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How autism impacted me

I have 2 boys on the autism spectrum and I've written a blog about my experience. Here is the link to my blog at brightsideofautism.blogspot.com

Anonymous
Stittsville, ON, Canada

Update with a TV Appearance!

Hi there again!

It's Nick, the indie voice actor & marketing researcher, stand up comedian, and Autism advocate, who wrote a blog for this website back in January about his Asperger's being a positive thing (http://theautismsite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/aut/story/my-life-with-aspergers-syndrome212)

I thought it'd be awesome to do an update as to how I'm doing, well, I'm now applying to voice acting agencies here in home of England, and I managed to make a television appearance on a TV station here in the West Midlands of England called Big Centre TV! I ask if it was ok, and they agreed, that I could share with you the YouTube video of my appearance on there! The show I appeared is called 'SofaClub', I appeared on there to promote the indie game company I work for; MadSlug & their games that I have done voice acting for, and to do some of my impressions of characters from the TV comedy: Family Guy! I come into the video around 11:03 in case you're wondering. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DheOLASnXsk)

I'm also due to appear at the NEC arena in Birmingham, England to do a Autism talk for an Autism support charity, and later on that same year at Aston Villa F.C's Football ground to talk for another Autism support charity, so I'm keeping busy!

And as for Stand Up Comedy and other stuff I do, I'm going by a stage name for those things, I combined my name with the name of one of my favourite classic rock/metal bands; Judas Priest, and came up with my stage name that I now use: Nicky Priest. Catchy, isn't it?

Anyway, that's an update from me after my last blog, and I hope that this one also shows that, again, nothing is impossible for people with Autistic Spectrum conditions.

Take care people. Peace out and rock 'n' roll! :D

Anonymous
Birmingham, United Kingdom

My Little Annabelle

My little Annabelle was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) a year ago. We thought she was just like other children entering stage terrible twos horrible three. She looks normal & her motor skill was ok so we assumed she was only delay in speech. We sent her to nursery when she was 2.5 years old, hope that she could pick up her speech & communication skills while mixing around. In fact, she didn't improve much and still shown temper tantrums, lack of eyes contact, couldn't focus during the class, only did what she likes at school.

A year later, I convinced my husband to consult specialist. Doctor explained all the symptoms and what treatment should be taken. She improves dramatically after attending occupational therapy & speech therapy for 3 months. She is now better in communication, express herself and pick up dual languages. Although she yet could control her emotion & fully sharing, might not be good story teller, not recognize words/ verbs, but at least she is willing to practice more & talks to us.

We're glad that she is doing so well, she improves bit by bit everyday. She loves drawing so much, with all the smiling faces, indicate everyone of us in the family and signed with her name on the top :)

My little Annabelle, let's us learn and grow with you together

Anonymous
Penang, Malaysia

Autism Awareness

There is definitely a lot more awareness regarding Autism now than when my son Matthew was a little boy. I remember a trip we took to Texas to visit family. We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Farmer's Branch. The restaurant area was right next to the swimming pool. There were kids laughing and playing and swimming and just being kids while we were eating breakfast. The stimulation was so much for my son that he really couldn't even eat....he just kept rocking back and forth and looking over at the swimming pool. We went down to the pool later and he was so happy. He couldn't talk and vocalized excitement and happiness in a different way......usually by flapping his hands and yelling. An employee of Holiday Inn came to tell me that "his" noise was bothering people in the restaurant. I said he was bothered by noises while trying to eat as well so they would have to "get over it" like he did. Anyway, I was extremely upset and after a few minutes, I did take my son out of the pool. The same lady came to apologize and said he didn't have to leave.......but we did anyway. My son is a 27 year old "non-verbal" man now and there is definitely more "awareness" -------hopefully with awareness comes understanding and acceptance.

Laura Jaquess
Golden, CO

Our Boy

1983 our beautiful baby boy was born our 3rd son, so adorable but very quiet. I felt something was going to be wrong, even though the pregnancy was uneventful, I just had this feeling.

Dean was always a very placid boy never would hit anyone and with the assistance of The Autistic Association we finally toilet trained Dean around 5 years of age. HIs brothers started swimming lessons under 5 and the instructor a very special lady -Mrs Parker said she could teach Dean too. Dean learnt to dog paddle . Dean loves swimming.

No health issues had all his immunisations. A very quiet baby would not suck a dummy preferred to suck pointer finger which he would bend and put in his mouth.

Dean started young to develop an attachment to buttons. Carried pyjama tops around and prefer to be alone. Dean would suck his finger and twiddle the buttons with his other hand. He would line up toys in straight lines, he did not snuggle when nursing him.

From manually grabbing hold of Deans hand and picking up papers and putting in the bin (over and over ) Dean always put litter in the bin. Sleeping was another issue we had but he is okay today He loved balancing on fences he would walk up and down cyclone fences - amazing balance

Deans 30th Birthday we hired a hall had fancy dress party a great night selected his own Police uniform costume. He had a smile on his face all night but mostly sat alone and smiled. He purchased himself a signed photograph of Nathan Hindmarsh and a Parramatta Jersey, Sharks scarf and a NSW cap now that's a real football fanatic.

a quote from our first next door neighbour

"So Dean, even though you will probably never realise, my time with you and your wonderful family has had a major impact on my life (in a good way) so Thanking You!!!"

This lady is one of many people Dean has touched. Dean elects to be non-verbal always has but can talk when he wants.

Anonymous
Sydney, Australia

EASTER JOY WITH A 'SPECIAL' GRANDSON

Our grandson is on the Autism Spectrum. He also has ADHD and is on medication. He is a very loving 8 year old. Recently we watched as he and his 2 year old sister got their pictures taken in their Easter outfits. He looked so handsome in his suit and tie and smiled as we complimented him. He was cooperative and smiled as he posed with his sister. The photographer was so enthusiastic and encouraging and seemed to highlight his status as the big brother. Later we went out to eat and the waitress was patient and kind, quickly retrieving the straws he took from her apron. It was a great day and really highlighted the power of a caring community and loving family.

Proud Grandmother

Anonymous
Parkton, MD

My Friend

I recently moved from Singapore, and to NY. It's been a rocky road, and let's just say my mental stability hasn't been the best. The school was different, I hated my town, and I was lonely. I had no friends. But there was Jack. (not his real name)

When I first started school, I noticed him. He would flap his arms, and scream. He also jumped and ran around. He also didn't talk much. There was an older lady who always walked around with him and told him what to say and where to go. Often he was pulled out of class too. During lunch I was alone a lot of the time, and I saw Jack. He would always talk and smile with the aids. I decided to go talk to him. I started by saying "hi". He smiled and started questioning me.

He did his usual roll. "Where do you live? What store do you go to? What restaurant?" etc. I answered them all. Everyday at recess we would play. He would question me 2 or 3 times everyday. I started to talk to him regularly. We would go to the "rocket ship" and go to Mars. He would comment on the fact that there was no gravity and we would float. We would sometimes go shopping. He would talk about how there was popcorn in the 3rd aisle at the local store, "Stop and Shop." One day I went to "Stop and Shop" and there actually was popcorn in that particular aisle.

I've been bonding with him. I love him now, as a friend. He and I simply are there for each other. He was there for me when I truly needed him. He's inspired me to later become a child psychiatrist and I've learned so much about Autism and it's a subject I am very passionate about.

I am not going to be going to school with him next year and am very nervous for him.

I don't want this friendship to fade. Because he changed my life so greatly, and I'm thankful for that.

Sophia
Dobbs Ferry, NY

A Success Story In the Life of an Aspie

My name is Natalie Griffiths, I'm currently 24 years of age and was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 18 months.

Prior to this, I was hospitalized with a brain infection called encephalitis which luckily I survived and left me only with some minor brain damage and a slight hand tremor. I also had epilepsy following this up until December 98 when my seizures just seemed to stop completely. It was only during assessments following my encephalitis that I was diagnosed with my condition.

I started my education within a special needs assessment centre and school as I had quite a developmental delay and also because at around 1994 there was nowhere else for people like me to go. As the years progressed , I entered a mainstream primary school at the age of 9 but my lessons remained within a specialist unit within the school. I then later on progressed to high school where I attended mainstream lessons full time. Unfortunately at this time me and my close friend were subject to quite a bit of bullying from our peers which really knocked our confidence and self esteem. However, I didn't let it get to us and I came out of high school with reasonable passes in my GCSEs. When I turned 16, it was thought I was not ready emotionally to enter mainstream further education, so I spent 3 years within the special needs department at Northop College (Coleg Cambria- Northop) During this time, I developed quite a bit socially and my confidence grew. During my last year, I won an award for making the most progress out of everyone within the department. I am now in my last year of mainstream Further Education completing a BTEC Level 3 in IT and have achieved Distinctions in all modules so far. I also volunteer in an Office in Wrexham once a week and thoroughly enjoy it.

I now hold a offer for Glyndwr University, I'm in a successful relationship with a man who I love to bits and I'm far more social than I used to be.

Natalie Griffiths
Wrexham, United Kingdom

Trenton's Battles

I always wanted to be a mother to boys. God blessed me with two amazing boys, Trenton and Andrew, both whom have a diagnosis of autism. When my sons were born, it was by far the best day of my life. However, I had no idea at that time what our life as a family had in store for us.

My oldest son, Trenton, has severe autism. He is a 4 ½ year old boy who is not potty trained and remains non-verbal. He suffers every day from autism. He is trapped in a body that brings a life full of tribulations. I have spent countless, sleepless nights with him when his body did not allow him to sleep. I have driven my car for several hours at a time in the middle of the night with him strapped in his car seat screaming and hitting himself in order to calm him down. I have been hit, kicked, scratched, spit at, hair pulled, screamed at and almost anything else that you would never imagine your child doing to you. I have had it done. I have bounced him on a therapy ball for over 5000 bounces consecutively. I have pushed him in his swing while he was crying for what seemed hours at a time. I have battled meltdown after meltdown.

Trenton spends seven hours a day five days a week in ABA. Autism has left him with nothing but a huge fight for the rest of his life. I have been there every minute of the way with him. I don’t give up. I only get stronger! Trenton drives me to be the best mother-advocate that I can be. I have seen him at his worst and it only makes us stronger as a team.

Angela Conrad
Terre Haute, IN

Loving Alejandro: The Music of our Rainbow

Many times I have felt that my life can be divided in two; but I now realized that if this is true, and if it exists a point in my life that cut it in half, this could be when I started to live in the autism spectrum. I say “I started to live in” because, even though I am not the one who has autism, my life and the way I see the world had changed tremendously. Now I live in a musical rainbow.

In 2013, after many months of tests, the doctor confirmed the autism diagnosis for our son Alejandro. It was a very difficult morning; full of frustration, and deep sadness. The confirmation of his diagnosis was something scary, that made me feel really sad and hopeless. At that time, Autism meant to me an incurable illness that was going to live with my son forever, and that was going to make his life very difficult.

More than two years later, things have changed a lot! Alejandro already finished his physiotherapy, 2 cycles of ABA, and a 12 weeks program including OT and speech therapy. He is still nonverbal, but he is working hard to communicate with us. He also attends a wonderful daycare, with loving teachers and he is on the waiting list for IBI therapy.

A couple of weeks ago, at the same doctor’s office, I realized that Autism doesn’t scare me anymore! I admit that I get mad at it sometimes, but it’s ok, it’s part of the package. It is just a matter of coloring one day at a time; listening to his own music and forgetting about conventional milestones; learning to be patient, pushing when needed and celebrating his efforts and progress; promoting awareness with inclusion and obviously, taking some mama time to enjoy a glass of wine on Friday nights to recharge.

Sometimes I think that life presented to me this colorful spectrum to teach me that I need to slow down and really appreciate the music on people and the colors of the world around me... to be more humane.

Sofia Prada
Ottawa, ON, Canada
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