Autism Awareness Month Days 11-13

Continuing to gradually post my compiled FB Autism Awareness Month posts…….

Day 11

I’m so thankful this is out there! That kids, now, from such a young age will be exposed to the concept of Autism. I’m grateful that Julia’s strengths are highlighted so beautifully. That she is shown as an equal. For this illustration of how her challenges can be overcome with a little understanding, effort, and compassion. And for the powerful message that…..”We can all be friends!” It’s not just teaching tolerating their presence. Friendship is possible and valuable! Kids with Autism truly want to connect….even if it doesn’t seem that way. They just need a little extra time, some empathy, and grace. The lessons neuro-typical kiddos can learn from spending time with and befriending anyone with a disability are great. Most importantly, my favorite part of this piece is that it helps the watcher to see that the kids want to be her friend not for the sole reason that it’s the right thing to do…but because she’s fun, interesting, and talented! Thank you Sesame Street! Thank you for being the change!

Day 12

This is how we do Autism in our house…..

Day 13

A dear friend who is a Special Education teacher told me from Day 1 of our diagnosis…….to never refer to Cannon as an Autistic child. He is a child first. Autism is only a part of him.

Autism Awareness Month Days 8-10

We continue to roll through my Autism Awareness Month Facebook posts.

Day 8…..

I hear the top half of this a lot. It’s the kindest, most precious sentiment and I 100% appreciate the sweetness of this compliment. BUT, the bottom half is the truth y’all! The complete and total truth!

Day 9…..

Today’s topic is fear. When you live in a world that you don’t understand and that you are hyper-sensitive to……it can intensify any fears you have to a quite an unbearable place. One of Cannon’s greatest fears is water on the ground. It all started a few years ago when we had some snow flurries. We walked out of the chiropractor’s office and I was so excited to see them falling from the sky. I thought Cannon would LOVE it! BUT, he took one look at them and jumped into my arms….clinging so hard that his nails dug into my neck. He was screaming like he was in agony, hyperventilating, and begging me to get him in the car. This fear has expanded to include black top pavement, glossy floors, and grass. Most of which usually aren’t wet but he is convinced that they are. When this fear kicks in, there is no telling him that he will be okay, it isn’t wet, or that you will help him. If he isn’t picked up and removed…..things can get ugly FAST. Lots of time has been, is, and will continue to be spent on combating this fear for our sweet guy. We have discovered a crazy thing about this fear, though. If he is barefoot…..he is FINE. Closed toed shoes……100% NOT FINE. No rhyme or reason. That’s Autism! My best advice to anyone who encounters a person with Autism who is facing an intense fear is to love them. Encourage them and just be there. Help them out of the situation and leave it to the professionals to teach them how to get through it. If you try, you may fail and a full blown, angry, violent meltdown can ensue. Love, comfort, and support will always be the best policy. This goes for the parents you may witness dealing with this in public as well. Err on the side of compassion….instead of glares, stares, and unsolicited advice. And please, please, PLEASE understand how real this is for them. It is not brattiness or disobedience. They are warriors….getting up each day and fighting battles we can’t comprehend with perseverance! Love friends…..just love!

Day 10…..

And finally….one of my favorite visual aides ever to explain Autism. Read, learn, and process the difference…I beg you!

Days 6 & 7

Here was my Autism Awareness Month Post of Day 6:

I was wondering when the emotional conversation I had with Townsend today would happen. It’s only been about a year and a half since he found out his brother had Autism but that was the last time he REALLY cried over it. But today….during a routine Bible lesson and corresponding writing assignment, some feelings came pouring out of him that resulted in a lot of tears. A whole lot. A long talk ensued about his sadness over the fact that he can’t fix his brother and how it wrecks him so to watch him struggle and hurt. I wondered when this conversation would happen. I let him get all his feelings out, hugging and loving on him, and validating those emotions in comparison to my own. When the time was right, I explained to him that getting our emotions out is super important. But that God doesn’t want us to dwell on our sadness but to channel that into something helpful. Thinking of ways to make Cannon’s life easier, to support him, and to educate others and advocate for him. To encourage empathy not sympathy. And to always remember that this life is but a blip in time in light of eternity. I cherish far more than I can explain….the relationship that my boys have. They RARELY fight and when they do…’s really just mild irritation. Townsend watches over him and tries to protect him like a big brother…..even though Cannon is 2 years older. They speak so kindly to each other and absolutely love being together. I always thought Townsend needed traditional school as an escape for a few hours a day… the rigors of our life. But, he has no desire and simply loves homeschool and being a helper/friend in every way he can. He will correct you quickly if you say that Roxy is Cannon’s best friend. He will tell you they both are! What a ridiculously, incredible blessing!!! This Autism life is not easy on siblings. But with God’s help, we can get through these emotional moments and keep on a positive road filled with unwavering hope, endless joy, and so very much love! I encourage all of my fellow Warrior families to rest in the promises of God and to allow Him to bring strength and peace into your life… only He can!

And of Day 7:

Today I want to share the story and mission of a man who has become a true hero of ours! One who took something difficult in his life and turned it into something beautiful for thousands! His name is Izzy Paskowitz and he is a former World Champion surfer. His son, Isaiah, has Autism. Please watch and be blessed! Then, check out the “Our Story” tab where you will find videos of Cannon participating in this event! There is NOTHING on this earth he loves more! NOTHING! Surfing is perfection to him! The calm beyond the breakers and then the rush of riding a crashing wave meets his sensory needs like no other! We are blessed beyond measure to have “Uncle Izzy” in our life!

Autism Awareness Month Day 5

Day 5…..

Sensory Overload (or Sensory Processing Disorder) affects AT LEAST 3/4 of person’s with Autism and is one of THE most critical elements to understand about the disorder. Every day, our bodies are bombarded with MILLIONS of sensations. Our brains have to efficiently process all of that information….organize and interpret it….to be able to respond and behave adaptively. What we get used to in our environment…..sights, sounds, smells, etc……they just can’t separate, process, accept, or dismiss. Overwhelm comes over their bodies when trying to react properly. It is physically painful. And causes meltdown or shutdown. In addition, you are either hypo or hyper sensitive to these stimuli. (For example: One might seek out touch by throwing his body into walls, furniture, etc. and another dislikes touch so much that they cannot handle even the idea of receiving a hug). There is a lot of variety especially when you remember that this is a spectrum disorder. Here is a video that helps one to understand what it’s like to enter a mall when you have SPD. Don’t turn down your volume! Experience it as they do! It will change the way you view those going through this in public.

And one more simulation…..

One final example……

Excerpt from Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm:

“Here’s why a simple trip to the grocery store may be agonizing for me.

My hearing may be hyperacute. Dozens of people jabber at once. The loudspeaker booms today’s special. Music blares from the sound system. Registers beep and cough, a coffee grinder chugs. The meat cutter screeches, babies wail, carts creak, the fluorescent lighting hums. My brain can’t filter all the input and I’m in overload!

My sense of smell may be highly sensitive. The fish at the meat counter isn’t quite fresh, the guy standing next to us hasn’t showered today, the deli is handing out sausage samples, the baby in line ahead of us has a poopy diaper, they’re mopping up pickles on aisle three with ammonia. I feel like throwing up.

And there’s so much hitting my eyes! The fluorescent light is not only too bright, it flickers. The space seems to be moving; the pulsating light bounces off everything and distorts what I am seeing. There are too many items for me to be able to focus (my brain may compensate with tunnel vision), swirling fans on the ceiling, so many bodies in constant motion. All this affects how I feel just standing there, and now I can’t even tell where my body is in space.”

I pray these examples change the way you react or treat individuals with sensory issues going forward. Be kind. Be compassionate and empathetic. Be the CHANGE.

Autism Awareness Month Day 4

Continuing with my compiled Autism Awareness Month Posts……

Day 4…….I beg you to read this blog post I wrote nearly 6 years ago. There is so very much of my heart poured out into it. God used a situation that hurt my heart at first… encourage me and remind me of my blessings. Of the incredible strengths and amazing qualities of my child. And of the growth that was taking place within me…..because of him. I pray it touches and encourages you to reflect, savor, and thank God for all that makes your child….special. And if you know someone with Autism or any disability for that matter, I plead with you to see the unique abilities of that person….not the shortcomings! God bless!

Counting Our Blessings

Autism Awareness Month Days 2 & 3

In the month of April, I drew inspiration from friends who had done something similar and made it my mission to post an Autism Awareness post every day on my personal Facebook page.  I would love to share each and every one of those with you now!  We will do a few at a time.  Here goes…….

Day 2 – On this day it was World Autism Awareness Day! I shared that my family’s life has been completely redefined by the joy and heartache of Autism. By the challenge of meeting our sweet Cannon in his world and trying to draw him into ours. Every precious smile, few seconds of solid eye contact, and uninitiated hug is a treasure and a victory and motivates us to keep at it! The progress he has made from nonverbal, angry shell of his former self to today…..7 years later… remarkable. We are so proud of our beautiful boy! He may be different BUT he is NOT LESS! He may need more time, more patience, and more love to get through a simple outing, homeschool lesson, and/or an average day…..but he is worth every ounce of effort! With God’s help, we will continue the fight today, tomorrow, and always! On this special day, I would like to share with you the story of my family. (This was made years ago and needs so badly to be updated but you will get the gist.) God bless you all!

Day 3

My prayer is that these daily posts will be informative, helpful, and uplifting. Each day IS hard but I hope to reveal how very much joy and love there is in our home. And the never-ending awe we experience every single day when delving into the inner workings of his complex mind. Let’s start with this great list (which is actually from a book if you’re ever interested). This list touches on so many important areas of this complicated developmental disorder. Please take a few moments and have a look.