Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's Not the End of the World!

" I just found out my child has autism. What are we going to do?! How are we going to cope with this?! What will their future look like?"

Does this sound familiar? These are all common reactions when parents first hear the news that their child has autism. Some parents have a more difficult time coping than others. I was a person that didn't take it too hard. In fact, I don't even think I cried. Why? Well, here are some reasons.

1. Bear was the same child when I got the diagnosis that he had been the past two years. He is the child I carried for a little over 7 months. The same little boy that smiled every time he saw me. An autism diagnosis was not going to change that, ever. I felt so blessed that I had this child in my life.

2. He is healthy! Autism is a social and communication disorder. It's not a disease. I was not sitting at my child's hospital bed hoping they get better soon. How can I complain about autism when there are parents going through that? I just didn't see how I could do it.

3. I looked forward to the challenge of overcoming the stereotypes of autism. I looked forward to seeing how much he will grow with the help of me, my husband, his brother and sister, and the many great people that work with him. I wanted to help Bear surpass anyone's expectations.

4. Some of the qualities Bear had that I loved were because he had autism. He is very independent and can find ways to entertain himself. Even if it is just spinning the wheels on a car, he knows what he wants to do and he does it. He eats more healthy food because he is so picky in an odd way. He loves mashed potatoes and bakes beans, but won't touch McDonald' chicken nuggets. He always slept well at night as a baby because he just rocked himself to sleep. How can you not love that? :)

These are the things that kept me from feeling like Bear's diagnosis wasn't the end of the world. It is not the end of the world. There are many out there dealing with much worse than autism. We all need to count our blessings and move forward. We definitely do not need to feel sorry for ourselves or have others feeling sorry for us. There's no need for that. Focus on the positives and build on that!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The "R" Word

One of the most misused words in the English language is retard. This word has become a name to insult others and hurt their feelings. You expect this from children and you teach them the right way to speak to others. What do you do when an adult decides to call your child a retard?

The best answer for that is to ignore it. I mean, parents of autistic kids know better. We know that our children are not mentally retarded. In fact, many have above average IQ's. Even if they were "retarded" we would still love them to pieces and be completely offended if an adult called our child by that term. Even still, it is so hard to ignore it! You want so badly to defend your child that can't defend themselves.

This happened to me not too long ago. It wasn't a child that used this term, it wasn't a stranger, it was a so called family member. I know it was said to hurt me. She knows how important autism awareness is to me so she had to go down that path (among others) to get to me. I have to say it worked. I have not been that angry in a long time. It is easy for others to say to let it go, or you know better so who cares what they think. I care because so many people think this way and they are wrong. So many people think they can throw that word around and it's funny. It's not funny. It's also not an educated statement about autism.

All I ask is that people be careful about what terms they use to describe children. It doesn't only hurt the parent, but more importantly, it can hurt the child. The children we are raising to believe they can do anything and to know they are awesome.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Parent/teacher conferences

When it's time for school conferences, there's one thing I always tell myself. It does not matter what his test scores are (because they only give him three seconds to answer the test questions), it matters whether he's shown improvement or not. The school is required to test these students on their knowledge of numbers, sounds, letters, etc in a specific way. One of my son's teachers always says that she has to show me the test results, but to not take them too seriously. Bear, along with many children on the autism spectrum, show what they know in many different ways. Most times a very fast paced test is not one of those ways.

Our little guy is not where he is supposed to be according to such tests. It is hard to see that even when you know he knows more than what's on that paper. Especially when your other children are testing advanced. I wish there was another way to test special needs students. That way parents could really see what they know. Someone should come up with a test that makes these children shine! Not one that is almost impossible for them to conquer. Until then, I will just be happy that I have teachers that tell me they'd throw that test away if they could. I have teachers that love my little boy and thanked me for bringing him to the class. I have teachers that tell me he is doing great in school and improving every day. I am so thankful for this! There is so much more to children than standardized test scores.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pizza warrior!!

Many know of my struggle getting Little Bear ( that now MUST be called Big Bear because he says he's not little anymore) to eat. To get him to eat anything other than bread and cheese was tricky tricky. I have thought about starting him on the gluten/casein free diet, but I'm afraid he'd wither away! He is so picky that I sometimes wonder why I even make him a plate. An amazing thing happened a few days ago. HE ATE PIZZA! I had to do a little convincing. No, the red stuff is not blood, it's sauce! He believed me and tried it! He did not just eat one piece.. he ate 3! I don't know if it's a growth spurt or this new " I'm not little, I'm big" thing. It doesn't matter though. He ate and that's what matters. We are pizza warriors!!

Yes, I realize pizza is mainly cheese and bread. The pizza, bread, and sauce mix has never been successfully attempted by him. That's why we are happy ;)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It seems that Little Bear's behavior comes and goes. I have noticed that he will go months with great improvements. Months where he loves to spend time with the family and play. Then it goes to a month or so of him always wanting to be on his own. I've noticed this week he has changed a bit. He comes home from school and goes to his room to lay in his bed. He stays upstairs when everyone else is downstairs and he's just not as energetic. When this happens the first thing that comes to mind is "is he sick?". Nope he's not sick. So, my mission is to try to find out what causes these ups and downs in his mood and behavior. I want to get to the bottom of it so he enjoys family time. It could be something in his diet, or not getting enough sleep, or maybe even something going on with his buddies at school. We all have our down days and days when we'd rather be left alone. I just wish it didn't last so long in Little Bear.

My name is David

My Name is David is a great short video about autism. I love this! The voice is of an autistic 14 year old boy. I think this video is great for classrooms to teach children about their peers that may have autism. The more we know about it, the less it will seem different. There are so many people diagnosed with autism that our kids WILL know someone with autism! It is so important that they know what it is. I sent this video into my kid's school to see if they would show it in the classrooms. It is cartoonish so I thought it might keep the children's attention. The principal contacted me and said it was a great video and he loved it! So, I challenge you to send this video to your school principal also! Small things can make a big difference!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Autism is Not a Tragedy

So many people respond to an autism diagnosis in a negative way. When someone you love is diagnosed, it is not easy to take in. You worry about their future and what you can do to help. Many mothers wonder if they did something wrong (you didn't by the way) and many fathers start doing research to find out exactly what autism is. I am here to tell you that autism is not a tragedy and nothing to become depressed about. We all want what's best for our kids and loved ones. So, it's natural to be concerned that autism will make it impossible for them to have the life we've dreamed of them having. My advice to you is to look outside the box.

Here are some wonderful and unique qualities I can find about my autistic child that are definitely not tragedies. I'm sure you all could add a few to the list also :)

1. He is more laid back. He doesn't let life stress him out and enjoys the simple things.

2. He can draw better than his mom at the age of 6.

3. He has the best memory.

4. He loves to sing and is always cheerful and dancing.

5. He may get stressed about a light bulb that went out, but he is braver than I am when it comes to heights.

6. He finds fun in all he does.

7. He won't eat pizza, but he LOVES baked beans. Those are better for you right?!

There is so much more to my son than autism. He is healthy and loves life. How can he go wrong?