Autism Awareness Day

My webhost crashed yesterday and I wasn’t able to make a lengthy, thoughtful post about Autism Awareness Day. Today, I am nursing a migraine and feeling a little terse. Shut up, Doug. So, my post is less from the heart and more from the hip.

To all the doctors who suggested that my son would never read and encouraged me to find a group home for him, shame on you. To all the teachers who told me they were just babysitters, the substitutes who told my child to entertain himself and leave them alone and the administrators who wouldn’t listen, leave education now and become Realtors. To all the gawkers in public who told me I needed to spank my child, crawl back in your caves. To all the other parents who won’t care until it affects your own family, and it will, I love my child as much or more than you love your own child. Would you want those things said about you or your child?

To all the teachers who cared, took risks and fought for justice,
To the family members who always believed anything is possible,
To all the parents who offered a shoulder for tears and a cheer in triumph,
To all the strangers on the Internet who are always with me in spirit,

Thank you. Thank you for your love, compassion and hope. Thank you for seeing beyond the label. Autism is not something Tommy has, it is just part of who he is. And he is a wonderful and amazing human being who I feel honored to have for a son.

9 thoughts on “Autism Awareness Day

  1. My dad’s wife teaches 6th grade and she has a boy in her class this year who is autistic. I’ve told her about Tommy’s progress over just the past 18 months that I’ve been reading. I told her what some past doctors and teachers have said to you and recently told her about the impending graduation. We’re cheering him on from afar, but also she wants to know what your secret is!

  2. You and your family keep on doing exactly what you’ve been doing. To h#ll with the naysayers and critics. Tommy is lucky to have such loving, devoted parents.

  3. There are far fewer naysayers now-a-days but there was a time when we felt very much alone. And we have been at odds with professions (be it doctors, psychologists, teachers, etc) more than a few times. For example, the school system wanted to see Tommy repeat the 8th grade and we said no. A psychologist encouraged us to quit STAR and get Tommy bagging groceries at Kroger; Tommy is going to LMU to study to be a vet tech and I’m certain his experience at STAR helped him make that decision.

    Don’t ever let someone tell you your child cannot do something and don’t let them force you into decisions that feel wrong.

  4. Being a Vet Tech will be wonderful for Tommy! His experience at STAR will give him such confidence on the job. I always believe parents who are intune with their children know WAY more about what is best for that child.

  5. “she wants to know what your secret is!”
    Never quit no matter how tired.
    Trust your gut over the professionals. (They are guessing too.)
    Research. Research. Research.
    Never lunge over the table at an IEP as if you were going to strangle the idiot on the other side (it results in a much larger, lengthier IEP the next go around).
    Trial and error. Lots of error.
    If its not working, turn it upside-down; there might be a label.
    Remember that no two people are the same and there is no checklist or cookie cutter solution that can be applied.
    Take breaks for yourself.

    And most importantly (I mean MOST), develop a system of support for BOTH you and the child that includes friends, family, and professionals (doctors, teachers, support groups, advocacy groups,…)

    Oh, and Valium or Vicodin whenever you can get your hands on it.

  6. I know it’s not the same, but my nephew has Microcephaly. When we first had worries that something was wrong, his doctor told us to ‘give it a little more time’. Eventually, I took matters into my own hands and made an appt with St. Judes. Even today, while we search for more competent doctors, they all act like they’ve never even heard of his condition. People stare, ask stupid or even rude questions, or just basically don’t understand.

    Just wanted to let you know, I am with you in spirit.

  7. My secret? Good fortune, a hard head and wonderful children. Also, a supportive husband with a great sense of humor.

    I can feel your support. Seriously. I know that people are cheering for Tommy just like I am quietly cheering for them.

  8. Thank you very much for sharing such passion in the struggle for helping children and families cope with autism. (my apologies for the weird name I’m doing it for the benefit of toys designed for therapy in autism if you could please visit my link for further info)

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