Mom Desperately Searches for Primrose-Colored Markers for Autistic Son

Stacey Haley’s 12-year-old son Will loves coloring, but lately the only marker he’s interested in using is the primrose shade. Will has autism, and Haley says the color is more than just an obsession — it’s Will’s security blanket.

“He goes to sleep thinking about it and he wakes up thinking about it,” Haley told CTV News, adding that her son won’t leave the house or go to school without his primrose markers. “Purple just didn’t cut it,” Haley continued. “Normally, I kind of choose my battles. The marker is an easy one.”

The Haley family, who is from Bowmanville, Ontario, quickly realized that buying hundreds of packs of Crayola markers just for one color was neither economical nor practical. So they turned to the Internet to see if friends and family might be able to spare a few markers for Will.

In a post on her Facebook page, Haley wrote, “He is obsessed over a Crayola marker – the color ‘primrose’ to be exact. He uses it all the time. But they inevitably run out… No primrose means we can’t drive by a Walmart or Staples without him wanting to jump out of the car to buy a pack. No primrose means hell in my household.” Haley offered to trade friends and family some of the extra markers she had for primrose ones, and she said she would feel like she “won Christmas” if she could present her son with a bag full of his favorite hue.

After posting the message, Haley said she was overwhelmed by the response she received. Not only did friends share the message with everyone they knew, but the family started receiving hundreds of primrose markers from people all over Canada and the United States. Then Crayola Canada heard about the Haley’s request, and the company will be sending Will “enough primrose markers to keep him coloring for the foreseeable future,” according to CTV.

Haley said Will doesn’t need any more markers, but she is touched and incredibly thankful “that [the] community is so strong and people are so good and they want to help.”


To the Teenager Just Diagnosed With Autism

I would first like to say, “Welcome to the club.” It’s a club with some of the greatest people you’ll probably ever know. Believe me, I know how you feel. You’re probably feeling really overwhelmed right now, which is completely OK. I went home after I found out and curled up in a ball for hours and cried. And that’s OK. You need to take time to let yourself digest this. Just remember: It doesn’t change who you are.

I found out about my autism in an unhelpful way when a friend read it on an attendance list and acted as though it was a bad thing. Since I knew absolutely nothing about autism, I naturally assumed she was right. My other mistake was how I tried to learn about autism. Being a teenager, I would be willing to bet you’re already looking on your phone, laptop or some other device. Put it down. Just do it. The only thing that will accomplish is convincing you this is the worst thing that could exist in the world. And that’s probably what it feels like. I won’t make it sound better than it is and say this isn’t going to be hard. Because it is. There are going to be days when it feels like the whole world is in your way, and every word a person says just confuses you more. So no, this isn’t the easiest path that we could be on.

Abby Stansel.1-001

I spent about a year after my diagnosis hating everybody in the world and myself. I felt like I was never going to amount to anything. And unfortunately, some people won’t believe we will amount to anything. You will probably be told not to care about those people, which I know will be difficult. So I suggest something else. Don’t pretend they don’t exist. Use them as your motivation. When you read or hear people saying you can’t do anything, lock it away in your brain. When you accomplish something, you can tell them in your mind that you’re better than people think you are. It’s a wonderful feeling.

When I was first diagnosed, the hardest for me was that my parents acted like it didn’t exist. I didn’t (and haven’t) spoken to them about it, and it takes a toll sometimes. I would advise to just talk to your parents. Just talk. And I know talking can be hard and miserable and confusing and frustrating and a thousand other things. If you don’t talk to them, though, you’re going to spend a long time wondering what they think and form incorrect thoughts about them and yourself. Maybe it’ll be a five-minute conversation. Maybe it will take five hours. But you have to try to get them to understand, at least a little bit, of who you are. And if they do that, you guys can help each other.

The last thing you should know about is school. I’m going to sound harsh here, but I think public school (especially middle school) is the worst idea anyone ever had, and I wish it didn’t exist. I don’t know how your experience in school has been going, but since I’m a pessimist I’ll assume you’ve had at least some…troubles. Some teenagers seem to find pleasure by harming others. They feed off of our pain, so they can feel better about themselves. And I know how badly it sucks. Believe me when I say I know. The last thing I ever wanted to do was go to people and tell them about bullying, because when I did, nothing was done. But you have to try. You have to try and change it. Even if you can personally endure it, we all can’t. We can’t all take what some of us go through. So please, try.

I know this is one of the scariest things in the whole world right now. I know you probably don’t even know how you feel. I sure didn’t. But all this diagnosis changes is how people treat the things you have trouble with. And I know it’s probably the last thing you feel right now, but be proud of this. It’s part of who you are. Embrace it.


Someone who has been there

Follow this journey on Life As An Autistic Teenager.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability and/or disease. 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. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

How Autism Affects My Sex Life

When you’re in your final years of school, you might start to fancy people, and this makes you want to spend time with them. You get these urges (which are healthy, by the way), and you might want to get “jiggy with it,” as the youth of today say.

The problem with school is that there are a lot of social pressures, and it seems like all the guys are in a desperate bid to lose their virginity. Being autistic, I found this difficult because I had no concept how to flirt or talk to girls in a suggestive way.

I find that a lot of it is based on “vibes,” and this is something that doesn’t make sense to me at all. If someone of the opposite sex is flirting with me, it goes completely unnoticed, even still at the age of 27. On the rare occasion when I’m successful, it’s because it’s been made obvious, meaning the girl asks me out or leans closer for a cuddle.

In an ideal world for me, sex would be planned into a schedule. Autistic people love a routine with everything planned, and if it doesn’t happen according to plan, uh oh — potential meltdown. This is one area I struggled with, because sex is generally never planned that way. It can just happen. I struggled with this because in my head, I’d think, “Today at around 7:30 p.m., I would to fornicate with my girlfriend.” Of course, seduction is not one of my strong suits, so I’d ask my girlfriend, “Can we have sex… please?”

Me asking outright is not as attractive. When my girlfriend said no, it would upset me because it was a sudden routine change, and it would hurt. But it’s not fair to think a woman would have sex with you on your command. This has caused arguments, thankfully not awful ones, and I look back and wish I wasn’t a sex pest.

Here come the serious part:

Anxiety affects everything I do, including sex. When I’m presented with someone who wants to have sex with me, I can get anxious because I don’t know what to expect. The “unknown” can just be too much.

It took me a while to be able to enjoy sex, but thankfully, I met a partner who was understanding and patient with me. Sadly, we are no longer together, but I’m happy on my own and being able to focus on what’s important in my life. Personally, after everything I’ve been through, sex is not one of the most important aspects in my life.

I find the subject of sex to be a bit taboo within the autism community, and that bothers me. By writing this, I hope other people on the spectrum feel more comfortable about the subject, too.

Follow this journey on Autistic Genius.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share one question people are afraid to ask about your experience with disability and disease. What’s the answer? 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. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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To the Little Boy at Chick-fil-A Who Came Up to My Son With Autism

We were out of our normal routine and in a location we’d never visited before. This Chick-fil-A was bustling and the play area was full of kids — most of them bigger than mine. We ordered food, chose a table right up against the glass of the play area so we could watch the kids and settled in. My son, Mareto, seemed to be enjoying the loud play of the other children while the rest of us ate and talked and made sure to check on him every few moments.

About halfway through the meal, I did one of my routine checks and found Mareto in the corner of the play area — knees curled up under his chin, arms wrapped around his legs, rocking back and forth. I knelt down in front of him and asked, “What’s wrong, bud?” A noticed a boy hovering nearby but didn’t pay much attention to him. Mareto lifted his face and I saw the tears. My heart broke for him as he tried to explain that the bigger kids weren’t being nice.

I put the story together and could tell that the other kids weren’t trying to be mean, but they were playing a game Mareto didn’t understand (cops and robbers), and he couldn’t figure out the social cues. So his feelings were hurt and he was trying to self-soothe.

As I listened and nodded, the little boy standing nearby came right up to Mareto, and stood before him to say, “Do you want to play with me? You can be my friend!”

Suddenly I paid I lot more attention to this boy. As I looked at his face, I could tell he was a couple years older than Mareto. I thanked him, told him he was so kind and then asked him his name. “Gage.”

“Mareto, this is Gage! Did you hear what he said?” Mareto shook his head. Gage repeated himself confidently, “Do you want to play with me? You can be my friend!”

Mareto uncurled and stood up. “Yes, OK. We can be friends.” He wiped his face, smiled at Gage and the two ran off to play. For the rest of the time we were there, Gage never left Mareto’s side, and the two had a wonderful time playing. On the way out, I made sure to find Gage’s mom and tell her what a sweet boy she had and that she was clearly doing a wonderful job. She smiled but didn’t seem surprised. Obviously this is typical of Gage.

Later in the car, Mareto brought up how sad he was when the other kids weren’t nice to him. I said I understood, but then I reminded him of Gage. And because of one little boy’s kindness I was able to show Mareto a lesson I’d been trying to tell him for awhile. That even if everyone else is doing something you don’t like, all you need is one friend. One person can make a difference. One person can change your day. I asked him how he felt after Gage asked him to play. “Good. I like Gage.” And now Mareto knows to just find one person to be friends with, one person to care and understand, and it will be OK.

Gage, I want to thank you again. You’ll likely never read this letter, but maybe someone else who needs to hear this message will read it.

Gage, you are a kind person with a good heart. Those are two things that can never be taken away from you. Don’t change. Don’t ever stop sticking up for people smaller than you and reaching out to the person alone in the corner. You can change the world just by being exactly who you are. You might not think you are brave, but you are. I remember childhood, and I know just how much strength it takes to leave the pack and do what no one else is doing. You could have kept playing with the children your age and no one would have noticed. But you chose to do something different, and it brightened our day and taught my kids an important life lesson.

Gage, I could tell you didn’t know there was anything different about my son. You had no idea he has autism, and you weren’t trying to be a hero. You were simply being nice and showing compassion and care to a child who felt left out. And that’s all that matters.

Just keep being you — because who you are is beautiful. And thank you for making our day.

Follow this journey on

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible kindness. 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. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

The 3 Important Things to Know About My Special Needs Family

I was hit a few times with pure ignorance yesterday. Starting at the bank, the woman on the phone said, “Oh it’s OK if you bring your son. He will be fine here.”

Well, just as I suspected, it wasn’t OK, because my son, Keegan, wanted to climb down the stairs headfirst into a line of five people. He wasn’t worried about the people in his way. The woman I spoke to was nice, but when I mentioned the big A-word, all she kept saying was how sorry she was. I know ignorance doesn’t know, but I wanted to yell. Then I look at those people standing on line, now staring at my son and I. Again, did they not get the memo?

A study released in November 2015 suggests one in every 45 kids is diagnosed with some form of autism spectrum disorder. Forty-five! But let’s start counting the numbers related to ignorance in our society. I would love to hear those numbers on the radio in the morning.

Here’s another thing I hear a lot of, being a single mom of two kids, one of whom has autism: “Wow how do you do it by yourself? That’s terrible. I’m sorry.”

That’s terrible? What’s terrible? That my son has autism or that I’m alone? Let’s set the record straight: My son is the coolest kid walking and nonverbally communicating, and being a single mom is tough for anyone, not just an autism mom. So I force myself to believe that people just really have no idea. A single mom with two kids, typical or not, has a tough and rewarding job. But I’m no superhero. I can go from sleeping to not sleeping in a single screech, but that could be my only superpower. My kids are superheroes, and neither of them need fixing.

My 2-year-old son has moderate autism and has always had it. I love him unconditionally, screechy or not, talking or not, stimming or not. My 6-year-old daughter has the patience of a saint and isn’t quite sure how to handle her brother, but when he interacts and hugs her, you would think she just won a prize, and she kinda did.

There is ignorance everywhere, sadly. I believe it is the most annoying disease out there. Some have it because they don’t know, while some choose to live in it. So I choose to be ignorant about ignorant people. Like they aren’t standing and staring at all. Like they do not exist.

This is what’s important for people to know about me and my family:

1. Not all kids who are loud are unhappy.

2. Not all kids who are silent are unhappy.

3. Just because someone’s child is loud or silent does not mean Mom or Dad is unhappy.

This is my happy son, KeegerButt.

This is my happy daughter, Addy Pants.

And this is a happy autism mom.

Follow this journey on Stimmy Mama.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability and/or disease, and what would you say to teach them? 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. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

A Letter to My IEP Team

At almost 19 years old, I attended my first IEP meeting. A couple months later (in spring 2014), while in attendance at my fourth meeting, I wrote the following letter.

Dear IEP team,

In the past couple months, I have attended three IEP meetings. Today is my fourth one. In the past month, I have watched you all sit together and talk about me. I have listened a little and have even tried my best to correct and respond to some of the things you have talked about. You all talk really fast, so it makes it sort of hard sometimes.

Today it appears you will continue talking about my behavior and the things I have a hard time with. You will probably all make comments about where I am and where you thought I would be by now, or where you hoped I would be. This has happened at every meeting I’ve attended. I don’t think any of you do it on purpose, but it’s quite annoying. That’s OK, though. Sometimes I wish I was further along, too. I want to make you all proud. I strive to make progress every day, and I do my best to show you. But I also frequently wish you would stop defining me by the things I can’t do or by the things I don’t do that well.

I wish you would talk about everything I can do — what I do right. However, it’s all looked past because of everyone’s different definitions of progress and perfection. You are so focused on fixing me that you can’t even notice how hard I work.

The thing I’m really trying to say and what I’ve been trying to say in the past month, is that I get my presence at this school is barely tolerated. The teachers do a very good job of making that clear to me. They are all very good at saying I shouldn’t be here, even the head principal. That’s OK. I’m fine with them and you thinking that. But I’m not OK with being talked about right in front of me or even worse, being the root of some adult’s joke. Like when my intervention specialist took my iPad from me, typed “My name is Jordyn Zimmerman and I smell like butt,” then proceeded to play it for other students. I’m not OK with that. Although, that’s just one example. There are many more things. I know they won’t be acknowledged, so I won’t waste my time going over every detail of everything I’ve heard and the things that have been said to me. But ask me about them and I will name each thing, where in the school I was and who else was around.

As has happened in the two of the three meetings I have been at, I’m sure people will talk about everything they’ve done to try and help me this year. Fortunately, many of the things were usually attempted. What you don’t understand is that on average we only did these things once or twice. But you don’t know that, so you will all sit and try to figure out why those things were never successful, or at least how you define successful.

Lastly, please remember I am part of this team. I am not some statistic. I know I may not always participate to everyone’s satisfaction, but I am the student, and given my title, I am still an important part of this team.

Thank you for trying to help me and understand my concerns. I’m sorry if I didn’t make these things clear to you, prior to today. I didn’t know how to.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or illness. 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. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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