It is World Autism Awareness Day. Autism is thrust into the spotlight and buildings, monuments, businesses, universities, and homes around the world light up blue for the day. It seems especially significant this year as the CDC released new prevalence numbers last week now saying that 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys, 1 in 252 girls) will be diagnosed with autism. The numbers are staggering. They remind me of why educating others about autism is so important.

I have felt like I am at a loss for words about our journey lately. So much has happened. We have reached some joyous highs — like a field trip in which spaghetti was eaten and actually enjoyed!!! 😀 — to some of the lowest of lows — headbutting teachers at school and needing to be removed from the classroom with tears that just never seem to end 😦 . We have had to adjust medications that no 7-year-old should have to take. I have had to have meetings with heads-of-companies about mistreatment of individuals (and parents) with autism. We have spent too many nights up at 2 or 3 am because sleep will no longer happen for our beautiful son. All of this happening since January. I know that I have felt overwhelmed and exhausted in every way possible. I can’t even begin to imagine how my dear boy has felt through all of this.

Our 1 in 88 (1 in 54).

Our 1 in 88 (1 in 54).

But Christian doesn’t give up. He powers on and inspires those around him. His braveness has encouraged me on this journey and looking back I wouldn’t ask to be on any other path or I would have missed out on all of these unexpected lessons that I have learned along the way. And I am thankful for God’s goodness (Jeremiah 29:11) — “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

We have also been blessed to have our beautiful Olivia. Christian’s “big” little sister. She is his advocate and friend and loves him without condition. She “wore it up blue” in honor of her brother today. I am so proud of the great sister that she is…

Olivia wears it up blue for World Autism Awareness Day.

Just know that each person’s/family’s journey with autism will be different. We are all on a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Some of us will want help and some will want to go it alone. Some of us are willing to share our stories and some will just not be ready to let others into our realities. But we are all here. We are your family, friends, neighbors, members, customers, etc.

To read some other great posts about World Autism Awareness Day, please click here to visit Jess at Diary of a Mom and click here to visit Jeneil at Rhema’s Hope.

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For those of you who have wondered where I’ve disappeared to, feel free to visit my running blog http://2012myyearontherun.wordpress.com

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My handmade Mother’s Day gifts from two of my biggest blessings…

from Christian (typed by himself) 🙂

from Olivia

 

I have been blessed with some fabulous children.

You, my fellow American friends, may not be aware of the phenomenon that is “Peppa Pig.”  It is a primarily British children’s cartoon and shown throughout other European countries.  My first encounter with it was via youtube through Christian searching for things “Nick Jr” related.  I see that it has now started gracing a half-hour time slot on Nick Jr. over the weekends.  Perhaps it will sweep the nation. 😉

Anyway, what started as a curiosity for Christian has turned more into an obsession with Peppa.  He is starting to echo lines from the show.  Which, honestly, is really cute since Peppa speaks with a British accent. (“Jump up and down in muddy puddles!”) 🙂  He walked into Brian’s classroom at the end of Sunday School this past weekend and announced, “Daddy Pig’s Classroom!”  (Too funny!  Especially when followed by a snort!)  Christian still loves to watch Peppa whenever possible via youtube.

He is now starting to search for Peppa on youtube in other languages.  His favorite — Russian.  I have heard him quote lines from these episodes, snort, and then laugh.  😉 [sigh]  Now I will have to learn Russian with a British accent to keep up with my not yet seven-year-old son all thanks to an English pig named Peppa.

To my mother-in-law,

I love you!  Thank you SO much for taking Olivia ALL day yesterday.  Doing so allowed me to shop in peace.  (Even though you ended up taking her shopping with you!)  🙂  It was relaxingly lovely.  [insert contented sigh here] 

I was allowed to rest, which I’m especially grateful for since my kidney stones seem to finally be on the move — ouch! 

Christian was able to have two uninterrupted therapy sessions without her trying to answer all of the questions and/or take over as the therapist.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.  The words don’t seem quite enough, but that’s all that I have at the moment.  🙂

Brian’s birthday was last week.  Christian made Brian this card with the help of one of the therapists, LW…

Happy Birthday Dad

I Love You Christian I Love You Christian

Christian

The VERY BEST part of this card is that Christian READ it to Brian ALL BY HIMSELF.  Brian and I were near tears by the end.  🙂

I get a little worried sometimes when I think about Olivia and how our relationship will look in the future.  She’s already pushing all of my buttons on a daily hourly basis.  What will she be like as a teenager? 

I had mentioned to one of our therapists last night that I couldn’t even remember what a “typical” 3-year-old should act like.  She told me that Liv was pretty “normal,” but extremely head strong compared to all of the other 3’s she knows.  And she’s smart.  Really smart.  Liv will have to start taking breaks from Christian’s therapy sessions because she answers Christian’s questions for him.  (And we think he has slowed at answering questions because he knows that Liv will answer for him if he waits.  Two too smart kids! 😉 )  And Liv is just so imaginative and creative and entertaining…

…but she also has a side that is overly anxious (nervous) in public.  She’s afraid of storytime (even if I stay there right by her).  She’s scared to be around “new” people in “new” places.  Somedays, she gets SO nervous that the color drains right out of her face and she looks like she will pass out.  (Wow!  I sure hope that she adjusts to 4K alright next year!)

Liv has times where she plays Christian’s therapist and advocate — reminding Christian that he needs to use his words or reminding me (or others) that Christian doesn’t like certain songs or sayings, etc.  Yet, at other times, she provokes him to anger taking his beloved letter blocks or his Leapfrog Texter, and then she wonders why he hits her…  (although, one REALLY awesome thing came out of that this week — Liv bumped his letter blocks, and Christian instead of just screaming and hitting like normal, first said, “I sad” 😦  How GREAT is that!?!  Communication at its finest!!! 🙂 )

One other thing that I am starting to realize is that I think Liv is lonely.  We don’t have a lot of close friends in the area.  She doesn’t get to play with other children much.  She talks about her cousins all the time and asked if one of them (a girl cousin just 8-months older) could move into her room.  And she tries to engage in play with Christian, but he doesn’t play the way she wants or needs.  I wish that I could alleviate her loneliness for her.

I’m also learning that her personality, which seems SO DIFFERENT than mine, is actually a lot closer than I realized.  As a child, I always felt that I was doing everything wrong.  Constantly.  That no matter how hard I tried, my efforts would never be good enough.  For anyone.  I still struggle with those feelings yet to this day.  I don’t want Olivia to carry that same burden, but in some ways, I can see it creeping up in her already.  She is overly apologetic about certain accidents she has around the house.  She hides things when she thinks that Brian or I will be upset.  It breaks my heart to see that possibility in her.  I am working to try and fix that before it becomes the lifetime struggle that I have with an inability to measure up to standards set by others (or even myself).

And, Liv, she’s just and old, wise 3-year-old.  She has great empathy.  She is super silly.  She will be setting the fashion trends as a doctor, veterinarian, fire fighter, postal worker, teacher, princess some day.  She has major heart.  And I love her, more than I could have imagined possible.

Ahh…pictures from way back when we were rested, young, and a few pounds lighter.  😉  Happy Valentine’s Day, Honey!