I met Craig when my children were both running around in diapers if I could keep them in that much. Now it seems almost funny to tell the “naked baby stories” as now my “Littles” are now stealing my shoes and almost as tall as I am. Craig is one of the few people that have been around long enough to remember me walking the floors at all hours with my son trying to get him to go to sleep. Complaining about my son once again drawing on my walls and me deciding that I was going to paint my walks black with chalk board paint because I had no idea what else to do as I had a little “Picasso on my hands” and no matter what I did or how many times I locked up or hid my art supplies my son always seemed to find them.
Craig also remembers when my son popped off all the keys to my lap top because they “were not in the right order” That was interesting trying to put them back in the “correct place” as I did not have another keyboard to look at the current moment and I still had to write my college papers. Craig has been “with us” in the “Adventures of Autism.” and was one of the first people I called when my son was diagnosed deaf October 25, 2003. I was devastated. That was two days before my son’s fifth birthday.
Two days later I sat with my son at Chuck E. Cheese and sang him happy birthday. I was reminded that he may not be-able to hear the words, he can feel the love and not to give up. Six month later the diagnosis of AUTISM came over the phone. The diagnosis was a relief in a way because it was the first step in knowing what to do.
April is Autism Awareness month so for the month of April we set forth on a project to raise awareness about ASD. My children Michael (My little MAN) and ISIS, the Princess, made a goal to light it up blue and join the Autism Awareness Campaign. The project kicked off with a few simple light bulbs, companies such as Home Depot partnered up with Autism Speaks and sold 25 watt blue light bulbs to raise money and awareness. My husband chose to purchase blue Fluorescent bulbs for the outside of our home. The bulbs we purchased were Blue Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs. These bulbs produce the equivalent amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb, and have a reported life of 8,000 hours.
Many people on the Spectrum have described As though they were “alone in their own little world surrounded by others.” Some signs of Autism are: inappropriate laughter, no real fear of dangers, apparent insensitivity to pain, may not want cuddling, sustained unusual repetitive play, uneven physical or speech, may avoid eye contact, may prefer to be alone. may have difficulty expressing needs and use gestures, inappropriate attachment to objects, insistence on sameness, echoes words or phrases, inappropriate responses or no response to sound, spins objects or self, difficulty interacting with others. As I read this list this describes me in many ways. I am sure people who know me would laugh. My question is “what is really inappropriate and who are these people to say what inappropriate is?” .
Autism is represented by symbols; one is the puzzle piece, the meanings for the autism awareness puzzle piece are interpreted differently by different people. To some, the symbol is simply a reflection of the idea that autism spectrum disorders are puzzles that have not yet been solved. To others, the autism puzzle piece, since it is not part of a larger puzzle, reflects that children who have autism are themselves pieces of the puzzle that do not fit in. To others still it represents the mechanical nature of an ASD individual’s thought process. The autism puzzle piece design, in many versions, features bright colors that symbolize both hope and the period of childhood.
At one pint my son was deaf and non-verbal. If you have watch “Mr. Holland Opus you will understand when I say I have had the “Mr. Holland’s Opus Moment of just wanting to be able to communicate with my son. I have had the moments of him RIPPING everything out of the fridge and me SCREAMING at that poor child “WHAT DO YOU WANT!” It is a good thing he was deaf because I was screaming like a raving lunatic. In reality I was a tired, frustrated mother who simply wanted to be able to communicate with my child. We began to learn sigh language, and pictures. Michael had surgery, and started therapy, LOTS of therapy.
We found that he reacted to corn and anything with corn syrup and for three years we had to be very careful as to what he ate and he could not have any corn or corn products. Label reading was very important and we found that even though it was written in his school plan NO CORN or CORN products the school ignored this directive and Michael had far more mal-adaptive behaviors after lunch and especially if he had meals that were high in corn or corn products.
Michael can now speak and hear, both are still not “normal” and we work with him with his communication skills and he becomes over stimulated by many things. This is makes life interesting when shopping for clothes, laundry soap, shampoo … anything really. So finding people and places that are willing to work with us is very important otherwise we lead very isolated lives.
The project started with a few simple light bulbs. My children wanted to spread awareness with the neighborhood, the town, and the world. That sounds simple enough right? Throughout the month we worked to find people and businesses willing to listen, accept, and “Light it up Blue” to show that they were willing to show they were aware of Autism and willing to accept people with ASD, and work with them and INVITE them into their spaces.
Throughout the month we had numerous Adventures in Autism. We had a “Light it up Blue Party at the Garage Cafe.” Michael was able to break out of his shell and attend his first track meet where there were lots of people, noises, sounds, sights, and smells. He spoke in front of numerous classes about Autism. He spoke to teachers and administers at various schools.