Monday, April 6, 2009

Autism - The Trees Through The Forest

After this weekends adventures, it is amazing to me but I feel a sense of joy Here's the story:

This weekend consisted of a sick 3 year old with (what we simplified as) "fast poopies"(FP) and a fever, a child who (enjoys turning things) turned a dial called "thermostat" on our spare fridge to the zero position which thawed the entire contents-giving us no options but to throw out the food inside, a Sunday mass cut short due to the FP problem, an Easter egg hunt, Easter egg decorating, a birthday party for a classmate, extended family dinner, and a trip to the emergency room for a googly eye inserted (stuck) in my 3 year old daughters nose, occurring during family dinner and the birthday party where my husband and son were at. Forgive me for the run on sentence but I wasn't sure if or when the craziness would end. This could be enough to throw any sane person into a spiral of insanity. The thing is, I felt and still feel quite sane, even harmonious.

I suppose the couple glasses of wine I had during the festivities on Sunday may have kept my wits about me but I know that wasn't it. I was on a natural high that lowered the stress and aggravation I would normally feel. I get a natural high every time my son makes a step closer to relating to his peers and is able to feel the joy that a typical 5 year old has. It happened at the Easter egg hunt.

Last year, we attended our first Easter egg hunt. It was a cold, damp day to begin a tradition of childhood fun. Aside from the off weather, we quickly realized that our kids would not go near the costumed bunny or chick and didn't have a handle on what their task/job is. Another words, when the horn blows, they should run out into the field and pick up any piece of candy or plastic egg and drop them into their baskets. We didn't realize that this was something we needed to teach to our son. When the time came, the horn blew and we ran out with our children picking up some of the goodies and trying to explain (in a very fast manner as the other children were like vultures) what to do. Talk about frustration. Though we had a good time, it was a bit sad because both of our kids didn't really "get it" and they didn't get the same experience that the other children did.

This year was different. We arrived early so we could pick our spot around the field and transition our kids by explaining what they needed to do. We lined up behind the cones and waited for the horn to blow. I could see the anticipation in my son rising. He was excited and knew what he needed to do. Finally, the horn blew and we ran out into the field. Our little 3 year old needed a some help, but she was doing pretty good on her own. Meanwhile, my son was targeting items and snatching them up like a pro, giggling with elation. We stayed out of the crowded areas so that he wouldn't get overwhelmed. It was a great strategic move as well. He filled his basket to the rim with goodies while his peers were fending off each other as they dove for the same items.

It was such a great moment. I love that my son was able to feel like everyone else. He knew he was involved. After, I saw him strut with such pride and confidence. He was on top of the world. The real beauty is that he gets so much more from such an experience than any of his typical peers or even his sister. His motivation is purely for fun. He knows that each candy he picks up, he neither wants to nor will eat. Yet, he is the happiest child I saw walk off that field of candy. My son isn't caught up in the greed and need of getting all the sugar possible. He just wants to enjoy the moment, the task, the atmosphere, and the holiday. He takes it all in and is in heaven. While the other children do have fun, many (including my daughter) are looking at "what's in it for me". My son savors the experience.

Upon arriving home, he divvies up all his goods. He lines them up, counts them, discusses them and then starts handing them out. He comes to me and says "Mom-which one do you like?", in his broken and a bit repetitive speech. He is thrilled to be giving me part of his treasure that he worked so hard for.

So after all that went on this weekend, all I can really focus on is the joys of normalcy that my son felt. It was an ethereal event that surpasses spoiled food or even a googly eye in the nose (though I will admit, I was so relieved once it was extracted).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Autism and Realities


I commend all those trying to spread the word about autism (autism spectrum disorder/ASD) by using their talents, influence, and resources.

As I was watching a program on CNN last night about the debate over causation, Hollywood personalities (with children afflicted) gave their very passionate rendition of why so many children are diagnosed and the cause of the increasing numbers. It was also suggested that there is a cure. This is very disturbing on many levels.

As a parent, I would love to believe that there is a cure in taking specific actions to change immunization timing, diet, or other methods. The fact is that this is a spectrum disorder. What works for one, does not work for all. Especially those loves who are diagnosed as having a more profound version of ASD. This type of awareness disturbs me because parents, feeling so lost in this circle, may go down a road of false hope. I am not suggesting that I don't believe in hope. Quite the contrary, I believe in such enormous potential (hope) in our children, I just don't think they will be cured.

No cure~
In order to help my child, I have to admit realities. My baby will not be cured. I come from a point of "I can's"and how I can help.
To begin, I start the list with: I can....
  • I can give him the tools to work through his deficits.
  • I can love him and teach him to love.
  • I can create a safe, routine, and nurturing environment to promote learning and his/her potential.
  • I can look for new ways to teach through pictures, experience and others.
  • I can diminish anxiety through sensory awareness, sensory diets, and instinct.
  • I can treat him/her as a valuable member of our family.
  • I can learn from my son's hard work, tenacity, exuberance, and integrity. He is a hero.
  • I can...


From my previous post the diversity day held at my sons school was great. Stations were set up with simulations from friends who have a disability. Suggest this to your school or PTA. Stations and/or simulations consisted of: fine motor activities (buttoning or snapping a coat with oven mitts on, writing with your least dominant hand, grasping small items with tweezers), Gross motor activities (trying to make a basket while in a wheel chair), simple activities (walking blindfolded) and much more.

Be passionate without intense emotion. I noticed how intense the guests were on that CNN program last night. It came to my attention that I may look as intense while dealing with PPT's or other meetings for my son. It is hard to deny such feelings but I am beginning to realize that I am sending out the wrong message. I may not be achieving what I set out to because I look like I am just a crazy parent. I want everyone to understand the importance of my requests or actions through the passion I possess. Unfortunately, my passion may be the very thing that is discrediting me and my purpose.

Sign up to support or raise money for Autism. We participate in the Walk Now for Autism in Westchester, NY, raising funds for Autism Speaks.


April 6th: Discovery Health Channel - begins at 8 p.m EST - Unlocking Autism -