Stories From the Heart: A Dream, a Hope, a Prayer, a Life With Autism

It is very important in our lives to dream as young children and to always be encouraged by our parents to reach for the stars in all that we do. When we are kids we are constantly evolving and growing and we are always learning and developing throughout our youth. The time in the life of a young child is very special and it should be filled with hope, optimism, encouragement, enthusiasm, and prayers to God for our child’s good health, happiness and a life filled with promise, hope, dreams, vision and self confidence.

It is every parent’s hope that their child is healthy and able to develop naturally and adapt to the typical changes that children encounter as they grow. We all are grateful for being blessed with a child in our life and we always want the best for them. If a child is born with Autism or some form of disability it means that child will have some challenges ahead in their life, but they should have the same dreams and hopes that every child needs to have in their life.

My son is Autistic and he has challenges that we are trying to help him deal with. At times it seems he will have his share of difficulties and periods of isolation. I only wish that he could realize when he struggles that he has the love and support of his mom and dad and he has many in his corner working to help him.

For many people Autism is not really understood and from outward appearance for the typical person raised in a typical community very difficult to assess. There are many Autistic children who from first impression seem very normal, so when they seem to act out in an inappropriate way, to the dismay of others, it seems they are defiant and unruly. This for most Autistic kids is the furthest from the truth and it seems the parents are thought of as not being able to discipline their children.

The reality is that the parents will do anything to help their Autistic child and they put so much time, effort and compassion into raising their special child so they can hopefully fit in and have lesser outbursts and meltdowns. It is not easy raising an Autistic child and for most families it tests their very limits of patience and endurance and adds a great deal of stress and financial pressure on the family. It is very important to accept the situation and work together with family and all in the support network to help that Autistic child find their way in the world.

To an Autistic child the world can be a very scary and intimidating place and they would rather live in their little place that is safe and free from confrontation. Autistic children tend to have social difficulties and feel that they cannot fit in unfortunately. It takes very committed family and professionals to help address these children with their thoughts and insecurities and help them through these social obstacles.

It is our dreams, hopes, wishes and prayers that help us through these challenging times and give us the insight and knowledge that will help us find the dedication we need to get our Autistic child on the right path in their life so they can have the same chances and opportunities that all children deserve in their life.

The one thing I have learned about raising an Autistic child is that my sense of life and purpose revolves around my son and everything I do or plan to do is for helping him become better and more self confident. Autistic children do tend to suffer from anxiety and have many challenges and it sometimes can be emotionally very trying in their life and the parent’s as well.

As a parent I strongly urge you to never give up on your child and to always show compassion and hold on to hope and provide love, support and encouragement. There is nothing like seeing an Autistic child blossom and come into their own after realizing the struggles they encounter.

To see an Autistic child smile and hear them acknowledge that they feel loved and accepted and to truly help them find something that challenges them and gives them self confidence is the best gift we can ever experience in our life as parents.

The many ups and downs we will encounter as parents raising our children is all worth it if we can set the standard for them so they will benefit and grow and become happy, well balanced, confident and caring young adults ready to take on life’s challenges and have dreams, hopes, wishes and vision. I pray every day for my son to have a wonderful life with Autism.

Dedicated to my son who inspires me every day.

By Edward Iannielli

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

A Personal Message from Karen Simmons

When I co-authored “Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children with Special Needs” with Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Heather McNamara, the biggest dilemma we faced was what to call the book ,as folks both did and did not want to be labeled in certain ways. It was reported to be the most challenging title the Chicken Soup people wrestled with to date. What we learned was that people on the autism spectrum and other spectrums for that matter, are people first before their condition!

Some of my favorite people are on the autism spectrum! My dad, my son, Stephen Shore, my sister (maybe) and even a bit of me! When my son was diagnosed in 1992 I embraced his autism and mostly tried to focus on his gifts, strengths and talents rather than the deficits he displayed at the time, after I got over the initial denial of it all. Of course I had the same challenges families face in those beginning years and could have chosen to have a negative attitude and chose instead to focus on the positives as much as I could. As part of his early intervention, before the days of behavioral interventions, I wasn’t about to wait around for science to prove to me whether certain methodologies were legit or not. I just wanted to find tools that would enable him to have the best life he could have.

Of course I used my own “mom” common sense compass, built into most moms, though I tried things to help my son that were not necessarily science based. They were “mom” based. My real question is who are we to “fix” people? All people are broken in some way, and to different degrees. ALL people have different ways of being though certainly no one is “better” than the next person. If we feel with our hearts and souls while helping people through tough times, in whatever way makes sense at the time, the world will be a better place!

Our time on the planet is all-together too short to waste on efforts that take an extraordinary amount of time to prove one way or the other. Often, by the time double blind studies are concluded, methodologies have changed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Polyanna, with an altruistic view, and I do believe in research with a true return on investment. I propose that we focus to create a better overall society that promotes everybody flourishing.

Autism is not a disease, an illness or a disorder, it’s a different order and people on the spectrum as well as other spectrums, are wonderful souls and deserve the best, most successful lives, whatever that might look like. Thanks for being you, John!

Karen Simmons
CEO, AUTISM TODAY

Stories From the Heart : Children are Unique

Children are unique it doesn’t matter they are regular or disable. They need age appropriate specific content, lesson plan and delightful learning atmosphere to improve their overall developmental domains. The way of teaching Children with developmental delays and Children with special needs are more challenging than typically develop children. The exceptional children need exceptional pedagogical instructions to meet their needs, as an instance.

I teach Preschool Students with special needs, students identified with developmental delays in the domain of language-communication, fine, gross, sensory motor, social-emotional, behavioral and activities of daily living skills. Most of the students were verbal and familiar with their name, but they did not initiate to utter their names. At circle time I used to sing a song with the name of each student:

 

If your name is (e.g., David)

You are wearing blue

Come to the circle

Clapping, Clapping, Clap

Jumping, jumping jump

Spinning, spinning, spin


And the next couple of days I sang the song, if your name is … appropriate placement for the students for future education plan.  And stopped singing to point to a particular child. The child then uttered his name. I applied this strategy by rotation to the all students. The students were able to learn utter their name, recognizing color, taking turns and following directions to comply all gross motor activities.

Gradually the students exhibited significant improvement in expressive and receptive language, as well as cognitive, fine, gross and sensory motor skills. I emphasized rhythms instead of word and command.

Special needs youngsters require concrete support to enhance their academic and behavioral skills. Hence, the teaching method of special needs children should be on right track. The teachers and caregivers can benefit from implementing potential teaching strategy on students, individual learning strength.

On the basis of students, (IEP) goals, the teachers can apply baseline assessment test to the students to bring out the deficiency on any particular domain. Then begin treatment with appropriate method on this skill, until the students are mastered. The mastery criteria of the students will help to find.

By Dilara Begum, Special Education Teacher

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

Stories From the Heart: Qi for ASD

Traditional Chinese Medicine Provides a Research Based Approach to Using Medical Qigong to Help Children on the Autism Spectrum

Parents of special needs children often become advocates willing to pursue innovative approaches to helping their children.  In my case, my eclectic background as a Harvard-trained developmental psychologist and acupuncturist led me to pursue options offered by Chinese medicine for my own children, who have had sensory integration challenges.

Imagine my surprise in discovering that an American medical doctor trained in classical Chinese medicine had already charted this territory and come away with a comprehensive treatment approach that pulls forward ancient teachings of medical Qigong  to treat children with sensory integration challenges, and had published research to demonstrate that her approach supports significant developmental gains in children with ASD.

This Western MD had taken her initiative a step further and was actively placing Qigong in the hands of early intervention specialists and parents via a training program that honors the age old principle that Chinese medicine is fundamentally for families.  Dr. Louisa Silva has been publishing research for the past 6 years  showing that her intervention, “Qigong Sensory Training”, reduces sensory impairment and improves adaptive behaviors in children with ASD.

Her most recent publication draws on Chinese medical theory to suggest that Autism involves the interplay of impaired sensory development and delayed emergence of self- regulation.  Addressing this delay via Qigong can help children fill in missing developmental milestones.

My training provided a lens to review Dr. Silva’s research—which I found compelling enough to invite her to come to the Boston area for the first time to offer her thorough training to occupational therapists and acupuncturists. The training also teaches parents to deliver Qigong massage.  My experiences working with children and parents in the program contribute to my enthusiasm over this approach.  We are already seeing signs of reduction in sensory impairment in the children novice practitioners are treating.

Through ongoing outreach, Dr. Silva aims to expand the reach of this Qigong Sensory Training Intervention.  If you are an open minded parent who wants to engage hands-on in your child’s wellness, consider participating in a QST training near you!

Author Bio:
Maria A. Broderick, MAOM, Ed.D., Lic.Ac., practices Chinese medicine with a focus on child and adolescent health and development.  Maria is a member of the clinical faculty of the New England School of Acupuncture (www.nesa.edu), where she supervises acupuncture interns in the pediatric in patient unit and the adolescent outpatient clinic at Boston Medical Center. Maria holds a Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine from the New England School of Acupuncture and a doctoral degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University, where she previously served on the Faculty of Education. Maria is a Schweitzer Fellow for Life. She is the Director of Reservoir Family Wellness (www.reservoirfamilywellness), in Acton, MA, where she treats children with ASD with Chinese medicine.

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

Stories From the Heart: Special Needs Kids and Team Sports

It is a bright sunny day and the weather is perfect for a soccer game.  The soccer ball is coming fast down the grassy field.  The boys are all trying to defend it by kicking the ball away.  My 11 years old HFA and Asperger son is on this defensive team.  He is ready and kicks the ball out from between the offensive players’ legs.  What a save right?

My Autistic sons’ stories don’t generally end that simple, but it appears after each moment in time, and in this case there is no disappointment.

But then the offensive boy calls my son a name.  It doesn’t matter what the name is.  My son no longer cares about the soccer ball. He heads straight for the player and pushes him to the ground.  Of course this is not permitted in a soccer game and he gets carded and sent out.  His frustration level is high now and he can’t calm down. He runs away to get all of the emotion out of his body, head and later calmly returns.  Everyone is wondering what happened.

It is tough for our special needs children to be involved in team sports. Team sports should be a rewarding and fun time.  I have spoken to many parents that don’t involve their special needs kids in team activities anymore.  It just became too difficult and I am sad about this.

For one, it is such a good way to get the exercise and high level of physical activity our kids need.  Secondly, being part of a team typically enhances friendships because they have this sport in common and enjoy it together.  Generally our special needs kids are lacking in friendships due to the inability to understand the complex relationship in being and having a friend or at the other end of the spectrum because they are the ones being teased, taunted and bullied.

As my son grows older in age, his maturity grows at a much slower rate than the other boys on his team.  He has asked us that we not tell the others that he is autistic because most team players do not understand autism and don’t want to be educated on it.  Now at the soccer games, I am fearful that he will act out or say something inappropriate.

He will outcast himself as he has done so many times before unbeknownst to himself.  We attempt to explain to him these non-existent social rules.  He listens and says that he understands but as soon as he steps onto the field, they are forgotten or missed.  He loves this game and he is a good player.

In the end all he wants from the game is a friend, but the playing field is not fair just like in life.  The lack of fairness in life is a good lesson for anyone to learn, but these special needs kids are already at a disadvantage once diagnosed and to continue this theme in their life just places an even greater emphasis on how much they have to overcome to be accepted.

By Monica Johns

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

Contact Info

Toll Free: 1-866-9AUTISM (928-8476)

New York Office: 244 5th Avenue New York, NY 10001 Fax: 1-780-416-4330,

Canadian Office: 11007 Jaspar Ave Edmonton, Alberta T5K 0K6

Copyright 2017 © All Rights Reserved

1 in
45

Diagnosed with Autism

Over
100

Autism Diagnosis a Day

Costs
238

Billion per Year

Boys are
4

Times More at Risk