use to Jest_Tu_Positive.

Autism Awareness – The first step is to make people aware of the Truths of Autism, and dispel many of the detrimental myths.
I am surprised by how many people we meet that have either no, or completely inaccurate  knowledge of Autism, and how it can affect a person’s neurological system. Some people ask questions and others simply walk away. There are so many teachable moments in a day, which we miss because many people don’t want to talk about Autism, and they treat it as something to be hidden away. Autism is certainly not easy, and for some it is much more difficult than others, but if we are open and honest about it, then society will see that it is an intricate part of our loved ones, and it should be spoken of freely with Pride. Next time you are out in public or you post online simply be honest, and share something about an Autistic person, from a place of Love and Respect. Put Autism in the spotlight EVERYDAY, not just on April 2nd or for the month of April, embrace it as a typical part of our life and be the change we want to see in the world.

Autism Acceptance – The second step is to promote Respect for ALL individuals, by showing the world how to embrace diversity and value Autistic people for their unique abilities.
We cannot tell others what to think about Autism, how to feel about Autism, or how to care for their Autistic loved ones. We cannot force society to interact with Autistic people in a Loving and Respectful manner. Autism is a vast Spectrum, which confuses many people since no two Autistic people are the same; therefore we must share Our Journeys and Experiences with others, so that people can truly understand that Different is NOT Less. Personally, we attempt to always conduct ourselves in a manner which we can be Proud of, and not judge those who possess a different outlook on life. When we do something that does not coincide with our values, we take responsibility and make amends. We strive to instill a sense of Faith, Love, Respect, Courage, and Compassion in our children. We Respect Our children and are realistic about their abilities. We love them unconditionally, and support them in every aspect of life; however, we also challenge them to step outside their comfort zone and explore the infinite possibilities in life. We do the best we can for Our family, and treat everyone we meet with the consideration we would appreciate; we attempt to be the change we want to see in the world.

Autism Action – The third step is to advocate for ALL people, especially those in the Autistic community, to be treated with Thoughtful Consideration at ALL times.
How people choose to take action will differ. We all have our own way of assisting our Autistic loved ones in reaching their God-given potential, while educating others on the best way to interact with them. There is no right or wrong way to take action, simply do what is best for your family, and the rest will follow. We should remember that the road to success is paved with Progress NOT Perfection. Personally, we are very involved in our Autistic daughter’s education and therapies, because communication between everyone in her life is essential to maintaining a healthy balance in her development. We also make sure that she has more than ample time to just be a kid, the sillier the better. We mainly concentrate on teaching both our children the basics of life, with our own Au-Some style. We work on all the areas other parents do, we simply approach those lessons differently some times. When we are presented with a teachable moment with someone who crosses our path, we take the opportunity to share parts of Our Journey. We attempt to emphasize the positives, of which there are many, when discussing Our Autistic Journey with people. We admit that our path can be difficult, and is often quite different than other roads traveled; however, we also experience numerous joys that others tend to miss along the way. Autism, like life, it is filled with the Good, the Bad and Everything in between; it can be an exhausting journey, but it is also extremely rewarding, which is why we always try to view Our Journey through Positive eyes and Thankful hearts. One Day at a Time, we attempt to be the change we want to see in the world.

 

Happy World Autism Day

 

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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.

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