About Me

I am the proud mother of 6 children. 5 of our children have autism. We do not feel our world has ended, but just begun. We do not chelate, intervene biochemically, give shots of any kind, practice ABA, etc. We treat them as we treat any humanbeing. We treat them with kindness and respect and expect the same from them. They are exceptional children.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A GREATER CALLING...

Ever since I was a little girl, I always knew that I was going to be involved

in something bigger than myself.

As I was approaching 30, I was pregnant and unaware of what sort of mother

I was going to be. I have a great mother and she was always there as I was growing

up. My dad was a wonderful father and I always knew that I was loved. That I

knew was going to be passed on to my children.

As Caitlin grew, and we faced new challenges with her Autism, I never questioned

the reason for her existence. I just knew I had to be her warrior and her savior when


it came to getting her the services she deserved. We did not have to fight often, and

when we did, we came out ahead.

Our family continued to grow and with that came additional challenges. My husband

and myself never questioned why the children were Autistic, in fact, Autism was not

a big "issue" in our home. What we focused on was the fact that we had children to raise.

We took our children to restaurants, grocery stores, concerts, parks, Chuck E. Cheese,

bowling, skating, etc. We expected our children to behave in public. We were complemented

on our children's behaviors. We expected and still expect our children to behave.

Autism is not an excuse for bad behaviors. It is an excuse not to parent.

Today, I brought 2 of the kids to school late. We had dentist appointments. I was checking

in our office at school and the office administrator said to me, "I saw you on the news the other

night"..."you really do speak eloquently". I said, "Well, it is about time somebody noticed that".

She then told me that she believed that I will go far. She told me that I have a spark about

me that people listen to....she had me speechless.....which is hard to do.

I have spent the last year speaking at state conferences, local conferences, Autism workshops and I was even the MC at the Teacher Talent Show at school. I plan on continuing my

speaking engagements and telling the story of my family. There are many parent's out there

that are stumped on how to raise their children with Autism.

When asked, "how do you do it"?

I have one answer, "I never thought about it". I knew that I have given birth and these

children did not ask to be here. But, it is my responsibility to make sure that they do the

very best they can while I am here. I am to make sure they are treated the same when I

am no longer here.

I made a promise to each of my children when they were born that they could be whatever

they wanted to be. Instead of listening to people telling me what they cannot do, I taught the

children to show everyone what they could do.

Now, we have children in 10th grade honor roll, 8th grade honor roll, and 5th grade honor roll.

We have children who can sit quietly and behave in situations where it was once impossible for

them to accomplish this task. Through much hard work and effort on their parts, their teacher's

parts and parenting skills my husband and I have learned through the years, our children have

become role models in their community and their schools.

2008 has already proven to be a very busy year for us. I have been asked to be involved in alot

of new endeavors. Some I can talk about, some I cannot. I am excited and thrilled to be

involved in the Autism Community. I am honored beyond words that I can help promote

Autism in a positive light and we will begin our journey to take Autism away from the "gloom

and doom" category.

I will continue to blog here and I have been asked to take part of a new website:

www.trusera.com. I will have a blog there also about raising children with Autism. I am

excited beyond words.

Thanks to Diva for recommending me....I really do appreciate that.

10 comments:

Amy said...

Congratulations and best of luck in your new endeavor!

Anonymous said...

Jeanette:
While I would certainly agree that it isn't healthy for anyone to get stuck an a doom and gloom mode- I did want to make a few comments to your recent blog.

You state that autism was never a big issue in your home. With 5 children on the spectrum, regardless of their current level of functioning, would you not say that at least at some point in your life autism was in fact, a big issue ? I can't imagine autism not being a big issue in a family's life- not to say that it will necessarily overpower that family, but it certainly is a huge factor to be worked with/around. Judging not only from myself, but also from several people I met IRL or on the net, raising a child with autism certainly imposes a much bigger toll on a family than raising typical children. And judging from your earlier interviews, I would tend to conclude that your family was no exception. Why play it down?

Also- you say that autism isn't an excuse for bad behaviors. Would you not agree, though, that a more appropriate rephrasing might be "autism isn't an excuse to not address bad behaviors? ". Kids with autism can certainly display a wide range of disruptive, weird, inappropriate and even harmful behaviors because of their autism. It isn't a reflection of poor parenting, as the next Wal-Mart customer might have us believe.

I congratulate you on your kids' successes, and I sincerely admire the fact that you have obviously made your peace with autism. Personally, I think I have too, in the sense that I understand that this is the hand we've been dealt, and I'm learning how to best play it in the interest of my child.

The reason for my comments, is that you are obviously gearing up for a good deal of public exposure in speaking about autism. Surely, even if this (luckily) hasn't been your case, you must have noticed that autism inflicts hardship on many families. If I sat in your audience, your message of hope and optimism might be better received if you at least acknowledged some of this hardship. If you mentioned some how-to tips from the trenches about how to deal with various aspects of that hardship , I might even learn something useful.

I can't help but think that if I'm listening to you talk, as a new mom to a severely autistic , self injurious, non-verbal kid, and I hear that autism isn't a big deal in a house with 5 ASD children and that autism isn't an excuse for bad behavior, then not only have I not learned anything constructive, but I might leave the meeting feeling even more inadequate than before :). I have attended several autism meetings, and have heard several speakers,including people who have autism themselves or parents of ASD kids- we all appreciated hearing about their struggles, challenges and victories. I can't recall a single person, painting a rosy picture of autism (since they were talking to parents they probably wouldn't have had a lot of takers any way), yet they all managed to stay positive and give hope.

I've been at this several years now, and while I personally belive that autism is a developmental tragedy for a child who is more than just mildly affected, I can certainly appreciate a variety of view points in the matter.


Just a suggestion, and thanks for letting me visit and comment on your blog.

Lillian (sorry, I don't mean to post anonymously, but I can't log in)

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with Lillian's comments. While I admire your willingness to fight for your kids your comment that autism is not an excuse for bad behavior is potentially misleading. Some children with autism behave in ways that others might regard as "bad behavior" simply because their brains are working differently or they have a different way of interpreting the world around them. To tell the parent of a child with autism that they should be able to control behavior to the point that the child is seen as "well-behaved" by others is not realistic for everyone and only serves to make those parents who are trying their best feel horrible.

I do appreciate the fact that when you say autism wasn't a big issue in your family hopefully you meant that you saw your kids first and autism second. To imply that autism doesn't affect a family in major ways is unrealistic and misleading.

I really do enjoy your blog and hope that you are able to raise awareness about autism because it is such a misunderstood subject. Good luck.

Mom26children said...

The best thing about my blog, to me, is that I continue to learn.
I absolutely agree with the comments made. I love "constructive" criticism and promise to apply what you have said to my future blogs and my future endeavors.
Thanks for being polite about it.
Jeanette

Anonymous said...

It is so refreshing to come to a blog where people are nice to each other. I have been searching out information on autism and families with children who have autism and I was surprised by the nastiness that people unleash on each other.

r.b. said...

“Two men looked out from prison bars;
One saw mud, the other stars.”

Attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson by some.

Doom and gloom stinks. I'm glad to be seeing the stars...

Good luck on your journey!

Casdok said...

A lovelyn post and interesting comments.
I see stars too.

LittleBoPeep said...

Very interesting comments from Lillian and a gracious response from Mom26. Bravo to you both!

"TXDrummerMom" Vicki said...

Let me just say that over the past 20 years Jeanette and I have had sporadic(sp)contact.
Each and every time I have spoken to her she has never been negative about her children. That is the Gods truth.

Jeanette and Patrick are doing something right as far as their children are concerned.

Jeanette, you handle the opinions and critques of other folks very well.

Continue what you do as it has had obviously had a positive effect.

Anonymous said...

I wish you the best wishes of your new endeavor!