H is proud to share this image. I love his PRIDE!
Rail against the stigma!!
Last Monday, Autism Speaks told the world that autism is:
. . . living in despair . . . fear of the future . . . exhausted, broken parents . . . lost, helpless, burdensome children. . . a national emergency . . . along with other equally stigmatizing and ableist messages.
We do NOT concur!
When H saw the new cover image that I am proudly wearing on my fb page to support this project, he let out an awesome yell…
He explained to me that he was yelling ‘Sparta Style’:
Today’s inspiration came from this article on XO Jane. The article was written by a mother who’s daughter, Karrie, wanted to be a model. Not an uncommon goal for a teenage. Karrie Brown, as you might have guessed, isn’t an ordinary teenager. She is a biker girl fashionista with Down Syndrome. And her dream came true, she modeled for her favorite clothing company, Wet Seal.
Since then Karrie has been to Disneyland and how wants to dance on the Ellen Show. She has also been the Grand Marshall at a local parade.
I really hope that her dream comes true. I hope that the bitterness that has taken over so many hearts never touches hers.
When you say the word “Autism” it is easy to figure out who is in the know and who is thinking of the Rain Man.
I think of my nephew and his bright face. Robbie is nearly eight and has mild autism. Early intervention and lots of love have made the difference between him being able to make connections with people outside his sphere and living in a closed world. Recently, he donned a mime’s suit and performed in his school’s talent show complete with make-up. He has learned to make friends and bares little resemblance from the boy who once ran when his senses overwhelmed him. What hasn’t changed is his ability to capture hearts. Aunties aren’t suppose to have favorites, but Robbie holds a special place in my heart.
The other week, I came across this Facebook page, I’m different, you’re different. Let’s be friends, and my heart now belongs to Sarah as well. Her summer quest is to meet and make a 1000 new friends. Each friend that she makes is given a gumball.
Here is her story as written by a family friend.
Sarah was born in 1999 at the gestational age of 27 weeks. At birth she weighed only 1050 grams, suffered from a brain hemorrhage, a cardio respiratory arrest, and major neurological dysfunction. In utero she had constant exposure to drugs and alcohol. Due to underdeveloped lungs, she required supplemental oxygen, and had a feeding tube surgically implanted in her stomach. She was extremely developmentally delayed. By the age of eighteen months she had passed through two foster homes, and had begun having violent episodes of self injuring. Her prognosis was very poor, and institutionalization seemed inevitable.
Then, she received a visit from a couple who had already adopted five children. At first, they felt that Sarah’s situation was more than they were equipped to deal with. They declined the opportunity to foster her, however, neither of them could forget her sparkling eyes, and discussed her constantly. They came to the conclusion that if they didn’t adopt her, who would? Sarah celebrated her 2nd birthday with her forever family.
Over the years, Sarah has had ongoing medical issues, such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Autism and Anger Management. Through a combination of traditional treatments and experimental regimens she has shown amazing progress. With the help of medical experts, behavioral specialists, special educators, family, friends, her siblings and her parents, Sarah, who was not expected to walk, has become a runner in The Special Olympics, and a strong swimmer who loves to surf with her dad. She is a talented artist, and enjoys sharing her unique pieces. School is a struggle for Sarah, and she currently reads on a first grade level. She recently completed a 7th grade, special education program.
It can be very difficult for her to make friends. As a result, with help from her sisters, decided to set out on a quest to bring 1000 new friends into her world. She feels that it is her mission to help people understand Autism. To accomplish this, she reaches out to friendly, non-scary, people, tells her story, gives them a gumball, then poses with them, while her mother snaps a portrait. She attends musical concerts, parades and gatherings where she finds that people are more than happy to join her adventure. Sarah, while still facing many challenges, has brought a special love to her family and her multitude of friends.
Written by family friend, Paul Irwin (Santa)
Like Kim Peek (man who inspired Rain Man) and Sarah is the best person to explain Autism to the world. Their world is beauty and unique to them. They are individuals. I feel blessed to have Robbie and his two older brother (both of whom are on the spectrum) as members of my family not because they have autism. They are just awesome kids whose labels don’t make any less awesome.
So if you see a young woman this summer wearing a tie-dye tee that reads free “Free Hugs” and offers you a gumball, don’t be nervous just say Hi.
Rarely do I venture into bookstore or any major retail store during the holidays unless it Target, but this year I went in search a present for a very special two month old girl. Truthfully, I had spotted it weeks ago, but I wanted my Momma’s opinion on it. We were attempting to make our way out of the store when we spot Kathy Hoopmann’s book, “All Cats have Asperger Syndrome”. We both stopped in our tracks.
All Cats have Asperger Syndrome is a beautiful book that elegantly illustrates aspects of Asperger Syndrome that are often hard for adults to define. For families trying to explain what Asperger Syndrome is to others including their children while still working to understand it themselves this book is heaven sent. Each page of the book has a brief insight into what an Aspie is experiencing and feeling. It does not attempt to explain the causes or go into detail about the effects of the syndrome.
Sure, he may need a little help following fashionable trends, but don’t forget, everyone is different in his own way and there is a little bit of Asperger is us all.
This book to me is beauty in simplicity.
Australian born Hoopmann lives in Dubi with her family where she continues to write. Learn more about this author on her website.
The Saturday before my birthday, I spent lying on my sofa reading, Autism by the Hand by Lorca Damon. Since honestly is an important component of it the follow needs to be stated before I go any further: this review is going to be completely and totally biased. I am the sister and extremely proud auntie of people living on the spectrum.
Like the author of this book, I have read a lot on autism that left me with way too much technical information and not enough practical advice. Like the author, I am also an educator. Theories are great, but give me something I can use in my classroom or with my family. Something that you have tried and seen results from. It may not work for me, but it certainly feels a lot better than taking blind stabs in the dark. Or worse, reinventing the wheel, only to discover that someone else did it better.
Since I began teaching, I have always worked with at risk populations. My first job was in a mental hospital educating sexual abuse victims. While there, I knew more than a few kids who would have benefited from their caretakers reading this book. Not because they were necessarily on spectrum, but because the advice it offers cuts through the BS of their labels and seeks ways to help them deal with the world. A world that isn’t going to understand them not matter how much education we shove down its throat.
One of my favorite parts of this book was when Damon described her daughter getting upset when she share her Autism diagnosis with women in a store to explain the child’s actions. Often times, we use the label of Autism as an excuse as to why someone with it can’t do this or that, but how often do we consider that they may not want the world to know. Maybe the world doesn’t need to know.
Damon is unapologetic about her approach. You might not like her, you might hate her, but you should listen to her. Listen and learn, because this woman is telling you things that worked with her child and they might work with yours. They are at least worth a try.
The best thing about this book is the attitude that Damon promotes and honesty with which she presents every word. We need more people out there saying get over it and stop the pity party. Once you do that, you can really start to make a difference in your life and the quality of life of your child. I truly wish this book had been out when we first learn of my nephew’s diagnosis. I think it would have helped our family get over ourselves and concentrate on what really mattered, Robbie’s mental health and well-being.