Sunday, April 7, 2013

Autism Awareness Giveaway, Week 2!!

This last week we had a break through. I call it a small miracle.

Race and I walked into Bobby's office last Friday. Bobby is our new Speech Therapist through DDD and her office is a new place to us.

When Race first gets to a new environment that we have to commit to (a place where he knows he will be spending time, and it's not just a one time thing), he needs time to get to know the place. He needs to look in the different rooms, around corners, turn on the light switches, look out the windows, etc. Even if he's never going to be in those other parts of the environment, he needs to know they are there. And he walks around, almost fidgety, and anxiously inspecting the new place. It is a time when one can clearly see his autism. However, it usually never occurs to other people that he is nervous. But I've always known that's why he does it.

So on our first visit to Bobby's office, Race went through the routine of getting to know his new environment. And Bobby was so good to take him on a grand tour of the place. Once he and Bobby finally sat down at the table to get started on exercises, I found a place out in the lobby with my book. I could hear the discussion between the two of them because we were the only ones in the building that morning and Lane was at the library with Jo Birch.

Bobby wanted to start off with a game because she could tell Race was having a hard time settling in. She asked him a question, and honestly I don't even remember the question because I was in and out of the pages in my book. But he didn't respond. So then she asked, "Race, do you understand what I'm asking?"

And then the answer came. And I heard it as clear as a bell.

"Yes, I understand. But I'm just feeling nervous."

He said it.

A milestone.

He recognized, and then took ownership of his feelings. And then he expressed them. On his own.

A milestone.

Bobby and Race slowly settled into their lesson, and I sat out in the lobby and cried a few quiet tears of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for the small miracles in our lives...

Because, five years ago, at the age of four, Race was pretty much non-verbal. We weren't sure if he would ever talk. And it was something nobody could ever answer for us because the spectrum is so broad and every case is different.

But then, the one and two word phrases came. And then he started reading. And I think the learning to read helped him start to formulate his broken sentences.

And then with time, the two way exchanging of conversation replaced the reciting of movie scenes.

And now, he is expressing his feelings on his own. Without being coached through it.

A miracle, when you think about where he was five years ago and all the catching up he has had to do.

And we are still playing catch up, and probably will be for a while. Race currently does three hours a week of intense speech therapy. Two of those hours are done through Connections Academy where he works with the fabulous Alison Graham of Pennsylvania via web cam. And the other hour is done now with Bobby through our DDD services.

Many people with high functioning autism struggle with speech throughout their lives. It is the single item that often separates what is labeled as high functioning autism and aspergers. Race may struggle with speech his entire life. Especially in emotional situations where he is upset or excited. It is in those moments that his speech delay is very noticeable.

It is hard work on his part, and sometimes I can see his frustration when he has something important to say and it just doesn't come out the way he wants it to.  He has to work so hard, to clear his mind of all the distractions so he can focus on getting his sentence said correctly.  And on busy days, days with lots of social interaction and lots of talking, he rests his head on his pillow and tells me he needs to rest his brain. Or that his brain hurts.


So this week's giveaway is for another one of my favorite books. Because this book really helped me have a better understanding of the way Race thinks. Because like Temple, Race thinks in pictures. And if you haven't seen the movie, it's a good one. Very well done.

This week's giveaway is:

*You do NOT have to be a follower to enter.
*I will have one copy of a different book every week, so be sure to check back weekly.
 *One winner will be announced every Friday, and a new book drawing up on Mondays.
*To be entered in the drawings, please leave your name and a way to contact you in the comment area of this post.  Also, we are all effected by autism in one way or another: tell us about it in your comment if you like.

Thanks for stopping by. :)


Jennifer Lewis said...

Yay!!!!!!!! Race.

Mom and Dad said...


Robin Cannon said...

I finally got time to come over to your blog, and I absolutely love that Race is doing so well. You know that he and the rest of your family are near and dear to me. Lots of love sent your way! Hugs!

Michelle said...

I always cry, ok, alot when I read your blog. Your family is so special. You are so amazing. Thank you for sharing and touching us all. You were hand picked for your job too ;).

Sarah said...

This is an awesome breakthrough! Hooray Race! Hooray Teddy! Hooray Armstrong family! I can't even begin to say how much I admire what all of you are doing every day.

Adriane said...

What great news! Race is such a good student. I'm so happy that he is learning and growing the way he is. He's such a bright and thoughtful guy, and I love having two-way conversations with him about geography, math problems, and Mario!

Deanna B said...

PTL!! :) way to go Armstrong family.

Wendy Cooley said...

Hey you :) I love your blog spot! I wasn't sure if I am signed up on your site or not LOL I am not too tech savvy....
Love you!

Jen Turrell said...

Hi Teddy, how have things been going? Seems like it's been ages since I saw you last. It is a bit sad about the ASA chapter going down. Susan, Laura and I have been talking about having an informal group that just gets together at a coffee shop or somewhere every month or so with whoever else would want to come. Just somewhere to talk from time to time. I know it's a long way to drive for you, but let me know if you'd like to come too. Maybe a bbq at our place this summer or something.

Hope you are well!
Thanks for sharing the blog.

Marilyn Roberts said...

In complete agreement with all these comments. Your blog is beautiful, Teddy, and like Robin, I'm just poking in to read it. What a surprise to find Temple Grandin right there smiling at me. She is a wonderful person.The movie is amazing and the little bit of time I've seen her or heard her story on television.

Here's to a wonderful family, with lots of love and caring. Hugs!


Alison Graham said...

I am honored to be a part of Race's life.... He blesses my day! Love the blog Teddy!
One of the items on my "50 Before 50 List" is to meet Temple Grandin... another is to be mentioned in a blog of some one I respect! Thanks for making my day by allowing me to cross that one off! xo

Sara Coker said...

Went to Team-Armstrong and read through each posting and loved each picture. I cried for Race's miracle and share in your joy. You and John have been blessed with three amazing, unique sons. Thank you for letting me be a part of your family!

-Grandma Sara

A.J. said...

I love this little anecdote--and love that things are going so well for Race! : ) So often we are blessed with tender mercies from Heavenly Father--right when we didn't know we needed them. Keep on keeping on!