I worry about many things. About her knowing how loved she is, about her future, about her going to school, about people being mean to her, about people knowing she's different, and just about her life in general. But I have to remember worrying won't get us anywhere right now. What is meant to be, will always be.
If you ever met our Alivia, you know when you watch her or interact with her, she is just so very special, and I just hope the world can see her the same.
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I hope the world can learn she is different, not less. She lights my world brighter than the sunshine, and fills my heart with so much love. And I just hope when she goes to sleep every night, she can drift off to sleep knowing the same amount of sunshine in her life and love in her heart. Most of the time I don't find autism to be the struggle, I find other people's understanding of autism to be the struggle. He is like a combination of Brick from 'The Middle' and Dewey from 'Malcolm in the Middle,' and as the middle child in a rather large brood, he brings out a level of tenderness in all of us that makes this family as amazing as it is.
I wouldn't change him for the world. Our Alex changes the world with his smile and his unbridled joy without ever speaking a word.
I knew at 3 months that something was amiss with my first sweet baby boy. At 13 months a diagnosis and at 8 years old, his mom graduated with a master's degree in applied behavior analysis and autism. Autism has changed my life in every way, and I am so much better for it. I have witnessed the smallest miracles that others take for granted. I have heard my son speak after years of speech therapy and then lost it. I have celebrated my son learning to use an iPad to tell me what he wants for snack after years of frustration. I have learned with my son and celebrated every step of the way.
To love a child with autism is to live with an aching grief that few understand. It is also the most unbelievable joy, those milestones, goals and dreams achieved.
Our end of the spectrum is a difficult path. We focus on functional goals rather then academic, as college or even standardized testing are no longer dreams. We focus on the things that matter, and we work on them and celebrate them and make sure to always work on them so they last. Our dreams have changed but they are still beautiful.
We have two younger boys who are empathetic, sweet and kind in a way that is only possible because Alex is their brother. They look for the kid playing alone and make sure to say hi. They are kind and patient with their brother and quick to defend him when there are too many stares or whispers in public. Autism has made us all better people.
Autism colors our world and makes everything more vivid and clear. I wish we could move past being aware to being accepting and inclusive. Finding the moments that he's not too anxious, so we can hug him. Finding the moments to sit with him, so he can fill our minds with his immense knowledge. Finding moments where he's concentrating on something so dear to him, and I stare at him and can't believe that he's ours. I wouldn't change him or any of his quirks for the world. At 3, he was completely non-verbal.
He finally said 'Mommy' at 3-and-a-half. It was one of his first words and made me cry happy tears. He is now verbal and ready to start kindergarten in the fall. All of our hard work is showing, and we are so proud of him. For us, autism looks like a lot of things.
Sometimes loneliness, sometimes happiness, sometimes confusion, sometimes overwhelmed. Always love. There's always love. Hope and heartache. Beauty, magic, persistence and turmoil. We are challenged, but we are blessed.
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As scary as it was, getting a diagnosis so early was the blessing. She did six hours of therapy a week for two years. It was tough, but she made tons of progress. She is in a mainstream classroom with support and progressing well. The rule in our house is that you never apologize for who you are.
My son was diagnosed at 18 months. He always spoke but is not a great communicator. He is loving, highly empathetic, engaging, intelligent and friendly to a fault. But he struggles with debilitating anxiety and rage. His focus is severely impacted, he has sensory challenges and goes through food phases where he wants to eat the same thing for months at a time. He is incredibly scared to be alone, at any time, even for a few seconds.
He always seems to latch on to old or hard-to-find shows and movies, as is shown in the photo -- 'CatDog,' 'Roger Rabbit,' and 'Three Caballeros' toys he received for Christmas. To his core all he really wants is love, friendship and acceptance. It is raising a non-verbal son with significant needs all while trying to balance life with his neurotypical sister. Autism in our house is facing the empty nest after 22 years of caregiving. It is navigating the system after 18 and ensuring that once we are gone, our son has a safe and happy home.
Autism in our family is realizing that you will never stop wishing that you were a millionaire so that you could make sure your child will be taken care of the way you want once you are gone. And autism in our house is realizing no matter how tough it gets, the love and strength of your family is tougher! This is Joseph. It was later changed to moderate autism. This boy, whose smile shines brightly with love and laughter. My little man, whose heart is so kind and compassionate and who genuinely just wants everyone to be happy. He is beyond intelligent, witty and wise beyond comprehension.
He works so hard on a daily basis learning to deal with social protocols and changes in routine.
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I'm exceedingly proud of our Joseph for his fortitude and tenacity, his generous soul and protective nature over his little brother. He keeps us on our toes, but I wouldn't have it any other way. My world.
Making me proud every day. He may never get the chance to tell me in words how he feels or how his day was. But I will understand him regardless, and I will help him understand the world. We are pretty proud of this photo. It was six years in the making.
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His last. He would go into meltdowns from the sensory overload of a haircut.
In February , he kept asking to dye his hair red, so we went back. He got a haircut and dye. He was so proud and so were we! He's 9 now, almost 10 and every day has its challenges, but every day I also see him persevere through uncomfortable sensory or social situations. He's come so far and we are beside him every step of the way! He is 8 years old, and he has two sisters. In our house, autism looks like happiness. He has a smile that is contagious and a love for life that is inspiring! We think he is fabulous.
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We say all the time that he isn't autistic; he has autism! Mariono was diagnosed at 7 with Asperger syndrome. Xavi was recently diagnosed. Dominic is 4. I had failed again to find something that would satisfy his desire for an exciting, tantalizing gift.
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