Tag Archives: Autism Awareness Month

I Love My Birthday … Well, I Used To Much More

Today is my birthday! I am 41 years-old and I love getting older. After a life of confusion, frustration, so many traumatic experiences … etc. and so forth to be able to celebrate the day of my birth and finally, understand why I am the way I am as well as be able to accept me is a great thing to celebrate. (Long sentence, huh?) I wrote a post in 2011 giving the reasons why my birthday means so much to me you can read it here What’s In A Birthday? It is not frivolous nor does it have anything to do with being a “diva” for the day. I am genuinely thankful to have a birthday because I was a child who was almost aborted. I share some of the story in that post above. However, I will not discuss abortion views or opinions so please do not comment on that.

I cannot say exactly why I am here or why it had to take this long to actually feel like I have value enough to share air with the rest of world, but I am here.

Prism ~ Artist Helene Kippert

Prism ~ Artist Helene Kippert

I am here, and I have been thinking a lot about how long I have kept quiet and even discovered that I have been overcome with shame about who I am. I love my birthday, I enjoy the day and I am not going to lie I love presents. I don’t care what they are I just enjoy getting them and unwrapping them. However, for the past few years a steading foreboding has begun to shadow my joyous day and it is Autism Awareness month.

March and April used to be two of my favorite months, they are being swallowed with the approach of fundraising and constant “panic” about Autism.

Not only does it stir up some intense emotions about autism and how it is viewed in our society, but it stirs dread. It creates a battle within myself of feeling happiness for my newfound acceptance and understanding for myself and it unravels my triggers of being misunderstood and condemned for being different. The added components of my own children being misunderstood, spoken of as a “tragedy and a burden” layers on new emotions that make me so sad and sometimes defeated. I am determined though, to not allow this to overcome me.

Today is my birthday and I will enjoy it!

In a couple of days Autism Awareness Month will be here, that is the last time I call it that because it should be Autism Acceptance a call to action for the world to learn, understand, accept, and move forward in educating everyone on how to help Autistics and their families. I plan on writing the month of April on several topics in regards to Autism Awareness month. I am not exactly sure what I will share, but I do plan on taking the month back and focusing on staying positive and not allowing ignorance, campaigns for organizations to get more money, or the lack of true action and help for Autistic families. I plan to look at what I read and see with positive and hopeful eyes. We’ll see how it goes. :-) I said, this on facebook the other day “I think I may turn it on “rainbow” or light it up “kaleidoscopic” for the month of April.”

Maybe if many people looked at Autism through a prism instead of blue they would see a lot more positive too. 

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MindRetrofit Celebrates: 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

Woot! It’s here! 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013! A great day of celebration and basking in the awesomeness of Autism. :-)

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Last year I contributed to the flash blog  To “I Wish I Didn’t Have Asperger’s” #AutismPositivity2012 Flash Blog.

I remember feeling struck with heartbreak when I discovered that someone had put those words into a search engine. In my post, I shared some of the awesome things about Autism. I was excited to see what would happen this year’s flash blog. I was delighted to see that this year we were focusing on “1000 Ausome Things!” (Yes, I am using too many exclamation marks in this post because I am over-the-top excited, especially after reading so many of the positives that are rushing the internet.

However, my mind is in a spin and I am having a difficult time trying to articulate what I want to.

Because I enjoy words so much and one of my gifts is using them on multiple levels I am going to take the “Ausome” word for a moment and share with you what I am in “Awe” of in regards to Autism. I use the word in the terms “of an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration.” The first part that I share is about my son who is Autistic. There have been so many moments that Daniel has made me awestruck. He filled my mind with wonderment and excitement by his actions and/or questions. The way that his heart feels and how he sees joy in the most simple of things, such as a screwdriver. Who knew that a screwdriver could be such an entertaining toy! It does everything, from spinning to opening up clock radios. It can be used to write words in putty and for some great magnet experiments.

Daniel asks questions that stump me and I love that. 

Only yesterday, without any indication that he has been thinking of this he looked at me and asked, “How can God hear us and we hear him if he is not here?” Good question. I did not want to get into a theological discussion with my eight year-old because he can dismantle my logic in seconds. However, I had to try. I could tell that he really needed some sort of resolution to the question. In my feeble attempt, I told him that God is like a spirit that lives within our hearts and that many times God does not speak to us directly, but through people, situations, or actions. He sat there staring, processing for several minutes. Then asked, “How can God fit into our hearts?”

Good point. 

I tried my best to explain that he does not live in our heart like a little person, but that he is like air, in nature, in every part of being. That led to him asking, “Do we breathe God?” I had no good words other than, “I guess that would be a way to think of it.” I was in no mind frame to have the discussion. :-)  However, it made me think of all the times that Daniel has asked such questions. How do things work? Why do they work like that? Can we take it apart? Can we look at it on the internet? He wants to know every single detail and looks at the small things to connect the big things. His thoughts intrigue and amaze me. His kind spirit and deep emotions move me.

His laughter fills me with joy to the point that even now I have a little bit of tears filling my eyes. 

He sees the world in music; he lives in this world in constant curiosity. (Much like his mother.) He stims in drumbeats and claps. He hums any tune he hears in an instant. He delights and squeals when he gets his favorite food. His enthusiasm is contagious on some days. Yes, those are some grand marvelous (Awe) “Ausome” things that I get to enjoy. I am ever challenged, but the type of parent that I am I think that is Ausome! Those are a few great things about my little boy. This second half, I am not really sure where I am going.

Let us see …

The first thing that comes to mind is that October 2012 I was “officially” diagnosed as an Aspergers adult. I had a lot to process – I still do. I found that finally having answers and a community that I could actually relate to made my soul feel a little more whole. What I have I found is many people who are caring, kind, open, honest, and understanding. These are many of my Autistic peers. They are some of the most talented and articulate people I have encountered. They share their lives openly (as much as you can on the web. :-)) I cherish all that they give and the many ways that they have helped me to understand my mom (an Aspergers adult), my son, and myself.

I have found parents who are just as compassionate and caring as well.

They work hard at being advocates and I am amazed at all their efforts. They shine of positivity. There are some days when I feel a bit down and unsure about many things, but I have been able to bounce back much sooner because of all the “Ausome” words that our community pours into the internet waves. I have a better self-image because of all the positives that my peers and our advocates share. Being able to find answers, relate to other’s stories, and share my own stories knowing that others will understand has boosted my self-esteem. I am able to see positives about myself that I could not see before. The voices that are out there sharing and focusing on the good have helped spring board me in many ways to much soul searching and healing.

To me that is HUGE “Autism Ausomeness!”

I believe that the foundation is being laid for my son. (And for my other two children.) My kids will see their “quirks and oddities” their “stims and unique ways of thinking and processing” as Ausome! They will see a mom who (finally) sees and accepts her own talents and gifts. As well as someone who does not think of being Autistic as a negative, but who embraces it and seeks to help others to see the positives too. I admit it can be a challenge, but that is why we need more people to build us up and focus on our positives. We thrive when people acknowledge, accept, and point out the good things about us.

Ending with a short list.

  1. We see the world in unique and interesting ways.
  2. We have great abilities to seek out and dissect details.
  3. We are artists in whatever talents we have whether through poetry, painting, creating images, or in how we can write and share our ideas about math, science, animals or computers. (Obviously, a very limited list I shared here.)
  4. We can keep our childlikeness that can be a very good for stressful situations.
  5. We have some pretty entertaining (ingenious) thoughts and perspectives.
  6. We can be some of the most loyal and best friends you could ever ask for.

I will stop at six, it is a good number. (And some of us may see numbers dance and leap about in wonderful colors!) 

Oh, and words here are some of my dancing colorful words leaping about through poetry! Happy Ausome Day!

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1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013 Flashblog Announcement (Reblog)

 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013 Flashblog Announcement

We know you have been waiting… and we have been working and organizing behind the scenes. Now we are ready and we are excited to announce the theme for the second annual Autism Positivity Flashblog Postivity Flashblog Event on April 30th, 2013: “1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013″

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Last year hundreds of bloggers came together in a show of support and solidarity in response to an anonymous person’s Google search “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers”. The posts that came flooding in from all over the world were a beautiful example of the power of strength in numbers. With so much negativity still surrounding Autism and the misinformation and misconceptions that continue to abound, we invite each of you to share one, or two, or more “Ausome” things!

We invite all of you, anyone who is Autistic, anyone who has an Autistic person in their life and all who blog about autism to share a message of support, wisdom, hope, and pride to this year’s flashblog by posting tohttps://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDdPQjAxV244VjdCcXdYX0pPQ0RBblE6MQ

Please join with us on the last day of Autism Acceptance Month – April 30th, 2013 – in a Flash Blog of Autism Positivity.

To participate:

1. Publish your post on April 30th in the following title format: “ [Your Blog] celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013″

2. Share your post on Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media site using that hashtag (#AutismPositivity2013)

3. Add your link to the Autism Positivity website (submit here or above) and grab the badge from the page tab above.

4. Share/reblog this message to your blog, page, etc.

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Thank you,

The Autism Positivity Project Flashblog Team, 2013

If you have any questions, please contact us at autismpositivity@gmail.com

We can also be found on

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingAboutPerspectivesAutismPositivity

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/positivityautie/autism-positivity-2012/

Tumblr: http://autismpositivity.tumblr.com/

Twitter: @PositivityAutie

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Our First Autism Awareness Event, Um …

Last night, I took the kids to an Autism Awareness event in town. It is the first time that I have been able to take them for various reasons. It was the first year that I felt that Daniel would be able to go and enjoy himself and want to participate. I was not sure what to expect. I tried not having any expectations. I knew that I was walking into an event where it was called “awareness” and that word can have multiple meanings depending on each person’s perspective. I was not sure if the organization that was heading it was for acceptance or had other feelings toward Autism.

I had done my research about them and by all that I read they seemed to be very accepting.

Though, I still was not sure and being that I had so many negative experiences where we lived before I am very cautious. Little history, I had several churches claim they were accepting only to discover they thought Autism was demonic and/or Daniel needed healing or deliverance. NOT. I also, reached out to another organization that claimed they were there to help Autistic children with therapies, cost of therapies, and connect families for support, only to discover that they were pushing a cure Autism agenda. That is only a couple of experiences I had, I do have a few more, but I think that is enough info to explain my cautious attitude.

I kept my guard up and knew that if I felt or saw any of those types of things that the kids and I would just leave.

Thankfully, it was in a school only minutes from our house, easy to find and it always helps when we do not have to be in the car long. All the kids can get car sick, and Daniel still has moments of car anxiety that can be triggered going to new places. It was at a school in their gymnasium. We had to register when we got there and everything seemed very smooth and positive. The only thing that bothered me was that they had a DJ, blaring loud music that did not seem appropriate for young children, who have sensory issues. We could feel the vibrations out in the entryway. It was thumping and pounding, Daniel started to ask why his body was vibrating and why was it so loud.

I told him that we did not have to stay if it was too loud, but he said that he wanted to go in.

Everyone was very nice, but no one talked to us. They all just looked and smiled. I took it upon myself to take the kids around to play the games and make some crafts. They had a table sitting out with T-shirts to buy, but I was not sure what that was for until later. I was a little confused by everything because it was my understanding that it was an event for families with children who are Autistic and who have disabilities. They said on their website, to come help celebrate autism awareness month by coming to the event and that they provide this program as a service that is for families in our community raising a child on the Autism spectrum. (I paraphrased that.)

Here is where I had expectations.

What I read about the night indicated to me that it was for families raising a child(ren) on the Autism spectrum and to share information and resources offered by the community. No one spoke to us about the dog therapy when we went over, several times, to see the dogs and pet them. They talked to themselves and the dogs just sat there being pet. When I went to the table where the T-shirts were to see what it was about, no one talked to me except to ask what size shirt I wanted. I said that I did not have any cash; she asked if I had my checkbook. I did not. I had not expected to be giving money. I clearly did not understand the purpose of the event. She seemed to not know anything about what the organization offered and directed me toward a several handouts, but her main focus was for the fundraiser.

In my reading of the information on the website, which I read several times, I did not notice the fact that it was a money-raising event.

I could say that was my own confusion, I honestly do not know. Maybe I read things to literally, I do that you know. :-) I was very pleased to discover that they have a positive outlook about Autism. There were several people wearing shirts that had the puzzle type of logo, but the images swirled into words that said, “Autism Embrace the Amazing!” Their organization uses their funds to provide help for families who cannot afford therapies, help with legal issues, getting SSI information and assistance, they help advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities, and have parent support groups.

Their main purpose is to improve the life of young autistics through support and acceptance.

That made me very happy, and the atmosphere, though it felt odd to me was not negative. I am glad I went and I think the more events I go to the more I will get a feel of how to interact. Possibly, another event that is more directed specifically toward Autistic families will be a better fit. It was a wonderful experience for the kids. They had so much fun playing with all of the sensory toys and running around the huge gym. I do admit, I was a little worried when I realized we were in a school building. I never had to think of it before, but now my mind goes there. What if someone without understanding was to come in and attack solely based on the false perceptions of Autism from media and certain circles. I hate that I was thinking of that, but I did.

I had to scan the gym, look for the exits, think of an escape route, just in case.

I was not paranoid; I only felt that I could not be that naive to believe that everyone is accepting of Autism. That is what all of the negative media has done to me – it has made me cautious and feel that I need to protect my children from ignorance that could turn to violence. I did not think of it long, only to have a plan and move on. Because of that though, when Daniel was digging around in a toy bin for what felt like forever, (he could not decide what he wanted) and I lost sight of Ariel for a moment, I felt anxious. I scanned that gym like a hawk. When I located her, I told Daniel that I would be right back; I did not go far at all to yell for Ariel to come closer. However, when I turned around Daniel was gone.

Again, my eyes scanned the gym like a hawk.

Panic started to set in because I could not see him, finally, I spotted him. He was walking very fast straight for the exit. I could tell that he was in a panic from behind; he was walking faster and faster. I was yelling his name, his hands were flapping, and everyone just watched. I thought that was very strange after the fact. I told Ariel and Joshua to stay there and I ended up in a full on sprint because he was heading out the exit doors, and no one stopped him. :-/ I caught up to him, put my arms around him to give him a squeeze, and then, turned him around. His face was red, tears were in his eyes, and he was breathing heavy. He could not even tell who I was.  I kept looking at him, squeezing his arms, saying, “Look Boo, it’s mommy. I am right here.”

After about the fourth time, he was able to recognize me.

Then, he said, “I thought you left me.” I reassured him that I never leave him and that I was right there. He apparently, did not hear me when I said that I would be right back. I said it three times, but I think it was all too much to process with the noise, toys, and excitement. I found it odd that no one stopped him or tried to stop him after they saw me yelling his name and running. I would have stopped any young child heading toward the exit doors without a parent, but that is me, I guess. He does look older since he is so tall …

I think writing this out indicates that I do have certain expectations.

I did not realize it, but I do. Overall, I am very happy with how everything went. The kids loved it, Daniel enjoyed himself, and the noise did not affect him the way that it used to. Even 6 months ago, we would not have been able to stay very long. We stayed for an hour and a half last night! We all left feeling good. The other thing I discovered was that the event was to help raise money for their Autism Awareness walk that is happening in a couple of weeks. I would like to participate, but I do not think I will be able to. I do feel that it was good for us to get out and try it. It definitely helps me with my social anxiety. I was confused at first, but then, I sat and thought about all I had observed.

I watched the young and older ladies line dance to music like Cotton-Eye Joe and I Am Sexy and I Know It.

It felt off, but I did enjoy seeing some of the kids that were there having a great time dancing. Joshua got his groove on to some songs and then, Daniel jumped into a little moves too. It was great! As I observed the volunteers and some of the other people who seemed to know each other, the words, “This is for them.” popped in my head. I realized that there were sensory toys and stations set up in the gym, but the bulk of the event seemed to be geared toward the people that already knew each other and for those who are not Autistic. I had a moment when I understood the lack of collaboration between autistic adults and autistic events.

It is one thing to read about it from others, it is another thing to experience it. 

While, I fully understand the need to do things that will reach people not on the autism spectrum, I wondered if they would be willing to work with adults on the spectrum. It also, made me wonder what kind of event could be done for us in my community. I see us do a lot of campaigning and activity via the internet, but I have not seen too many activities that are done by Autsitics at a local level. Though, I have only thought of this and I have not done much research. There could be things, I just need to look. However, I do know that in my community there is not anything. I have been in communication with a woman in town who started an Aspergers adult group last year, but it dwindled due to several reasons.

She and I have still been trying to think of activities that would be good for the group. 

However, life has been a bit hectic and full of activity so I have not been able to spend much time on that either. I think I am going to set some goals that will be attainable in the near future with this, but I also plan to set goals for next year’s Autism Awareness/Acceptance month. I plan on reaching out to this organization and meeting with another woman in town that heads up a local support group to get a feel. Of course, my first plan is to get connected and learn who these people are as people without any pressure on myself about these goals I am thinking about. I want to meet others who are working with the autism community in my town. I am hopeful because of the positive attitudes I have encountered so far, in every new social adventured, we have tried.

I am excited because they have been accommodating, accepting, and kind. 

I am not sure where I am going with all of this, but I am processing. I do know that I would like to be more active in the community. I think it would be great if people were willing to listen to an adult autistics locally. Who knows, if I were to speak up maybe I could find others around here who would like to as well. I would like to find more mothers who are autistic themselves, I think it would be beneficial to find more women in my real life, but if that is not the case I would like to be open to other mothers who I could connect with. You never really know who you can find some sort of bond with, it may not be related to being a mother or autistic at all. I could find a friend at the YMCA in one of my classes.

Something has shifted in my thinking that I noticed last night. 

I did not feel so lonely as I looked around and saw everyone talking, laughing, and hanging out. I did not feel hurt when people did not talk to me. I was satisfied with smiles and short conversations. I was not seeking them to understand my son or me. I was simply content and at peace observing, understanding certain dynamics, and enjoying all the children and my children. I was not offended at the lack of “autismness.” I understood what and why they did what they did. I think it sunk in for the first time that if I want something to be “Autism Friendly” that I am going to have to jump in and do something about it. I will be pondering this. Next! I can’t wait to write my next post sharing about all of the awesome things that has happened with the kids this week. It makes my heart overflow with joy when they are happy and proud of themselves!

I feel that last night turned out to be a spectacular evening on multiple levels.

Pictures!

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At Home Autism Acceptance

With April coming around the corner, I am already anticipating the tons of things that will be seen on the internet dealing with Autism Awareness Month. Everyone has his or her agenda, I think that can be a very good thing. It gets us talking as a society, it gets people thinking, it can get people arguing, and I think it could be far worse to stay silent about autism than to argue. At least that is something. Personally, I do not want to argue with anyone though, I get sick and shut down at conflict. I normally see all sides, even if I do not agree with it. I can still see it and feel for them. (As long as it is not plain evil.) I have noticed this past week that Ariel and Joshua have been saying things about Daniel being autistic. They have done this more so in the last year. For some reason it is coming up a lot. It got me thinking about awareness and acceptance at home and how I need to do a better job teaching them in this area.

Daniel has had a hard time adjusting to the time change.

He has had his Hex Bugs taken away, and he is still unable to have them back. They continue to cause him more harm than good — stimulating wise. His inability to find a replacement interest has caused him to have the feeling of being lost. He is looping, and I have been trying to help, but he is stuck. We have to ride it out. Because of this, his other self-regulating stims have come back that he hasn’t done in a while. The good thing is he is more talkative, sharing what is on his mind, expressing himself, (as best as he can) and being much more socially involved with their play. There are great things, and bad things that go along with this. Ariel and Joshua get overloaded; when they do, they just stop playing. If not given an explanation it does not bode well with Daniel. We have been over and over this, they have to tell Daniel when they are finished playing and most of all tell him WHY. Daniel will be fine as long as he understands why they stopped playing, or they got frustrated. (I am the same way, it won’t hurt my feelings at all just tell me!) This can lead into an all-day meltdown. He does not understand why all of a sudden they are done. It feels like rejection. He thinks he did something wrong, but he does not know what.

Ariel and Joshua do the same thing to each other.

It can turn into a mess sometimes. Joshua tends to think that we can read his mind, or that he told us already what he was thinking. He and Ariel get into arguments about the house rules, social rules, Pokémon rules, game rules, how you should pronounce words, how things are to be put away, and many other fun rules that they have gathered away in their minds. (Rules that may or may not be quite accurate.) They are rigid and strict in their understanding of the rules. They also try to inform Daniel of the rules, but he always breaks them according to them. It gets very frustrating to hear them constantly telling Daniel how he is doing something wrong. Joshua cannot handle Daniel’s eating sounds, so he either yells at him or has his own meltdown because of the sound. We have an open floor plan home with high ceilings — it does not help the noise factor around here. It especially does not help all of us who are highly sensitive to sounds.

This would be the kids and me.

After the symposium, I have been more observant of the social dynamics between the kids. I have taken notice to how they speak to each other, and how they treat each other. Joshua voices often that he doesn’t understand why Daniel acts certain ways, or gets to eat things that he doesn’t. Food is a big deal to Joshua. Daniel has a very limited diet and I have to get nutrients in him whatever way possible. It seems unfair that Daniel gets to eat banana and yogurt for dinner, but Ariel and Joshua have to eat the dinner I made. A dinner that contains broccoli! Joshua doesn’t realize that Daniel’s “tasty” yogurt is swimming with sweet potato puree and I can guarantee Joshua would not like it. I am thankful that Joshua is able to tell me what bothers him though, and he is willing to listen most days. The kids have really kicked it up a notch at pointing out Daniel’s differences, and “favoritism” around here. I decided I needed to do something about it. (I have pulled some of this straight from my home school blog because I didn’t feel like rewriting it. I had to give that little confession — I do not know why. :-))

I know that it is a normal course of childhood for them to point out differences.

However, it still does not make sense to them why he gets to do certain things that they do not. At times, it feels very much like an injustice, though it is not. We try very hard to keep things balanced and focus on their needs as equal as Daniel’s. Ariel and Joshua show many autistic traits, but I am sure they could also fall under the “normal” category. They do have some social issues, anxieties and misunderstandings, but they may improve a great deal when we get into more homeschooling groups. I do not know we will have to see. Joshua is very social and has no problems starting conversations with anyone — he does gear everything toward his special interest though. Ariel expresses her anxiety clearly. She has anxiety when she goes to new places or meets new people. She says that she loses her words and doesn’t know how to talk to someone. She told me this week “Well I know how to talk to them, but I don’t know how to get my words in order or what to talk to them about.”

She does such a wonderful job at explaining these things to me.

Joshua and Daniel both do not know what they are feeling. Their confusion causes other effects, but it doesn’t happen until we get home — normally. They all have sensory issues that can cause meltdowns, they all have special interests that consume their everything, they all do not know how to talk to other kids even though I have used social stories, given them scripts, read books about it, but they still are awkward, shut down, or talk non-stop about their interest. Still Ariel and Joshua feel that Daniel is autistic and they are not. They are able to communicate their feelings much more than Daniel; at times, they feel that he is “freaking out” for no reason. I then have to explain to them the reason for Daniel having a hard time. They do not associate any of their behaviors as being similar as his. My plan this week was to help them see how each one of them is different and discover their similarities.

I am using the book The Autism Acceptance Book for all three of them.

I tried this book before, but they were not ready for it. It was last year I believe and I think they were still too young. Daniel knows that he has autism, but does not understand what that means. He thinks that he is the same as everyone else until someone says something different. He does not have a clear sense of self-awareness. I am hoping that working through this book with all of them will help them have a better understanding about autism and how it relates to each one of them. Ariel and Joshua can be Daniel’s biggest advocates out in the world of their peers. I want them to understand and be able to explain it to others as well. I do not want them to feel like they have to, I hope they want to share how important acceptance is on their own. I shared with them about bullying and why it is wrong. I have plenty of childhood, and adult stories to share about my own personal experiences with being bullied that I can pull from.

The kids and I come with scenarios and practice what they would do in these situations.

And let me tell you there is nothing wrong with running home, or to a safe place as quickly as you can! I have done it plenty of times — understanding now I had nothing to be ashamed of for protecting myself by getting the heck out of the situation. The kids understand what I am talking about when it comes to bullying, they have seen it on TV, they watched cartoons that explained how horrible it is, and we openly talk about it. I used that as an entry point to talk about autism. The reason that most people are bullied is their differences. If we understand our own difference’s, accept them, and feel self-confident about being different, we are better able to cast down bully type words. I do not want my kids to hide their quirks, differences, or stims. I want them to feel confident to be themselves, but also understand that if you live in this world as yourself there are those who will not like it. I think one of the biggest things that would have helped me, had I known when being bullied, is understanding that it was not really about me.

I didn’t do anything wrong.

I was being me, and the bully did not like it. The reasons for bullying do not have to make sense. This would have helped me too. If someone would have explained to me that, a bully can randomly pick on someone “just because” that would have cleared up the confusion that was looping in my brain. I would not have spent so much time trying to figure out why they did it, and why they chose me. It still would not make sense, but it would have helped me see that they were completely illogical in their thinking and they perceptions were based on insecurity, and wanting acceptance themselves. (A great deal of the of the time.) Discussing all of this brought us to the point of talking about autism acceptance. While there are some things I am not fond of in the book, I realize that it is geared toward neurotypical children. From that perspective, I can see it as a good thing. For us in this house…well we had to get over the whole “Take a walk in someone else’s shoes” idiom. Thankfully they explain what that means in the book because I was doing a poor job. I won’t go into it, but it had something to do with them wearing my shoes and then all of us getting confused. :-)

Through the book, for each chapter at the end, there were a series of questions.

As I read the book and asked the questions, it was very interesting to see how each of the children saw themselves. The more we read the more I realized that Ariel and Joshua are on the spectrum much more than we thought. I have done this before; I see where I have fallen short in areas of helping them or recognizing their behaviors. They seem to have no problems until something like this opens my eyes and I ask them questions. It gets me in a loop of wanting to get them diagnosed as well. I wonder if it will help them, or if I haven’t done enough. This time around I decided we will wait it out until we move and focus on it then if need be. I am mainly concerned with social skills and sensory diet. I can already work on those things now. Overall, I think the book is an excellent resource in helping children understand what autism is like. The start of the book is about accepting others in general. I liked how they explained what acceptance was.

A quote from the book:

“When people look different from you or act differently than you do, the best thing to do is try to understand and accept them. In other words learn more about them, be kind to them, and include them in things that you and your friends do together.”

~ The Autism Acceptance Book

Autism can be difficult to explain.

I think the book does a good job at explaining some of the issues for children who are autistic. It talks about how people are different from each other overall. It asks questions about how “you” are different. It states that the autistic brain works differently in many ways. There are sections about the difficulties for children on the spectrum with communication, expressing themselves, senses, seeing the small details and focusing on them, playing differently, difficulties talking, which I thought worked well for the age group this is geared toward. They also suggest ways to get involved in helping support autism by teaching others what you have learned. They suggest presenting the information to their class, or raising money and donating it to an autism charity. At the end there are group activities, they get to create their own social story, and then make a scrapbook about what they have learned. My personal feeling is that books like these need to be added to school curriculum. I think it would be beneficial to children and parents to have a book like this in their hands. As well as for teachers so they can better understand and accept what life is like for children on the autism spectrum.

If we want to bring awareness and acceptance to the autism community this would be a great start.

(I know we need school funds, maybe it is wishful thinking.)

 

Ellen Sabin (Author, Illustrator)

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