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My Autistic Son's Biggest Concern When Taking His Medication

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You never know what’s going to bring that massive grin to your face. You know, the one where you can’t stop even when you try, where you think if you don’t stop, your cheeks might squash your eyes closed. The best ones are those that catch you off-guard. That’s exactly what happened to me.

We told Anthony about both his autism and his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) about two months ago. It was the right time as he’d started to get frustrated with his difficulties and needed to know that these conditions meant he was different, not less, than other people. Medication for his ADHD was not a quick decision. We all, including Anthony, agreed he might be helped if he could concentrate a bit better at school. Today was the first day for Anthony to take his medication, so as he came down the stairs I reminded him about it. And that’s when it happened.

“Remember, we are going to take your medicine this morning.”
“Mom?”
“Yes, honey.” (I’m fairly liberal with terms of endearment in our home.)
“The medicine won’t make my brain like everyone else’s will it? Because then I don’t want it.”

And that’s when the grin happened. I tried my best to answer him through a face that would not stop smiling.

“No sweetie, it’s just a tiny little medicine that might help you concentrate a tiny bit better.”

I was truly amazed by our son. We weren’t sure how he would react to knowing he had autism and ADHD. He’s struggled with some of his other diagnoses like his hypermobility — he just gets annoyed that his loose knees keep “making” him go on his toes when he walks. But this was brilliant.

Our son had not only come to terms with being different, he was in fact, completely happy with it. He didn’t want to not be himself. He was willing to forgo medication that could help him at school if it meant it changed him as a person. Honestly, I can’t contain my joy. Sometimes I feels like society does nothing but point out how kids are different, even if by simply not being able to accommodate them. Anthony seems like he doesn’t feel this or if he does, he might not care.

He likes who he is.

He had his medications with his breakfast and I busied myself making sure the kids ate breakfast and were out the door, but I did it all with a giant grin. As I dropped him at school, I reminded the staff to look out for side effects of his meds. Then, I couldn’t help but tell his teaching assistant about his comment. She grinned too. One of those big grins…you know the kind.

Follow this journey on Rainbows are Too Beautiful 

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The 3 Simple Words to Say When Someone Asks You, ‘What Is Autism?’

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Has anyone ever come up to you and asked you point blank, “What is autism?”

As someone who has made a career in public speaking, I’m often asked by hundreds of people each year who are just being introduced to autism about what autism is. While autism is defined and characterized as a social and communication disorder, when you get to meet people in our community, autism rarely falls into a one-size-fits-all diagnosis.

Being nonverbal till I was 2 and a half and then dealing with communication delays later led everyone to believe I had “classic autism.”

In addition to these delays, I was also officially diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). My other challenges included expressive and receptive language disorder, severe sensory integration dysfunction, auditory processing disorder, twirling, dysgraphia (a handwriting disorder) and overall motor challenges.

My challenges introduced me to an understanding early on in my development about how autism truly is a spectrum disorder. If you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism. When I met my first peer who was also on the spectrum, I realized how different we were from each other, especially when it came to our challenges.

That experience, in particular, really struck me. So when I educate our community on what autism is, I start off with these three simple words:

Autism is unique.

It’s very much like a rainbow. It’s full of different colors that stand out, and together they make a beautiful spectrum of light.

Temple Grandin says autism is “different and not less,” and much like that saying, I see these three words as something with a similar meaning.

Whenever I start a conversation with someone new, these will always be the three words I start with.

Regardless of how you start the conversation the next time someone asks you this question, I hope you’ll educate and further promote autism awareness and acceptance.

This post first appeared on KerryMagro.com.

Imagine someone Googling how to help you cope with your (or a loved one’s) diagnosis. Write the article you’d want them to find. If you’d like to participate, please check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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Movie Theater Kicks Young Boy With Autism Out of 'Finding Dory'

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A movie theater screening “Finding Dory,” a movie highlighting disability and promoting acceptance, was not the most accepting place when it asked a 3-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder and his mother to leave the theater for being disruptive.

Jessica Matthews took her son, Aiden, to Regal Crossroads in Bellevue, Washington last Tuesday to have his first movie theater experience.

“When the movie started, he got a little restless because it was dark, and so he would switch seats back and forth,” Matthews told Kiro 7. “And then he would roll on the floor during the movie.”

Matthews didn’t think her son’s behavior was an issue until 30 minutes into the movie when the theater’s manager told Matthews people were complaining.

“I could see some people being irritated, but it’s not more than most kids do during movies,” Matthews said. “To hear that people were bothered by him was just like a punch in the gut.”

The manager gave Matthews two options – control her son or leave. Matthews chose to take her son and leave.

“I think that people should know that kids with autism are just that: kids. All kids struggle to sit down and be quiet,” Matthews told Scary Mommy. “It just so happens that autistic children struggle more and need the exposure to learn what’s appropriate and to learn what other typically developing children already understand.”

Related: This Is What Sensory Overload Can Feel Like for People on the Autism Spectrum

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The Impact a Positive Attitude Has Had on My Life on the Autism Spectrum

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One of the greatest lessons I ever learned in college was the ability to lead through, “The Power of a Positive Attitude.” When I was growing up it was always difficult for me to commit to things, always hard for me to get to that next level. A big part of that was based on my attitude. I didn’t know it back then, but I was blind from how my attitude was leading the direction of my life. As a kid, it was always tough for me to focus on what was needed to overcome my obstacles.

College did change me though. It made me understand the need to take my attitude that indeed dramatically changed in high school to another level again. This happened when I started to realize there’s a solution to everything. Indeed, some of these solutions are ever-changing as our society evolves and gains more knowledge, but I came to believe what my mom would always tell me: “There are no problems, just solutions.” This helped me tremendously. Whether it was getting accommodations for classes or even finding a way for an individual with autism, such as myself, to get a masters degree in strategic communication, the solution was there for me to find.

What I hope you take from this is that even though there is a great deal of uncertainty out there involving autism and disabilities, we must continue to push positivity in everything we do. There are answers out there to help our loved ones succeed. Getting down on ourselves will help no one in our pursuits for a better tomorrow. Our community is in desperate need of this. I know this might be harder for some, but I ask that you make an effort to lose yourself in your passions to make a difference for yourself and the lives of others.

Tell yourself, “There are ways to improve my life. There are ways to help my loved ones.” Make these your mantra. We spend so much time saying what we don’t have, what services we can’t find, what diagnoses we can’t get, that we sometimes don’t appreciate what we have today.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Strive to find the solutions. And if you can, do it with a smile. It can make a world of difference. It did for me.

This post originally appeared on KerryMagro.com.

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College Student Launches Food Truck, Theresa's Twists, to Hire Others With Autism

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Theresa Daniels is starting a business with a twist. Daniels, a college junior on the autism spectrum, is launching a food truck that will be staffed primarily by people with autism.

With assistance from her parents, the company, Theresa’s Twists, will be making hot pretzels and candied pretzels. These “pretzels with a purpose” will then be sold by employees in Daniel’s home state of Tennessee.

“Our goal is to start with our food truck and some day a brick and mortar shop,” Daniels writes on the company’s website.

Theresa's Twists
via Kickstarter.com

“Young adults with autism and Asperger’s often fall through the cracks once they leave high school and college,” Daniel’s says in the Company’s Kickstarter video. “We want to help change that.”

According to the Autism Society, 35 percent of young adults with autism struggle to find employment or postgraduate training after leaving high school.

Theresa’s Twists will provide people with autism with employment experience as well as mentors to help them master business and social interactions.

“We want to demonstrate that persons with Asperger’s are very dedicated, qualified and employable persons,” the website says. “Our vision is to provide a proactive environment for individuals with Asperger’s syndrome a safe place of employment; to use the workplace for socialization training; to give employees a place of employment that fosters relationships; to empower employees.”

According to News Channel 5 Network, the company is launching using family funds and a entrepreneurship award of $12,500 from LaunchTN. Daniels and her family are also running a Kickstarter campaign with the hopes of raising an additional $20,000.

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Mom Responds After a Video of Her Autistic Son's Meltdown Goes Viral

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In 2010, Amie Carter uploaded a video of her son, who was almost 3 at the time, having a meltdown in a parking lot. Now, more than six years later, the video is going viral after talk show radio host Mike Steele shared the video on his Facebook page, captioned “Spare the Rod Spoil the Child,” criticizing Carter’s parenting.

The video, which has now been viewed over 10 million times, shows Carter calmly trying to manage her son. What the video doesn’t show is his diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), intermittent explosive disorder (IED) and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified.

In an interview with SheKnows, Carter explained her daughter was videotaping the meltdown so they could show her son’s neurologist, as he had yet to be diagnosed with autism. When Carter saw her video was going viral, she reached out to Steele to explain the story behind the video.

After hearing Carter’s story, Steele edited his Facebook post, writing:  Michael Steele's Facebook Post

My original post stated “Spare the Rod Spoil the Child” that’s before I learned the truth. Just by observing this mother with her son it appears that it’s a little boy misbehaving and the mother is being patient with her son. Little did I know, this little boy name is Jayden; he is diagnosed with Autism. I didn’t know until his mother contacted me. It’s funny how we can see a video and add our twist to it. Now that we know this piece of info, how would you really react to your child who’s diagnosed with Autism? We probably would have reacted the same way she did… Let this be a lesson to us all and let’s join hands to understand autism as a whole!!! Sorry Amie AND Jayden!!

Since the video has been shared on Facebook, the post has received a number of comments criticizing Carter’s parenting.

neg 2

“Autism or not, that a** is still getting whopped,” one comment reads.

Negative comments

“Slap some sense into him,” another commenter writes. “I gave birth to you and I can kindly reverse that s**t.”

Not all comments have been negative, however.

Nice 2

There is a fine line between tantrum, meltdown, and intellectual disability. If you had any education in psychology, intellectual disability or are able to analyze the situation properly you would know there’s more to the picture just by seeing what’s going on. Most people see a screaming kid and immediately think the kid needs discipline. If it was an adult you would think different. The fact is as people grow up, some learn to control themselves more but still struggle at times, some get worse, some stay the same. Open your eyes a little. Quit being in your own little world. Things are not always as they seem and stop assuming and being so judgmental. People with disabilities process and act differently than people without even if they understand the situation at hand. If you think beating a kid is ok because they are reacting like this kid was just remember. That’s assault. You wouldn’t do it to a grownup and if you did you’d probably get your a** whipped because they would fight back plus their strength during these episodes would surprise you.

Nice

It makes me sad and very upset with the judgmental and ignorant adults who assume things before knowing all the facts! I have a son who is 4yrs old and has development delays border line autistic and I get all the looks cause he looks normal but his speech is not their and he has tantrums I can’t control in public. I just ask that don’t judge the parents till u know all the facts!! Raising a child with special needs is very hard emotionally and physically

“The negative aspect it received only reminds me of how uneducated society is regarding mental illness,” Carter told SheKnows. “To those of you who choose to speak and offer violent solutions based on something they choose to not understand: It breaks my heart to know how hurtful and mean some of you are… I am a Mother Warrior, and I will not stop fighting for my son as well as many others who deserve to be understood.”

Editor’s note: The Mighty is choosing to omit the video mentioned, as watching it is not necessary to the understanding of this story.

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