Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Autism IS My Superpower!

Can you imagine hearing the words, "your child has autism?" In a split second, life - as you know it - has changed. For a different family, every 20 minutes, tomorrow will never be the same. In the United States alone, 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism (up from 1 in 110 children).

I remember hearing those words, though I already knew. I felt breathless. I cried the whole way home from the doctor's office. I called a good friend of mine, who also has a child with autism, and she reminded me of one very important thing: Isaiah didn't change - my perspectives had. Isaiah was the same little boy after the appointment as he was before the appointment - and that child was spunky, beautiful, brave, strong, quirky, funny, etc. In many ways, autism has made Isaiah who he is. Autism was already a part of his wonderful personality. Autism is his superpower. =0)

The reality is, though, some families facing this diagnosis do "lose" their children to the curtain or veil of autism. The person they were becoming seems whisked away and silence and blank stares sometimes replace their talkative and expressive selves. Don't get me wrong - autism isn't a death sentence and it's not the end of the world. But it does hurt to see your child drift or be snatched away - the child that you had known. In some sense, your child has disappeared.

Autism is one disorder that has fascinated me for years - I have had the honor and the privilege to work with several children on the spectrum over at least the past ten years. I love spending time with kiddos with autism - they are amazing and view the world in such a unique way. Sometimes, their perspective is scary and yet it can be beautiful. I love getting glimpses into the world as they see it - as my child sees it . . . even if it is sometimes perplexing. =0) I also love seeing their light-bulb moments, where they have learned something they have been working so hard on to master, and I love the challenge of helping them figure out and deal with the strangeness of "our world".

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I am taking part in an event called Walk Now for Autism Speaks (it's coming up this Saturday). You have an opportunity to participate as well, either by walking with us or by supporting Team Super Nova (yes, Isaiah's self-proclaimed superhero name). =0) By participating in this event, you are helping to change the future for individuals with autism. By walking, you are getting us one step closer to finding what causes autism, how to prevent (and I use that word lightly) and treat it (through therapies and ways of teaching), and even helping them find their voice. It's not just about a cure (yes, there are some who long for a cure so they can hear their child say "I love you"), but it's also about helping families and individuals cope with autism in a very overwhelming world. Until we find the solution or the missing piece of this puzzle, we walk to find answers and raise awareness about autism.

It's not to late to join our team - either by walking with us or by donation (help us reach our goal)! =0) You can find links on my blog (you can click on any of the Walk Now links or the word "autism" in this post) and even here to my donation page. We have a wonderful team so far - but there is still room for you to join. Even if you cannot walk with us, your name will be added to a list of people who are walking with us by financial support. For those who have already donated - thank you, again!!!!!!

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