The Person Who Made Me Realize Those Outside the Autism Community Could ‘Get’ It, Too

306
306
0

IMG_20140825_082322609 Since the day my son was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, assuming the role of advocate has been nothing short of exhausting. While the professionals (most of them) “get it,” attempting to help others understand can be stressful and frustrating. Recently, after three years, I’ve found someone involved in my son’s life who not only understands but is willing to educate herself in unfamiliar areas of autism. A teacher. A fabulous, caring, compassionate, remarkable woman who’s my son’s first-grade teacher.

Too often people outside the world of autism struggle to understand what it’s like to live in our world. Living with a child on the spectrum is exactly that… a different world. Most of the time people really don’t “get it.”  So many people are quick to make assumptions and judge autism spectrum disorder (ASD) families — especially when they’re out in public. Without awareness about autism, it of course seems as though my child rolling on the floor through the aisles at the grocery store is just a bad kid. Others may not be aware of the painful stimuli (bright lights, noises, etc.) that have become too overwhelming for our child in that moment. As an ASD mom, I’ve learned to brush off this harsh reality and continue to raise awareness to those who are willing to listen.

Collaborating with professionals can be very tedious. Always trying to keep everyone on the same page (in a world that’s constantly changing) is draining. There are so many little things to make people aware of. I’ve found that a lot of my free time is spent making phone calls, sending emails, preparing documents, etc. It’s only natural to want this time to at least be somewhat enjoyable, right?

My son’s teacher has done just that. She’s made this “free” time enjoyable for me. You see, professionals are supposed to communicate and work with the parents to help the child. General education teachers, while professionals in their own field, are certainly not autism experts. They don’t have to look outside the realm of general education. There are plenty of teachers who are rigid and aren’t willing to think outside the box. So when a person goes that extra mile to understand my son, it makes my job as advocate that much easier. That in itself is enjoyable.

My son loves his teacher. When a child comes home from school and talks about his/her teacher nonstop, it’s safe to say the teacher is making a difference. To me, making a difference is what life is all about.

My son’s teacher has shown me that there are people in this world who are willing to listen. People outside the world of autism can take a step back and just simply watch. Judgment is not all there is to people who are uneducated about the outside world. For that I am forever grateful.

I’d like to publicly thank my son’s teacher. To let her know I appreciate her making my job as advocate effortless. For reaching out, for educating herself, for her willingness to listen and for going that extra mile. Most important, I want to thank her for touching my heart and the heart of my boy.

Thank you for “getting” it.

What a blessing this journey has been.

This post originally appeared on Open Your Box.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

306
306
0

RELATED VIDEOS

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

This 6-Year-Old Daredevil’s Sense of Adventure Will Put a Smile on Your Face

27
27
0

Jazzy Golly, 11, is the youngest volunteer at Challenge Alaska, an Anchorage-based adaptive sports program for people with disabilities. Jazzy often helps out 6-year-old Anna Boltz, whose disabilities mean she has to ski sitting down, according to the video below.

In the video below, Jazzy and Anna attempt to ski with a tether between them. Although it’s rough at first, little Anna is all smiles and positivity.

It’s too fun to be scared,” Anna says in the video below. “It almost feels a little bit like I’m flying.”

Go, Anna, go!

Watch the video below to see Jazzy and Anna do some serious shredding:

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

27
27
0
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

This Sweet Photo Captures Fatherhood at Its Very Best

219
219
0

You’re scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and bam! A photo makes you stop. This is one of those photos. We absolutely love the story behind it.

unnamed (6)

Terri Colachis, a Mighty blogger from San Diego, recently sent us this picture. In it, her 15-year-old daughter, Shea, is dancing with her dad, Gus. Shea has autism and experiences anxiety. Last year, when she was too overwhelmed to go to her prom, her dad put on some music outside and danced with his daughter. The result is the sweet photo above.

“To me, this picture so perfectly caught the complexities of what it feels like to have autism and what it sometimes feels like to be the parent of a child with autism,” Colachis told The Mighty in an email. “Sharing a milestone with your daughter in such a different but equally special way just brought me to my knees.”

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

 

219
219
0
TOPICS
,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

When a Sweet Little Boy in Target Reminded Me of My Son’s Delays

654
654
8

Yesterday, my son, Leo, and I were in Target looking for fruit to take to a friend’s house. (Note to self: never go to Target for fruit). As I was searching for something halfway edible to bring, a little boy standing next to his mom struck up a conversation with me. He observed me inspecting the strawberries and informed me that he himself loved strawberries — that he loved blueberries, too, but not bananas. His mom didn’t seem fazed by his endless chatter but rather quite accustomed to her son, who looked younger than Leo, carrying on a conversation with a random woman in the middle of Target.

I, on the other hand, politely listening to this sweet little boy describe his love of strawberries and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was a little taken aback. I looked over to my own sweet boy, sitting content in the cart with his cookie, staring at the lights above and lost in his own delightful world. I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness.

As Leo gets older, the delays become more apparent. Family members, younger than him have far surpassed him in many developmental milestones. They’re well on their way to being fully potty-trained. They can tell you their names and ask and answer questions with ease. It’s difficult to watch my little boy have to spend hours in therapy each day acquiring language and skills that come so naturally for typically developing children.

Yes, it made me sad that this random little boy in the middle of Target — in the span of about two minutes — spoke more to me about his life than my own son has in his whole four and a half years on earth.

I wonder why it has to be this way. Why does Leo have to struggle? Why do I have to watch him struggle?

But then I think of all the ways Leo has spoken to me without words. The way he’s opened up a whole new world to me, how he speaks to me every day with his beautiful gestures, the most incredible hugs, his mischievous smile, his infectious laugh, his tears, the way he tries to give me (and all of his teachers and therapists) kisses when he’s trying to get out of work or knows he’s in trouble. The way his eyes light up when he sees something or somebody he loves.

And the words are coming. I know one day, I too will have a conversation with my son about strawberries and his favorite action figure in the middle of Target. Until then, I will continue to look for the beauty and meaning in more than just words.

ATT_1416519351086_2014-11-20_14.38.57 (1)

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

654
654
8
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

How a Vacuum Salesman Gave This Teen a Birthday He’ll Never Forget

119
119
1

Dylan Johnson loves vacuum cleaners.

This 14-year-old with autism, from Chesterfield County, Virginia, has preferred the cleaning tools to more traditional toys since he was 2 years old, CBS reported. Over the weekend Dylan celebrated his birthday, and to make it extra special for her son, his mother invited a vacuum salesman to stop by.

Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman Al Archie traveled over an hour to perform a vacuum demonstration for Dylan at his party. Then, at the end of the demo, he presented Dylan with his very own vacuum.

There was not a dry eye in the house,” Jodie Greene, Dylan’s mother, told the outlet.

Watch the video below to see more from Dylan’s vacuum-themed birthday party:

 

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

119
119
1
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

The Comment That Reminded Me Why I Write Openly About My Son’s Autism

48
48
0

dom50 When my son, Dominic, was diagnosed with autism back in 2007, I spent two weeks feeling sorry for myself.

I think it’s extremely important to go through that process so you can move forward. During that two-week time frame, one thing I really wish I could have read was a blog post about having a child with special needs, what it’s really like and how it affects the entire family. I felt so alone — like I was the only one out there with a child with autism. And I didn’t want to read a blog that was negative but rather one that was inspirational and positive.

Before I started writing my blog in July of 2011, I had many doubts. Would anybody read it? Would I get a bunch of negative comments saying things like, “Are you some kind of expert?” or “Who do you think you are writing a blog!?” Since I have a business degree and not a journalism degree, I wondered if I would have enough material to make a blog interesting to read. Well, I shouldn’t have worried about that. Good grief, I could write posts three times a day. Anyways, as this blog has evolved over the past three and half years, one topic I write about often is Dominic’s autism.

I always try to stay positive, and I hope I inspire other parents of children with special needs to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I hope when I write about my son, another parent out there in the same situation can say to themselves, “OK, I’m not alone after all!” Maybe even, they find what I write amusing and it puts a smile on their face. With 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with autism in 2014, chances are you know someone who has a child on the spectrum.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about Dominic and I having a conversation. I later read this comment from a parent who has a child with special needs:

We are getting closer to this every day. I can’t wait!

Cool. Now, a comment like that is exactly why I write about Dominic’s autism.

This post originally appeared on bountifulplate.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

48
48
0
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

8,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.