Mother’s Day 2016

Good morning, and Happy Mother’s Day.

Holidays and parties are HARD for our family. We need to prepare by doing a lot of resting prior, and then we must prepare for the inevitable meltdowns and struggles that will follow. Beth and Anne can usually “hold it together” while we are there, because they truly WANT to be there. The problem is that it is too much for their systems, especially Beth. The one thing our loved ones will never understand is the “happy meltdown.” The “happy meltdown” is the fallout as Beth’s system tries to process all the excitement and happy she experienced at the gathering.

After many PAINFUL holidays this past year, we are doing things differently. It is upsetting to people that want to see the girls at parties, but I cannot please everyone and my girls’ mental health cones first. So today, I will spend the morning with my amazing daughters, then this afternoon I will go visit with my family (mom, gram, aunt, etc…) to celebrate Mother’s Day. Our decision was not popular, but I must admit that once it was made, I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders.

Today is Mother’s Day, and EVERY Mother should celebrate in a way that puts a happy in HER heart. We should not celebrate in ways that only make others happy. We must put ourselves first sometimes, and today is the perfect day to do that.  Remember Different is just different; it is not better or worse, and you need not justify your choices to anyone. May your day be filled with laughter and love; may it also be meltdown free and relaxing.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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World Autism Day 2016 ~ I Can’t. She Can. I Think I’ll Let Her.

In Al-Anon the first three steps (from the 12 steps) are the foundation of our program. We tend to shorten those steps to: “I can’t. He can. I think I’ll let Him.” The actual steps read as:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

I look at it like this… I am powerless over people, places and things. My Higher Power, whom I call God, will help them on their path, just as He is always with me on my journey. The only person I have control over is myself, and I must use that control to always conduct myself like the woman God knows I can be.

Today as I prepare for another April, where I inevitably spend most of my time cringing at many of the posts, I am seeing the world through my program eyes. I understand that I cannot control what other people believe, or what they choose to share. I accept that we are all just trying to do the best we can for our families, and we don’t have to agree to treat each other with respect and kindness. I am praying for Autistics everywhere to know that their value is not tied to the opinions of others, but is rooted in themselves. I am praying for a better world, where everyone treats each other with Love and Respect, while celebrating and embracing diversity.

My “Three Steps” for treating my daughter with the respect she deserves:

  1. I Can’t…

I can’t live life for Beth, because I can never fully understand what occurs in her beautiful mind/body from day to day. I must always respect her boundaries and space, because I do not experience the world in the same way she does. My job as her parent is to support her in any way possible, but I should NEVER try to control her.  I can’t think for her, and therefore should not speak for her either.

      1. She Can…

She can, and does, live a pretty awesome life. As she learns to navigate this overwhelming world, she tries to share her experiences with us. She can tell (or show) us what she feels, and how certain things affect her. All we need to do is “listen” with our ears, eyes and most importantly our hearts. She can speak for herself, and reminds us of that when we forget.

        1. I Think I’ll Let Her…

I think I’ll let her live life on her terms. She is constantly helping us see the world in a different way. She helps us, and people who meet her, see the struggles and blessings of Autism. She has an amazing voice, which she uses to spread love and light everywhere she ventures. By letting her share her message, how she chooses, we are changing the world for the better, one person at a time.

World Autism Day 3 Steps

Today is World Autism Day; this month is Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month. By the end of April, you will see a LOT of information shared in various forms. You may find yourself with more questions than answers. If you have questions about Autism, the best place to go is an Autistic person. As a parent, I cannot express the level of my gratitude for the Autistic Adults, who are willing to share their journey in order to help the next generation. There are many wonderful pages/sites that can address your questions, and help you see Autism for what it is… A neurological difference; It is NOT less, neither is it more, it is simply a different way of processing the world.

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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#SeeAmazing is actually AMAZING

I have been digging into the Sesame Street #‎seeamazing‬ initiative the past few days. I must admit, I was extremely nervous about #‎SesameStreetandAutism‬, because Autism Speaks was involved (I detest the way they present Autism as a tragedy). I went into my research praying that there would be limited negativity, and was pleasantly surprised to find it all VERY positive.

I think I have gone through everything on the site, and now Beth is going through it all. She absolutely LOVES the We’re Amazing 1, 2, 3! book and has read it several times. She also really enjoys watching all the video stories of different children with Autism. With each one, she happily flaps away singing: “Look Mommy, they’re autistic like me!”

It is wonderful to see one of my favorite childhood shows, now becoming a favorite of my girls. I cannot thank Sesame Street enough for including differently-abled children in their show. Over the years, I have seen (and loved) many differently-abled individuals on the show. I cannot even express how much I LOVE Julia, the first autistic Sesame Street character. Hopefully this is the first step among many to help our children (and the autistic adults in the world) be treated with the Respect and Kindness they deserve.

I leave you with The Amazing Song, it has become a household favorite. ❤

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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14 Years later…

I am sitting here on September 13th, it is not an exceptional day, and there are no “We Remember” memes for today. My heart has been heavy since last week, and today I am finally working through the reasons why. Fourteen years ago, on September 11th, the unthinkable happened in our country. We were attacked on our soil, and thousands died.  It was horrific day, and I will never forget that day, and the weeks that followed.

I remember staying at work, because I didn’t want to be alone; then driving blindly to my parent’s home, and sitting for hours crying while watching the coverage on TV. I remember being terrified for my coworkers in the Sears Tower, and thankful that I only had to work out of that office occasionally. I remember my counterpart from that office calling me in tears, after they did an evacuation drill, and she realized that with just 1 person from each office in the stairwells, she could not make it out of the Sears Tower (from the 35th floor) if it fell in the same time as the Twin Towers. I remember our Sears Tower office being a ghost town for months, as everyone came and worked from our “safe” suburban office.

I also remember a country that came together in the face of tragedy. I remember people putting aside their differences to stand as one nation. I remember people acting with love, respect, kindness, and compassion for their fellow humans. The devastating acts that were meant to destroy our nation, seemed to only make us stronger. I was proud to be an American.

The list of lives lost on 9/11/01, which was published in the Chicago Sun Times

The list of lives lost on 9/11/01, which was published in the Chicago Sun Times

14 years later… People share the memes around September 11th declaring that they will never forget, but their actions show the world that they have already forgotten. Our country is slowing killing itself. While we still fear terrorism, it is the wars being waged on our own soil that should scare us the most. People are killing each other over race, religion, sexual orientation, ability, etc… Our nation no longer stands together in love, it is divided with hate.

Our country was founded in diversity, it was founded on a belief that ALL men were equal, and free to believe as they chose. After 9/11, people in positions of power used our fear to slowly change our country under the guise of protecting us. Now we live in a country where being different can get you killed. Our society (as a whole) has no tolerance for people with different beliefs. As I fight to teach my children to love and respect EVERYONE, the world around them shows them that if you are different, you must fear for your life. It is WRONG on so many levels! I am no longer proud to be an American, because I live in fear of the world my children are growing up in.

I do not post often these days, because I tend to stay offline. Everyday I log on to social media I see hate, disrespect, cruelty and judgement. It hurts my heart, and lately I cannot bare to see such negativity spewed. I will continue to teach my children that God created us all differently for a reason, because he LOVES diversity. I will continue to teach them to treat EVERYONE with respect and kindness. All while praying, that American people come to their senses before we completely destroy our country. You do not have to agree with your neighbor’s beliefs to treat them with respect and kindness. Just as they do not have to approve of your way of life, to treat you with love and compassion. If the Lord wanted everyone to be the same, and think the same, He would not have created us so differently and given us free-will. PLEASE stop trying to force others to live by your beliefs, and start embracing diversity. ❤

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Spread The Word To End The Word 2015

Today is THE day. It is the annual Spread The Word To End The Word day of awareness and action. PLEASE visit www.r-word.org and take the pledge to end the use of the R-word.

I have never liked the word “retard” or any variation of it. When I was in seventh grade, I was blessed to start volunteering in the Special Needs classrooms in my middle school. In high-school, I spent a lot of time in the nurse’s office learning about anger management, and in detention, because when I heard that word I usually punched the person. When people used that word they were talking about people that I loved and considered friends, and YES in my day they were talking about the students in the LD, ED and BD classrooms.

Fast-forward 25 years and people use the word about EVERYTHING they don’t like, consider stupid, think is less than, etc… Some people when you explain why the word is upsetting will apologize and stop using it. Others defend their right to use it, because they aren’t talking about anyone specific and it’s “just a word.” I have people in my own family that feel this way. The first thing I ask them is how would they feel if someone called Beth the R-word. Well, no surprise that is different, and they would be angry. Well, there is NO DIFFERENCE between using that awful, disrespectful word flippantly or directed at a specific person. It is the same word, and spreads the same horrible perception that anyone (or anything) described by that word is less than. It is INSULTING and HURTFUL to people with special needs, as well as their families.

I have lost friends, and no longer speak to certain family members, because they refused to stop using that word. It makes me sad that people cannot see the damage they do with “just words.” Every year so many young people take their own lives due to “just words” they could not handle hearing anymore.  I am raising my girls to stand proud in the face of ignorance. I am teaching them that “just words” have a VERY strong impact on people. I am teaching them to talk to (and about) everyone with Respect and Kindness. As I tell my children EVERY day, if it would make you sad, then don’t say/do it to (or about) others.

PLEASE go now and take the Pledge to End the Word. Then share with your friends and family.

There are two posts that I read this morning, that are phenomenal, and really describe why people need to STOP using the R-word (and all it’s variations), MUCH better than I can. Please take the time to read these two posts:

So, what do you say when someone uses the word “retard”?

End The Word

***Addition of Another post, because I LOVE it and it can be so useful to provide people with alternative, more respectful words.***

225 Substitutes for the R-Word

FB Cover created by www.r-word.org

FB Cover created by http://www.r-word.org

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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The C Word

While I respect everyone’s right to their own opinion, when you talk/write about any Autistic individual, especially my daughter, there are two words that will awaken indignation in me. The C word is by far the worst; if you tell me about a cure for Autism, I cannot be held accountable for my actions. If you mention recovery from Autism, I probably won’t be much more rational.

In recent weeks, I have had complete strangers contact me about how to cure Autism, so I can help my daughter. I have also had friends, some of which have Autistic children, discuss similar topics. I thank God that I have been in Al-Anon for so many years, because the pre-Al-Anon me would not have been able to ignore (or politely respond to) such offensive contact.

I try VERY hard to be a positive example for my children. I try to lead by example and show them that we should treat everyone with respect, kindness and love. Unfortunately, I am human and when you say something so upsetting and outrageous, I sometimes forget to work my program. I think I need to print this up, and simply start handing them out to people who use these and other offensive terms:

Autism is an integral part of Beth, it is interwoven into every fiber of her being. Beth is exactly the person God intended her to be, there is NOTHING about her that needs to be cured or recovered! She is a whole person, who is amazing! Yes she struggles some days, but don’t we all? Her struggles are unique to her body’s neurology, but those struggles do not make her any less of a person. When people talk about Autistic people like there is something wrong with them, they are talking about my daughter and countless others like her, who add immeasurable magic to our world. It is INSULTING when so many special people are disrespected, and viewed in such a negative manner. EVERY person deserves to be treated with respect and kindness! Stop judging people who are different, embrace diversity, and love them for the extraordinary people they are. 

PLEASE THINK before you speak; try to imagine how you would feel if someone wanted to change you, or your loved ones. How would you feel if someone told you that you, or your child, needed to be cured or recovered? If you would be offended, like we are, then PLEASE don’t say it. Instead of spreading damaging stereotypes, PLEASE take the time to get to know an Autistic person. I promise it will change your life for the better, because there is a certain magic than can only be seen through their beautiful minds.

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Great Week

This week has been great, and as I sit here reflecting, all I can do is smile.

Monday we worked on a lot of art; the girls really like creating pictures with chalk. Then we signed up for ABCmouse, which the girls are loving.  On a non-school note, I committed to running my second 5k, we are doing the Ugly Sweater Run in November.

Tuesday morning we attended a local MOPs group, which was amazing. The girls went to their own classrooms, while I enjoyed fellowship with some wonderful moms. As much as we are loving homeschool, I think sometimes they like to learn from people other than mommy. In the evening we went to the library for a fun story time, where the girls made apple magnets. The librarian even sat and colored a rainbow apple with Beth after the class was over. While they colored, Anne and I cleaned up the room, which made for a wonderful end to the evening for all of us. I cannot say enough about the awesome staff at our library. Isn’t the apple beautiful?

rainbow apple

Wednesday we had the privilege of spending three fantastic hours with a Homeschool Co-op, which we are joining. It is an extraordinary group of families. We felt very comfortable there, because everyone is so accepting of each other; children of all ages were playing with each other, like best friends. It is the first outing that Beth was truly her social, happy self in long time, which put a happy in my heart. The only downside was when Anne let herself out of the gym to play on the equipment outside. When I realized she was not in the gym I panicked. Thankfully when I got outside one of the older boys was standing there watching her. I scolded her and explained why she is NEVER to leave the room and NEVER go outside without me. The young man said: “I was watching her, I made sure she was safe.” I thanked him, but asked that if she ever tries to leave again, he alert someone. I am thankful she was okay, and impressed that a 4th grader we just met, cared enough to make sure she was safe.

Thursday was a rough day, due to all the excitement on Tuesday and Wednesday. We went to a weekly Fall Story-time at the library, and both girls struggled through it.  Once the class was over, we came directly home, because I knew they were not up to doing anything else. They both ended up taking naps, which is highly unusual for Beth, but her system needed some extra down-time to process everything. Thankfully, the girls were in great moods after naps, play time, and dinner; and so we started our school “day” at 6pm.  Class lasted about two-and-half hours, and was wonderful.

Today, Henry took off work so we could take the girls to a Special Needs event at a local pumpkin patch. The girls did really well in class, even with being excited to have daddy in school with them. After a successful school day, we headed to the pumpkin patch, where great fun was had by all. Their favorite part was panning, where they collected many unique sea-shells and a lump of “gold.” Unfortunately, there was no playground there, so before heading home, we stopped at McDonald’s play-land to run off the last of their energy. Between the pumpkin patch and McDonalds, they came home with some good loot.

pumpkin patch

Although it was a great week overall, it was honestly too much for the girls, especially Beth. I have decided that going forward we will only be doing MOPs and the Co-op, because those are the two places we are happiest and most comfortable. As a good friend reminded me, often times less is more.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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