Thursday, April 1, 2010

Light It Up Blue

"A Proud Mom To Many" is going blue for autism awareness. Over the past few years, autism has flirted with my own life. A diagnosis of autism has been bandied about, casually rejected at times, stringently scrutinized at others, as an attempt to 'explain' my son. While doctors continue to argue about the 'right' label for my child, one thing that I know for certain is this...there are many families affected by autism. Those families deserve anything and everything that we can do to show our support for them. Stacey of Willowjak Boys, has some amazing suggestions for what we can do in support of Autism Awareness Month.

I will be honest with you. My thoughts that will follow, aren't going to be censored by my desire to not offend, or for any modicum of political correctness. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea click away. If you aren't clicking away, please consider my intent, which isn't to hurt anyone, but to tell my story.

When I first heard "autistic" as a description for what might be wrong with H, I walked out of the doctor's office. I was certain that the doctor was crazy. Autism to me, meant Rain Man, and my son was definitely not anything like Rain Man. That was before I heard the word 'spectrum' in conjunction with autism.

I searched for a different doctor. I wanted one that was less prone to medicate and offer a glib diagnosis. It took quite some time. During that time, I learned quite a bit. I learned about autism, conventional medicine, homeopathic medicine, and lots of other things that the tiny streams and small tributaries of those large rivers led me to.

I met people with autistic children. I met the children themselves. I saw that I was ignorant about so many things. I was ignorant to everything that a mainstream doctor with a cookie cutter practice didn't tell me about. I was compelled by the parents I met along the way. I was able to identify with them, and their children, better than anyone else.

It is without a doubt that I can tell you that Hercules exhibits many of the same traits that autistic children have. Does that mean he is autistic? No, it doesn't. He might have ADHD, he might just be a 'high maintenance' child, or he might be something else. I can tell you that the things we have done to improve the quality of his life, and as a by product, our own...have all been suggested and then implemented after talking to our doctor, by friends who deal with autism daily. Controlling my son's yeast levels (or trying to) made a huge difference in his behavior. Going GFCF, practically gave me a different child. Certain supplements made dietary infractions less severe. Others helped him to sleep better. Yet more, helped to calm him down and allay some of his anxiety.

Parents of children with autism have become some of my favorite people, most trusted confidants, and my mentors. They are my friends. They are my family. They are a brilliant support system. They cared not, that we didn't 'know' what was wrong with our son, they cared that they could help. Whether is was to send me a recipe, tell me about their day, or recommend a book...the parents of autistic children have done something that the rest of us lay folks can't seem to do. They embrace their differences, offer unconditional love and support, and withhold judgement.

I am humbled by them. I am even more humbled by their children. The brilliance of their smiles that convey what their words might not. The intelligence that burns behind their eyes, solving puzzles, completing tasks, sometimes without offering any insight to the observer as to what is fueling their fires. The anguish that they wear, at times untouched by even their parents' compassion. The triumphs that they celebrate and strive for each day.

Don't be like I was, don't let Dustin Hoffman's role define what you know, ignorance is not bliss. I can't promise that you won't be sad. I can't promise that there is a happy ending for everyone. I can promise that you won't regret taking the time to better educate yourselves. I can promise that after doing so you will be compelled to contribute, even in a small way, as I am doing, to Autism Awareness Month.

Finally, I am going to give you some links to bloggers who have autistic children, where better to start than from the horse's mouth? Pick one or two and read their stories.


  1. I don't see how that could offend anyone, Viv!

  2. Wow - you managed to go GFCF? That's hard! Has it really helped?

  3. Thank you. This is lovely and smart. Your dedication as a parent is remarkable. Of course we all say "I'd do anything for my child" but your dedication is truly remarkable. Congratulations. You will grow an amazing adult....I believe it.

  4. This is a beautiful post. Our society is so stuck on finding a label, I do wish they would just focus on helping the whole family! Identifying their needs, what makes their lives better, easier, more fulfilling.
    Sounds like you have found an incredible support system.