Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Love Someone With Autism

This is a childhood photo of my little cousin Moose (his nickname). He's absolutely adorable! Aside from an extra dash of cuteness, he looks like any other sweet baby boy. But there is something that you can't tell just by looking at this sweet baby boy. Moose was diagnosed with Autism when he was 3 and a half years old.
 
Here is a definition I that found on an online dictionary:

au·tism/ˈôˌtizəm/

Noun:
  1. A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships, and in other people and in using language and abstract concepts.

What does that even mean? 

If I didn't know what autism was and read that definition, I probably wouldn't get it. So I am going to explain it to you in a way that you might better understand:
 
Moose's Graduation Photo
Autism usually develops before the age of 3. It ranges from mild social impairments to a severe disability requiring lifelong parental, school and societal support. Moose has severe autism. He is now 22 years old. He can't speak. He can't prepare meals, use the restroom without assistance, or even shower himself.

Diagnosis

Back when Moose was diagnosed, doctors didn't know much about autism. It was a nightmare for my aunt and uncle. They took Moose to different specialists, but no one wanted to label him or help. They began taking Moose to specialists at 18 months. The pediatrician told her that there was nothing wrong with him and that boys were just slower than girls. Over the course of a year and a half my aunt had to take Moose to 2 Speech specialists, 2 Occupational specialists, 3 Psych specialists, 1 Neuro specialist, and OC Mental Health Regional Center who referred her to BJ Freeeman at UCLA who finally diagnosed Moose with autism.  There was one therapist who asked my aunt to video tape Moose for a week. When she returned for a follow up he told her, "sorry, I didn't have a chance to watch it". Then he wrote a report containing only what my aunt had told him and had the audacity to bill her $200. When she told me this story, she said that she felt violated and alone.  I can't even begin to imagine what she went through. She really is my inspiration for being so strong through it all.

 

Acceptance

I spoke with my aunt quite a bit about writing this post. She tried to explain her feelings about the beginning to me, and she became very emotional. She said," I was in total denial for a long period... I finally came to grips with the fact that I love Moose and his world no matter what that was. And I realized that my dreams of him being a baseball player or guitar player were my dreams and selfish. I learned to love all that is Moose in a big way." She sent me a poem titled Welcome to Holand by Emily Pearl Kingsley. It's so beautiful that it brought me to tears. If you have a moment, please read it.
 

Life with Moose

I was very close to Moose growing up. I always knew that he was different, but if anything it only made me love him more. I remember telling him my secrets. I also remember begging him to talk, but then reminding him that if he decided to talk one day, to please not tell anyone my secrets! Haha. I lived with his family for different periods of my childhood and spent a lot of time with him. Sometimes I took care of him. It would only be for a few hours here and there, but it wasn't easy. My Aunt, Uncle, and cousin (Moose's older sister) are truly amazing. They have all been there taking care of him everyday of his life. He requires a lot of attention and help. I'm so thankful that they have been there for his every need. I know that they have all had to make their own personal sacrifices and I can't even express how much I admire all of them all for this.
 

Parents, please educate yourselves!

Speaking to friends, I have learned that while many them have heard of autism most of them know little or nothing about autism. Having known about autism my whole life, this was a big shock for me. It is so very important that all parents educate themselves and are aware not only that autism exists, but it is. Recent research shows that early treatment can improve outcome dramatically. Which means that early diagnosis, can make a big difference.
 
The following "red flags" may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:
  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

*Also, it's important to know that there are many cases where children develop normally for the first year then regress at 18 months.

Source: www.autismspeaks.org. If you would like to read more about the signs of autism click here.
  

Would you like to donate to this cause?

 
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.

By participating in this event, you are helping to change the future for all who struggle with autism. By walking, you are getting us one step closer to finding what causes autism, how to prevent and treat it, and ultimately a cure so no family ever hears those words again. Until then, we walk to find answers and raise awareness about the devastating toll that autism has had on families like ours.

I need you to help make tomorrow be about dance lessons, school lunches and first words rather than therapy, doctor appointments and despair. Together, we will find the missing pieces.


 -Taken from donation page
 
On October 13th, Moose's family will be volunteering in a fundraiser called Walk Now for Autism Speaks. They have currently raised $935. That is only $65 from their goal of $1000. If you are interested in donating click here.
 
Moose and family after volunteering in 2009
 

I'm thankful for Moose. I love him with all of my heart and honestly, I am a better person because of him. Growing up with him taught me so much. One small lesson I learned at a young age was not to judge people who are different. It's so important to teach this lesson to your children. I have seen people make fun of people with disabilities and it breaks my heart. The best thing we can all do to prevent this is to educate ourselves and our children.
 
Thank you so much for reading this post. As you can see, autism is something close to my heart and it is so important to me to spread the word so that all parents are more aware of what it is.

Do you love someone with Autism?

Take care and God bless!
 
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11 comments:

  1. Thank you. This was beautiful. :) Cyn
    A.D.D. Music Mamma

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  2. This is so inspiring! and will touch so many people!

    ~Co-host @ That Friday Blog Hop
    http://littleadventures-als.blogspot.com

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  3. beautiful, thank you for sharing. I have a cousin with cerbral palsy and watching her grow into this wonderful young woman has been amazing. A new follower.

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    1. Thank you for reading! I also have a cousin with cerebral palsy. He is wonderful. I will go over and check out your blog. :)

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  4. Such a lovely post. Thanks so much for sharing :)

    And thanks for stopping by. Following you back now :) Hope you'll stop by for my Find + Follow Friday hop!

    ♥Nicole @ http://meandthem00n.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much fro reading. I will stop by and check out your blog. :)

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  5. What a wonderful post! I'm stopping by from the Friendly Friday hop--have a great weekend.
    Angela

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and reading. :)

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  6. I thought to spend a bit more time on your blog this evening. This was a very deep post. I'll also share about it on Twitter. We have a young man (almost the same age as me) who visits our home at least twice a month for dinner and a movie who is mentally disabled and loves friendship. Also, I'm very proud of my kids who have friends from all different cultures, backgrounds and races.

    Tina - mom of 4
    http://abooksandmore.blogspot.com

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  7. That is so wonderful that you and your family get to spend time with him. It sounds like you are raising your children to be amazing people. Thanks for Tweeting!

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