Friday, April 4, 2014

April is Autism Awareness Month! Sign up for the First Giveaway!

Well, if you stop by every now and again, you know April is a big month at our house. Time to spread the awareness:

New Research is showing now 1 in 68 US kids is diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in the US.  It effects all of us and awareness is so very important. Talk to your kids about autism.  As a parent of a child with autism, one of the big struggles we deal with is social interaction.  Again, please talk to your kids about autism, we need more awareness and understanding from the younger generation, from the peers of these amazing kids. 

I can see it in my mind like it was yesterday, all the time I spent with my grandparents. We grandkids always knew when Papa was coming or going cuz we would hear the garage door open. Out to the yard I would run; into the swealtering heat of Mesa Arizona, and hop up on the block fence that met up just by the garage.
"Where you going, Papa?" I would ask. Or, "Where've you been, Papa?" if he was just returning.
"Oh, out for a circle" was always his answer.

Being in the autism world now for six years, I can pretty much say I have walked a full circle on how I view the autism "epidemic". Where now I cringe when I see a book that uses words like, "curing", "preventing" or "healing" autism in their title, I now open books like, Autism with Honor, and  The Spark, and Autism and the God Connection.  Books that inspire me... not make me feel the guilt of giving my son autism.

I still get e-mails from people with links to articles I should read, books that would help Race and I, new studies I should read about to cure him, new teaching strategies I should use with him, new therapy programs... the list goes on. And six years ago, I would have tried it all. And three years, I would have probably cried at how I'm not doing a good enough job because look, other people think I am failing. And now... I take what I want from it. Toss alot of it, give my feedback on some, and the stuff that truly applies to me, sure I'll use.

A circle.

Six years ago, I was asking why. I was angry and scared (I still do this on bad days. And in stressful social situations, it is amazing how quick I fall back into this anxious state). Three years ago I would have been taking lorazapan my doctor perscribed me so I could sleep through the anxiety. Today, I know that despite what any of the research says, what any of the preventativs are, that Race is Race. And Heavenly Father gave him, me, and our family this trial. And he is one of my greatest teachers. He is good and kind naturally. He carries a piece of Heaven with him everywhere he goes. I feel so lucky to be his mom. And you know what else? Today more than ever, I know that Heavenly Father has been preparing me, my whole life to be a mother of such an amazing kiddo, and an advocate for others.

A circle.
  • When I was in high school, I coached Special Olympics. 
  • My elective was to help out in the special ed room and all the students who visited there were my friends. I looked out for them.
  • I took many special ed, and iep writing classes in college until I changed my emphasis to writing.
A circle.

Mariah was a girl in the class I student taught in. She has autism. She was not in the regular class with us very much. She spent alot of her time in the special education room, but would come to class with us for story time, electives, field trips, etc. Mariah was such a fun girl. I loved her, and she loved me. And just like always, just like when I was a kid, or a teenager: I looked after her.

Well, at the time I was student teaching, I was pregnant with Race. It was early, and with him being my first, I didn't show for a while. None of the students knew I was pregnant. None of the staff knew I was pregnant except Sara, the teacher I student taught under (who is still a big part of my life). She was the only one who knew. So, you can imagine the surprise when one morning, when I was dismissing for recess and Mariah came to give me one of her hugs and she paused. I didn't think much of it, but she hugged me again and looked up at me with a big grin.
"You have a baby in there." It was a statement. Not a question.
"What, Mariah?"
"You have a baby in your tummy."
I looked around, not wanting any of the other kids to hear her. And they hadn't. They were out on the playground by now. I knelt down so I was eye level with Mariah. And I can still see those innocent, knowing eyes. Those eyes that saw the world through an amazing, gifted, angelic mind. "Mariah. Shhhh. You can't tell. Not yet."
She giggled in agreement before bounding off to the playground.

I think about Mariah alot. I wonder what happened to her. She would have graduated last year. But some days when I see Race do things that don't make any sense to the world, or when I see Race forgive kids easily who have been unkind, or when he is so quick to appologize when he has wronged someone, or the fact that he just doesn't know how to lie. Or when he is being the peace-maker in our home. I think of Mariah. And I want to tell her, "Mariah, guess what? You know that baby that was in my tummy? He kind of sees the world the way you do..."

A circle.

And once again, I will be hosting my own Autism Awareness Giveaway where every week during the month of April, some of my favorite books will be given away. 

And the book this week is:

Autism and the God Connection
by: William Stillman


*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, and remember to spread the awareness!


Jennifer Lewis said...

Thank you so much for sharing your amazing son. He is Rachel's best best friend.

Vanessa said...

Thanks Teddy, I always enjoy seeing the pics. of your family. Sending lots of positive thoughts and love your way.


Mary Bordes said...

Nurturing and informative are the two words that most quickly come to mind!

I have library books due to be returned – Thanks to you I have several recommended reads that look inspiring.

Thank you so much for sharing your wondrous blog/your amazing family with me! J

Janice said...

Armstrong family - Your last name has strong in it and it is so appropriate because your family is so strong - in the Gospel, accepting challenges, inspiration for others, and willing to be an advocate for your son, etc. I admire you. I have a student who has just been diagnosed with autism. Can you recommend a book, website, etc? I hope I win again this year, I couldn't put last year's book down!!! Janice Lay

Julie Bosen said...

I loved what you wrote in your blog, Teddy! I will send it to my niece and nephew, both who have an oldest autistic child and to my friend, Jolyn, who has Logan, a big love of any of us in Round Valley who knows him.

Jen Turrell said...

Hi Teddy! How are things? It seems like it has been so long since we've seen you. Did I tell you about the Flagstaff Autism Families Facebook Group that I started? I would love for you to join and meet up with us sometimes if you are ever up for the drive and everything. Or maybe we could just get our families together to hang out some weekend or something.

Thanks for sending this to us! It is great to read your blog and see how things have been going for you guys.

silverladyaz said...

One amazing son of a truly amazing mom. Of course, the whole family is amazing to us! We love you.


Teddy- thank you for making sure that information about Autism is out there. It helps to see a different positive side.
love you and your sweet family.

Adriane said...

I loved reading this post. You are an amazing mom and a force for good in our world. Autism awareness is SO important. For Race's sake. For my brother Luke's sake. For every person and every family who is touched by autism. Thank you for sharing experiences and feelings that are so very personal. Lots of love for you and my boy Race!

~"Auntie" Adri

Sarah said...

Awesome, Ted. As always.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being an advocate for autism awareness. We need more people carrying this message to the families and kids in our community. Love you friend!