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Thanks, Laura

Just want to respond to Laura Jaquess of Golden, CO: our son was diagnosed in 1975 as "autistic-like characteristics" because the neurologist didn't want to "label" him. Things have certainly improved over the past 43 years, thanks in part to Laura, me, and other parents like us who carried the torch to let others know our kids are human, too!

Sue
Hannibal, MO

I Want to Make a Difference

Kelsey Norris’ book "I Want to Make a Difference" has just been published. It is available to purchase on the Amazon; Barnes and Noble; and Books-A-Million websites. Kelsey is a 7th grade special education student. She has been diagnosed with autism, intellectual disabilities and Rubenstein-Taybi Syndrome. She was found sick and starving in a Russian orphanage when she was 11 months old. She and her mother have worked to overcome many challenges during the past 13 years and, along the way, they have been able to help many other people. Kelsey is very proud of this inspirational book. Order your book today!

Currently, Kelsey is a nationally recognized 14 year old advocate, community volunteer, beauty queen, author and athlete. By the time she was in sixth grade, Kelsey has provided over 1,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $25,000 for a wide variety of causes aiding children and others in difficult situations. She has received a Hometown Hero award from the American Red Cross, two Kohl's Kids Care Scholarship Program awards and a National Youth Activist award. She has been named one of the top ten youth volunteers in the nation by the Prudential Spirit of Community award and has received several Presidential Community Service awards signed by the President of the United States. Kelsey has also honored with official resolutions from her local County Commissioners, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, the Georgia State Senate and the Georgia House of Representatives commending her for her work to support Georgia children who are in crisis and in other difficult circumstances.

Kelsey Norris
Bonaire, GA

Rocking the Spectrum

Hello!

Our 9 year old son, Gavin, is a sweet, high energy, intelligent boy, who also happens to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, and a receptive/expressive language disorder.

We saw Gavin's love for music at a very early age, which has turned into a passion for playing drums! He received his first drum set for Christmas 2014, and hasn't stopped playing since! We are so incredibly proud of him and all he has accomplished.

This is a kid that has trouble buttoning a shirt, due to his lack of fine motor coordination.

This is a kid that from infancy until around age 5, used to meltdown if he sat on a swing set; the movement made him panic with fear.

This is a kid that 3 years ago, would freak out if he heard a loud noise or would be a "deer in headlights" if we went to a mall or busy store, due to sensory overload.

This is a kid that would mainly stay in his own head and if given the choice, would watch certain scenes of a favorite cartoon or movie on his iPad, over & over again, for hours, instead of interacting with others.

But look at him now... 😊

He takes drum lessons 3 times a week and also plays with a band in St Louis. He absolutely loves performing on stage and has had opportunities to play in front of hundreds of people. He hopes to become a professional drummer when he grows up!

We have recently created a YouTube channel for Gavin, to bring more awareness to the amazing talents that kids on the Spectrum can posses:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmhETLAOn7pn7b4y1Q6z7Jw

Autism doesn't define Gavin - it just happens to be a part of who he is; he is so much more. ♥

We wanted to reach out to not only share our victory, but with the hopes that others would share Gavin’s story & YouTube channel. We hope to encourage other kids to reach for their dreams! Anything is possible!

Christina Martin

Gavin’s Mom

Christina Martin
Belleville, IL

Who I Am & What I Am (The Autism Legend Continues)

Hello everyone, I'm Michael McCartney Wind! if you read my previous story, "Who I Am & What I Am", then you'll love the second story based on how I've been doing recently!! This updated story will definitely blow your minds!!

This year, I've completed 5 years of working in the mailroom in New York City! I've made a ton of new friends and co-workers, and I've been working hard to do the best I can!

About a few months ago, I've earned an award after doing my final Young Autism Program dinner performance, singing classic Sinatra for an amazing crowd! And I've also belted out Sinatra's "My Way" at the 2017 Montauk Music Festival!! What did I get at the end, you ask?? A BIG standing ovation!

What kind of hobbies have I been doing? My newest hobbie I've been doing is collecting World of Nintendo action figures, made by Jakks Pacific!! As much as I love Sinatra, I also love Nintendo!!!

I may still have autism, BUT I'm still proud to become the kind of person that I am right now. I'm a hard worker, a great Sinatra singer and a social butterfly! I'm going to give out a message to all of you. Autism is never a good thing, it's never a bad thing. It's just a thing. The more you believe in your kids, support them and give them hope, then they'll have an amazing bright future too! Thank you all for taking the time to read my story on my life! Always remember to fight the mystery!

Michael McCartney Wind
Hauppauge, NY

walking with eli

Walking with Eli is a Facebook page About a young boy who was born in 2011 and was diagnosed with autism in 2016 . It has been hard for Eli's family to find things that interests Eli due to his individual needs and preferences, In 2017 His parents made a hard choice and decided to remove Eli from school and home educate him due to the school not being able to meet his needs. In the month of July 2017 Eli's family have found that Eli enjoys a lot of walking and learns along the way. Eli is a lovely, kind-hearted young boy who finds it hard to integrate with society around him. He says when walking he is free and can be himself. So his parents have put together a facebook page to help Eli show the world his adventures.

Along his journey Eli is trying to raise awareness to the world that small people with autism can achieve big things with the right help, PLEASE help Eli raise awareness by following,sharing and liking his achievements.

tim wells
ryde, United Kingdom

Fly Away To The Big Blue Sky

In a world where your ears never get a break from noise.

I wish I could cry out for the noise to go far, far, far away

but I can't, nobody can.

It's only a thought, a dream.

As I look up to the sky, I see something out of the blue.

It takes me a while to see what it is.

But when I do see it it come down.

It's a Huge umbrella.

As soon as I grab the candy cane handle I take off into the clouds whoosh.

It's silent up there

very very silent.

As I look down everything is the size of pebbles.

Then I miss them

I miss my friends, my family, and my pets and teachers.

While I was looking down I lower more and more to the ground

until my feet touch the ground.

Now I miss the quietness

But hey that's life and that's out of are control.

Now I'm heading to school, into the bus

I mumble go away noise I walk into the screaming school

and into the chattering classroom.

As I much as I dislike noise

but I also like it too.

By Jadon Thompson

An 11-Year-Old With Autism

2017

Candace Caswell-Thompson
Hudson, WI

Dakota's story.

When Dakota was 18 months old I started noticing problems, like hyperactivity and different little problems. Fixation on things. Went and talked to his Dr. And they sent us to a mental health facility. The Dr there said he had ADHD and that his primary Dr needed to put him on medication. So that's what they did. As Dakota got older and in school. He had a lot of problems. Fixated on computers. A lot of screaming and yelling. Hitting the principal, getting suspended from school. They finally put him on a I.E.P. and in special ed classes. Problems continued. I knew something else was wrong,but know one would listen to me. In middle school things just got worse and he was starting to get bullied a lot. Then the beginning of his 8th grade year the school phycologists called me and she wanted to know if she could do some test on Dakota. I said yes. I got another phone call to meet with her at the school and it was then that I found out he has autism. I told her I knew something was wrong and know one would listen to me. So we sat down and got a new I.E.P. started for high school. When Dakota entered 10th grade he didn't like a few of his teachers. He would get up a leave the class. His teachers didn't want to deal with him anymore, so they decided to put him in continuation school the following school year. I was told I had no say. Over the summer I decided I would talk to the principal. And he was put in a contained class. He needed structure. The thing that sucks about special ed is when they graduate they only get a certificate of completion. But he went back and he earned his diploma. He will b walking in 2weeks. I am so proud of him. He's 19 years old.

Debbie Hankins
Kingman, AZ

I'm not sure if this important message was sent in my previous attempts.

ADA Notification bills like H.R. 620 are gaining momentum in Congress. While similar bills have been unable to garner enough support to pass into law, we do not expect that to be the case in the 115th. This bill continues to gain support from both sides of the aisle in Congress, and it’s on us to fight it!

H.R. 620 would create additional barriers to seeing our rights enforced under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Requiring that businesses in violation of the ADA be provided with a very specific written notice by the person who encountered the access barrier, those businesses would then be allowed a lengthy timeframe to “make substantial progress in removing the barrier.” Not only would this remove any incentive for businesses to come into compliance with the ADA before receiving a notification, but it would also shift the onus of monitoring compliance to the very people being discriminated against!

Please tell your Representatives to OPPOSE H.R. 620 and any other bill that would weaken the ADA, thereby weakening the protections for people with disabilities all over the country.

You can get in touch with your Representatives by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You can find additional contact information for them by visiting www.contactingcongress.org.

The list of Committee members is below:

Republicans:

Bob Goodlatte, Chair (VA)

Jim Sensenbrenner (WI)

Lamar Smith (TX)

Steve Chabot (OH)

Darrell Issa (CA)

Steve King (IA)

Trent Franks (AZ)

Louie Gohmert (TX)

Jim Jordan (OH)

Ted Poe (TX)

Jason Chaffetz (UT)

Tom Marino (PA)

Trey Gowdy (SC)

Raul Labrador (ID)

Blake Farenthold (TX)

Doug Collins (GA)

Ron DeSantis (FL)

Ken Buck (CO)

John Ratcliffe (TX)

Martha Roby (AL)

Matt Gaetz (FL)

Mike Johnson (LA)

Andy Biggs (AZ)

Democrats:

John Conyers, Ranking Member (MI)

Jerry Nadler (NY)

Zoe Lofgren (CA)

Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)

Steve Cohen (TN)

Hank Johnson, Jr. (GA)

Ted Deutch (FL)

Luis Gutierrez (IL)

Karen Bass (CA)

Cedric Richmond (LA)

Hakeem Jeffries (NY)

David Cicilline (RI)

Eric Swalwell (CA)

Ted Lieu (CA)

Jamie Raskin (MD)

Pramila Jayapal (WA)

Brad Schneider (IL)

Tana
St. Paul, MN

An Autism love Story

The first time Jeffrey met our daughter was in 6th grade. They saw each other all the time at school. It took him though till their 8th grade graduation to get up enough courage to have his mom come to me during the ceremony. His mom said that she fell in love with our twin girls when Mikayla's sister was crying because she didn't want to leave her favorite teacher and Mikayla being mother hen, said to me in a loud voice, "mom she's crying". So, his mom approached me and told me her son was in love with Mikayla. I was hesitant at first but His mom and I talked at the reception and while we were talking he took our daughters hand and they began to dance to the music. All the teachers, aids and other parents were saying awww. Then he had her sit and he brought her drink and snacks. We exchanged phone numbers and that night he FaceTimed her and all 4 of us talked. This was the start of a forever love story. Their first date was on July 16th.

It's been over 8 months now and even though they are in different high schools, we get them together at least once or twice a week and they FaceTime each other all the time. There conversations usually last no more than a minute or two but they always say love and miss you to each other and blow each other kisses. Their love for each other just gets stronger everyday. No teenage drama. Jeffrey is always a perfect gentleman and he treats her like a Princess. They only kiss on the cheek and they hug and hold hands at times but are also perfectly content to just sit by each other and not touch. It's truly a real pure love story and they are proof that love has no boundaries and not even Autism can stand in their way of having a relationship. They have big plans for the future that includes marriage and a family when they turn 20 in 5 years.

Kimberly
Ruskin, FL

An Update About My Autism

Diagnosed with autism at 28 months old, my parents were given little hope that I would ever have a bright future. Non-verbal until the age of 4, my autism presented itself to the world through hand flapping, toe-walking, tantrums, and poor eating habits. As a result of my inability to communicate and socialize appropriately, I received help with speech lessons, occupational therapy and physical therapy. In addition, my parents put me on a gluten-free diet at 12 years old.

Although, this was a turning point for positive changes in my life, autism does not go away. My family and I learned to not only live with it but accept it. I am grateful for the support I continue to get from family and friends.

Often times, people ask me about my college years and why I didn’t finish my degree. For health reasons, I decided it was best for me to relook at a career that I felt will suit me better. I feel great success in what I have already accomplished. Because of my college, I am able to become a paraprofessional. While going to college, I had social anxiety and crazy obsession over studying. Even though professors probably didn’t expect everyone to be a 4.0 student, I felt I needed to be. My G.P.A is 3.75, which my mom tells me how proud of me she is, and she realizes how hard it really was on me.

Being a pencil artist is my gifted talent. I began to develop my talent around 13 years old. Unlike other children my age who were selling lemonade on the street corner, I tried selling my art. Although it didn’t go as well as I hoped, I continued to pursue my art in middle school, high school, and beyond. I received an exciting opportunity to display my drawings locally at the winery.

The inspirations for my drawings come from my passions. I am fascinated with the details of the Titanic, still life drawings, and animals. Depending on the topic, subject matter, and my mood, these drawings help me communicate with the world.

Lindsey Moreland
River Falls, WI
Butterfly Blessings Gift Boxed Travel Mug
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