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I want make a difference!

I am a pageant queen! I have also been diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) which is on the autism spectrum. I am a fourth grade special education student. I am busy with my gymnastics, dance, swim team and cheerleading. I love to read and play with my dogs. I get sad when I see people who are unhappy or who do not have any friends. I want to help them.

I have written two books about my life since being adopted from a Russian orphanage. I am also one of the youngest children in the country to have received an award from the Kohl's Kids Care Scholarship Program which recognizes young people who made a difference in their community. In addition, I have raised thousands of dollars to help children in need (especially special needs children) and their families. Since I spent the first year of my life in a Russian orphanage, I have had a long way to go to make it to the pageant stage. Since September 2014, I have competed in 29 pageants winning 28 pageant titles. My pageant platform is "special needs means special abilities - the importance of self-advocacy for individuals with disabilities". I sincerely believe that individuals with disabilities can achieve great things in life and make a tremendous positive difference in the lives of others. When I grow up, I want to be a role model for others and start my own charitable foundation that will support children with special needs.

Kelsey Norris
Bonaire, GA

MY SPECIAL BOY HAROLD ETHAN GUESS

HAROLD ETHAN GUESS IS A WONDERFUL AND SPECIAL CHILD TO ME HE IS SUCH A VERY HYPER CHILD AND HAS ALOT OF LEARNING DISABILITIES CAUSE WHEN HE WAS FOUR YEARS OLD HE WAS TESTED AND THE DOCTOR SAID THAT HE SCORED REALLY LOW AND THAT HE HAD ADHD SO THAT WAS ONE THING AND THEN IN A YEARS TIME I COULD SEE OTHER SIGNS OF SOME THING TOTALLY SO I HAD HIM TESTED AGAIN AND COME TO FIND OUT HE ALSO HAD AUTISM AND THAT HE WILL BE A SLOWER LEARNER THAN OTHERS BUT LIKE I TOLD HIM THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT GOD MADE HIM ATHT WAY I CARRIED HIM JUST A LITTLE BIT LONGER THAN I SHOULD HAVE HE WAS SUPPOSE TO BE BORN AUGUST 17 BUT HE WAS BORN SEPTEMBER FIFTH SO HE HAS ALOT OF DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS IN SCHOOL AND HERE AT HOME BUT I ALSO NOTICED THAT HE HAS TO HAVE THINGS A CERTAIN WAY WHEN HE IS PLAYING AND HE THINKS THAT HE SHOULDN'T BE LIKE THIS LIKE I TOLD HIM HE IS SPECIAL IN HIS OWN WAY AND HE HAS A IMAGINARY FRIEND HE TALKS TO ALL THE TIME WHEN IS PLAYING BY HIS SELF BUT IT IS A EVERY DAY STRUGGLE CAUSE MOST OF THE BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS ARE THE MOST THING THAT I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT CAUSE HE CAN BE SO LOVING ONE MINUTE AND THEN MEAN THE NEXT AND HE IS SO SMART AT CERTAIN THINGS

CRYSTAL MARIE WELDON
MADISON, TN

My sweet little boy

this is Nohlan my sweet, fun, loving and always smiling 3 1/2 year old. Nohlan was diagnosed with ASD sensory disorder a few weeks ago while my husband and I have done so much research on the symptoms of an ASD child we had Nohlan tested he tested at high functioning sensory disorder. Nothing in this world means more to us than our children Nohlan is the youngest of four brothers each day he is leaning new adventures and learning to speak. We are so blessed to have Nohlan in our lives he brightens our world everyday!

Amy
Oak harbor, WA

disney world trip

My son is a wonderful 11 year old boy with autism who has waited a very long time to see Mickey and all the other characters at Disney world. I was wondering if there was anything that Disney can do to make our sons trip come true at seeing Mickey I don't make a lot of money and we live on a 1 single income which is mine my husband cannot work due to health issues. so please if someone can find it in their heart to make our sons dream come true at seeing Mickey it would just make me so happy. our son has a wonderful and loving heart and to have him just get to see Mickey and everyone else would mean the world to us. we are planning on coming down to that area and to Disney around the 11 or 12th of march and I went to see how much ticket prices are for a family of 5 and it will cost a lot with being on a single income that is a lot for us to afford. and with the cost of airfare being high we are driving instead of flying so if there is anything that you or anyone could do to help make our 11 years old child with special needs dream come true it would be wonderful.

thanks

jonnie ojedis

Jonnie Ojedis
pen argyl, PA

Misdiagnosed! Why Autism Awareness is Important!

Our son has always been a special guy. He was a happy baby who learned to run before he walked. He didn’t talk much but we figured that would come later. At the age of 2, we noticed he was a little behind developmentally. He was extremely hyper and we just figured, “typical boy.” At 3, he had stitches in his head TWICE in 6 months because I could not keep him in one place. He was FAST! The doctor diagnosed him with ADHD and shortly after, medicated him for his own safety. When school started, we realized how far behind he was; it was a major developmental delay. We knew he was special and did things differently. He spent hours lining up toys by colors/shapes. He was quiet and didn’t want to be touched. He spent years in speech therapy. Doctor said he would out grow it. Flash forward to age 12, he was 53 inches tall and 67 pounds. After years of doctors, we finally got a REAL diagnosis. Our son has autism with huge delays. The ADHD overshadowed the autism. He was misdiagnosed; for 9 years we’ve been treating him for ADHD. I was shocked at first but then I realized all the signs were there. I’ve known most of his life that there was more than ADHD. Seems like forever ago, but it’s only been a year. He has an IEP at school, less medicated and has only gained 2 pounds and grown 2 inches. He is so tiny, about the size of a 9 year old. He will be 14 this year. Because he was misdiagnosed, his medications delayed his growth. We aren’t sure if he will ever catch up. He is such a great boy with a huge heart. Autism awareness is so important. People need to be educated of the signs; so misdiagnosis doesn’t happen. We have come a long way and now we can finally get him the help me needs and deserves. He is our blessing and has changed my life. He is my inspiration for my college degree in psychology!

Rebecca Bodiford
Chowchilla, CA

My Baby-Grand Aiden

Aiden is my sweet, loving, very smart and very busy grandson! He was diagnosed with Autism in 2013. Looking back, my daughter and I now know that we saw signs early on, but just didn't put 2 and 2 together. He started head banging when he was just a year old - against the wall, then the floor. He wasn't angry - he just enjoyed it. He didn't start talking until he was 3.

He loves all things about space, Mario & Luigi, Sonic, Ninja Turtles and PacMan!! He's old school!!!

He is a "perfectionist" and if things don't come out just perfect, he has a meltdown. If he doesn't win at a game, he has a meltdown. But we love him up till the meltdown is over!!!!

He loves his Mommy, Maw-Maw, Paw-Paw, Ga-Ga (godfather) and Aunt Jeni. He loves us all to be together ALWAYS. He and my daughter live with paw-paw, and when my son and his girlfriend or I go to visit, he has a meltdown when we have to leave.

My daughter did such a great job of teaching him at home, from a very young age, that now he is in kindergarten and his teacher says that he is the smartest child in the class. But, of course, he is not without his little problems. Sometimes he just doesn't like doing his work. Sometimes he's so distracted that he can't get anything done. Sometimes he just can't sit still - he loves to spin on the floor!!! Sometimes he just cries for his mom all day. Unfortunately he is in a regular class, and his teacher does not really know much about Autistic children. He sometimes gets yellows and reds on his daily report for "not paying attention". That hurts his feelings and he thinks he's being a bad boy. We encourage him every day just to do his best. We will be changing schools, next school year, to a school that is geared for Autistic children.

He is our miracle baby, and we would NOT trade him for all the gold in California!

Rebecca Frye
Pensacola, FL

Our Hero

Since Aiden's story was first posted on Autism Awareness he has accomplished so much!!! Things were not always easy for him as a toddler, right off we knew something was not normal, the late night tantrums of uncontrollable cries for help were more than enough to have us seek for help and for an answer. Aiden was seen by all kinds of doctors, therapist and specialist still there was no diagnose until we heard of the Austism Network in San Antonio, Texas, they met with us and evaluated Aiden for several hours during the first visit, after several visits for a period of two years the only answer they could give us was the one we didn't want to hear, "your child is Autistic".

I can honestly say our hearts were NOT broken, we had a child in our life's that would need extra care and so much more love then we already had for him, we were grateful to have an answer, now we knew what we had to do to get him the help he would need. We didn't sit on right away Aiden was enrolled in school, he was blessed to have such a wonderful teacher and aide to work with him for 3 wonderful years, they took him by his hand and educated him from their hearts, Kari and Yolanda you are our hero's and you are Aiden's blessing.

Aiden is now 6 & taking every obstacle and just running with it, he is super smart, loving and funny. What I love most is that he has so much compassion for being such a young child, his last words before he goes to sleep is always "I love you Jesus", he loves and adores his baby sister Emmalee, he loves school, & can be a little shatterbox. Aiden is doing great, he is enrolled in a general educational classroom and he participates in everything all the other children do and he does great with them, we know he still has a long road ahead but we trust in God to continue his blessings upon him.

Mary Camacho
Devine, TX

The Birth of me

Real happy to be a typer. Before typing, I was a silent soul who felt lonely and angry. I had things to say, but no sounding voice or even a body that could gesture with intent, so no one could find me. I was alone and alive only inside. People thought I had no act to play out on life’s stage. They thought I was a shell with no inhabitant.

My family loved me. But I could only receive, not give. Wishes were ignored because of my silence. People tried to help me but could not know me well.

A day came when my speech therapist figured out how I could type by pointing to letters, and then my life changed to a fulfilling one where I could have power and happiness.

The birth of me.

The start of giving and of new and deep relationships.

Becoming real!

Sarah Stup
Frederick, MD

Logic and the Front of the Book

My son has high functioning autism or Asperger's. Understanding how we communicate and what our language means was his biggest challenge. This means that trying to understand what he was trying to say was difficult too. Please note that he spoke very clearly. He just had a different way of looking at things.

One day, he was asked where the front of the book was. It took him a long time to figure it out. He finally showed us the paper edge. We asked him why that was the front of the book and he said, "The spine is the back, much the same as it is with us."

Myrrena Schwegmann
Denver, CO

My Early Story with Autism.

HI, my name's Larissa. And as an individual with Autism, I want to share some of my experiences. (Some of the memories I tried to remember are according to my mom told unto me) It all started when I was born on the stormy day of October 18, 1994, in the island of Saipan, Mom told me how she struggled a lot with my alcoholic father, my sister with asthma attacks, and my new birth to this world. Mom always trusts big responsibility to my sister for watching me while she goes to work. Mom hired a maid during a few years, until one day, the most recent maid was fired due to negligence, when attempted to hit me on a wall. At that time, I couldn't remember if she really hit my head by accident, or on purpose. But either way, it was over, as my mom quit her job for years working @Nikko Hotel. It was very hard for my mom, since her job really supported the family, treating me and my sister to nice restaurants and pretty places, but she had to sacrifice it, since no one else can watch us. Not even my father could watch us well enough at that time.

So we depended on my father's financial support, however not much, and became gradually poor. But my mom never regretted to stay, for our safety. Then over the years continued, My father, still alcoholic, my sister graduated elementary and middle school with many awards & trophies earned, I was in 2nd grade, (since that's the starting point of my memories) I realized my behavior was unusual. I started to have bullies in school throughout those years. By the age of 10, my mom finally got me diagnosed with Autism, @Community Health Center. While my mom continues the struggle for me, my sister joining the military after high school graduation, and my father finally quitting his alcoholism, due to his sickness, I am still pressing on, ready for the ongoing obstacles before me... (to be continued...)

Larissa Marie
Mililani, HI
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