I’m Trying to Figure Out a Word That Sums Up My Feelings About Autism


Dear Autism,

I need help understanding how to put emotions about you into something I can grasp. To date, I haven’t figured out how to do that.

I love our son more than anything, of course. I like his laugh and his smile. I love his eyes. His curly hair is the best. He gives awesome hugs. He’s a determined little boy.

But you… Autism… you!?  How can I hate you and not hate him? How can I cry when I say your name, Autism, and not feel guilty for that? How do I put my feelings for you into the appropriate compartments and still feel love and joy and happiness for my child?

You changed our family. I know you hear that a lot. Some days, when my little guy is agonizing over light and sound and texture, I hate you. I hate you so much I could punch you in the face.

Some days, when I meet a new family and they become our best friends, I want to kiss you in that same face and thank you for blessing us.

That time he tried to leave the house in the middle of the night? Or succeeded in doing so in the afternoon so he could ride his bike? Or when he’s up all night restless? How about the times he’s acted out in aggression because he’s frustrated and can’t tell me? Oh, ya, Autism… remember when he didn’t say “Mama” until he’d already said a bunch of other people’s names: the babysitter, the therapist? The worst. Yearning for that connection. For him to want and need me as his mom. All of that? I hate you for it.

But the milestones he’s reached and how much sweeter they are? The things I’ve learned and how much more educated I feel? The literal way he thinks and how it makes me laugh so hard? How smart he is and how he knows things and I will never figure out how? That moment he and I finally made a connection? That moment he called me mom? The person you changed me into, Autism… a more patient, a more understanding, a less judgmental and a stronger mother, wife, friend and person? For that, Autism, I thank you.

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By the end of this journey we’re on, I hope to be able to come up with one word that describes my feelings towards you. To sum it up and figure it out. But for now, I just stay in the complicated relationship we have.

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Watch Robert Downey Jr.’s Best Work Yet


Alex is a 7-year-old comic book fan who was born without part of his right arm. Now, he’s a superhero.

In the adorable video below, Alex walks into a hotel room and is presented with his own bionic arm by none other than the actor who plays Iron Man in the films, Robert Downey Jr.

Albert Manero, a student at the University of Central Florida, designed and printed Alex’s bionic arm using a 3D printer, Yahoo News reported. Manero founded Limbitless Solutions, a volunteer-driven group that makes affordable bionic limbs for people in need. The Iron Man limb cost just $350 to print whereas typical prosthetics can cost more than $40,000.

After Alex’s arm was ready, he and Downey were set up through The Collective Project, an organization that highlights people utilizing technology to do good deeds. The organization filmed Alex and Downey trying on their bionic arms together in the adorable video below.

Each one looks the same,” Alex says in the video below, as compares his own bionic arm with Iron Man’s. “Actually, I think yours might be better than mine,” Downey responds.

See Alex and Robert Downy Jr. compare their bionic arms in the incredibly sweet video below:

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A Termination Letter to My Son’s Genetic Disorder


Dear Chromosome 8p duplication and deletion,

This letter is to inform you that we’ve decided to let you go. We’re aware that when the geneticist originally assigned you to our family, by strapping you around our second child at only 6 months of age, she indicated that you would be with us for life. However, we’ve decided to go in another direction.

After 14 years of our current relationship with you as our son’s official label, we believe your role in our family has become obsolete. Originally, yes, you served a purpose. You answered some questions and provided some insight. We initially acquiesced to your demands of fear, isolation and anxiety. I’m sure you’re proud that during your first few years in our family, you dominated every facet of our daily lives. You were given free reign over our emotions, our relationships, our plans and dreams.

However, after those initial years of you in the driver’s seat, we began to skirmish over appropriate boundaries, attempting to diminish your prominence in our lives. Now, we’ve determined that you’re completely obsolete in our situation. Ever since those initial reports the doctor placed in our hands, your definition has been: mentally challenged, developmentally delayed, physically disabled. However the young man to whom you were assigned is best defined as follows: funny, affectionate, kind, compassionate and party animal. You’ve become irrelevant.

Effective immediately you no longer label anything or anyone in our family. Our most special family member will henceforth be known as simply that: Special. Webster’s definition is: “Distinguished by some unusual quality, especially important or loved.” Perhaps “thanks” is in order, as you were with us for quite a while, but we can’t muster an ounce of gratitude on this occasion. We simply say goodbye.

Very Sincerely,

The Gomez Family

Me & Nick

For all of March, The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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Why I Don’t Wish My Brother’s Autism Would Disappear


Dear Autism,

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.49.39 AM First of all, I’d like to say that you light up my world. You’ve made my brother, Harry, the way he is, and I’d like to thank you for that. Because of you, I’ve gotten to know Harry better as a person, and I’ve learned to accept him for who he is.

In addition to teaching me acceptance, you’ve also taught me what being unique is all about. Even though Harry has a harder time learning than I do, doesn’t understand a lot of things and acts differently than I do, he’s just like any other person. He wants others to love him, he wants to make new friends, and most all, he wants to have fun. Harry is lucky because he’s surrounded by people who love him unconditionally. He deserves to live a long and happy life.

Despite your many pros, you also have some cons. Sometimes, Harry uses anger to solve his problems because he doesn’t quite understand how to solve his problems in a proper manner. But most of the time, Harry views the world as a burst of light. I wish I could view the world the way he does. I remember when we were in high school together, Harry would greet everyone he knew, no matter what clique he or she was in. A moment from his high school days that brought me tears of joy was when he received his Senior Superlative: “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day.” That showed me the students at our high school not only accept him — they also treat him just like everybody else.

Finally, I’d like to thank you for showing me to never judge a book by its cover. My brother is different, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have the same opportunities as everyone else. He’s capable of having a career doing what he loves (a librarian) and of learning to do things on his own.

Autism, you have some flaws, but in the end, my life would not be the same without you. So, can you please do me one big favor? Don’t disappear. Harry, my love for you will always be unconditional. I couldn’t ask for a better brother.

Love,

Caroline

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post [email protected] Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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This Resourceful Grandfather Found a Beautiful Way to Handle His Grief


Roger Leggett felt immense heartache four years ago.

In a span of just a few weeks, Leggett, from Atlanta, lost his 24-year-old son to heat stroke, and his then 4-year-old granddaughter was diagnosed with brain cancer, according to USA Today.

After witnessing a woman in the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital struggle to manage her sick child’s IV pole, Leggett had an idea. He decided to handle his grief by putting his hands to work.

He altered red wagons so they included IV poles, and now parents can wheel around their children while they undergo chemotherapy or recover from a procedure. Roger has converted almost 100 wagons for the hospital, according to the YouTube video below

This month Leggett and his family finally got some good news —  his granddaughter, Felicity, is in remission.

Get the full story in the moving video below:

h/t GodVine

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Autism, I’m Going To Be Honest With You


To Autism,

I’m not going to begin my letter with “dear” Autism — you don’t deserve that greeting. You don’t really deserve anything. You’re nothing to me because my son is not defined by you. My son is defined by his beautiful nature and the unconditional love of his family. His foundation is built on these things. You’re not what he is, you’re what he has, and we will never be overcome by it.

When he first received the diagnosis of you, I will admit that initially I was in a tailspin about what it all meant. You overwhelmed me with the amount of professionals required to enter into his life — speech therapist, occupational therapist, pediatrician, child psychologist, etc. For a time, you made me feel like I wasn’t adequate to deal with these things. I showed you.

Sure, you’ve presented him with struggles in his young life. My son is 8, he cannot speak, he cannot toilet himself and has difficulty with some day-to-day tasks. He didn’t succumb to those struggles. He worked out a way around you, a way to side-step you. He knows his routines, and they make him happy. He learns new things every day. He eats well, he’s learning how to dress and undress himself, he takes other kids around him in his stride. There are times when you upset him, particularly when he cannot communicate a want or need. However, in spite of you, he still manages to get his point across.

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Autism, you can be scary, particularly in the way you seem to whip people up into a frenzy of controversy on social media. You can make well-meaning parents turn on each other. You’re an expert in undermining, in insurgency and in generating fear. You do all these things because in the end, despite the journey different families are on, we learn to deal with you and in a way, embrace you. We’re all better people because of you and in the face of you.

So, Autism, you’re a part of our lives; don’t think for a second I’m in denial about that. I see you every day. I’ve seen the lows, and I’ve seen the highs. We walk on a rocky, winding path, and sometimes we trip over. The thing with people who live with you is that we always pick ourselves up and grow that little bit fiercer and stronger. Thank you, Autism. My boy is beautiful, my family is strong and through the lessons you’ve presented to us, you’re no longer an overpowering invader.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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