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This is not a real post…really. ;)

To coin a popular phrase from one of my favorite bloggers, this is not a real post. Mostly it’s an apology with a side of excuses, drenched in promises and a “teaser” on top!

Truly, I just wanted to reach out and apologize for slacking, and that I will be back up and blogging soon, with all sorts of stories, great lessons and exciting moments to share, including the tale of our 2nd annual “magical” trip to Camp Meadowood Springs!

I have really good excuses for flaking, by the way, including surgery on my lower back (resulting in weeks oImagef recovery) and a sprained ankle (another sneak peek at what’s to come)!

…Okay, so I’ve *gotta* give you one quick tidbit to keep you coming back: I do want to say that my very hyperactive, autistic son, Alex – who is now 6 years old & 65 lbs – has become SO gentle, sweet and careful when he’s around Mommy, because “Mommy hurts.” And he cuddles into the corner of my bed every night to be near me. It’s pretty great.

More to come SOON, as I start getting back to my old self 😉 I PROMISE.

~ Kristi ❤

^ ^ Me after my surgery, ^ ^

w/Boo-boo bunny (the family healer).

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PACE Family Immersion Camp 2012 at Meadowood!

Hi friends and fans! The time is here again for Meadowood Springs’ 2nd Annual ASD Family Immersion Camp! It is now being called the P.A.C.E Family Immersion Camp, probably because the wonderful therapists at PACE place in Beaverton, OR will be running the sessions, but the awesome counselors and folks that run the camp will be there to play with the kids and support all the families that attend!

Space is LIMITED, friends, they only take the first 10 families who apply! Fill out your application NOW! (Just don’t take *my* spot!) There are two camps this year! One from August 2-5th and a longer one from August 7-12th.

If you have a special needs child who is either officially on the Autism spectrum or may be presenting with behaviors common to Autism, this camp will change your life, I promise you!

Here’s the link, hope to see you there! http://meadowoodsprings.org/summer-camp/familycamp/

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NO SLEEP TILL…

I promised myself I’d blog more for our friends & fans, but I feel like I’m dealing with “Blogger’s Block” or something.  So, in true writer’s fashion, I figured I’d just start pouring out all the nonsense in my head in a brainstorming-stream-of-consciousness way in the hopes that a decent piece of reading would come of it!

Mostly, I’m struggling these days. I want to say everything is great and to be positive about our experiences. I want to say that my son is the picture of Autistic perfection (um, is that even a phrase?) and that he is moving forward at such a wonderful rate that I may have nothing else to write about. But I would be lying.

The truth is, we’re in a stage of regression. New to Autism?  It means that you take 2 steps forward, rejoice, and then all of the sudden you’re 3 steps backward. And it sucks, because you thought, you hoped that you were really on a roll and that your child was doing better. And it doesn’t mean he isn’t. It just means that right here, right now, we’re doing a little worse instead of a little better.

So, obvious question…Why? Well, among other things, I’m struggling because Alex’s sleeping habits have changed. I don’t know what’s wrong, I can’t explain it. All I can say is that he doesn’t want to sleep in his own bed anymore. He wants to sleep with us. We have tried taking him back and taking him back (to his own bed), over and over, like good disciplinarian-type parents should do. But one night, I looked in his eyes and saw pure, sheer terror. He was afraid. It was then that I knew in my heart it would be ok to let him sleep with us for a bit, because something’s wrong.

Nevertheless, our queen sized bed is not big enough for my 6’2″ husband, my 4′, 57 lbs child and myself (you don’t get the pleasure of my measurements). So I had this brilliant idea to add a twin aerobed mattress on one side of our bed.  My hope was that we could deposit him there when he fell asleep, then later, when he woke up (in keeping with my nightmare/fear theory), we would be right there to console him.  Well, it’s not all working out as perfectly as I’d hoped.

As long as we can get our son to sleep (like on the couch) for plenty of time before we put him in the Air bed next to ours, he will sleep there…until about 12:30 am. And then he climbs right into bed with us. Most of the time he talks (meaning he is repeating, mimicking or reciting things he has heard that day from memory) or is basically awake until between 2 – 4:00am, then will fall back to sleep just before Daddy has to get up to go to work. And then, of course, he’ll be wide awake ’round 5:30, which makes this nite owl very unhappy.

And people wonder why I’m not having more children? I’d be a zombie. Permanently.

So, for those of you who are wondering, there are multiple things you look at when you have a sleepless child who cannot communicate well…is he having night terrors?  Nightmares? Seizures (prominent and easily missed among autistic kids)?  My husband thought he felt Alex twitching a lot the other night, so you can imagine how I am dealing with that too.

You may read this and think, 1) “oh that’s just a phase, it will pass” or 2) “oh, they just need to put their foot down and make him go to his own bed.” Well here are some answers to you about why I am so worried and upset by this:

1) My son is 5 years old and Autistic. He has been eating *only* Dino-Buddies Chicken Nuggets for meals for 2.5 years. We were hoping that was a phase, too.

2) My son is 5 years old and Autistic. If you would like to come over and “put your foot down” for me and make him comply, you would be most welcome. Bring your caffeine, though…gonna be a long night(s).

Anyway, yeah, I know, “this too shall pass.” I get it, I understand how this works, and yeah, I know I’ll get through this. But I lost a lot of sleep with stupid antics in my youth, so this is hard for me. I have to tiptoe through my room at night to get up and pee. I have to get ready for bed early enough so that all I have to do is crawl into bed as quietly as possible so as not to wake my son. I’ll spare you the details, but imagine a husband & wife trying to gather any sort of alone time in the middle of all this? Not so much.

So anyway, our family is not sleeping well, due to our sweet little boy because of God-knows-what. And it’s been this way for about a month. So if you’re one of our friends who sees us out & about, please award us a little extra grace if we get snippy or emotional. Sleep comes in small quantities here.

2 days ago, I fell to my knees, placed both hands on Alex’s little twin Aerobed next to our big bed, and all I could do was pray. And maybe that’s just the best thing I can do right now.

In closing, I guess if I could have one wish granted of any I desired, I would just want my autistic son to be able to tell me what’s wrong, or what’s right, or even just what’s what!  I want to do what is right for him, and if that means getting him back to his own bed, or letting him sleep with us for a while. I don’t care. I just wish I knew.

I just wish I knew.

P.S. Please tell me someone caught on to the Beastie Boys reference in the title…?

P.P.S. Brrrraaaaiinsssss…

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20 Questions

In the last couple of years since we figured out Alex’s diagnosis, we have weathered many a storm. Part of the storm includes answering a boatload of questions. I understand the curiosity and the desire people have to understand or help our situation, and I appreciate it. Still, sometimes the same questions get asked over and over, and at a certain point you have to laugh at some of them.

So, this blog is focused on the most common questions I get when it comes to Alex, my son, and his Autism. Some of them have become comical, so I will answer them as such; don’t be offended, I truly find them humorous because of the nature of my son, and I know you couldn’t possibly know what you’re getting into when you ask such a seemingly harmless question! Others are more on the serious side, so I have tried to provide some informational, brief answers to satisfy my readers’ collective curiosities.

Now that the politically correct statements have been made, here are my top 20 favorite questions:

1) Q: What is Autism? A: To be brief, the most basic definition of the word Autism is “Self-propelled,” or, having a tendency to view life in terms of one’s own needs and desires. Essentially, Autistic people are often sort of stuck in their own minds. It is SO much bigger than this, but I promised to keep this short 😉

2) Q: What kind of Autism does Alex have? A: (Sigh) In short, Alex exhibits “sensory-seeking behaviors” equivalent to that of WWE style wrestling. I call him my own little personal pinball machine because he feels the need to bounce off everything nearby. He is smart, but his body gets in the way of his learning and communicative progress. And that is the tip of the iceberg.

3) Q: Are you going to have more kids? A: Probably not, folks, I’d really kind of like to stay married to my husband 😉

4) Q: How is Alex doing? Is he getting better? A: Yeah, there’s really no easy answer to this question. Alex’s moods vary from day to day, good and bad, up and down. The term “getting better” is somewhat inappropriate here and can be frustrating. Hint: Perhaps a more appropriate question might be “have you found anything that makes life a little easier for him?”

5) Q: How’s school going? A: Um, usually not so good, but we’re working on that, thanks.

6) Q: How are you doing? A: Do you really want to know?

7) Q: Do you think Alex will ever be cured? A: Autism is not a disease, therefore this question is moot.

8. Q: Have you read that book by Jenny McCarthy? A: For the 50th time, yes. But please understand that she is a Hollywood mother who is not a doctor, and whose credibility has been questioned over and over again. Love her heart for her son, but take her advice with a grain of salt, people.

9) Q: I was watching the news last night, and they featured kids with autism, did you see that? A: No. No, I didn’t, because the news has their own agenda and only about 10% of what they feature happens to be valid. Not to mention the fact that I live this stuff every day. I don’t need some clueless broadcaster telling me about Autism. Hint: This answer applies to all the articles and other features that people either ask me about or give me. Trust me, I do my own research. I don’t have time for every article everybody finds on the topic, but thank you for your effort!!

10) Q: So what do the colored puzzle pieces on the Autism ribbon mean? A: The colored pieces of the Autism “puzzle” ribbon represent the fact that Autism affects children all over the world, of every shape, size, and skin color. It does not play favorites. The puzzle theme itself represents the nature of Autism, and how we have yet to put all the puzzle pieces together to figure out what causes Autism, and why its numbers are affecting our children at such an alarming rate.

11) Q: Why do Autistic kids like to line toys up? A: I honestly don’t know. I personally find it kind of cool.

12) Q: (From my husband): Do you need me to come home early today? A: Are you joking? YES. Every day.

13) Q: I have some experience with kids; maybe I can take your son sometime for you? A: Bahahaha….I’m sorry, no really, I am; it is SO sweet of you to offer. It’s just that Alex is SO intense, he’s not just like any other kid; you have to get to know him. You want to take my kid for a couple of hours for me? You have to come hang out with us a couple of times and learn his routines first.

14) Q: (To my husband from his place of work) – Why do you have to leave work sometimes at moment’s notice? A: Because I have a special needs kid and my wife is about to have a nervous breakdown.

15) Q: Have you heard about that diet for Autistic kids? A: YES. Many times. In fact, we have Alex mostly on that diet. It’s called a GFCF, or Gluten-free, Casein-free diet, and it does help, to a point. Want to know more? Google it.

16) Q: How do you do this and still have time for everything else? A: We don’t have time for anything. But we still have to do everything. It is what it is.

17) Q: Why can’t you attend fun “kid” events like most other families? A: Because my child will eat your child for breakfast. No, really, this is a whole other blog in and of itself…big events are hard for him; aside from overstimulation and people who don’t understand his unruly behaviors, he does not do well in public situations for long periods of time. Plus, Mommy really doesn’t enjoy the looks of disdain she gets from the other parents who think he is just being naughty.

18) Q: Chicken Nuggets? That’s all he eats? A: Yes, it is. And I am just happy he’ll eat something substantial at all. Some Autistic kids won’t eat. Mine is healthy and thriving on DinoBuddies chicken nuggets, and that’s just fine with me. Hint: Please don’t tell me about how your parents made you eat what was put on the table or you didn’t eat when you were a kid. That’s not helpful, and all it does is make me feel bad.

19) Q: Is he like this all the time? A: No, he’s very calm when he sleeps. 😉

20) Q: Why are there padlocks on your refrigerator? A: Because Alex is very fond of cooking. He especially likes to break open eggs all over the kitchen and in the refrigerator. Fun for Alex, but no fun for Mommy to clean up. Then there’s yelling and crying and Mommy’s unhappy. And when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

So there you have it, friends. 20 honest answers to 20 honest questions I get on a regular basis. Hopefully it brought you a little laughter and maybe a lot more information, without offending you!

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Structure & Chaos

I am the mommy of a child with Autism. You already know that. For pete’s sake, it’s practically the title of my blog site, right? Well, I had to clarify, you know, just in case…

Anyway, now that I’ve reminded you of that particularly important fact, I want to talk briefly about what it means to be a Mom like me. If you’ve read my blog before, you already know that, in general, life is full of ups and downs with special needs kids. You know that we have hard days and then we have days with triumphs that fill us with joy and make us very proud to be the parent(s) of such awesome, unique kids. But there’s something else on my heart today…something maybe a little less joyful, a little more about those hard days I mentioned earlier.

I personally work from home, and so I am home when my son gets home from Kindergarten. Sounds great, right? It’s so sweet that I can be there for him when he gets home. I’m happy that I can be here for him, don’t get me wrong- but there’s more to the story that people don’t often think about. What is it? Structure. All kids need structure, and autistic kids of all shapes and sizes need it even more than most.

Unfortunately, it takes kids with special needs a lot longer to get used to a certain type of structure, and even then, when they do, the whole thing can fall apart in a day because that particular technique simply doesn’t work anymore. Let me give you an example.

When Alex was 3 or 4, I discovered that his special needs preschool was using PECS (Picture Exchange Communication system) to help direct him in activities and communicate with him more effectively. I was ecstatic, because he was responding so well to it, and so I decided to learn how to use the system and implement the schedule and other pieces in our home environment.

I went a little overboard. I’m not gonna lie.

There were pictures for everything, binders full of different types of food or toys, depending on whether he asked to play or snack on something. I converted his toy organization (or lack thereof) into bins, neatly stacked and placed on bookcases, then covered by sheets, so he would have to use the picture to ask for what he wanted. Velcro was my best friend. It was my thought that, because this system had worked so well at school, it was sure to work perfectly at home, too, right?

Well, I was wrong. Or, more appropriately, I was overzealous. Needless to say, I pretty much changed my son’s whole home life organization overnight. Over. Kill. The poor little guy was confused and frustrated.

This is just one example of one time I tried to do something to help add a little structure to my son’s life, like a “Good Mom.”

I will say that I stuck with certain parts of the system, and, over time they did work out to our advantage, but not nearly to the degree I had my heart set on.

The reason I give you this example is that, as noble as our intentions may be, as much as we want to do things with our kids, help them learn, succeed, communicate and lead less complicated lives, parents of special needs kids live a life of trial and error, daily. You never know what’s going to work, or what is simply not working because you just didn’t give it enough of a chance to work.

And some days are heartbreaking, because those things that *used* to work don’t work any longer.

There are still remnants of the PECS system all over the house…and I know that probably the most important thing I could do is re-implement the picture-oriented schedule, but do you know what it’s like to work, try to give your child some quality “together” time, AND develop AND teach a whole system that *may* or may *not* even work to begin with? And then to be able to stick with it even when he isn’t responding makes the whole thing feel so useless.

One of Alex’s therapists once told me that he sees parents try something for so long that they may have been 90% there…that if they had just kept on going on, being consistent with their technique, it would have worked. But we don’t always do that, because it’s disheartening to put so much effort into something that shows no progress over an extended period of time. And so they fail.

So why I am I blogging about this? I’m not sure, maybe just to get it off my mind. Maybe to give you a little “slice of my life.” Probably because I’m feeling inadequate as a mother. But the long and the short of it is that I am exactly that. I am a mother. I am not a special needs teacher, or therapist, or doctor, or specialist in the broad spectrum that is Autism. I am simply Alex’s Mama. And as Alex’s Mama, I have to work a little harder to provide appropriate, successful structure for my son’s home life.

And you know what? That kinda sucks.

Forgive my attitude, but it is, after all, my blog, and I think it’s important for other families to know the additional expectations that lay heavy on the shoulders of a family with a special needs child. I don’t ask for your pity, but I do find that informing people of these kinds of struggles brings a little more understanding into the world.

I feel lonely and lost sometimes. I wish I had all the answers, and I wish I could find a structured plan that would make Alex feel more settled. So many ideas, so many techniques are thrown at me every day, but how can I possibly know which to implement at which time?

The answer is that I can’t, of course. So I just try things one at a time, instead of plastering the entire house with Pictures & Velcro (which ruins paint, by the way) and changing his whole routine overnight. See? I’m learning, but I’ve got a long way to go.

So, I’m just trying and I’m loving him the way God taught me to. But it’s a good thing I’ve got a cheering section to keep me going!

(P.S. I’m cut off from buying any more Velcro. No seriously, it’s, like, an obsession.)

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CARA Act Passed!

Some of you don’t know or understand some of what is going on with Autism funding or research, and how the government is assisting families in this area. Well, to summarize, we had a big win this month when President Obama signed the The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA act) that approved an additional $693 million to support Autism research over the next 3 years. This is exciting because the funds were being put on hold in the senate, and were in danger of being cut.

I am personally doing my best to begin to get involved in the legislation involved with Autism research & awareness on both a federal and state level, and, if somene you love is struggling, I would encourage you to do the same. Anyway, I felt it was important to post this so my readers can be informed of our triumph in Washngton this month! Say what you will about President Obama, but I am thankful that he signed off on this – we need answers and it is no secret that Autism has frequently gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to Federal funding!

Anyway, please click on the link below and read about this act; watch the video with Kerry Magro, an adult with Autism – it is truly inspiring!

http://blog.autismspeaks.org/tag/combating-autism-reauthorization-act/

 

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Life and Death

Facts about Autism

Did you know …

  • Autism now affects 1 in 110 children and 1 in 70 boys
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs the nation over $35 billion per year, a figure expected to significantly increase in the next decade
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism

When my son was first diagnosed, I read the facts about Autism above, then studied the statistics below about how much funding went toward research for this overwhelmingly prevalent disorder that seems to be increasing every year. Though the facts have changed a little ( both private & government funding has increased a bit), the numbers are staggeringly sad when it comes to our children on the spectrum.

I have often said that I am in no way attempting to undermine the need for research and funding for children who have diseases like cancer, which could cause early death. But what about LIFE? What about my son’s quality of life, and the future of others like him? What about these children becoming adults in this world without the proper care they need to improve the quality of their existence?

What about the crippling rate at which Autism is rising every year? What about the numbers below, which show how much more prevalent Autism is than many of the other childhood diseases/disorders known to us?

What about research for what causes Autism? Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? I know money is tight for everyone, but perhaps the “powers that be” should consider the ratios involved and at least throw a little extra money towards finding out how we can prevent ASD in the future…?

Childhood diseases are scary. Death is scarier…we don’t want to lose our kids. But again, I say, what about their qualities of LIFE? Think about it.

Prevalence vs. Private Funding

  • Leukemia: Affects 1 in 1,200 / Funding: $277 million
  • Muscular Dystrophy: Affects 1 in 100,000 / Funding: $162 million
  • Pediatric AIDS: Affects 1 in 300 / Funding: $394 million
  • Juvenile Diabetes: Affects 1 in 500 / Funding: $156 million
  • Autism: Affects 1 in 110 / Funding: $79 million

National Institutes of Health Funds Allocation

  • Total 2010 NIH budget: $35.6 billion
  • Of this, only $218 million goes directly to autism research. This represents 0.6% of total NIH funding.

Source: http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/facts-about-autism

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The Magic on the Mountain

Recently, my husband, my son (Alex), his babysitter (Illy) and I spent 4 days at Meadowood Springs’ brand new ASD Family Immersion Camp with 9 other families. How do I condense 4 amazing days of such valuable information in just a page or so to keep a reader’s interest? Well, I’m going to attempt the most basic summary I can…forgive the choppy writing for the sake of preserving space!

Day 1: Dust, the Connector, and comfort zones:

I am not a camper. I don’t like dirt & the other various treasures that come with “roughing it.” Despite this, we drove out to Eastern Oregon anyway because I knew it would be a wonderful experience for my son and for my family. In short, the camp staff and the ASD counselors (Eric & Steve) took us under their wings and not only got us settled in, but immediately started to work on helping our family in various areas (especially when Alex took off in a swirl of dust & confusion the minute we arrived). We were given anDSC09286.JPG excellent tool called the Connector (http://www.connectorrx.com/connectorrx/), which helped us to keep Alex safe while still allowing him to have fun, connect with us on a whole new level, expel some energy & ultimately, learn new things. I could write so much more on this -just check out the site!

Dinner time resulted in a tantrum (as I knew it would), but no one scowled or scolded, and Eric even helped me calm down by using the Connector to bring Alex closer to me, which calmed *him* down. (Bonus: Alex didn’t tantrum at mealtime *once* during the rest of our stay at the camp!) The parents’ first lesson that night with Eric & Steve happened to be about stepping out of our comfort zones.

Day 2: Teamwork, swimming, and parenting:

After a delightful, tantrum-free breakfast, the parents had another lesson with Eric and Steve, where we all got to know each other a little better, and learned the importance of working together as a team, even though our parenting styles might be different. Additionally, we also learned to practice the art of perseverance, patience, staying calm & constant, and asking for help. During our sessions, the kids and their caregivers got to go roam the grounds, where Alex got to go canoeing, hiking, ride down a zip line, play in a creek & even spent a little time in the craft/toy room. There were so many wonderful things to do at the camp!

DSC09311.JPGLater that day, after some super-fun swimming pool bonding (which was great for our little “fish”), we had some 1-on-1 time with Steve, where we learned to encourage communication from Alex…even when the answer to his requests happened to be “no.” We got to practice a technique where we place Alex’s hands on our cheeks (so he is driven to look in our eyes) when a request is being made. With his hands on our cheeks and a smile on our face, we can confirm to him nonverbally that, regardless of the request or demand or whatever, we are not mad at him. In a similar way, we can also convey concern when he is doing something inappropriate. Another little gem we learned with Steve was the new concept of side-along “time-outs,” which included sitting beside Alex when he could not calm down.

Day 3: New stuff, mousetraps & trust:

DSC09363.JPGOn this day, Alex actually tried NEW things to eat at mealtimes while he sat quietly by our side! During our daily session, the parents got to learn a little more about trust by literally leading their partners through mousetraps. I think the most important thing I took from this session was that it was important for us to allow our family to enter into and overcome obstacles as they arose, and to trust each other in the process. It is in our nature, especially as special needs family, to be wary of “rocking the boat,” but we cannot and will not hide our kids away from the world in order to keep everyone comfortable. We have to take chances and guide our kids through these inevitable “mousetraps” of life. If you aren’t growing, you aren’t learning, and you certainly aren’t living.

On the evening of this 3rd day (our last full day at the camp), we got a chance to have a really good talk with Alex’s babysitter, Illy, who is going off to college in the Fall (dangit)! Every day she was exposed kids all over the spectrum, and she became more intrigued by the puzzle that is Autism. The experience ultimately helped her decide to pursue some studies in Autism during her college career. She is a beautiful person and this is a beautiful thing.

Day 4: Mermaids, Butterflies & Happy Birthday, Alex!

Our last day at the camp was bittersweet. At breakfast, Alex was served his new favorite blueberry muffin cake with candles while everyone sang to him. Our time at the camp came slowly to an end as we had our last session, where we played one last game that reminded us how very like butterflies our children are to the world. Eric also read to us a story about Mermaids in a world of Giants, wizards and dwarfs (http://www.livinglifefully.com/flo/flobemermaids.htm), which brought the whole experience home.

The adults then shared about how the camp had changed our families for the better that weekend. Many didn’t want to leave & have to go out into the real world without Eric & Steve! I know I didn’t! Lots of touching things were said and there were very few dry eyes in the room. There was sad stuff, happy stuff & hard stuff, and it was all good.

But one comment stood apart from the rest, and it came from one of the folks that actually run the Camp. The man speaking teased me about my frustration with all the dust and dirt that was stirred up every time we hiked around the trails (non-camper here)! Then, with tears in his eyes, he explained to me that there was something very special in that DSC09299.JPGdust, that it touched everyone who came there and somehow managed to change their lives for the better in many ways. Magic dust, he called it.

The Magic on the Mountain touched all of our lives during this trip. We all came back still covered in it…and we wore it proudly. When it washed off, we know it left some of its magic on us.

Thank you to Steve & Eric (who came to us from the Pace Place), the staff at Meadowood Springs’ new ASD Family Immersion Camp and the “Magic on the Mountain!” We will never be the same. And that is a very, very good thing.

DSC09404.JPGThe Zelinka Family – Kristi, Duane & Alex – with Illy,

at Meadowood Springs ASD Family Immersion Camp

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Early Intervention Webinar on August 22

Hi Friends,

Here is information on an upcoming webinar about services for families who are in early intervention (for children 3 and under). I know I certainly could have used more information when we were doing early intervention! ❤ Kristi

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“Normies” & Purpose

In the world of AA, Alcoholics sometimes call those who can drink without repercussion or addiction “Normies.” When thinking about how to describe parents of typically developing children, I searched for a good moniker I might use, without having to say “parents of typically developing children” over and over again, or using the word “normal” (which is so subjective), so I came up with “Normies.” Please don’t be offended.

The reason I am writing this particular blog is in response to a very dear friend of mine who brought up a very good point about these types of parents, and how they may be neither simply insensitive & rude, nor intentionally aloof, but rather simply caught up with their own family’s needs and demands.

I want all my readers to know that I understand that there are Normies out there trying to juggle multiple children at a time, some of them single Moms with so much on their plates that dealing with me & my son’s difficulties are just not realistic (or at the very least, not feasible for more than a greeting, a birthday party here and a play date there). I GET that. I really do, folks. And I think I can vouch for other special needs moms when I say that we KNOW our kids are hard enough to be around for adults, let alone kids who just don’t understand why my kid acts the way he does. Special needs families live with the balance of dirty looks, people who don’t even want to look, and looks of sympathy alike. It is not my intention to hurt the feelings of anyone reading my posts at any time. Trust me.

At the same time, I need people to know that my blog is my place for me to write about our experiences with an autistic child in this world. I need people to understand that this blog isn’t always going to be politically correct or solve everyone’s problems. I stated my intent in my first post, but I think I need to revamp it a little in order to better define its purpose.

The purpose of this “Mommy4Autism” blog is to inspire and uplift those with special needs children, while also providing a place to share a little bit about the injustices we suffer due to the lack of awareness, in order to *encourage* Autism awareness. I am not trying to “bash” Normies or their children, I am simply trying to educate by either using true-to-life examples of things that have happened to us, or by using stories about what or how my autistic son is doing from day to day. Will I always interpret intentions correctly? No, I’m not perfect. But the fact remains that the population is, in general, unaware or at the very least confused about kids with ASD and other special needs disorders… therefore, I blog.

This blog is a place to get answers, to see into the life of a family with a child on the spectrum. It is also a place where information about special needs events, coupons, and fund raisers are posted for families that need these types of things. Finally, it is a place for me to get both our own good and bad experiences out of my head and onto some place I feel is place where other people like my family can relate. This blog is, after all, called Mommy4Autism, and while it is my hope that it will reach far out into the community of Normies in addition to Special Needs families, I don’t expect people to always understand my intentions, nor do I confess that I am interested in making everyone happy. I’ve spent most of my life trying to make everyone happy, and I have come to understanding that this desire is absolutely impossible, especially when I have over 500 hits on my blog already.

Now at the same time, honestly, I am simply trying to bring us all together. With a rate of 1 in 100 children being born with autism (and that’s being kind), this is a very real special need that you and your children – Normie & special needs alike – WILL come across and have to deal with at some point in their lives.

I suppose you could kind of think of it like the way society used to practice prejudice and racism over many different people. Americans treated people of color like crap for a long time, but guess what? They’re just like us, and now we are all living (fairly) peacefully together. Is Autism so different? Yes, we’re talking developmental disorders versus skin color, but don’t you want your child to be accepting of all kids, regardless of color, race, development, “normalcy,” and behavior? Don’t you want *your* child to be accepted in such a way?

I appreciate your feedback, and you should feel free to leave comments – negative or positive – should you feel moved to do so. But remember, I can’t be politically correct all the time to everybody, and I don’t want to be.

Please note that I love when people read my blog, and I love it if it helps you, your family, or anyone with you. I also want to shake people up a little bit now and again. But if my posts truly offend you, just don’t read them! You have every right to do so =)

Thank you for your time and your gracious regard for my thoughts about my precious family.

❤ Kristi

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