Monday, February 11, 2013

The Girl with the Golden Shoes

She has an amazing spirit, and I wish I could remember her name. She lit up when she talked about playing her music, agreeing the stage helps build confidence. I’ll forever remember her face, as my mind takes literal snapshots of life’s experiences.

Yes, I, too, think in pictures.

It was a humbling conversation. I’d just finished talking on stage to a packed room of moms, dads, educators and others about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum, with my husband by my side at times. A daunting task, as 90 minutes can hardly scratch the surface just as an entire month can hardly explain even one woman!

Anyone who can do that will win a Nobel Prize in…pretty much every category.

But in 90 short minutes we sparked a conversation that needs to gain momentum.

Part of what I chose to talk about was the girls who fly under the radar, often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Story after story I continue to receive from those on the spectrum, themselves, tells us we need to do better. Too many fall through the cracks, living so much of life not knowing why they don’t quite “fit”. It’s been said these special young women have a higher rate of suicide than the general population - a stat I’m chasing and vowing to expose.

Saturday’s task was a daunting one, knowing that others in the crowd are living the very life I was talking about. And others were walking different paths with altogether different issues, hungering for answers, too.

“Girls are often bullied without knowing it in the moment, as they cannot read social cues,” I related, “but one day they will know. They will understand.” Such difficult words to speak, as I’ve watched my very own daughter walk this path.

The girl with the golden shoes admitted to me this happened to her, too. For years, her autism made her blind to bullying from her peers, as well as identifying friendships. But she is doing better now. Autism, does, indeed, grow up.

I’m not an emotional person by nature, but recalling our conversation brings me near tears. To provide voice for these girls is what it’s all about.

To the girl with the golden shoes, I say, “Thank you!” You remind me why I do what I do. And I am truly humbled. And there is, indeed, a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Myth Busting Weekend Ahead!

Hi everyone! Are you looking forward to this weekend? I surely am! As you know, I am honored to be speaking on Saturday at the Annual Conference of the Autism Society of North Carolina. The entire weekend is devoted to "Autism Grows Up!" Woot! Yes it does, doesn't it?

Who else will be there?

Peter Gerhardt, Ed. D.
John Thomas, M.Ed.
Leica Anzaldo and Louise Southern
Linda Gund Anderson and Brent Anderson

I can't wait to listen to everyone who will be presenting. There is always so much to learn, isn't there?

What will I be speaking about? Glad you asked! We'll talk about raising a girl on the autism spectrum - and we'll be busting some myths along the way!

Are you coming? I hope to see you there! Can't make it? The next series of posts will cover some of the themes we'll be touching on this weekend. you have any myths you'd like to bust about autism! Post them in the comments below!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

5 Tips for Autism on a Budget

Do you live in the States? Did you open up your paycheck yet? Ouch!

So many had no idea there would be less to take home this year. Even if you did, for many families, the 2% increase in SS tax (or lapse of the "discount") is painful. If you have a special needs child, chances are it's even harder. For many families, we're talking a loss of $100 or so per month. Add to that rising copays ($70 per visit for many); it's an added stress, finding many at a loss as to what to do to make ends meet.

Are you looking for some ideas? Let’s get started with 5 tips!

1.       Drop the cable. Ok, I can hear screams all the way to my house on this one! Seriously, folks, how much does that bill cost? Multiply that by 12 and you’ll see how much it really is. (Yes, I do realize in some parts of the country, cable is not optional. But add-ons surely are.)
2.       Forget the Fast Food. More screaming? I know, with schedules all over the map, eating out can be a time saver. But eating in can be just as quick and easy, and cost a lot less. A can of refried beans, salsa, tortillas, cheese and a bag of shredded lettuce – and we have dinner for a family of four for under $10! (And chances are you’ll have leftover cheese for another meal or two. Bonus!)
3.       Take-Home Therapy. Are there techniques your therapist can teach you that will allow you to do some interim therapy at home? Worth a chance to ask!
4.       Choose Quality over Quantity. It’s better to spend a little more on one or two good quality pairs of shoes, jeans, etc., than have a closet full of trendy ones that will wear out before the season is over with.
5.       Have a Family Night at Home. Choose one night a week for family time. Board games, movies – whatever your family enjoys dong together. Throw in homemade pizza or subs for a meal, too! Not only will you save on movie or game tickets, gas and more, but you will build a foundation that will outlast any financial storms. You’ll be building lasting, positive memories and bonds that will last a lifetime!

Do you have any tips to share?