A Modern Day Fairy Tale: April 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

And the Dayspring Winner is...

Congrats Kimberly, please check your e-mail for the code to claim your prize!
Thank you to all who entered! I hope to be able to bring you more wonderful Dayspring giveaways in the future!!

If you didn't win, remember the 
Redeemed - Beautiful in Its Time - Vintage Glass Vase is still on sale for the rest of April. In addition to that, Dayspring is having a wonderful Mother's Day Special- 30% off Select Items!! Use the code: MD30off until Monday, May 14th to take advantage of this special!!

Christian Mother's Day Cards and Gifts

Friday, April 20, 2012

Feels Like Home (Craft)

It's been a LONG time since I've posted any type of crafty/DIY post! Too long! As I am working on decorating my house, I've got some great projects in mind, I'm sure I will share in time as I share the progress of my decorating efforts, but I wanted to share with you my favorite project so far:

If you've followed this blog for long, this frame might look familiar. I first posted it here. Somehow the mirror ended up completely falling out of the frame. Rather than trying to reattach, I just decided to re-purpose. I've actually been trying to figure out what to do with it for AGES now...I debated a chalkboard, jewelry holder...so many ideas. But while searching for some decor ideas at Michael's for my bathroom, I stumbled upon this unfinished wooden birdcage and my decision was made! I think I have mentioned previously that I LOVE birds (particularly simple silhouettes like this and love birds). When we moved I decided I wanted to bring that into our bedroom a bit. I also wanted to incooperate our song, Feels Like Home. I think this project did both very well, and I'm so happy with the outcome!

The best part about this project, it was super easy! (Not to mention super cheap! About $10 total!). For the background I simply used poster board, painting tape and acrylic craft paint. This was the hardest part: getting the stripes straight! As I said, the bird cage was found with the wood crafts and all I had to do on that was paint it! And then I used stencils for the lettering. See, easy and cheap! I have big ideas but not the craftiness to back them up, so projects like this are my favorite!! I hope you all enjoy!

Linking up:
Lovely Crafty Home

I Heart Nap Time

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Adjustment Period

I think with any move-be it from one house to another in the same town, or a completely new area, there tends to be an adjustment period. Moving across the country...now that's a HUGE adjustment!

For Matt, it's mostly adjusting to his new job. It's extremely long hours (we don't see him most nights until 10 pm), but regardless, he's loving it so far. He loves the Marine Corps, so going out and talking to people about the Marine Corps is a perfect job for him! It's still not an easy job by any means, but I think when you enjoy what you are doing, it certainly makes for an easier adjustment, and makes the hard parts more worth it!

For myself, there is of course the emotional adjustment (missing my friends in California, trying to make our new home feel like home- when it's not yet sunk in we are staying here, I keep waiting to be told we're moving again). I have been having the hardest time adjusting physically though! Moving from California where there is not a lot of forest, etc to Indiana which is filled with forest and high pollen levels, inconsistent weather patterns, etc..my allergies have gone crazy! (Which in turns makes it hard to get everything that needs to be done, done!) I am finally regaining my voice at least, which is great, though my singing voice is still not at it's best (very annoying!). I hope this passes soon as my body readjusts! Aside from that, I do love knowing that we are just a few short hours away from family.

For Shaun, the adjustment has been the hardest, as we expected. I have mentioned in the past that he does not handle change well. (As is the case for many with Autism.) This move has proved no different. Mostly we see this with his meltdowns- more frequent, triggered by less and more aggressive-primarily towards mommy but also towards himself, which is more difficult than anything. It can certainly be both physically and mentally exhausting!! It breaks my heart to see him struggling with this move as he has been, but I know this will pass as things settle into a new normal so we just have to hold on and stay strong until that happens (and pray it comes quickly!)

Between the adjustment, being sick, unpacking/decorating, dealing with meltdowns, running my Thirty-One business, etc...it's hard to keep up! I hope you will all stick with me until things settle down. And as always, we appreciate all those who have been continually praying for our family during this transition.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dayspring Redeemed Review!

A few months ago, I discovered a wonderful company, Dayspring and instantly fell in love with their inspirational home decor and gifts! So when I was given the opportunity to review a few items from their new Redeemed collection, I jumped at the chance!

I have to say that the Redeemed collection is by far my favorite collection. Not only are the products absolutely gorgeous, but the meaning behind them is just perfect, especially at this time of year! The label attached to each items states it better than I ever could,

"Life is a patchwork of the meaningful things we keep with us- memories, moments, and connections that serve as daily reminders of where we've come from and who our loving Heavenly Father says we are in Jesus. The Redeemed Collection celebrates the way God, in His generous grace, sews together every beautiful bit of our lives to form one masterpiece creation after another.

In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28"

What a beautiful message!! I have always been a firm believer that everything that happens in our life-the good, the bad and the ugly- are part of God's plans for us and all help to shape us into the people we are meant to be, and I think that's just what the Redeemed message is all about- the patchwork of memories. Other verses in the collection share this sentiment as well, "He has made everything beautiful in its time."-Ecclesiastes 3:11 and , "From the fullness of  His grace we have received one blessings after another."- John 1:16. Of course, the products reflect this message perfectly as well with their patchwork styles and the vintage feel. Perhaps it is my love of quilts and all things vintage that attracted me to this collection!!

Okay, onto my opinions on the individual items themselves. The two products Dayspring sent me for this review were the 

The vase is absolutely stunning. It definitely has a vintage feel to it, which I love and I love the verse as well. These pictures do not to it justice! Personally, I'm still trying to decide what to do with mine- flowers, potpourri, decorative balls, a candy jar...the possibilities are endless!! The great thing about this vase is that its so simple, it could easily be worked into any type of decor!

"He has made everything beautiful in it's time."- Ecclesiastes 3:11

Not sure how well you can see in this photo, but the back says 'beautiful'

Now, the coasters could not have come at a more perfect time! If you're already a follower, you know we just moved and are busy getting our lovely new home decorated. (If you're a new follower or visiting from Inspired Deals, you now know too!) One of our recent house purchases were new end tables. Our last set were destroyed by...you guessed it...lack of coasters!! So I had already told my husband no drinks were to be set on these new tables. A few days later I got word from Dayspring that this was one of the items I'd be reveiwing and I could not have been happier!! Not only are they absolutely gorgeous, but they perfectly matched my decor. As I mentioned above, I love quilts, so the patchwork on these really won me over! I also loved the 'Blessed Assurance' coaster...I think it is perhaps my absolute favorite, but each is lovely. And a great quality as well. To be honest, I have acquired quite the collection of items from Dayspring and am always impressed with the quality!! 

I arranged mine in a little patchwork of my own to add more visual interest:)
The Blessed Assurance is among my favorites!

Did I mention I really, really fell in love with this collection? So much in fact that I couldn't stop with just these...I had to purchase the Truly Blessed Mirror and Wooden Wall Cross too. (Not to mention a lovely water bottle, though it's not pictured.) The mirror is my favorite! So far, but my wishlist is still long!

How gorgeous is this?
(the mirror, not my reflection, of course!)
Love the verse!

I love the details of this cross!

For the month of April, select items from the Redeemed Collection are on sale (including the vase and coasters), so be sure to check those out! 

*Disclaimer: These products were sent to me free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. Also, I am an affiliate for Dayspring and links within this post are affiliate links.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Meet Shaun: My 1 in 88

1 in 88 children are now said to be affected by Autism. As you all know, my Shaun is one of them. There is a saying in thr Autism community, "If you know one child with Autism...you know one child with Autism." Every child on the spectrum is completely different- different interests, different strengths and weaknesses. One of the most common comments I hear when people find out he has Autism is, "I would never have guessed. He seems so normal/smart." I no longer care for that word. Normal. For so many, the word Autism brings up images of Rain Man, or a silent child, completely in his world, oblivious to ours. This is far from the truth. So today, I want to introduce you to Shaun, one of the many faces of Autism and some of the things that make him the wonderful, individual little boy he is.

  • He is 4.5 years old.
  • He's obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine (and owns 100s of trains/several tubs full of track), Angry Birds, Pac Man and production companies. Yes, you read that correctly: production companies. He must know who made a movie before watching it, and will 'build' them with his legos or make mommy write them all out.
  • He's scared of movie/tv show credits. Among other random fears.
  • He has an amazing memory. He constantly shocks me with the amazing details he seems to memorize.
  • He can be quite particular/doesn't deal well with change. He will only watch certain movies, must always sit in his seat at the table and so on. For a more specific example, we recently went to McDonald's where he was so excited to get a 'happy meal in a box'...but when he got his meal, it was in a bag...hello meltdown! I honestly thought trading in our truck was going to send him over the edge!
  • He can read. He taught himself to sight read familiar words at just 2 years old, and at 4 can now read full books, both by sight and phonetically. (Which I might add makes going out to eat fun...he always manages to find the desserts section of the kids menu and order from that!) He will also sometimes steal my computer and update my Facebook status for me. 
  • He will be the sweetest boy in the world one minute, and have the worst temper the next. Often it's the simplest of things that can bring on a meltdown.
  • He's very visual. Tell him verbally to do something and you'll be waiting for ages...use pictures or write out his instructions and let him see/read it...he's much more likely to respond well!
  • He knows technology! He can work an iPad/iPhone like a pro and knows all about the internet and computers. We have to watch him carefully because he likes to get on youtube and search Google...oh boy!!
  • He likes to chew...furniture, windowsills, clothes, himself...whatever's accessible. 
  • He likes to give nicknames, typically featuring his favorite things: Thomas trains, Angry Birds, Pac Man...then of course there is Lego Mommy, Lego Shauny and Lego Daddy.
  • He's all boy...he loves playing in the sand, dirt and all things boys love.
  • If he says/does something he enjoys once- he'll want to repeat...again and again and again. Don't start anything entertaining with him unless you intend to be able to keep it going.
  • He sleeps horribly, and always has! He at least does sleep better than he used to, but he has so much energy, it's hard to turn it off.
  • He's not unsocial, but he doesn't always know what is appropriate socially and doesn't communicate as well as what would be expected for typically developing peers (though I have to say he has made astounding progress in this area).

And the list goes on and on and on...he has his struggles, but he also has some amazing talents and all these unique interests that come together to form this amazing little boy who you cannot help but fall in love with. He is not Rain Man. He is not the stereotypical face of Autism many come to expect. He is 100% uniquely Shaun, who just happens to have Autism.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Introducing Lindsay with Stella & Dot!!

As you know, April is Autism Awareness Month, and a few weeks back I was talking with my husband and came up with the idea to feature various companies that either support Autism awareness, or are Autism friendly. A few days later, I saw a post on a blog Little Thoughts by LT about the new Stella & Dot Shine Bracelet, so I contacted her and am proud to introduce my newest sponsor: Stella and Dot consultant, Lindsay Thomas!!

Hi! My name is Lindsay and I am so excited to tell you about an amazing company I work for called Stella & Dot! It is a boutique-style jewelry and accessories company reinventing the home-based business opportunity for the modern woman through its social shopping business platform. Stella & Dot has collections designed by celebrated designers from Anthropologie, Banana Republic and more.  

I am thrilled to announce that during the month of April, Stella & Dot will be launching the new, limited-edition, SHINE Bracelet and 20% of the proceeds will go to Autism Speaks! Since this bracelet is sure to sell out, they’ve also added the Sole Bracelet, Revival Bracelet and Toujours Bracelet to the fundraising cause. That way, if the Shine Bracelet sells out, there will still be another bracelet you can purchase with 20% of the proceeds still going to Autism Speaks! See other pieces you love? During the month, whatever you buy, I will donate 10% of my own commissions to Autism Speaks, too!
Our purchase for a cause bracelets are incredible fundraisers. Last October, we gave over $250,000 to Breast Cancer Awareness! I can’t wait to see what happens with these bracelets and what the total amount will be come May 1! 
The SHINE Bracelet features dark grey braided cord featuring a single pave bead with Czech stones in red, amethyst (my fave), black diamond and topaz!  It has brass casting and 100% nylon woven cord which is adjustable to fit just about every wrist!  This beauty is steal, retailing for only $39.
My goal is to sell 50 SHINE Bracelets and/or Sole Bracelets by the end of April - they would make a great addition to the Easter Basket, Mother's Day gift or a little sparkle for yourself!  If you would like to purchase one online, simply go to http://www.stelladot.com/style/trunkshow/9623831b-7874-11e1-ad30-005056b55330. This link will take you directly to the Autism Speaks show, so at this point, all you need to do is shop! Please let me know if you have any questions! Thank you for your support in helping raise awareness for this powerful disease! 
xo, Lindsay

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Chance For Chandler (Reece's Rainbow)

As you all know by now, while I do tend to focus on Autism around here, I have a soft spot for children with special needs of all kinds. When I was just a freshman in high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to be able to work with a little boy with Down Syndrome. He was three years old, and didn't speak, but he was the sweetest boy! Every morning, I would start my day by heading to the preschool class where I was greeted with a big hug each day. I quickly fell in love, and I could not imagine someone not loving this sweet child. So when I was contacted yesterday by Patricia over at It's A Beckwith Thing, asking me to help her spread the word about her fundraising efforts with Reece's Rainbow, to help a military family adopt a child with Down Syndrome, I knew I wanted to help out.

Did you know that in some countries, children with special needs are still being institutionalized because it is socially unacceptable? I did not, but it breaks my heart to think of these beautiful children, locked away because they happened to be born with an extra chromosome. Reece's Rainbow is a ministry that helps families in the US adopt these special children through grants, fundraising and support through the process. What a wonderful organization! Raising a child with special needs is not easy, and not something most of us really choose for ourselves, so when these families are going out of their way to give a child many would see as 'un-adoptable' a home, is inspiring, and I truly believe they deserve all the aid and support they can be given.

In an effort to raise money and awareness for this cause, Patricia is hosting a giveaway over on her blog. You don't have to donate to win, we all know that times are tough for everyone right now, but just spread the word. You may not personally be able to donate at the time, but perhaps you have friends that can, and perhaps this post/your own post will reach someone who is able to help in a bigger way and, like myself, never knew this type of organization was available. Yes, raising a child with special needs is hard, but it is also one of the greatest blessings I myself could ever have asked for, and I hope in sharing, we can help another family receive their very own blessing as well.

For more information on how you can help, and to enter the giveaway, head over here!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our Introduction Into The World Of Autism

While I have in the past posted about Shaun's Autism, but I realize that I have never fully explained how our journey into this crazy world of Autism began, so I wanted to share our personal story with all of you.

Early on, Shaun seemed to be developing typically. In fact, I had tossed out all those developmental guidelines because frankly, he was seeming to hit them earlier than stated in the books. He started repeating simple words, walked on schedule...he even started using the potty at just 10 months old. We had no worries about his developmental progress.

As a new mommy, I was concerned about giving him his vaccines. By now, we've all heard the theories of vaccines being a cause of Autism. Having a boy, those theories were scary. In fact, I had told a few close friends of mine during my pregnancy I worried about the possibility. Having had a brother with a probable diagnosis of Autism (he passed away before being diagnosed, back in the 80s when so little was known), it was even scarier! I debated and researched and finally talked it out with his doctor at the time. After much discussion, I came to believe that if anything in some children, the vaccines might trigger something that was already there, and this doctor assured me that with a child as social as my Shaun, there was no way he would ever be given that diagnosis. We had nothing to worry about. (Looking back, there were already signs there we had overlooked, I do not believe that FOR SHAUN, the vaccines made the difference, though I have personal friends who have seen otherwise in their own children.)

So anyway, after the vaccines, life went on as normal. Then a few months later, something changed. Shaun stopped using the language he'd had up to that point, and eventually stopped using the potty (he at that point had only been having minimal pee accidents). This happened sometime around 18 months or so. Perhaps this should have been a red flag for me, but we believed these were all just his reaction to all of the changes he had going on at that time. At 15 months old, his daddy returned home from a deployment. We had been staying with family and so we packed up and left everything he knew to return to California. Shortly after, we returned BACK to Indiana/Illinois for about 6 weeks for an extended leave, then back off to California. Within the few months around his 2nd birthday, things continued to be inconsistent. I had read in the past about children being affected by change like this, so I tried not to worry. After all, I had a doctor's assurance that my child would NEVER be diagnosed with Autism...he would catch back up soon enough. But by the time his second birthday came around, he'd not really gotten much of it back...except the lines he was quoting from movies and the songs he was always singing. Not knowing about scripting at that time, I did not find this concerning either...hey, he was talking, right? So I worried less about his speech. But call it a mother's instinct, but something still bothered me, so I talked to his new doctor about my concerns. While his speech 'seemed' to be fine, he was not yet answering any questions, or responding to any simple directions...and really he would only respond to his name when daddy shouted it in a particular tone. Initially the doctor told me not to be concerned, boys tend to develop later than girls, etc...the same lines that most parents with a speech delayed boy have heard, I'm sure. But to humor me, he got down on the floor and tried to interact with Shaun. 'Where's mommy?' No response. 'Where's the car?'. Still nothing. He continued to try to gain his attention and still...absolutely nothing. So he decided to send us to a speech evaluation. (Later I found out that the doctor himself had a child on the spectrum. I truly believe had we had any other doctor that day, it would have taken much longer to get that diagnosis, as it did for so many others. We were very lucky.)

Once we returned home, I turned to Google. Much to my surprise, I found Shaun did indeed have many red flags for Autism. Thankfully, we only had to wait about a week or two to get that speech evaluation. During this evaluation, they went over questions with us about his speech usage, and also his nonverbal communication as well (which at that point was pretty much nonexistent). She then focused on Shaun- asked him questions, tried to get a response...same results we'd seen at his checkup. She concluded that he was certainly behind and suggested a speech group class and a developmental evaluation. No mention of Autism. But knowing my concern, before leaving, my husband asked her about it and she informed us what I'd already found- he did have a lot of red flags.

In retrospect, I am so glad that Matt asked that day, because when I showed up for his first speech class a week later, I was bombarded with terms like IFSP and ABA and GFCF, Regional Center and EFMP...what in the world? As it turns out, this particular speech class was specifically for children on the spectrum. Though the initial shock of being placed in that class was confusing, I learned a lot in his time in the class. They used a lot of sensory play and I came to find out that Shaun was a sensory seeker, and discovered that during super active play, his eye contact was a million times better. We were also introduced to a weighted vest, which improved his focus and again, eye contact greatly. I could truly have not asked for a better introduction.

He had started speech in August, and we had to wait until October for the developmental evaluation. To me, this seemed to take an eternity, but finally October rolled around. Going in, I think I knew what the outcome of that day was going to be, and I tried to prepare myself for that news. I'm not sure you can ever fully prepare yourself for that though. (To make matters worse, my husband was out of state for 6 weeks for training.) This evaluation was done by a childhood psychologist and was again partially questions for me about his behaviors, speech, development, social skills and so on and partially observing and interacting with Shaun. It was one of the longest days in my life. Even having a good idea beforehand, it was hard news to take. Some parents say that the initial diagnosis can come with a sort of a mourning feeling (losing the life they had imagined their child would have)...I can't say that that is exactly how it was for me, but I was certainly sad knowing the struggles and ignorance my child would now have to face. But I left there with an abundance of resources to look into and the knowledge that there were many amazing services available in our area and with therapy, Shaun would still have an amazing future. A week later, Shaun was reevaluated by the San Diego Regional Center, who confirmed that diagnosis and again by a developmental pediatrician, also confirming- not that we had any doubts ourselves. Shaun started ABA therapy immediately after and continued on with his speech (though it was decided that he was not quite ready for the group class).

This was August-October of 2009. Shaun was two years old. Now at four and a half, I cannot believe the progress we have seen in him. So much of this was because of the early intervention he received. Though I believed at the time that I should have seen it earlier, I know now that we are extremely lucky. Our diagnosis process took just a few months. As I said, this seemed like an eternity at the time, but there are so many families who have to fight for YEARS just to get their child evaluated, let alone getting the services in place they needed. I have also heard that many families are given the diagnosis with a sense of hopelessness and nowhere to go from there. Shaun was diagnosed at Rady's Children's Hospital in San Diego, and we were given a huge packet with everything we needed to know. Ours is unfortunately a very rare case it seems. I am not sure how or why we got so lucky, but I am certainly glad we did.

I suppose the greatest thing to be taken from our story is to follow your instincts. Had I not followed mine and talked to the doctor about my concerns, God only knows where we would be today. If you have even the slightest concerns about your child's development, bring it up to your doctor. It could be absolutely nothing, but if there is something going on, early intervention makes the biggest difference. At just four years old, Shaun has countless hours of therapy behind him that have brought him to where he is now, and I would not trade this boy for anything in the world.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Autism Awareness Wreath How-To

Nearly a year ago, I shared this post with a simple Autism Awareness wreath I had made. It was nothing fancy, just a super simple craft I'd put together with what I happened to have lying around, but it is by far my most popular post of all time...in large part, I recently realized  because of Pinterest, where it had been pinned several hundred times...what an honor. I have had several people question on how I made it. Because I could not e-mail some of those people back directly, and in honor of Autism Awareness month, I am posting again with the very easy instructions!

What You Need: Embroidery Hoop, Puzzle Pieces, Paint, Ribbon, Magnet, Glue Gun

First, paint your puzzle pieces. (Personally I painted all by hand, but you could use spray paint to be faster.)
Then, simply hot glue each piece onto the the embroidery hoop. I had a set pattern I used, making sure they were in order of color and tried to keep one color from sticking out too much by alternating which pieces were on top, but really it doesn't matter either way! Then, I took a ribbon and a larger puzzle piece and hung that down the center. For mine, I attached a magnet to the back, as our door was magnetic...you can get creative with your own...use additional ribbon, whatever. And that's really it...very, very simple! Enjoy!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Autism Awareness Day 2012

As some of you may already know, the month of April is Autism Awareness month, and today, April 2nd, is Autism Awareness Day. Throughout this month, I plan on bringing you posts relating to the topic- ranging from our personal journey and the facts, to featuring companies that support Autism Awareness. My hope is that one person will learn something from these posts and pass it on to others.

The new statistics now say that 1 in 88 children are affected by Autism. (1 in 54 boys, 1 in 252 girls). With numbers like this, if you do not yet personally know someone affected, you likely will in the near future. And yet I am still astounded by the amount of ignorance still out there on the topic. 

About a week ago, we were out to eat when Shaun had a horrible, public meltdown. My Shaun is most certainly a screamer (and a hitter, and a kicker...and yes, even a biter) and it wasn't pretty, but it isn't something we were used to and were actively dealing with...we'd only been in the restaurant about a minute (our drink orders had not even been taken yet), and had we been left to our own devices, he'd have been calmed in just a minute more. In the past, we've received a lot of dirty, 'what kind of parent are you' looks. Those I am used to as well, but what happened next still upsets me. A man in the next booth turns and yells, not at us the parents, but at my child! First and foremost, I believe it is inappropriate to yell at another person's child anyway, but when my husband calmly tried to explain to this man that our child had Autism and we were calming him down, etc...he continued to go on and call my son rude and just be incredibly hateful. You know those situations where sometimes it's not the words that are said, but the tone in which they are said...that was this type of situation. I truthfully cannot remember all that was said, but I remember the ignorance and the hatefulness from this man. It broke my heart and I had to scoop up Shaun and leave the restaurant. Sadly, while this is the first situation we have personally faced to this extreme, I know that it happens all too often, and I fear that as my little man gets older-and his actions are seen less socially appropriate for his age- that it is a scene we will have to face again.

So often, people see a child 'misbehaving' and are quick to judge. 'Oh, he's so spoiled.', 'They're bad parents.', 'He's just a bad kid.'...they do not take the time to consider that there is something deeper going on and that you cannot simply 'spank the Autism away'. Our child is disciplined. We have therapists who have come in and helped us with his behavior issues and actively try to keep things under control. But people do not see this, all they see is a screaming child, ready to throw himself off the table. 

It is not just public meltdowns. My son is a runner, and for that reason, at 4 he is still occasionally in a stroller. And though we rarely use it, we also have a strap that goes around his wrist and mine if we need it. Some parents use the harnesses. At this age, many deem these as inappropriate as well, but we see them as a necessary precaution...I'd rather get ugly looks from parents than to lose my child in a crowd or God forbid, run in front of a moving car! Sometimes, he licks thing (or chews, or bites)...these are things we are working on. Shaun has many other little traits that some might see as unusual, but most of his aren't seen by the general public- for other kids it can be much more obvious-hand flapping, rocking, etc. People often see them as weird or worse, and never take the chance to see them for who they truly are.

There is also a common misconception that individuals with Autism are dumb. I think this one is the absolute worst because I know it to be far from the truth. I have told my husband several times- I was an honor roll student in school, straight A's, National Honor Society, I read early, participated in academic teams, etc- but even at four years old, I can tell that this boy is going to be smarter than I could ever have dreamed of being. At only 2 years old, he taught himself to read sight words...at 4 he reads books like a pro, much to the shock of everyone around him. He has recently begun learning how to count to 100, and has just about mastered that! His speech may have developed later than that of his peers, and he may still not communicate at the level that he should, but his mind is simply amazing. It may work a bit differently than that of a 'typical' child, but that does not mean it is less. (I will later share some other great minds suspected of being on the spectrum...it is truly astounding!)

It is for these reasons, this ignorance, that raising awareness is so very important. I do not want my son to be seen as 'that Autistic kid', but rather 'that amazing, genius of a boy who just happens to have Autism'. I don't want him to be judged and thought of as less than, when I know he is capable of so much. I don't want people to look down on him and call him rude or dumb or God forbid use the r-word, because I know that he is the sweetest, most lovable, smartest boy I know. I want him to go through life without having to deal with the jerks like the man at the restaurant but rather to be given the support, understanding and respect that he deserves. I want the world to embrace and accept him as the amazing individual that he is, Autism and all. And not just for him, but for his friends and ALL affected by Autism.

So today, this month and always, I ask you to join me in spreading awareness. Share this post, write your own. Wear blue in support of Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue campaign. Donate to one of the many Autism charities. Sign up for your local Walk Now For Autism Speaks. Change your FB photo to a child you love affected by Autism, or a photo of yourself wearing blue, holding a sign- whatever, get creative! Use pinterest, Facebook, Twitter...buy an Autism Awareness magnet for your car! (I have a fellow Autism mom friend who covers her car window with the stats during April!) I would love to hear about all of your efforts, and a huge thank you in advance!