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If Only Life Was a Musical

submitted by kidspeak

Everyone likes at least one genre of music if not several. As adults music can serve many different purposes. We listen to music because we like it. It can help with our emotional states….music can calm us down and decrease our stress. Music can pep us up and get our energy going. Music can help us focus on important tasks. Music can be a social outlet. Music can also help us learn. This is the same for children.


submitted by juliehornok

In honor of Father’s Day, I bring to you a guest blog from the Greatest Father on the Planet: my husband, Greg. I will admit there have been times of frustration when I felt that I was doing “it all” for autism. I researched, I scheduled, I lived and breathed autism 24/7. Then I realized Greg was doing “his all” to provide for autism, and that in itself is enough to send most guys packing.

Here is Greg’s very real account of how autism has affected him:
by Greg Hornok
I will never be nominated for Father of the Year by any autism association. In fact, by most measures, I am a completely inadequate father for the special needs that my wonderful daughter, Lizzie, requires.
I am not naturally prone to have patience, understanding, or even a great deal of sympathy. I come home from work tired and little bit irritable. I have worried about the money we have spent on therapy over the last several years. I have worried that the decisions of which therapies to use were the right ones. I have worried way too much about the toll that autism has taken on my marriage and the relationship with our other kids.

When Manners Don’t Matter

submitted by juliehornok

Because I tend to want to look good myself, I often find myself expecting my kids to do what makes me look good to others. Sit still, be quiet, don’t talk too loud, smile nicely, fold you napkin in your lap, get good grades in school, and excel in your sport. This list goes on and on and on. When my second child was born, I quickly realized that it was going to be impossible for me to continue parenting in this way.
Lizzie was diagnosed with autism shortly after her second birthday. At this time, I had begun learning what made her different and what her needs were. The only problem was that this often conflicted with the social norm.
One day I decided to meet my husband for lunch with Lizzie. We ordered at the counter and then quickly sat at an open table as we waited for our food. Lizzie hadn’t been out of the house in weeks. Between her rigid therapy schedule and the fact that it was difficult to keep her from wandering, it was easier to just stay home.
Shortly after we got to our table, Lizzie stood up in the booth, gripped the edge and started jumping. At first it was just harmless little bounces. Then it turned into huge jumps where she appeared to be using all her strength to slam her feet as hard as she could down on that booth.

One Mother’s Sacrifice Is Another Mother's Lifeline

submitted by juliehornok

“When God closes a door, He opens a window.” (Author unknown)
As I stood in front of 80 moms at the National Autism Association of North Texas Autism Moms’ Evening Out on May 4th, I was in awe of all the hard work, determination and love that was packed into one room. The inner strength of this group of women was truly inspiring.
As my eyes scanned the room, bouncing from face to face in the crowd, I was humbled by the fact the each of these women had traveled the same road I had...and all had become stronger, braver and more compassionate than they once were. Some were familiar faces that brought back memories from a specific struggle in my autism journey. Others were new faces. But it didn’t matter, we already knew each other.
For each of us had heard those dreaded words, “Your child has autism.” Each of us has stumbled trying to put our child back together again piece-by- piece. And each of us has our own book-worthy story. The stories my differ in the details, but in the end we all want the same thing….healing for our child.

Guest Blog: Summer Camp for My Son and Yours

submitted by lawilcox

Summer Camp for My Son and Yours: New Beginning for Teens and Adults with Autism
By Angela Day
”Unteachable.” That’s the label our school district put on my son, Mason Day, when he was three years old. They anchored him behind a desk and had him do the same task over and over…then wondered why, halfway through the year, he stopped doing it correctly.
Possibly because he was bored?
That never occurred to the school. When he was four years old, I started teaching him at home using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a teaching style targeted to children with autism. Within three months he went from completely non-verbal to a vocabulary of 123 words. By age seven he was promoted, with supports, to a regular classroom.
Speed forward a decade. Mason is in 11th grade and is 18 years old. He has worked at Hobby Lobby, the Lutheran Church, and TJ Max. He also volunteers at the Recycling Plant, one of the best unpaid helpers they’ve had. Mason works hard, stays on task, and strives for perfection, but recycling is not really satisfying to him. He feels unchallenged because he’s not working in his field of interest.

Guest Blog: The Runner Sweatband - Only Green Lights Here!

submitted by lawilcox

Throughout the month of April, in honor of Autism Awareness Month, Maureen Bordelon has shared some guest blog posts from her website and blog, My Autism Hat Rack. On this journey as parents of children with autism, we do have to learn to wear many new hats. In this post, Maureen writes about wearing a running sweatband to chase (and keep safe) her little runner. As this is a common and frightening issue many families face, I I hope find Maureen's post - with details about what worked in their home - interesting and helpful! ~Leigh
The "Runner Sweatband"- Only Green Lights Here!
By Maureen Bordelon
I gave birth to Jonathan when I was 34 years young and as most new Mamas, I wanted to lose the “baby” weight. Of course, it was the bagel sandwiches, Tex-Mex and stuffed jalapenos that put on the “baby” weight - not really the baby, but it sounds better - right? Little did I know, I would drop the baby weight when Jonathan started walking…correction running at 14 months old.
Yep - we had a Runner! This might sound “advanced, cool, active” to most people, but if you have a child on the spectrum – RUNNING was a very scary “characteristic” of autism in our home.

Double-Edged Hope

submitted by juliehornok

As Autism Awareness Month wraps up, I feel a bit guilty about the bah humbug attitude I have had this year. Maybe it is because I have been at dealing with autism for over seven years, and I just don’t feel like getting in the “spirit of autism” this year.
In the beginning, I remember the rush each April would bring. I had never had a cause before, and it felt good to give back and to do something that mattered. I was going change the world, and I was going to do it all in one month! I helped at a booth at the mall, I gave a huge autism awareness cake to the school, I wrote articles for the school newsletters, wore my "Green Our Vaccines" shirt everywhere, posted all kinds of stuff on Facebook and even stood with a sign in an autism-related protest.
Now seven years later, quite frankly, I am tired of autism. I am tired of the fact that there are endless treatments to try for my daughter, and the guilt that goes along with picking and choosing which to try. If I try one new treatment, what if the other one was the one that was going to work for her? Usually we are doing so many treatments at the same time, how do I know which, if any, are really making the difference? When can I ever rest with the peace-of-mind that I have done everything I can do and just accept who she is?

Circle Of Life

submitted by juliehornok

When I hear the words “circle of life,” my brain clicks to Elton John belting out,
It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

and I picture Simba’s dad from the Lion King holding him up with pride, presenting him to the entire world. This is so sweet and sentimental, how can you not love it?
One afternoon, the words “circle of life” took on a whole new meaning. The circle of life was not only sweet and sentimental, but could also be downright hilarious.

World Autism Awareness Day 2012

submitted by lawilcox

Last March (2011) as World Autism Awareness Day approached, I wrote a post – Autism = The New Normal? Here’s what I wrote at the end of the post:
“As April approaches, I say bring on the awareness and bring on a ton of added acceptance for individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorders, too. Please. But, let us not forget for a moment that we (as a society) need to focus on prevention in a big way. While we don’t fully understand what is 'causing' Autism Spectrum Disorders, we do know there are likely environmental and genetic components – probably working in tandem to create this group of symptoms we presently label ASD. These kids are often very physically ill in a variety of ways, have impaired communication skills, struggle with gross and fine motor skills, experience significant social challenges, and must learn to live with developmental delays, repetitive behaviors/focuses and often cognitive challenges. Autism is exhausting. Autism is expensive. Autism takes a heavy toll on families. And yet, Autism is continually increasing…
This spring, my prayers include thanks to God for the many blessings present in my life, but I’m also praying for future, unbiased studies which will address Autism causation and prevention. We need answers and guidance.
Autism may very well be the new 'normal' if we don’t turn things around soon.
Do you feel the same nagging sense of urgency?”

Now, as I reread my words on the heels of the CDC’s announcement last week that 1 in 88 American children (and 1 in 54 boys) lives with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (up from their last estimate of 1 in 110), I feel a sense of urgency more than ever before.


submitted by juliehornok

Sometimes living life with Autism is like living life inside a pressure cooker. It takes every crack or instability in your life and bursts it wide open. The pressure it puts on a family physically, mentally and financially can leave even the strongest person emotionally standing on a ledge, wondering if she should jump.
Right about the time I was emotionally on that ledge, Lizzie decided to put herself physically on top of a ledge. This ledge was about 8 feet long, 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall of solid concrete. It was not enclosed because it was actually the corner of a balcony. The size of the ledge wasn’t the problem. The problem was that the balcony was 15 stories high.

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