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.

Monday, April 19, 2010

AUTISM AWARENESS.....

Are you aware of Autism?

Well, if you are not, don't you think it is about time you become aware of Autism?

We all know someone who has autism...or, someone who's child(ren) have autism. There are autistic kids in your family, school, neighborhood and city. You see them every day, whether you
notice them or not...they are around you.
People with autism have ALWAYS been around you...you probably just did not notice.

I babysat a child with autism when I was 11 years old. I am 49...you do the math!!!
I worked with autistic teenagers while going to college. That was from 1980 until 1985, when
I decided to follow another career path (again, you do the math)...

People who state there were no autistic adults 30 years ago led a very sheltered life. Just Google insane asylums and you will see photos of rooms filled with naked, heavily-medicated, poorly cared for adults. They were called "insane", "mentally retarded", "schizophrenic" and basically, thrown away from society so we did not have to see them. They were not offered an education and, well, let's just be honest...put away until their death.

I would imagine that a great majority of those patients would be considered autistic these days. I would imagine their parent's would not be advised to medicate them to where they are non-functional and completely lethargic. They would be offered an education and therapies. The parent's would have hope their children would not be doomed for a life of "hell"...

I know, I know....there are some parent's who still believe the diagnosis of autism is a definition for a life that is doomed....

Not this Momma....ain't gonna happen on my watch....

Five of our children carry the autism label...they are functioning in society and society has
so-far, opened up its arms wide and strong for my children.

Caitlin, 19, who is labeled severely autistic will graduate from high school in June. She has been accepted into a program that will train her and help her find her way after high school. I could not be any more proud of her than if she was accepted to an Ivy League college....she continues to amaze me.

Deirdre, 16 in May, who is labeled with Asperger's Syndrome , is already touring colleges. She has already seen colleges in Texas and Louisiana. She still struggles with her social cues, but her friends understand her and love her. Not bad for a Sophmore in High school.

Erin, 13, PDD-NOS, is on the student council, performs at UIL choir functions and was selected to perform at Cafe night. She has an amazing voice. She is tall and statuesque. She also has some social issues, but maintains a tight-knit group of friends. She has managed to keep her honor roll, straight A status since Elementary school.. Not too shabby for 7th grade.

Meaghan, 12, NT, is becoming quite the social butterfly. I just wish her interest in make-up would be replaced by a bigger interest in her math grade...
She is witty and like it or not...a lot like her mother.

Little Patrick, 10, PDD-NOS, has just been selected for the Safety Patrol Squad at school. Quite an honor to be selected, by the way. He is in his 2nd season of Little League and he loves his baseball. He still obsesses about the weather, and worries about his Uncle Wayne in Oklahoma (tornadoes, ya know?)...I am hoping he channels this into a future as a meteorologist. He has a great group of little boys he calls friends with amazing parent's who love him.

and Kiernan...9, with severe autism is pure energy and motion. Still non-verbal, but don't give up on him yet. He is loud when he wants to be heard. Yes, he is in dire need of a haircut (kinda looks like David Cassidy in the 1970's), but...his classmates and friends love his hair..He has also maintained straight A's...smart as a whip this one!!!

My family has an amazing support group around us. I know I could call any one of them to be here when I need them...And they have never disappointed us !!!
They love our kids and our kids love them back...

So, back to my original question...
Are You Aware of Autism???

Well...you are NOW!!!!

5 comments:

Shannon M. said...

I love this! <3

I am certainly not as eloquent of a writer as you are, but I will give this a shot.

Of course, I am new to "autism awareness". I've only had "awareness" for 5 years. This of course, wasn't a full understanding - even now. I do remember thinking so many "other" diagnosis that are more restrictive seemed to actually be the same as what we now understand as Autism. It makes sense that as we study, and research; we know more, understand more, and this can create a seeming influx in cases. I do agree, this is the reason that we are starting to see more and more diagnosed under this "label". (You may know my natural aversion to labels - I've sort of had to live with the idea, call it whatever you want - as long as the symptoms are treated effectively. Is it right? No, but this is how, in light of the lack of "awareness" we've lived through most of this.) Children who were once treated as oppositional, or diagnosed with ADD and ADDHD are now being seen in a different light and slowly but surely being given the support they need.

I remember the first time I had a chance to really read your blog. There was something you said that stood out to me; encouraged me in all of our struggles to find a healthy balance with the world. You stated that you felt that your child is expected to act like any other child while in public; respect the rules. I kept struggling with this, but ultimately, I always maintained this same idea. It is my responsibility to teach my child how the world works, no matter - how we act and don't act in public settings. He may need to be taught a different way, but ultimately it will be taught! He gets away with very little and I tend to push. I push within his understanding, and sometimes later to find -outside of his understanding. I tend to place him in situations (with my guidance) that I know will make him uncomfortable. Which emotionally can take it's toll. A parent never wants to push expectations on a child before they truly "get it". I'm the sole proprietor of my sons little ego, and he depends on me to make good choices for him. There is that constant walking at tight rope, asking yourself - "Am I doing the right thing?" However, even with those few "mistakes" of going a bit far, OR those many times of success seeing that it's working, I've found that in doing so, I have enabled my child to grow. He has come so far! But it IS scary!

Your statement may have seemed simple, but it validated me. I remind myself of this fact every day. I am doing the right thing.

What I do know without a doubt now is that it can "get better". A person dealing with the variations of autism, Aspergers, and other diagnoses can improve with therapy. This is fact. Your beautiful children are living proof! Why some improve more than others, I don't know. I wish I did. But I DO know there can be improvements.

You give me hope in so many ways.

So I guess now, along with everything I learn new each day, my awareness is realizing that because of those who have "done their time" and "their homework" have created an environment that is much more conducive for others to understand, and my child to grow and flourish.

I guess, I just want to thank you, and others like you for this. <3
I am aware! =)

KWombles said...

Lovely! :-)

Phil Schwarz said...

Jeanette,
You and your family are creating the *right* kind of autism awareness.

Victoria said...

It is nice to hear another mother express some of the same thoughts about autism spectrum kiddos as me. My son is now 20 and we have also worked our butts off to help him get along in the world. We have been lucky - don't laugh - because our son is also blind due to a physical anomaly. The blindness assured his entrance into the "special ed world" and allowed him acceess to OT, PT and SLT at birth.
We have not chelated, hyperbariced, or removed gluten and milk products. We have taught, and cried and retaught and social storied our way to where we are now.
He is in his own home with a full-time support staff. He lives down the road but has his own space and choices and a caring staff who continue to teach him how to fix his own food and wash his own hair.
I stopped by this afternoon and he kept asking me when I was going to leave. I was interrupting his schedule. He needed a time of departure to reset his time table for the afternoon. His manners might stand some polishing but he is quite content to be allowed to make safe choices for his own life. We've come a long way, baby!

Jordana said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. They all strike a chord within me as my 2 little boys also have autism. We felt helpless when our first had problems and had to push through doctors telling us we were bad parents and they couldn't test for anything until he was at least 5 years of age. Once we forced a diagnoses, the doctor immediately told us what medications he was going to prescribe to make our son manageable. A little boy, only 2 1/2, going to be made non-functional by medication?! I was outraged!

Sure, my son beat me black and blue so bad people thought my husband was beating me. Sure, while he named every car he saw by color, make and model he never called me mommy or asked for my help. The thing was, I thought there had to be a way to get through to him.

I chanced upon the Son Rise program. We couldn't afford it, but they sent a free DVD for information and it showed some of the play therapy they teach parents to do. That very day I sat down with my son and played just like him. He was 3 1/2 and had never even said my name. 30 minutes in he stopped what he was doing and looked at me, right in the eye for a moment, and said "Mommy, I love you." Then he continued to play.

Today, he is 7 years old, and functions very well. We had a lot of trouble getting services, so much of the work fell on my husband and I. His brother is 5 and also autistic. We do eat gluten-free as our boys also have celiac sprue, a digestive disorder that treats gluten as an enemy, eventually killing the person through starvation. Our younger son was very sick with it, even eating holes in his clothing and blankets he was so hungry as a toddler. We do not go CF or do anything else, though we do garden and raise goats for raw milk. Most people laugh if they find out our boys are autistic. Only people that spend more than and hour or two can tell something is "off" for the most part, though our eldest feels very strongly about right and wrong and won't hesitate to re-shelve things others are buying in stores if he thinks it shouldn't be in their cart!

I was so proud of myself this last week. I took the boys to Vacation Bible School, then LEFT the place! They survived and had a good time, though the staff says they sure learned a lot about autism! They had tried to learn some and be prepared so they wouldn't have to call me, and it worked out great! The only problem is that most people expect less from my kids than I do. My husband and I have also never felt that autism was an excuse for bad behavior. It may be a cause of behaviors, making us more patient in teaching them how to do what society expects, but they are held to the highest standards. Once, as a teen leading a children's church program, the pastor told me to always set my standards and expectations of both the children and the staff higher than I thought they could meet because most people will rise to your expectations. I have found it to be true. I don't think my kids are "special needs" or have an excuse to just "get by". To me, we lead normal lives, and my children are the best thing that's ever happened to me!