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Don't stop believing

I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. At 21, this dream finally came true and my beautiful boy, Keagan Raeh was born. He was such a happy baby, constantly wanting to cuddle on someone's shoulder. Around his second birthday, he began having horrible night terrors, behaving strangely, bashing his head into walls and floors, etc. His doctor kept saying this was normal, but mama knew better. At the age of four, during his preschool evaluation, our parent educator noticed the behaviors that concerned me. After much testing, he was diagnosed as developmentally delayed. It would be nearly two more years before he would be diagnosed with autism. The road has been bumpy and oh-so-painful, but this boy is amazing. He makes us smile and he truly enjoys life. Watching him overcome every obstacle is inspiring and I will never get tired of cheering him on. Nothing stops him and I do not think it ever will. He gets angry and acts out, but eventually figures it out. The pride on his face is priceless to me. I do not know where his journey will lead, but I know that he will be just fine. I hope that his beautiful soul will show people that autism does not have my baby, he has autism!

Dawn Gazaway
Nevada, MO

The beauty of nature as experienced by a child with autism.


Parkton, MD

When Our Hands Can't Hold Still

As someone with Autism, I experience some of the repetitive behaviors a lot of us on the spectrum, one of them including the infamous hand flapping. My parents have tried to get me to stop, because "it looks weird", so I've wrote a poem, about it. I hope you all enjoy this little poem, called "Why Our Hands Can't Hold Still"

Does this look strange?

Do we embarrass you?

I'm sorry for what I will say,

But there's nothing we can do.

We may get excited,

We may get stressed out,

We may get frustrated,

But you can't tell what it's about

But sometimes our hands can't hold still

You just gotta accept that

We may clap or drum on the table

And our hands will almost always flap

Just always remember,

We are still human beings.

And like other humans out there,

We do things differently.

If it helps us cope,

Then let us flap our hands

If we can cope, there is hope

And we'll make you proud in the end

Jasmine Malone
Tucson, AZ

Autism and Moving Forward - Matt Jones

Hi there! I'm Matt Jones, a student from England, who has autism.

I was diagnosed from the age of two back in 1997. I initially found it very difficult to speak to anybody, even my own parents. I developed later than most children within my age bracket, and I suffered from extreme emotional problems, becoming very fragile in dealing with my emotions and social problems, especially since my grandfathers died when I was very little, and I remember witnessing one of them having a heart attack and being placed in an ambulance.

Up until a few months back, I never believed I could make it. I suffer from bouts of depression alongside my autism, and they still affect me to this day. I used to believe my autism was a hinderance to myself and others around me, including friends and family. It's not a hinderance.

You may not feel it, but you are important to somebody. You've made somebody's life much funner, much happier, and/or much more exciting. It took me a long time to realise this. Don't worry about naysayers, your autism is not your whole identity, it's just a small part of what makes you a great human being. If you're kind, compassionate, and caring, you're beyond anyone who considers themselves "normal" and bullies others for differences they don't understand. With the support of my family, and great friends (one in particular I hold very dear to my heart), I've managed to crawl from my dark pit of despair and have seen the light. To every parent out there with an autistic child you've raised with love and care, you're a superhero, and your child can achieve great things. I managed to achieve one of the highest English grades possible, and I'm really looking forward to continuing to write, a huge passion of mine. Don't give up, and remember, you'll be supported.

Matt Jones
Shropshire, United Kingdom

Skyler's Story

It was after my son, Skyler, turned a year old we started to notice that he wouldn't talk, flap his arms when he was excited and walk on his tippy toes. He would also line up his cars and trains in a certain order and would get upset if you switched them around. He became obsessed and still kind of is with Thomas the Train which we found out is very common among children with Autism. The biggest thing we noticed is that Skyler barely made eye contact with you when you called his name or talked to him. Then soon after 2 years old he was diagnosed with Mild Childhood Autism and SID (Sensory Integration Disorder).

We had to place Skyler in daycare since I had to go back to work and once he started daycare his speech improved so fast and it definitely helped with his social skills. He was also placed in the school system and attended preschool and Pre-K being a part of the special education program. He received Occupational and Speech Therapy and still does. What we like about school is the kids are not separated because of Special Education. The classes are mixed as to prevent "labeling".

Skyler is now 5 years old and still has problems with communication in regards to what he needs or his feelings but he is thriving in school and has an incredible memory and can read at a 2nd grade level. Skyler also will only wear white cotton t-shirts and "soft" pants. He doesn't like the sound of the automatic dryers in public bathrooms and the automatic flush on the toilets but with headphones at school and Mommy and Daddy's help he is able to be more independent.

We couldn't be any more proud of Skyler for being the person he is. We have learned so much with ABA therapy not only for Skyler but as a family. Every day is always a day of learning for all of us but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Stacey Messier
Bristol, CT


9 years ago, I met the most special kid in the world. I didn't know how much me and my family's life would change. This is Lucas, He was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.

He was a very quiet child, when he was younger, he didn't know a lot of words, and you had to ask him what he wanted. Now he is talking a lot. At school he surprises all the teachers. He listens to them, and talks to them, little bits at a time. He has learned how to read and now he is reading level C books! He has come a long way since he started school, and I am so proud of him.

He's favourite food is pizza. He loves to watch Disney movies and watch tv. He loves to be outside, and he loves the beach! He has curly curly red hair, and people come up to him and say "Can I have your hair" as a joke, and he says "No" then walks away, so you can't say that he doesn't understand because he does.

He reads to me every night, and he sings songs with me all the time. I help him with everything,when he's hungry, when he wants to go outside and much more! I didn't know that I had such a strong bond, with my sibling. He makes me laugh when I'm down, and can put a smile on the face of anyone! If you met him, you wouldn't want to go. He will try and tickle you, laugh at you and talk to you. Out of nowhere he will come up to you, look you in the eyes and laugh. Like its some game! He is so special and I love him with all my heart!

Cape Breton, NS, Canada

There's No Such Thing As I Can't.

I'm 23 years old, and I have what used to be known as Asperger's Syndrome, but it is now Autism Spectrum Disorder. I spent years refusing to believe I had autism, but my lack of proper social skills and the fact that I received Special Education Services in school said otherwise. I was told, and believed myself, that I would probably never have a lot of things a normal person might. That included a college degree, a normal romantic relationship, a job better than minimum wage, or the ability to live independently. I took that entire list of things I couldn't do and set to work doing them. Today, I am fresh out of cosmetology school with several perfect attendance awards, I'm getting ready to start a new job at a local high-end salon, I live with my boyfriend of 1 1/2 years, and I continue to work with a vocational rehabilitation counselor on improving my social skills for on the job and off. I think whoever said "there's no such thing as 'I can't'" was on to something.....

Hague, NY

Kyla's Autism Story

Hi I'm a single mom to this beautiful girl. My daughter was a bright blue eye happy baby. I started noticing things were different a few months before she turned 2. At age 20 months she was still "bum shuffling" not pointing, little eye contact, didn't like big crowds and flapped her hands. I decided to make a doctors appointment September 2013. Her doctor notice something wasn't right so since we live in a small town I had to wait a long 6 months before she had testing done. March 4, 2014 I was told my daughter was diagnosed with Autism. I was heart broken, scared, shocked, and confused. Right away I got Kyla all the help our town offered. She is now 3 years old and 2 months. She has came a long way and makes me very proud. Kyla loves music and animals. My child has taught me more then anybody in life and I will never give up on her!

Iron River, MI


As I grew up on the island of Saipan, lots of things happened in my childhood, until the day I graduated from High School. It was a long journey so far, and full of memories blended like a fruitshake. On my early age, I was unable to speak until my mom fed me a fried chicken-butt. And somehow it helped me a lot, however, it made me a talkative person. My Father was always kind when my older sister and I were babies, until we grew up, he started to change and drink a lot. He became abusive, then things changed again, and for sure, it was better than before. My older sister was always there for me, and always loved me like a stuffed doll. She is tough, kind, and funny all the way. And finally, my mother, who is always helping me a lot. She teached me lots of things about life so far, and is always helping me try to socialize with different people, to learn what's going on around the world, to face reality. It helped me learn more, to expand my knowledge. And she does everything she can to support me and my sister. Sometimes, she is strict only for my own good, but in the same time, she shows me a kind loving sensation. I also thank some of my teachers who helped me a lot in my education, the members of the Autism Society of the CNMI ( ASCNMI ); That's when I met a good friend who also has Aspergers. In my childhood, I've always been bullied and alone back then. But that was all in the past now. There are more things I need to learn.And all I need to do is live through. I always say "GOOEY!" when I'm excited or bored ( hard to tell ). So, to all the the parents who have children with Autism, never give up trying to teach them the good things that can help them grow and learn, accept them for who they are, and give them the love that they always need.

Larissa Marie
Saipan, MP

The Ability Beyond Disability

I wanted to share with you my daughter Rachel. I will remember always getting the phone call from the preschool telling me that they thought something was wrong because she was not interacting with the other children. They encouraged me to get an early childhood evaluation. It was an emotional time but I remember just wanting to do everything I could for her to help. This lead to an eventual diagnosis of Asperger's. Many years of speech/ language, occupational therapy and social skills groups later,she is now 17 and a senior at high school. She plans to pursue a career as a neuropsychologist. She has just won the title of Miss Florida Collegiate America and will complete this summer with girls from across the nation representing every state and Canada. When she was younger we put her in pageants as a way to gain confidence, speak to others and make friends, and gain social skills along with doing volunteering and community service. Her platform is called The Ability Beyond Disabilities and is focused on helping people with disabilities realize their potential and building confidence to follow their dreams. She is the international spokesperson for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida. Also a member of the International Thespian Honor Society and a vocalist. Rachel is a youth board member for Conserve it Forward which promotes environmental awareness and education. Also an ambassador for Artista's Academy, which is a place that believes every individual with autism has unique talents, abilities and purpose, encouraging individuals and changing the way people with autism work, play, and live in their communities. She is also involved with the Inspire Foundation that provides the arts and music to children with disabilities, and the Mr. Strong Foundation which raises money to provide therapy such as occupational, speech / language, and physical therapy to children. It has been a special journey to see Rachel as a young person who needed the therapy and assistance, to now watch her turning the tables and become the person that is passionate about helping others.

Barbara Barcellona
Palm Harbor, FL
Red Bow Specials
Until All the Pieces Fit Mug
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