Stories From thre Heart: Attitude adjustment

Our almost 9 year old is in the autistic spectrum.  We live in a world where periods of apparent normalcy are punctuated with acute reminders of his condition.  For example, as smart as he is, he can walk right in to traffic without giving it a second thought.

One day, we had to be somewhere, and we were running late.  I asked him to put his coat on and went ahead to get ready myself.  When I was ready, he, of course did not have his coat on; he got distracted with a book.

Things like this had happened with TV, with a butterfly or even with a piece of paper.  I got impatient, and went on to put his coat on myself.  As I was doing it, I muttered “This is hopeless”.  He then looked at me with his beautiful brown eyes, pouted and told me “But I’m full of hope”.

I looked at him, gave him a hug, and realized that I wasn’t in such a hurry anymore.

By Unknown Author

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Stories From the Heart: The Only Way We’ve Ever Known Him

I needed to keep it together; hold back the tears, even though the struggle to do so felt like trying to stop a river from overflowing with just one bag of sand. I didn’t want to indulge my emotions in the clinical coldness of a Neurologist’s office. I preferred to grieve over my son privately, in the quiet of my own home.

My husband, Tom, stood in the corner. I sat in a chair holding our four week old son, Daniel. We listened to what the doctor had to say. But we found it hard to accept.
“I’m very concerned. His head size is below the fifth percentile on the growth chart. The effect that this will have on his development will be profound.” Tom defended our newborn, saying, “He seems alert, though, doesn’t he?”

The Neurologist replied, “It doesn’t take much brain to be a four week old.” I hated the man from that moment on. He continued, “During the first trimester the cells probably didn’t migrate to the brain the way they are supposed to. It’s a tragedy. I know how you feel. I have kids of my own. Just take him home and love him”. He knows how we feel? I didn’t think so!

Tom moved over to stand beside me, and put a hand on my shoulder. Daniel was nursing, and feeling him at my breast, seeing his quiet innocence was more than I could bear. The tears came.

“Well, at least it’s the only way we’ve ever known him,” Tom reassured. He massaged my shoulder. “It would be worse if he started out fine, and we knew him the way we know our daughter, and then he was injured in a car accident or something….” His voice trailed off. I know that neither of us felt relief in that sentiment. Personally, I was determined to prove this lunatic in the white coat wrong.

It’s been seven years since that day. After a period of wondering, we knew that the good doctor was right. That didn’t stop me from reading many books filled with miraculous stories. The right therapy program, the perfect mix of vitamins and voila! Child healed. Not so for my Daniel.

He is profoundly mentally and physically disabled for reasons that we may never understand. Those brain cells that didn’t migrate during my first trimester are indeed most likely why.

In the beginning of Daniel’s life my fear of mental retardation was so intense it left me wishing tI could die. Within a few months that faded away. For another year I wondered if he would “catch up” in development. Next, I hoped for a disability similar to Down Syndrome. At least then I could know what to expect.

Over time, I began to appreciate Daniel for exactly who he is. This happened with the support of good friends who also have profoundly disabled children. Six of us, dubbed the Molehill Mothers, precisely because we’ve learned to turn mountains into molehills, have helped me in my transformed thinking.

We met on the Internet, and each of us has a child who is non-verbal, and all of them are severely to profoundly affected by brain abnormalities. What is our mission, if there is one? I believe it’s our appreciation for the spirit of our kids, despite their disabilities, or perhaps because of them.

The smiles, the laughs, the little steps forward in development are celebrated. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves (most of the time, anyway), and we support one another in our unusual lives. We have learned to take it all in stride and not make our simple lives more difficult than they need be. The terrain we travel is always navigatable, even if we weren’t given the road map. Sometimes you just need to stop and ask for directions.

Daniel is my son. He is never going to marry, hold a job, or have a regular conversation with me. Yet he is one of the main reasons that I smile every day.

By Carolyn Murray

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Stories From the Heart: The Rose Meets the Toad

There was once a very beautiful rose that looked wonderful and smelled even better.  The rose felt on top of the world.  It knew that it was the most beautiful rose of the garden.

Nevertheless, it noticed that people saw it at a distance, never up close. The rose realized that next to her, there was always a big dark toad, and that was the reason that nobody got near her, or so she thought! The rose was upset by the discovery, and ordered the toad out of the garden immediately; the very obedient toad said, “Fine with me, if that’s what you want, I will go”.

Some time passed.  The toad happened to be nearby one day and noticed that the rose had withered, it had no leaves and no petals. The toad got close to the rose and said, “I see you are going through some tough times, what happened?” The rose said, “Since you left, the ants have eaten me day by day, little by little, and I will never be the same.”

The toad replied, “No wonder the ants ate you, when I was near you, I was the one who ate those ants, and for that reason you were the most beautiful rose of the garden”.

Life lesson: We might discriminate or despise someone because we think that we amount to more than him or her, that we are prettier, or that the person does not serve us of any use. Every one of us was created with a purpose. Each one of us has something to learn, something to teach, or something to give.

We should not discriminate against anyone, regardless of how they act, how they look, or any disability that him or her may have.  Let us all get along and treat each other with respect!

Author Unknown

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Stories From the Heart: I Wrote This Story for My Little Boy

It came from a sad experience seven months ago. We were at a movie theater and for the first time my son was attempting to speak.

A gentleman with two children was sitting a few rows away from us. He approached me and spoke very nasty to me because my little boy was doing echolalia. He was imitating many phrases that he heard on the screen. To me, it was a miracle. My son was attempting to speak. He had been non-verbal. To him, it was an annoyance. Even though it wasn’t in a loud voice.

He comes close to me while I had my little boy in my arms and said that he couldn’t enjoy the movie, that my son was disturbing him. Mind you it was a children’s movie. He said that he would go to the manager and have us kicked out of the theater.

My husband attempted to grab him by the neck, but I didn’t let him. I couldn’t, I didn’t want my other 3 children to think that violence is the answer or the solution to any problem.

I ran to the manager in tears to inform him of the situation, he told the cops who were patrolling the area. The man was escorted out of the theater through the back door. They wanted to avoid confrontation between my husband and him.

The cops insisted on arresting him but I didn’t let him. I think he was going to have an attitude adjustment after the embarrassment he suffered in front of his children. One of the officers happened to be a parent of a special needs child. He insisted on handcuffing the man and throwing him in the back of the patrol car.

I felt compassion for the kids that were with him, and for the ones that were with me. The manager gave us free tickets, popcorn and snacks. I was thankful but that was not my intention. I was simply trying to avoid a violent incident. And although I was heartbroken, I didn’t let my anger and the other emotions take over.

I felt terrible and I cried for three days. I felt my heart was broken in tiny pieces. How could an adult with children of his own, express himself that away and treat a defenseless little angel so mean? He didn’t bother to ask questions, didn’t bother to use manners, he chose to be just plain ignorant and inconsiderate.

I prayed for forgiveness and I wrote this story for my little boy.

Author Unknown

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Stories From the Heart: Acceptance

When my son Daniel was only eleven months old, I went for my annual check-up with my obstetrician. While I waited for my name to be called my mind drifted. I had spent a lot of time there the previous year, preparing for Daniel’s birth. The smell of the office was familiar and made my body almost feel expectant again.

I imagined that if I went through the waiting room door and into one of the cubicles beyond it I might travel back in time. Maybe my pregnant belly would reappear and I would discover that my baby was due next month and that the last year was a hallucination.

Perhaps I could go back to the moment in time that Daniel’s brain growth slowed and change some circumstance or other that would restore it to normal development. What if passing through that door meant awakening to a different reality?

There were two women nearby, one with a baby Daniel’s age. They were discussing the sounds their babies were making. The baby boy was repeating “ma-ma” and the other mom mentioned that her daughter was still stuck on “da-da”. I watched them and felt a twinge. It brought home again how real his delays were. It seemed to me that he’d been left in their dust and that trying to catch up would be like my being able to lose fifteen pounds before Thanksgiving, only ten days away.

I was used to these passing feelings by then. Mostly I had accepted that my son has special challenges, but sometimes the desire for normalcy rose up within me without warning. Seeing other children his age was one strong impetus for those feelings. Even now, fear of the future ebbs and flows, and optimism follows a similar course.

When I sat down to have my blood pressure taken at the doctor’s office that morning, I let the sadness wash over me. Being there reminded me of the high hopes I’d had for my baby while he was still growing inside of me. I felt the reality of Microcephaly again and let it go. My life so far hasn’t provided any magical doors to change, just portals leading to deeper opportunities for learning how to really love.

Time goes on. Overall I’ve reached a pretty good balance between trying to optimize his development as much as possible and just plain enjoy him like any toddler (even though he doesn’t “toddle” yet). It isn’t hard to fall in love with the adorable little guy, either. All he has to do is smile at me and I’m his.

In a fast food and microwave society it’s possible to go through life never really appreciating the savory taste of food grown in the backyard, cooked slowly over a flaming burner in your own kitchen. We tend to want things not now, but yesterday. Daniel’s birth began a unique training in patience for me.

Having a child with delays in development can sometimes make you feel that you’re trying to force a plant to grow. Goals are painstakingly met. It’s hard to spend day after day working on a simple skill like holding a bottle when the weeks so often turn into months. So much for the quick-zap, drive-through parenting method!

The upside of the story is that when a milestone is reached, the elation that everyone feels is a high like no other. When my son was finally able to sit without toppling over or folding into the taco position, it was cause for a celebration in our house. When he learned to clap I made homemade chocolate pudding for dessert that night, and we all applauded him in kind.

When we brought Daniel home from the hospital I thought that his having significant challenges would make my life forever sad. It has not. I am happy in ways that I’ve never imagined before. My son is a major reason for that joy. He grows my heart bigger and helps me to see how capable I really am. He teaches me.

Since his birth he has been examined by over a dozen specialists. He’s undergone magnetic resonance imaging, CT scans of his brain, electroencephalograms to observe his brain’s electrical activity, and countless venipunctures so that his blood can be analyzed for one thing or another. He has physical, occupational, speech, vision, and developmental therapy. Throughout all of  this he’s become an affectionate, playful little boy.

He’s two years old now. I no longer have fantasies of waking up to a different circumstance. Our life together is not what I expected, it’s true; and I would never pass up an opportunity to make things easier for him. But in the meantime, in that space of time that becomes our lives, I’m loving a little boy who amazes us every day by his courage, love, and wrought iron will. In those things, he’s way ahead of the game.

By Carolyn Murray

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Top 10 Autism Tools for Improving Communication

Those who have interacted with autistic people have become aware of the need to help them improve their communication skills. This type of people began to be frustrated when they can’t express their needs. Fortunately, there are a lot of strategies that parents can use to improve the communication abilities of their autistic children. Programs and tools must be developed by parents and teachers to help children with autism learn the basic skills generated in school and overcome frequent problems resulted from lack of communication. Here are some of the top autism tools which you can apply to help your children get along with others effectively.

Help an Autistic Child Communicate with the World They Live in

From: www.aspergersinfo.com

So, I was on twitter recently (nothing new there I know) when I came across a very interesting tweet from one of my new followers.

The tweet in question contained a link to a very interesting website and article focused around a campaign that is aiming to help children with autism by providing them with a way to communicate with the world they live in! Here’s how.

With your help a child with autism can be given the tools needed to better communicate their needs, making the world a much easier place for them to live in. The charity making this happen is “Hearts & Minds Challenge

To learn more about the strategy on how to help your autistic child improve his or her communication skills, visit www.aspergersinfo.com.

Augmentative Communication for Autistic Children

From: www.brighthubeducation.com

SpringBoard Plus

For any child the ability to communicate is an important part of learning. For autistic children this can prove to be a unique challenge. Using augmentative communication tools even a non-verbal child can learn how to reach their full potential.

For years educators have been aware of the advantages of introducing children to enriched learning environments that reinforce a child’s primary learning style whether they are an auditory, kinesthetic or visual learner. An auditory learner interprets the underlying meaning of speech through tone, pitch and voice speed.

Visit www.brighthubeducation.com for more details about augmentative communication.

 

iPad gives voice to kids with autism

From: www.ibackflip.com

Sharia stood immobile in front of the television, transfixed by its images, unaware of the world around her. Her family called her name over and over again, but she did not respond. It was that moment when they knew something was wrong.

Initially, they thought it was a hearing problem. When they found nothing wrong, they decided to take 2-year-old Sharia to a specialist at an early detection center in 2009.

“Within five minutes of looking at Sharia, (the specialist) said that she has autism,” said Sharia’s father, Fawad Siddiqui. “A very clear case of it.”

If you want to understand how iPad helps autistic people develop their communication abilities, visit www.ibackflip.com.

iPhone App for Autism Students

From: www.theimum.com

Brandy Wheeler is on a mission to place iPads in the hands of every local student with Autism. To meet this lofty goal she partnered with Traverse City Area Public Schools to expand their iPads for Autism program. While planning the upcoming fundraiser, the Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism, Apple finally released the latest edition of their iPad tablet leaving consumers faced with the difficult decision: What to do with their iPad2? Wheeler has the solution: Donate it to TCAPS to support the iPads for Autism program. “We took a creative approach to fundraising by using social media for social good. Breathing new life into old technology fits right in with our goals.”

This iPhone app for autistic students describes how technology helps a lot in improving one’s communication skills. Visit www.theimum.com for more details.

Alternative Treatments for Autistic Children

From: www.babiestobigkids.com

autism todayA small, uncontrolled case series (reports of the experiences of three children on the autism spectrum who received synthetic intravenous secretin during a routine endoscopy evaluation for gastrointestinal problems) resulted in the funding of the largest controlled trial of an alternative treatment for autism ever conducted. The initial report noted that within five weeks of the secretin infusion the children experienced “a significant amelioration of” their gastrointestinal symptoms but also a “dramatic improvement in their behavior, manifested by improved eye contact, alertness and expansion of expressive language.” The same results were reported after a second infusion given weeks later.

If you want to learn some alternative treatments for autistic children, visit www.babiestobigkids.com.

Autism Communication Resources: Computers and Technology

From: www.brighthubeducation.com

Autistic children often have problems with verbal communication. There are a number of solutions involving technology to communicate with children that have a hard time expressing themselves verbally.

Verbal communication is often one of the issues that those on the autism spectrum live with daily. It doesn’t mean they are ignoring you or that there are physical problems with the ears or physical items linked with oral communication. What it does mean is that you need to try something besides talking if you want to communicate with the individual who has autistic communication issues. Don’t give up help on verbal communication, just understand that there may be other steps you need to take before you can assist the autistic individual in verbalizing their thoughts.

What to know more how computers and technology develop the communication skills of autistic people? Visit www.brighthubeducation.com.

Benefits of Social Media to Those with Autism

From: www.blog.hearourvoices.org

Social media has become a staple in communication across the globe. It allows for constant contact, networking, and various levels of friendly and professional communication that could not otherwise be achieved. It provides an unlimited amount of benefits, with the digital world at the fingertips of anyone who chooses to use it. One impact that social media has that is less commonly explored is its impact on those with autism in the communication world.

Visit www.blog.hearourvoices.org for more information about the benefits of social media to autistic people.

 

Vast Autism Improves Communication 

From: www.a4cwsn.com

Vast Autism

VAST-Autism provides unprecedented support for spoken language, combining evidence-based best practices and technology to deliver remarkable results.

VAST-Autism is a groundbreaking tool that provides state-of-the-art therapy to students with autism and motor speech programming disorders such as apraxia. VAST-Autism combines the highly effective concept of video modeling with written words and auditory cues to help individuals acquire relevant words, phrases and sentences so that they can speak for themselves. For children and individuals with strong visual skills, this can be a key to developing speech.

Vast Autism is one of the trending autism tools today. If you want to know more about this effective tool, visit www.a4cwsn.com.

Effective Autism Tool

From: www.autismandoughtisms.com

Photo: S. Subramanium

I’ve been making my way through a book which is a compilation of the life stories of successful autistic adults, written by themselves. The compilation is brought together by Temple Grandin, and is called “Different… Not Less.” Once I complete the book I’ll do a full review, but at this stage I want to write about a particular recurring aspect in the stories, which is already impacting on how I view autism and my son.

These successful adults were typically diagnosed late in life, even though their autism (and associated conditions) were impacting on their lives from childhood. Late diagnosis of these adults is no mystery, considering the huge rise over the past two decades in awareness and recognition of autism, and the changes in autism criteria during that time.

To read more about this autism tool, visit www.autismandoughtisms.com.

 

iPad Storytelling App for Kids With Autism

From: www.autismandoughtisms.com.

Bellingham, Washington – Limited Cue LLC, an independent mobile application developer, has just rocketed their second application to the Apple App Store worldwide. Stories About Me is an Apple iPad application designed specifically for kids with autism, kids with special needs and disabilities, and early learners in general. The application helps the users to create situational stories about themselves, and to share what they think and feel with others.

Founded in 2012, Limited Cue dedicates themselves to designing and building mobile applications for users with severe to moderate disabilities along with their families and educators. The company was established to fill a market void for specific education tools, games and aids in the form of affordable mobile applications. They carry the mission to provide useful applications with exceptional entertainment and educational value to enable users learning, playing, practicing and having fun at the same time.’

Visit www.autismandoughtisms.com for more information.

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1 in
45

Diagnosed with Autism

Over
100

Autism Diagnosis a Day

Costs
238

Billion per Year

Boys are
4

Times More at Risk