Friday, March 28, 2014

My Kind of Autism.

My kind of Autism..

Recently the CDC came out with their number of diagnosed cases of Autism. 1:68. Each of those cases are so unique to that person. The puzzle piece has always been the “unofficial” mascot or symbol for Autism. Mainly because of Autism Speaks. It has now become so widely known that Blue and puzzle pieces are associated with Autism. Which is fantastic in the grand scheme of things. But what about the person. The person who has this disorder.  The “Light it Up Blue” Campaign is great for putting Autism on the map for a month. One whole month. But the question goes back to, “What about the person who actually has this?” And that right there is My kind of Autism. The stories of individuals. Unique Individuals. Who, in a sense only share a diagnosis.

For me I have two kinds of Autism living in my house. Two very distinctly different forms of the same diagnosis.

I have the autistic child that is withdrawn. Will shy away from sensory stimuli. Socially immature for their age. Academically behind. A child that perservates over questions. Questions they know the answer to, but still needs to ask over and over again. They wildly flap their hands and feet when overstimulated. They have meltdowns that the world doesn’t understand when there is change. They are particular in the way things need to be done.

The other autistic is a whirlwind. Never stops. Has no concept of where their body is in space. They have sensory issues where they gravitate towards sensory stimuli. Loud noises, bright lights, motion, textures that are magnified. They will only eat 4 things on this planet. Their sensory needs are so magnified that trying to focus on something is difficult. They are non verbal. Where when trying to communicate reaches a level of frustration that results in bite their own arm.

So as you can see there is two very different autistic children. They share a diagnosis. That’s it. So when the CDC and Autism Speaks puts out their numbers about cases, think about how many unique individuals are out there. With that number, we need to educate more. With every ignorant remark, is a chance to set the record straight. That not every Autistic person is like Temple Grandin, Carly Fleischmann or even Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. Temple and Carly are good spokespeople for those who are Autistic, but they are their own person. Uniquely different from each other and others. Rainman was the extreme look at what it was like for a person with Autism. But all three are not my kind of Autism.

My kind of Autism is in the form of two fantastic children, who are sweet and kind. They feel, see, hear and taste this world uniquely to them. And with that, they have challenges that only they have to face. So when it comes time for “Autism Awareness Month”, “Light it up Blue” and puzzle pieces everywhere, please remember the individual. Educate when you can. Fight for them to live as human beings on this planet as they were put on this earth to do. To live. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Dear Girl...

My Dear Girl,

From the minute I found out I was going to be a parent, I swore to protect you, nurture you and love you unconditionally. It was now my job to make sure you made it out of childhood alive and that you would be taught the necessary tools to live.

No one ever said it was going to be easy. This parenting thing. When I first felt you kick while reading all the books on how to be a great parent, I thought I knew what I was doing. When you made your arrival known to the world, with your audible screech, I made sure you had all your fingers and toes. I held you for the first time, nuzzled at the breast, listening to you suckle. This was the first time in my life I felt alive. I knew right then, at that moment that you were this special gift that needed me.

I made sure to write down all of your milestones. From your first smile to your first sound. I wanted you to experience the world on your own time. Revel in the delight of discovery. Your smile would light up my day. Your little giggle would be the best thing in the world. Watching you grow into this darling little girl who seem to have her own little world....

But then it stopped. It stopped when I didn't hear your little laugh and I didn't see your smile. It stopped when I saw your frustration of trying to communicate. I went back and looked through all those parenting books to see if there was something to do. There was nothing. I tried taking you to the doctor who kept telling us, " Oh, she is just a late bloomer.."  A year where I went back and forth. They didn't see your struggle. They didn't understand how you tried. They didn't see my little girl retreat into her own little world that understood her. They didn't know how much it hurt my heart seeing you this way. My job to make sure you prospered was on the line. I had felt that I had failed you. When my heart couldn't take it anymore, I fought back. You deserved better.

I remember the first specialist you saw. A Speech therapist. She was kind. She had a soft look to her. She had done her testing with you. I remember the look on her face when she had said there is something beyond speech that is happening with this child. Your Daddy held my hand knowing that my heart had dropped. We knew this was just the beginning of our journey. From there you saw countless Doctors. Finally we had gotten an answer. In your own little world where things were what they were supposed to and you were just you, the reality of it is, you had Autism.

The next few years with you were a learning experience for us. You started school. And you had a wonderful ABA therapist who guided you. You found your voice again. God, I cried when I heard that little voice tell me that you wanted "Cheese" or that you were sad. I still see you struggle, but now you have your own way to tell the world who you are.

I look back at those photographs, when you lived in your world. My darling Little Miss. You always had this calm way about you, but deep down you fought. You fought hard to make your existence known. Through everything that you have had to deal with, you have come out a fighter.

What you don't realize is that, travelling with you through your journey and seeing how much you have over come, you have given me hope. You have given me hope that I need for your brother's journey with Autism. You have made me realize to never quit. You will never stop teaching people how to experience the world as you do.

When you are old enough to venture out, I hope you find this. I hope you realize just how special you are. Not because of the diagnosis that was given to you, but because you are just one of thousands of unique humans to graces us with your existence.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When is it not ok?

 Pushing someone's buttons is a past time for some people. We, humans are so critical of each other. In this spirit of being critical and mean, why don't people ask themselves, When is it not ok?

When is it not ok to criticize a parent who is struggling to parent their child? Is it when you can already tell they are having a bad day and are just trying to make through the next 5 minutes of their life?

When is it not ok to pass judgement on how someone chooses to live their lives? Is it when you tell them  that the choices they have made are wrong? Even though you don't live their lifestyle?

When is it ok to pick on someone because they look different than you? Is it when you have just called them Retard, Nigger, Faggot or any other name off the derogatory list?

When is it ok to make a person feel like they have a disability because you say they can't do something?Is it when you tell a parent of a special needs child, that their child isn't going to amount to much?

When is it ok to discriminate someone because of their faith? Is it when you tell them they are going to hell because you don't agree with what they practice?

When is it ok for you tell someone who is suffering from a mental illness that their feelings and thoughts are invalid because you deem them to be? Or that they be subjected to ridicule? Is it when you continually provoke that person until they snap?

When is it ok for you to disrespect someone on such an epic level, they feel they don't want to live on this planet any more? Is it when you call them weak for committing suicide?

When is it ok for humans to treat other's like this?

The answer is never. Never should a person made to feel smaller. Never should a person be harassed, discriminated against or wronged for being the person they are. Never should a person be made to feel they are invalid. People have their own thoughts and opinions about how life should be lived. The trick comes when people start focusing on their own lives, instead of those around them.

It is never ok to make another person feel like they don't have a purpose. Everyone has a purpose. Whether it is to love, educate, farm, drive a bus.. whatever it maybe everyone has the right to live their lives accordingly.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Combat Boots that are worn...

Have you ever looked at a Soldier's combat boots? The soles are worn, they are scuffed up and could use a good polish. Sure they protect the soldier's feet from the elements, but do you ever take the time to wonder where those boots have been? The far away lands they have walked on. The places they have ran. The circumstances they have run from. A Soldier's combat boots can tell you a lot about the Veteran's time in the service.

Today's Service member's feet have been boots on ground pretty much globally.Those boots have been more places Worldwide than any other pair of shoes. They walked the desert sands during the Gulf War. They did it again after 9/11. From there those boots went to Afghanistan. Where they still walk the walk. They still help carry the wounded. They still help take a Service Member away from a fire fight. Those boots help the every day person try and live a better life.

In the 1960's-1970's, they walked through the jungles of Vietnam. They waded through the rice fields and through the Monsoons to fight a virtually invisible enemy. They carried their wounded back to the hospital tents. They carried the service member who was in a war that was not supported by some. They brought them back to a nation that shunned them for simply following orders.

In the 1950's, those combat boots went to Korea. They were once again on the feet of a Veteran's who, most of them fought in the WWII, again trying to make a life better for people. Those boots helped establish the DMZ, that is still kept today.

In the 1940's, those combat boots were put to the test. In a war that spanned across two continents. Europe and Asia. Those boots fought the injustice that was brought down by the Nazis.They stormed the beaches of Normandy.  They battled their way across France, Belgium and the Netherlands. They marched into Germany in hopes of liberation. They were on the feet of our Veterans when they saw the lowest of what Humans could do to each other when they discovered the Concentration Camps. In 1941, those combat boots were boots on ground in Asia. They fought against the Jungles of the South Pacific to the decks of our finest ships fighting of Kamikaze Pilots. Those boots liberated the Philippines with McArthur and so many more countries.

At the turn of the century, they were on the feet of those in the trenches fighting in a War that was herald as the "Bloodiest the World had ever seen." They were on the feet of those who went over the top into the unknown. They tried to protect against trench rot, but the elements were to strong. WWI had them battling it out in the country side of France and Belgium. They were there because a student was disgruntled with the Hierarchy and Politics that played with the lives of the poor.

For a brief time in history, these boots were in the War of 1812. A war that only lasted 32 months.

It was the Civil War, that saw these boots, in a war that pitted Americans against each other. The North vs the South. These boots marched across the Eastern States fighting for what was right for them. Whether it was to declare slaves free or remove the harsh taxation on Cotton put upon by the North. Over four years, those boots saw battle in 237 named battles.

In American history, it was the Revolutionary War that those boots were on the feet of those gaining independence. They fought against oppression from a Country that had taxed its colonies to death. They fought for their own country. Those boots where on those who were at the birth of this Nation.

It goes without saying that we have lost a lot of combat boots along the way. Those who have died wearing them into battle. Remember the Battlefield Cross. Those boots at the base, they are those soldier's. Theirs only. No one else has worn them. They carried him to their final moments. And along with their helmet, Dog Tags and rifle, they deserve respect.

So when you are looking at the boots of a Soldier, whether they are already a Veteran or they are still proudly serving, remember they have walked the walk in combat boots in order for you to stand free today.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Momma, Please..Momma!

When you are so tired that you can barely keep your eyelids open and you look at the clock at its only 2:30 in the afternoon. All you want is a nap and maybe a little peace and quiet but yet you get 12 hours of your name being called every 5 minutes over this and that. You are worn down to a nub. You have been up since 4 am thanks to a child with SPD and the inability to go back to sleep..

"Momma, please.. Momma?"

Momma is tired. Momma is worn down.

 I haven't stopped since the day you were born. I have made sure that you are comfortable. That you are taken care of. Every night when I kiss you goodnight, I make sure that one by one everyone who is important for you to find slumber are comfortable. I re assure you that this house is protected by a force field that Daddy put up before he left, so that the monsters are kept at bay. I make sure that when I tuck you in, under the many blankets, that you are warm.I read you the same book we always read every single night pretty much since you came into this world.  I make sure the night light is on, so when you get startled in the night its there to comfort you.  I make sure you know that you are loved by many. And I bid you Goodnight.

You might think that once you begin your journey off to the land of magical school buses, unicorns and the Toy Story gang, that my day is done. I wish it was. I sit for the five minutes of quiet to collect my thoughts, then I begin my task of making sure your reality is a better one. I sit and worry about what is coming next. What is going to be on your path. I worry about tomorrow, I worry about next week and I worry about years from now. I do this because I am your parent. Its what I do. I make sure that life will be as smooth as I can make it for you. I make sure that I am prepared for what ever fight I need to fight for you, just so you have a champion in your corner.

You might think that once my head hits my pillow, my mind goes to sleep. It doesn't. All those worries and fears manifest into this beast. All those what ifs and should have, could have and would haves eat away at me. I worry if what I am doing isn't enough. Maybe I should be doing more.I worry about how I can make this world right for you. I worry that I can't always be there for when you need someone. I worry that if I don't push you hard enough that you will not learn the task in front of you.I worry about the day that will come when you don't need me anymore. Not because I don't think you will survive, but I worry that I won't survive. As you have been my job since you were a thought in my head.

I will awake when you do. When it is 4 am or later. I will soothe your bad dreams away. I will calm you when you need it. I will take all of your worries away, so you don't lose sleep.

"Momma, please Momma!"

Momma is tired. Momma is worn down, but I will do what you ask of me. Child, I will put away my tiredness. I will put my worries on hold, if you wanting me to join you in your happiness, I will do so. As you are my child, my world, and your happiness is number one before my tiredness. And for that I love you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Come Sit by Me and I will tell you how it feels.

I wasn't going to write anything for today. As there are so many fantastically written pieces already out there. But I feel like I owe to you and myself to write something.

I can only echo what has already been said. There are certain words within our vocabulary that are very outdated. These terms are often used as an instrument of insult. "Retard", "Nigger", "Faggot" "Kike" just to name a few. Sadly the list goes on. With today being the Spread the Word to end the Word, I think it should to be changed to Spread the Word to end all Words.

 The nature of an insult can do a number on your psyche, which is why it gets said.There are so many unkind words that get said because people don't understand. As that is what it comes down to. A bully isn't going to fully understand the impact of their words, until they are on the receiving end of the what is being said.And until we start standing up to those who use such insults that were mentioned. Trying to stop the words from being part of our vocabulary is only part of the equation. The other part is standing up to the bullies that use them. If people were more educated about things, imagine how the world would be? But since a lot of people are unwilling to teach themselves, this is going to be a vicious cycle, that keeps going on and on.

I see the hurt in both a child's eyes as well as the parent's eyes when words are used against them. Every time I hear people use outdated slurs it makes me wonder just how much our society has come. Some days I think "Oh how marvelous that we have all this information so readily in front of us, there is no excuse" But then I think.. "Ignorance is a choice." People choose to say the words. Which is very sad. Its sad to me that Human Beings are the most intelligent species on this planet, but yet there are times were we are taught compassion by those species who have lower brain power. Compassion for your fellow human being. What a concept. But yet some many have no idea how it feels.

You feel small. Worth nothing. Like you have no more air to breathe because you don't think you are worth it. If this person thinks that, then everyone else must too. You look in the mirror everyday to try and convince yourself that have a rightful place on this earth. But you see that gets flushed down the toilet at the mention of a derogatory insult. What should it matter to you if I learn differently, practice religion differently, live my life differently or if my skin is different from yours. Am I not just the same as you? A Human being?

So on the day of Spread The Word to End the Word. I challenge people to discard their racist, bigotry, discriminatory and stereotypical ways of thinking, stop using words that are harmful. Stop bullying someone in order for you to feel better. Take a minute and think back to time where you felt small because of harmful words that were said to you. Be the change you want the world to see.  And if you have never had an experience like that, well come sit next me and I will tell you all about how that feels.

Spread the Word to End all the Derogatory Words.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Deck of Cards that is given to us.

Sometimes I wish it were different. I would wake up and not have the challenges I currently have still in front of me. I have those moments where I want my deck of cards reshuffled.

 For the record, I love my husband, I love my children and I love my family. But there are days where I wish I had all that, just playing a different game. There are times where having two autistic children is tough. There are times where having a child with ADHD is tough. And there are times where being military is tough. All of these factors make up my deck. There are days where I want to play all the spades, just so I don't have to deal with getting tag teamed by my children's special needs.Then there are the clubs. Where it feels like I have been beaten down by my cards.Its the diamonds and the hearts that keep this deck alive. The hearts remind me of all of the love that is shared and given. The diamonds are the good times. The joys, the victories. The moments that make this deck worthy. There are times where I feel that I am not playing with a full deck. Where there is more clubs and spades than there are diamonds and hearts.  Sometimes the deck is stacked against me and the house wins. But there are days where I luck out and the deck is dwelt in my favor.

Its a silly little analogy. I know.

We take our deck  that is given to us and we try to hard to sort them out. Hearts. Spades. Diamonds and Clubs. We sort them out accordingly.We do the best we can. Sometimes its a game of Go Fish and other times its a game of High Stakes Poker. In the end we just want to win the game.