Category: Blog

Of Driving And Autism: A Road Less Traveled

Driving with Autism

 

I was driving along Lakeshore Drive on my way to Sobey’s when this other driver cut in front of me– twice! I have seen people running a red light, not pulling over for a siren, not following school ground speed limit, and not giving a care on whether their actions can affect others or not. That sad thing is– these people do not have autism. Yet, each of them is given a driver’s license without any question.

 

To someone with autism, applying for one can be a long hurdle. Questions on things that involved language such as sequencing or following directions have always been a contention when getting one. Some individuals with high functioning autism may get answers to their pleas but to many, the consequences can be emotionally and mentally brutal.

 

I have seen and read the horrors of how some individuals with autism as well as Asperger’s have been shunned by authorities in their bid for “road freedom.” Some even have the gall to call them  “unfit” or consider them as “road hazards.” These are hurtful words creating a gaping hole in one’s soul, a source of internal tribulation,  in a world devoid of autism ACCEPTANCE.

 

Amid all these, I have always contemplated on pushing John to get driving lessons. Admittedly, my husband and I are not getting any younger and having extra set of hands in time of emergency is never a bad thing. He is quite excellent in following road and traffic rules and regulations. He can also communicate well with others and have been educated about the BeSafe campaign program. I am more concerned with those minuscule details that may escape his senses leading to issues on the road, which may cause him harm or to that of other road users.

 

A constant dilemma, some of my friends however are quite supportive and have always egged me to give it a try. It was highly recommended to get the assistance of a young driver’s program as well as that of a speech language pathologist, that is, if required for therapy on certain language skills like predicting, traffic vocabularry, sequencing and turn-taking, mapping skills, rote memory, communication, problem solving,  and other aspects of becoming a safe and defensive driver. Keep in mind that driving also involves social and pragmatic skills. These skills require focus so individuals with autism can learn how to become safe road users.

 

Today, I saw someone run a stop sign again. Uggh! I am quite sure she does not have autism. John pointed out why such a behavior should never be done while someone is on the road. He deemed it irresponsible. I believe, there’s enough reason in the universe for me to find a way for him to learn how to drive.

It may not be now, but pretty sooooon.

 

Photo Credits: IDriveSafely

 

Do you have any driving experience, anecdotes, key learning or lessons to share? Write to us so others may know and relate to them. Cheers!

 

#Autism #DrivingWithAutism #LivingAutismDayByDay #AutismDriver #DriveAutism #AdultAutism #YoungDriver

 

Growing Up With Autism: Why Sex Education Matters?

Photo Credits: Universal Life Church

 

One of the hardest part of being an Autism parent is to discuss sex education with their kids as they near adulthood. Intimacy, indeed, is part of being human. While some kids with autism may have difficulty forging such intimate relationships with others, it cannot be denied that there are also some who, particularly in their adolescent years, want to learn how to navigate between what sex and sexuality truly means. It is an inherent right for individuals to learn about sex and in a far broader sense, about sexuality, but how can we make sure that we communicate to them the right thing?

The Challenges

Over the years, reports of sexual abuse as well as exploitation have risen in the autism communities across the globe. Many kids with autism have become victims of unscrupulous individuals who do nothing but prey on innocent, unsuspecting kids, teens and even adults on the spectrum. These predators see autism as a weakness and exploit such to satisfy their evil acts. It’s a scary thought reading about kids being made sex slaves by their carers. Even some adults with autism are known to be pushed on a corner, some of them left to believe that such cruel acts are “normal”.

The sad thing is that– sex education is often left hanging in schools. Studies since 2012 had stated that adolescents on the spectrum know less about sex and sexuality than their peers. The same people are also known to have less access to sex education either in school or at home. Some parents and even school personnel seemingly find it taboo to discuss such matters with kids on the spectrum. As an offshoot, they learn it somewhere else and at a devastating consequences.

Of The Birds and The Bees

 

Photo Credits: Advocacy In Action Ireland

As autism parents with a young adult at home, we strongly espouse a more open and more tailored approach to adding sexual education to the list of courses discusses with young individuals with autism. It is high time that children and teens with autism outgrow the “birds and bees” theory. Sexuality must be discussed in depth touching not only on safe sex but also on gender sensitivity, structural differences, social innuendos, and communication. Kids must be thought how to decode certain innuendos and languages ascribing t sex. Most importantly, they must learn further what is right from malicious to downright lewd. Of course, those who are in the right age must also be taught how to express themselves to potential partners to help foster safe and confident relationships.

Sex education in autism is as important as teaching our kids social skills. We can’t be there for them forever. At some point, they will outgrow our cuddles and butterfly kisses. They will one day want to learn about sexual innuendos and it is only fitting that they learn it first from us parents and from school authorities. Keep in mind that studies have always pointed out that children with autism who received sex education are less likely to fall victims to sexual predators. It must also be clarified that those who had been educated with it tend to engage in sexual relations at a later age. Let’s demand it from our authorities and let’s be involved in ensuring that our kids (whether with autism or not) learn about what comprehensive and medically accurate sex education truly entails. Because quite frankly, we’re failing on this particular aspect right now.

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#AutismSexEducation, #SexAndAutism, #SexEducation, #Autism, #No2SexualExploitationInAutism, #AutismSafety, #AutismSecurity, #LifeWithAutism,

Starting It Right: School Days Are Here Again

 

It’s that wonderful time of the year once again! Early morning coffee preparing breakfast and lunch bags lined up before our kiddos finish packing homework and bulky Science projects. Oh, how I used to fret over what menu to prepare for my kids while growing up. To most Autism parents, however, every beginning of the school year can be quite a challenge– and it definitely does not have something to do with their meals.

Parents of children with developmental and behavioral issues like Autism, ADHD, Down’s syndrome and so on have a growing concern on what lies beyond an uneaten breakfast feast. From untouched packed lunch to going home with a black eye or bruises due to meltdowns, or worse, being reprimanded for assault and other violent reactions to certain stimulants. Add to that the constant barrage of abuses from the very people entrusted for their care. Or news of a child being left behind inside a school bus or dropped off somewhere he’s unfamiliar with.

Each day, a parent to an autism child has to wake up to such dreadful thoughts. But in the pursuit of letting our children spread their wings and gain knowledge beyond what we can offer in the comfort of our homes, keeping a positive outlook must be embraced to ensure a smoother transition not just for ourselves but that of our children’s as well. It is important to remember that kids with autism or other developmental disorder need to gain access to such evidence-based aspects to progress.

So, aside from keeping one’s optimism (we call it #AUptimism!) on high, the following tips may be of help in easing your child’s way back to school:

  • For new students, take time to visit and talk with school staff before school starts, at least a week before classes. Take pictures and short videos to introduce to your kid. If school has already begun before your transfer, consider bringing your kid along for a few minutes of observation. This will give him a sense of familiarity to a new surrounding.

  • Initiate collaboration with teachers and caregivers in the school community. Got a new diagnosis, health concern, medical evaluation or other relevant information? Share this with his or her classroom adviser and guidance counselor. Add what teaching methods and strategies have worked in tha past, too. Doing so will help raise awareness and for school carers to provide needed support.

  • Always keep a calendar handy. There are erasable calendar decals which you can install on kitchen walls or a child’s study room. Try to indicate important dates and events as well as motivational words and caricatures. This will keep a child informed and more prepared as well as inspired to go to school.

  • While all school-based prepping is important, starting at least a week before the summer ends is the best time to establish a routine. Drastic change doesn’t always sit well to children with Autism and other developmental disorder. Setting boundaries like an earlier bedtime or restrictions to watching TV, playing video games or surfing the Net will help ease their transition.

Starting the school year right will have lasting impact all throughout the year. Yes, it’s going to be a struggle particularly to parents to children with Autism and other developmental disorder. The idea is to keep your patience turbocharged each time. The ultimate prize to your sacrifice will very well prepare your child for life.

Photo Credits: https://www.cousd.net/Domain/14

Got any tips to share. Write to pamela@livingautismnow.com. Feel free also to check us out on FACEBOOK.

Autism, school, education, parenting, developmental disorder, ADHD, Autism Awareness, Autism Acceptance, Autism Safety

How To Implement An Autism Diet With Your Child

John and his fresh-from-our-garden-veggie and pasta salad

 

To parents like us who have children on the autism spectrum, every meal time is a battle where we often emerge as losers. Many of our kids are known to be picky eaters making a healthy autism diet a struggle. Many of them are also sensitive to various food items due to digestive issues and the likes. Think about headaches, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, irritable behavior, diarrhea and meltdowns– all because the food we put on the table are not attune to their digestive system.

So, what to do?

In our journey, we often seek out various dietary regimens– all to provide the healthiest and most nutritious meals for our beloved. We home-cook and make huge sacrifices to ensure just that. So, what to do when implementing a healthy Autism diet for your child? Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Start with a food diary. Make focused observations on your child’s eating habits. Record what he or she eats and any symptoms that occurred alongside them. From the littlest morsel down to what he or she drinks, keep it on record. This is one way to check for allergies as well as what’s often labeled as “food intolerance” to individuals with Autism.

  1. As much as possible, serve only home-cooked meals. This is one way for you to keep hawkeye control on what your child consumes. Restaurant-prepared foods often have a lot of MSG and other hidden ingredients to enhance flavor and aroma. Some of these “secret” ingredients may cause harm than good to your child.

  1. Educate yourself on various autism-friendly dietary options. There’s the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free diet, Ketogenic diet, and so on. These diets are known to deliver dramatic improvements to individuals with autism like improved focus and concentration, enhanced locomotor functions, and so on. By researching, you can also become adept with new discoveries leading to a more optimized health of your child.

  1. Beware of special occasion cravings. It cannot be helped that sometimes, in our excitement and joy to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and so on, we tend to forget the importance of sticking to our child’s dietary regimen. To ensure that problems will not crop up, finding festive substitutes or alternative helps a lot. Just slip it quietly into his or her meal routine without giving a hint that will make him or her feel isolated from the rest. When attending parties, you may want to have emergency treats handy. A quick talk with the celebrator by explaining to them about his or her food sensitivities will help. Suggest bringing such food yourself to not cause a ruckus.

  1. When grocery shopping, it is essential to read the fine print carefully. Keep in mind that some manufacturers do not divulge if their products has gluten or casein additives. Do your own research while observing your child’s reaction to it. Keep in mind that your child can also be exposed via hand-to-mouth ingestion.
Photo Credits: NHS Choices
  1. As much as possible, go for a mitochondria-friendly diet (See previous post HERE). These tiny organelles are considered to be the body’s energy and mental capital. When optimized, these quadrillions of organelles can help your child’s body stay healthy and disease-free while improving their focus, metabolism and digestion.

  1. While vegetables are absolutely a YES, be vigilant about fruits. Some fruits are high in fructose and can do more harm than good. You may want to consider stuffing on leafy greens and colorful veggies, and complement these with a handful of fresh fruits particularly berries, avocado and olives.

There is no easy way to implement an autism-friendly diet. There will be meltdowns. There will be certain changes to your child’s behavior. But all these are but on a short-term basis. To ensure building up rapport with your child, try to introduce healthy options slowly. Easing your way in will definitely give more chances for your new healthy diet regimen to become a success. Do remember: this is all for your child’s sake. Now, start that stovetop burning!

Do you have a special diet for your child with autism?  Share it with us. Write to pamela@livingautismnow.com or  livingautismnow@gmail.com. See you!

 

Of Friendship And Travels 2017: An Autism Mom’s Journey

There is an inexplicable kind of bliss when traveling with good friends in tow and of meeting strangers along the way then, turning them into friends. Just recently, my bestfriend and I went for a 7-day Alaskan Cruise– The Alaskan Vortex of Attraction Cruise to be precise– on board the Celebrity Solstice. I have been to Alaska before for the BeSafe Teaching Workshop but not on a cruise like this one and I have always wanted to come back, to see more of what lies beyond the snowy facade.

Abraham-Hicks Workshop With My BFF

Our main agenda, however, is to attend and be part of the Abraham Hicks Workshop to listen to Esther Hicks in person. The workshop is meant as an open form that helps to dissect the many facets of the Science of Deliberate Creation and other topics all based on the Abraham-Hicks Teachings. In a way, this cruise main intention is not entirely to have fun but to discover that sense of clarity, freedom and personal growth in this journey through love, friendship, motherhood, and life in general.

I am quite a fan of Esther Hicks, inspirational speaker and author of the book series The Law of Attraction, Ask and It is Given, The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent, The Astonishing Power of Emotions, and so on. Her thoughts on the aspect of “infinite intelligence” and how our own thoughts inspire our every action igniting the universe to realign its course with our aspirations. It’s trying to unravel a deep sense of who you are so you can grow into the person you are destined to be. Me and my best friend, Willy, are quite lucky as we were able to get a photo with Esther, the driving force behind this cruise, and was able to chat for a short while.

                                          Us with Esther

From Seattle, Washington to Ketchikan, Cruising Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria-BC, and back to Seattle, the fun and camaraderie among the many attendees to the workshop has made the trip move jovial and invigorating. Overall, the trip is both fun and liberating. I was happy to have been able to share it with my best friend and to find hundreds of other people who share the same interest as I do. Listening to Esther and her sage wisdom as well as countless others who shared their own journey in life have also been etched in my being. Last but not least, being able to meet someone and turn such a chance meeting into a lasting friendship is what makes the whole cruise truly magical and worth remembering.

Touching Lives

 

Though I fell ill upon going home, I was elated to find a lovely surprise from another friend, Barbara Ataman. The Autism Quilt (see above) is a memento handcrafted by Barbara as a way of supporting my autism advocacy. We are both members of the Catholic Women’s League. In April this year, I was made keynote speaker for the Peterborough Diocesan Convention in Huntsville, Ontario– and there I met Barbara.

I can sense that it’s patchwork is done with keen attention to detail, pouring a whole lot of emotion and love into them that when pieced altogether becomes the ultimate rendition of trust and respect. Quilting, as a tradition passed down from one generation to the next, has always been a fascinating subject for me. I can do many things but sewing/quilting is just not one of them. It takes time and effort, and a whole lot of sacrifice and emotions go into the fabric. Thus, I am totally elated when given this quilt as a memento. It felt like being welcome into someone’s life and things just simply fall into place.

Being an autism Mom is an exhilarating experience. Or let me rephrase that– being a Mom per se is a rollercoaster ride. But being able to meet people, share experiences with friends, and forge lasting relationships with people who support you for who you are truly make it worthwhile. Xoxo!

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Autism, AutismAwareness, AutismAcceptance, Travel, AlaskaCruise, AbrahamHicks, VortexOfAttraction, LawOfAttraction, Friendship, Quilting, CatholicWomensLeague, Religion, Love

What To Eat And Not-To-Eat: A Very Special Autism Diet

Photo Credits: Marnie’s Keep Fresh

 

Do you have a special autism diet for your child? John’s dietary regimen had been a roller coaster ride when he was younger. It’s either he can’t live without pizza and fries, or he can’t settle down without eating cake or sweets. Luckily, I was able to come across a special diet that helps enhance our mitochondrial function when he was around 9 years old and had stood by the same healthy regimen ever since.

Mitochondria or Energy Factories

After reading from various resources, I came across an article on Dr. Mercola about a high-fat, high-fiber diet that optimizes the functions of our cells’ mitochondria. Known to be the “energy factories” of the body, it delivers not just needed energy and enhanced metabolism for health and vitality but also the ability to a more improved focus on concentration. Embedded deep into our body’s cells, these little organelles are the very diminutive factories that turn every morsel of food we eat and the air we breath into usable energy.

We actually have quadrillions of mitochondria in our body and each organelle is power-packed with around 17000 of biochemical components needed to produce ATP, the body’s main fuel. As a rule of thumb, the more functional a bodily organ, the more mitochondria are lodged in the cells. This is why the brain, heart and muscles are filled with mitochondria to the brim. In fact, research confirms that our current health and fitness level often reflect the density of mitochondria in these organs. A quick mind often has more mitochondria and so does stronger and leaner musculature.

Mitochondria-Focused Diet

I have also came across with many families who have kids with genetic issues and they also find this diet truly helpful. Certain conditions like autism, with kids being almost “naturally” picky eaters, can expose them to deplete the mitochondria functions in the cells leading to debilitating side effects such as allergies, infections, and outright accumulation of toxins in the body. Instead of helping their child with autism or other developmental disorder strengthen their foothold, it causes them to deteriorate.

To bolster mitochondria function and improve metabolism and energy while enhancing their ability to focus and concentrate, the following sums up what I have been doing all these years to make John’s diet as autism-friendly as possible:

  • Fill your child’s meal– from breakfast to dinner and snacks in between– with fresh vegetables. Think green like broccoli, spinach, arugula, kale, and bok choy; bright-colored ones like beets, sweet potato, squash and carrots. Whether fruit or vegetable, tomatoes are also staple to John’s diet. He particularly loves it on his omelet along with yellow and red bell peppers. Sulfur-rich vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower and dried fruits are also great sources of glutathione, a potent antioxidant. You can top cereals with fruits or make a daily smoothie combining both elements for an enjoyable fix anytime of the day. Fruits, however, must be consumed in moderation due to their fructose content. During avocado season, John would love a smoothie as he organize things around. He also loves ripe mangoes and nuts.

(My John usually helps out in the kitchen every Wednesday to give me some time to rest. Here, he was preparing a fantastic organic salad with mixed vegetables from the local farmers market and almonds.)

  • Protein and fiber are also two other elements present in John’s diet. From  eggs to grass-fed meat, poultry, fish, and other dairy products, we always choose to buy organic for their safety and optimal health benefits.John particularly love green peas and mung beans as well as raspberries and strawberries.

(For protein, John here decided to go with organic chicken burgers with lots of healthy toppings that he loves– organic pickles in brine, kimchi, salsa, sauerkraut, and other veggies.)

 

  • Grains and sugars must be eaten minimally or none at all. This includes white breads, pasta, corn, potatoes, and other grain products. Soda and softdrinks as well as powdered juices are complete no-nos. I use honey instead of sugar when John fancies chamomile or lavender tea during “chaotic” days.

  • Build-up mitochondrial membranes by taking omega-3 rich foods. This means eating wild-caught fish like salmon or grass-fed meat like beef. Avocados, nuts, and other seeds are also excellent sources of good fatty acids. So does olive oil and coconuts. We love munching on manzanilla olives, raw nuts and dried watermelon seeds every now and then.

  • Even without colds or flu, I always have bone broth ready. What I do is place bones like beef, pork or chicken in a crockpot and then, allow it to simmer for an hour or more with water and apple cider vinegar. John love slurping on them with spinach or bok choy during cold days. It’s high in amino acids. The gelatin-y compound on this broth is also what helps support proper digestion particularly to individuals with autism and their gut problem.

Trust me, it’s going to be hard but only on the first two to three weeks. When you finally become so accustomed to home-cooked meals, you and your family will find it so much better to bond around during meal times and enjoy a nutritious fare each time.

 

Do you have some special recipes which you think have highly helped in your child’s autism? Share it with us.

 

 

 

 

 

AutismAwareness, AutismDiet, Autism, Health, Fitness, Foods4Autism, HomeCooked, AutismParenting

Of Forever And A Lifetime Of Bliss

What’s your idea of a perfect honeymoon? For us, celebrating not one but three memorable events in our lives matter a lot. For our wedding anniversary and Mother’s Day as well as my husband’s birthday, we decided to reminisce what we had done 20 years ago today. We jumped into a Hawaiian cruise ship and had a blast!

Instead of just the two of us, we decided to tag John along with us. You see, this is as memorable to us as it is to him. We tried to explain to him how he was conceived while we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii and we felt that this is the perfect opportunity for us to show him how lovely and unforgettable the experience was. Notwithstanding the fact that we had promised him to come and join us, he was also part of this trip down memory lane.

Our Story

With the love of my life, 20 years ago
getting stronger, better, 20 years later

We were married on board the S.S. Independence by the Captain of the cruise ship in Hawaii. It was a spectacular experience filled with jaw dropping scenery spanning the vibrant shorelines of Waikiki Beach, miles and miles of white powdery sand on Molokai and of course, the enigmatic cliffs in Kauai. Everything about our wedding and honeymoon were amazing!

When we got home two weeks later, I felt so sickly that I thought I contracted the dreaded flu while vacationing. Lo and behold! Nine months and a day later, we had Johnny. Some Hawaiian flu I got. In a way, we wanted him to see how the grandiose serenity and vibrancy of Hawaii had been elemental in his conception. When we told him about the story, he was so ecstatic!

His biggest goal was to see a live volcano and sure thing, he was able to do just that. He even got to see his Dad dance the famous Hula on stage. His also wanted to try out SCUBA diving that prior to the trip, he researched about it and watch tutorials on YouTube to prepare himself. Aside from our 2-week Hawaii getaway, the stopover in California was also a blast! You can check out our pictures on Facebook HERE.

To some, going on a honeymoon with children tagging along may sound silly, but to us– it made a lot of difference. Allowing John to know that he was borne out of love and from pure joy made him feel more confident. John is part and parcel of our lives. While his first autism diagnosis shook our resolve, it is also his sweetness and pure innocence that always bind us all in our own sweet circle of unconditional love as a family.

While honeymoon may lost its significance in today’s fast-and-furious living, I would still strongly recommend that you and your partner go and plan for one. It is not just traveling to other places, but rather a chance for you and your partner to reignite that sense of intimacy in a marriage. So, pamper yourselves. Book that next flight. Our 2-week getaway was truly wonder-rific and I believe John’s shirt here says it all.

Autism ACCEPTANCE: There Is So Much You Can Do

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Is the world ready for Autism Acceptance? How about you or your community? As another Autism Awareness Month passed us by, it seems pretty much evident that many are becoming more aware of autism. From all other areas across the globe, people and establishments move to raise awareness as a means to step-up acceptance level on autism. People organize fundraisers, special events, talks and forums, contests, art shows, film showing, and a plethora of activities to make April a month for humanity to take a glimpse at what autism is all about. I believe, we have already succeeded in the “awareness” level. However, Autism ACCEPTANCE by way of supporting both individuals with autism and families affected by such is still very much lacking.

With the autism statistics continually rising, the number of unfavorable (some horrible and fatal) incidences also amplifies. Many kids with autism still get bullied or hurt by those who surround them or by those who are tasked to care and keep them safe. This extends to adults with autism. Amid the awareness campaign, many establishments are still reluctant to hire them.

These are the realities in the world of autism. No matter how we deny them, such things are happening within our midst. As a mother to a young adult with autism, I am urging everyone to find ways to support individuals and autism. Acceptance can come in many forms and some of these can truly mean a lot:

  • Stand up for autism when the situation demands it. There are certain times when ignorance sets in. Being “aware” of autism gives you an upperhand. Take time to explain or to give others a chance to understand more about autism. There is no sense not doing anything for someone being lambasted openly just for being who he or she is. Let people learn how to accept autism in society by showing them.

  • Offer to help families struggling with autism. Families touched with autism can be challenging and, at times, exhausting. Rest is but a word to them. There is no day-off. The very least you can do is offer to help them. Why not pick grocery items or a prescription medication? Lending an extra pair of hands to a neighbor or a friend with an autism child will help keep their heads above water. Sometimes, an offer to mow the lawn or simply clean the piled up dishes on the sink brings astounding relief to others.

  • While families with autism gravitate towards each other, the need for greater inclusion in a community is a welcoming idea. Include them in your community events or special occasion celebrations by extending an invitation. Even the act itself can be pure gratification.

  • For teachers, you don’t need a special needs certification to be able to extend help. There are various tools which can be learned online to aid you in making a difference to a neighbor’s autistic child. You can give practical ways to teach these kids. Subjects like reading, arts and crafts, music and the likes can help add more fun to their lives.

  • For caregivers, make it an advocacy to transform services into affection. People with autism need not just your therapies but more so, your love for them. There are some who simply take their jobs as autism caregivers as more of a money-making option instead of a passion to give support to those who need it most.

  • For parents to neurotypical kids, autism acceptance starts at home. Teach your kids the many challenges autism kids and their families face. Give them a chance to see autism through your compassionate eyes. Some kids indifference stem from lack of guidance at home.

In everything else, take time to listen and to understand the plight of families and individuals with autism. Yes, the first few steps to Autism Acceptance are going to be awkward. At times, it may even feel like you seem not to do what you’re supposed to do. Trust me, even without uttering a word—you being there will make a lot of difference.

Photo Credits: CancerSupportET.org

Watch out for Pamela’s Be SAFE Interactive program soon. Check this out > Be SAFE

#AutismAcceptance #Autism #AutismAwareness #CommunityLove #Support #iCare4Autism #LivingAutismDaybyDay

April Autism Awareness Month: Small Victories Go A Long Way

Me and John / Brighton Autism Walk / Adam's Hope
Me and John / Brighton Autism Walk / Adam’s Hope

A report once stated that autism parents have stress similar to combat soldiers. I cannot relate to it as I have never been to combat before, but one thing is for sure—the stress and pressure can sometimes snap any parent into two. This is even more so for those who are still waiting for a diagnosis or have just been given one. The confusion, the anxiety and, often, the over-thinking can put one on the edge. By and by, little milestones come your family’s way—and those will help take the stressors away.

Amid such joys being a momentary relief, celebrating milestones in our children’s autism is one of the lightest feeling to any parent. Sure enough, there will be more tough times than good times but the little victories we experience along the way should never go unnoticed. For one, you deserve it. When we’re too overwhelmed, we often take our own efforts for granted. Taking a short pause to pat yourself in the back will not only allow you to recognize the fruits of your labor but also as a motivation to continue fighting on.

Would you agree that self-motivation (endless supply of it!) is the one thing that allowed many parents to children with autism to gain courage every step of the way? Celebrating simple triumphs like learning to flush the toilet or being able to utter the word “Mom” or “Dad” allows a parent to reflect how much progress you and your child made—an exciting reminder that you and your child are capable to achieve more than you think. By recognizing your accomplishments, you can begin working on another step!

Remember the day your son or daughter is fully diagnosed with autism? Or that time when someone insulted your parenting skill over a meltdown of which you have no control of? It cannot be helped to feel awful about your own self. You may have wallowed in self-pity after that dragging your whole self-esteem to guttural level. Acknowledging small victories, however, can help rebuild your dwindling self-esteem. There is something astoundingly good to celebrate your own self. It will help steer you to a strong conviction that “you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

When you begin to acknowledge your efforts as a mother or father, as a sister or brother, as a carer or guardian, as a teacher or a therapist to a child or adult with autism, everything goes full circle. Doing what you do best out of pure love and dedication rather than as a sense of obligation will make the whole thing fulfilling. This is even more so when these pure acts of love deliver positive results.

So, this April and all days thereafter—go and do a happy dance. Laugh all you want. Sing an out-of-tune note or two. Plant a tree. Grow a herb garden. Do something positive for every achievement. Autism is not a problem that needs to be solved or a disease that needs to be cured. It is a way of life. It may be different but not less, and the best that you can do is to live a life of “AUptimism” and celebrate life’s small victories with a grateful heart.

Ever heard of the Be Safe Campaign? Check this out – http://livingautismnow.com/be-safe/

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#AutismAcceptance #AutismAwareness #Parenting #PureLove

 

Cherish Every Moment – Great or Small

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(An ideal day. Fishing in Belize and ending the day cooking up our catch.)

What do you cherish most in life? Do you celebrate memorable moments and let other memories go by? Or do you find something to cherish even during tough times?

As a mother to a son with autism, I completely understand what it must feel like to be on your wit’s end day after day after day. There may even be certain times when you have to let out an exasperated sigh due to helplessness. Yes, I have always figured motherhood as a tough call. But it is even more so when being one requires you to go the extra mile, the longer more arduous route every day of your life.

But looking back these past few months, all these struggles feel like a relief. When you have been into so much hardships and tribulations, it is almost normal to have the tendency to feel invincible, like you can do everything if you put your heart and soul to it. Before Christmas came, my resolve was shaken to its core. After a battery of tests, I was finally diagnosed healthy. But the ordeal made me look more closely at how I live my life and why, today more than ever, the need to celebrate all things big or small is a must.

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Me and my bestfriend Willy before our Cave Tubing Adventure

The thought even become more persistent when just a few days after our Belize getaway, for instance, I had witnessed one of the scariest experiences in my whole life. While staying in the Mahogany Hall, a wonderful place to stay while in San Ignacio Cayo because of its strategic location right at the banks of the famous Mopan River, I bear witness to a drowning man. He was caught against the rapids, went under and did not resurface for quite some time. I tried to get him out but the rapids were too strong. Thank God, there were 4 other men on the other side who were able to get to him, performed CPR and then, brought him to the hospital.

Indeed, life is fleeting. Amid all the triumphs and defeat, we will all ultimately go into the abyss called death. But while it is inevitable to die, it is also important to live in the moment. The line that separates life from death is so thin—and that should put our procrastination aside knowing that each second brings you closer to death. It is important to remember that we only have this one shot at life. It is also imperative to see life as it is—unique—and that there is no sense comparing one’s existence to that of another. In the same ways as each autism case is unique so is every person’s life. At the end of the day, one thing remains clearer: live life in such a way that you when you look back, you smile and don’t utter a single regret because you have done it all!

Carpe Diem!

#Vacation #BelizEscapade #Autism #AutismAwareness