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'It's ok to be different. Vincent Van Gogh was different and he was the most brilliant painter of all times'

On the day he was born everyone commented on how alert Josh was. In fact he never slept, even after going home. He cried loudly and often, hated every piece of baby gear we owned. When I mentioned it to the doctor he immediately smiled and said 'Babies cry'.

At 18 months we noticed he did not answer to his name and spent his days opening and closing cupboards while closely watching the hinges, lining up and counting things and running. We used to say he had 2 speeds, fast and faster.

Shortly after his 3rd birthday we realized he could read. We were mesmerized but his preschool teachers were concerned with his behavior. He screamed and flapped his hands at school, refused eye contact and banged his head on the tables. AT the age of 4 came the diagnosis. Autism Spectrum Disorder. I was filled with a sense of relief and fear. Soon after he started OT, Play therapy and group therapy and I pulled him out of school as he was miserable.

Josh is 6 now. We continue homeschooling and he is the happiest he has been in a long time. He is thriving academically and seems to do better in controlled social situations. His meltdowns are less frequent and his anxiety lower. He is a very passionate child, his interests include Doctor Who, science and Minecraft. His idols are Bill Nye and Vincent Van Gogh. If you need someone to explain DNA, electrical circuits or insects' life cycles he is your guy.

He knows he is different, in fact one time he said 'It's ok to be different. Vincent Van Gogh was different and he was the most brilliant painter of all times' and the quote stuck. We pray he will always be this accepting of himself.

Sprigfield, MI

Baby Grace

I knew when Gracie was a little over a year old that something wasn't right. She is the 3rd out of 4 children. She crawled at 5 months & walked at 10 months but never made any noises (no coo's) rarely cried & no eye contact. I brought up my concerns every doctor visit & he said every child develops differently. Finally I had enough and wanted answers. I did research and believed she had autism and wanted her tested. I got her tested at 22 months and her results showed her to be around 6 months to 10 months in almost all categories. I started early intervention & went head on into doing as much as I can at home. She was just tested again (at her 6 month check up) and is now at 18 months to 22 months (she is now 28 months old) she has made such a great leap & we are so proud of our little angel. She has started to say a couple words but they are few and far between. She does have major sensory issues that we are trying to help her with. She broke her crib because she jumps (like a trampoline) for long periods of time at night. She also wont keep cloths on. She spins, we got her this zebra bouncer toy that spins and she loves it! She also loves deep bear hugs. She requires a lot of pressure sessions throughout the day.

But she loves to laugh and be tickled! She is affectionate and loves songs (twinkle, twinkle and ABC are some of her favorites). She loves puzzles, especially number or color puzzles. She has an obsession with numbers and colors! We bought her an ipad mini and I loaded a bunch of educational fun games for her along with some sing alongs/nursery rhymes (fisher price apps are great). She also started coloring. I was nervous at first with how she was going to progress but she amazes us everyday and I couldn't love her more!

Croydon, PA

Gaby my Singer and Computer Wiz!

My daughter Gaby is 14 now. She was born on Feb 2000. I knew there was something wrong when she did not play like the other kids, she would speak but only say numbers and letters. Her lack of communication language was another sign that something was wrong. After many doctors visits Autism was the diagnosis. Believe it or not there were no DAN doctors in Calif. at that time. I did find a great one in Pleasanton, CA. I went the route of Believing that you HEAL the GUT then you HEAL the Brain..So Next DNA Testing..That lead to Chelation,B12 shots,Tons of Vitamins,Enzymes,Probiotics,Gluten Free Casein Free diet (that works!Helps language) not to mention the standard ABA,OT,Speech Therapy,Behavior Therapy,Tomatis,Nuro Feed Back,CANDO,Mascotova Therapy,Hypobaric Oxygen and many more… My Gaby is now NOT TYPICAL she is still Autistic but doing extremely well…She is Happy loves to Sing and Dance and is a Computer Wiz…She is enrolled in a Private School Lindamood Bell which focuses on language and Reading then also goes to Typical School in Danville, CA. I am so Happy how far she has come…Please Parents Do Not give up on your child with Autism because they will surprise you and do better than you could have ever expected.. like Gaby and she still has a long life to live….. Keep the Faith…. Love ya… Gaby' mom Pam Xoxo

Pam Elardy
San Ramon, CA

Growing up "Different"

Hello, My name is Kayla. On the outside, I probably look like your average 18 year old girl. brown hair, brown eyes, hands, feet etc. but what most people don't know about me is that I have Asperger's Syndrome. I was diagnosed at age 4. back then i had frequent tanturms, was pretty violent for a girl my age and also wouldn't eat anything but macaroni and cheese, fruit and hot dogs for dinner. I also had such sensitive hearing and sensitivity to noise and touch that i refused to go outside for most of my childhood, thus not making many friends. I was bullied all through school and had very bad fits of anger that would often get me into trouble.

But through therapy and perseverance I was able to become more sociable. I am currently going into my senior year of high school with a 3.3 GPA, have become involved in four different clubs including RPG club, Japanime, Model UN, and Cru and also become involved with the Color Guard at my school where i have made the vast majority of my friends. I have also found a hobby in writing in which i have been in print twice in two different cities sharing the same story you see before you.

I know many people on the spectrum haven't been as lucky as I have and might never get the comment "You don't look autistic" when speaking of your disability but I share this story with you to give you hope. To never give up on your child and keep persevering because although times might be hard right now, I guarantee you you will look back on today and be so proud of the many accomplishments your child has done when he is in the place I am in.

You know, when i was diagnosed the doctors said I wouldn't be able to lead a meaningful life. Look who's proved them wrong.

Kayla Cribley
Fishers, IN

Our little special Angel Craig Jr

This is my son CJ we found out he had autism at the age of three. When we found out we didn't know what to do. But with the research and some meeting I went to it helped a little. But what is really helping me understand more about how sees stuff the way he does and how he feels and how I can understand more now. Is by reading the stories from this web site. And just watching my baby grow up the way he is. Sweet loving and always happy no matter what he goes through. I want to be like that too. So I guess we can learn from our babies no matter what with autism or without autism. Out of five boys I always wonder why him but God does for a reason. He makes that one or more special little angel. Stay encouraged no matter what you go through. I never did think I could take care of a child with any special needs but God showed me I was wrong and my son has made me a better mother and person and I thank God for him. And for the Blessing he gave me.

Proud mother Lynn Roper

Edalynn Roper
Beaumont, TX

Today you are you, that is truer than true...

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you."

Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss could not have said it better when it comes to our daughter Hadelynn. From the beginning we could tell that Hadee was an individual. She didn't seem to be developing at the same pace as other kids her age. She was a little girl, so sweet and loving, that seemed to be stuck in a shell. She was always a very picky eater and didn't communicate well. With her being an only child at the time we didn't have many kids to compare her with, and to be honest we were very naïve when it came to the autism spectrum.

When Hadee was two and a half I joined the Army and went away for six months of initial training. Hadee seemed to regress from the progress she made. She could not cope with the separation and would often throw extreme tantrums and would not be able to be comforted. This separation coupled with the birth of her sister didn't help her development. Returning from training we moved to Colorado where we met new friends. These friends have two children on the spectrum and the mom instantly knew from her behavior that we should talk to someone about her being on the spectrum.

Now that we know she is in fact on the Autism spectrum and is currently enrolled in an early intervention pre-school as well as a speech therapist, we finally have answers as to why our special girl is the way she is. I wouldn't change a thing about my little girl. We love her sweet spirit and are amazed at what an awesome big sister she is becoming.

Colorado springs, CO

My Perfect Son

Ezekiel, means "Strength of God". When I found out I was pregnant, I knew God would bless me with a precious little boy-I wanted a boy so badly. I knew his name would be Ezekiel, and I knew he would have an incredible purpose in this world. His father knew too, the moment after he was born, he was overwhelmed with tears and he knew our son would be someone extremely special. We had dreams and envisioned our son making touchdowns, slamdunks, scoring goals. I couldn't wait to teach him about the world, I imagined his little voice and the conversations we would have. Everything was great, we were so in love with our baby boy. Emerald green eyes, the deepest dimples, curly hair.perfect. He hit 12 months old, I expected him to be walking around for his 1st birthday party... he wasn't. That bothered me, a lot more than I wanted it to. Next thing I know, he is 15 months old and still struggling to walk. Finally at 17 months old, he walked and it was my first super proud moment of my son, but it got me thinking... Why did it take so long for him? We took him to his well-check with his pediatrician and mentioned some little concerns- next thing we know Ezekiel is getting evaluated by a developmental pediatrician and she says he is Autistic. It hit us hard. I thought my son is suppose to play sports with his friends. He will never get married, he will never be independent. They will bully him and laugh at him. Suddenly my life felt like a movie and my heart was breaking. Until I realized something, Why am I limiting what my son is capable of? I decided to learn everything I possibly could and find positive stories and it began to inspire me and turned me into his advocate. I am so proud of my son and the progress he makes every day. I wouldn't change him for the world. I will love and support who he is until the day I die.

Serena Arvayo
Santa Clara, CA


Justice is my 17 year old son who has autism. He was diagnosed at almost 4 years old. I am so thankful for the teachers that have helped to mold him. He has overcome so many obstacles in life. Justice will be a Senior in high school in August 2014. He takes special ed classes as well as regular ed classes. Justice loves God. He knows the Bible backwards and forewords. He is a usher at Church. He sings duets and solos at Church. Where he may stammer to speak sometimes, he sings like an angel. He love to sing Casting Crowns songs most of all. He is active in our Church and prays with people all the time. Outside of Church, unless you are a pretty girl, he doesn't talk much. He loves anything to do with history. I also want to mention that Justice is a Global Messenger for Illinois Special Olympics and loves to speak on "Spread the word to end the word."

Justice went to his Junior prom this year and had a blast. He had never wanted to participate in any dances or extra curricular activities at school other than Special Olympics. He invited a friend from Church who attended a neighboring school and she said , yes, she would be honored to be his date. They went as friends, he kept telling me that. She was wonderful to teach him some dances ahead of time and he felt so comfortable with her by his side. He now can't wait for the next dance at school. I was always so worried, but I think I had not given his friends at school and Church enough credit. They are awesome with him and he has so many friends. I think his cocoon is opened and he's turning into my handsome and accomplished butterfly. I think sometimes we don't give our kids enough credit in life. I want my son to have it all! Also, he wants all the girls to know he is single.

Penny Crowe
Rosiclare, IL

Love has no boundaries

When my daughter was born in November of 1998 everything seemed normal. She reached her milestones right on time. She was a easy going infant. All that slowly started to change when she turned one. She hated going to sleep and my husband would take her for rides in the car at night. She would fall asleep but wake up often during the night. As she grew older her speech was delayed. She would have huge meltdowns. She was frustrated. I often asked myself if I had done something wrong during pregnancy. Had I made her autistic. That is of course a silly thought. I had not smoked or consumed alcohol. I had eaten healthy. As she grew older I have come to realize that she helped me become a better person. Before my daughter I was shallow and interested in myself more then other people. I would spend my time in clubs and bar's with girlfriends. Enjoying my Youth. I was lonely and the truth was that I needed her more then she needed me. She warmed my heart up to what is important in life. She made me care and love myself. I she made me care about her. She helped me become a better person. Before her I may have acted like I was happy but I did not like myself. She is the missing Puzzle that put my heart back together. It is now 15 year later. She is about to turn 16 in November. Endless hours of therapy and dedication from teacher and my husband and myself helped my daughter become a independent young woman. I don't ever give up on her. She is in High school on the Honor Roll and is a funny and kind human being. She makes my world whole. She makes me see life in a new way.

Chris Moore
Terre Haute, IN

Jacob Tyler - Our Pride and Joy

This is Jacob. He was born on September 30, 2010. He was such an awesome baby. Always on the go, wanting to make everyone laugh, and oh so very smart. At his 9 month check up, his doctor realized that he was not hitting his milestones. Same thing at his 12 month and 18 month. When he was 18 months old, his doctor put in a referral for speech therapy. At 24 months, his doctor put a referral in to see a Developmental Psychologist. He was then diagnosed with PDD-NOS.

We knew he had a delay, we just didn't want to face it. When he would have outbursts from being frustrated, we just thought that was normal for toddlers. Then we started to notice the repetitive behaviors, obsession with objects, and sensory issues. At age 3, he was then evaluated by another pediatrician where she officially diagnosed him with mild autism and ADHD.

Jacob is now 3 almost 4 years old. He is extremely smart, loving, caring, and happy. He has his bad days but we just work through it. He is such an amazing little boy. He can walk into a room and put a smile on everyone face. He loves being around other children his age and doing little boy things. He is very technical when it comes to playing. He loves his trains and car washes. We have been at the car wash every week - for the past 2 years.

I wouldn't change his diagnoses for the world. This is who he is and who he has become. We love him to pieces and he will always be my adorable, funny, and smart little boy :)

Karen Bowen
Port Orchard, WA
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