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Our Journey Through an Uphill Battle

By the time my son Owen was born, I was so elated and he was so beautiful. We had some issues with jaundice, but after that we assumed "life would continue as normal." Boy were we wrong. Owen didn't sleep at night, and I'm not over exaggerating that point. He only slept in an upright rocking chair being rocked, the second you stopped he was up and screaming again. I knew then something was not quite right. When it came down to food, it was the beginning of battles we still fight. He refused to eat baby food. No matter what it was, he spit it out. One day I was half asleep and accidentally spooned my yogurt into his oatmeal and to my suprise he loved it! That was the easiest thing I have ever gotten him to eat.

Milestones came next and I noticed he wasn't where he should be. He didn't like eye contact and he had an odd way of lining up his toys as that was his way of "playing." He said Dadda, Momma and mimi (sleep). When he got upset he would rock and twitch his fingers. Then one day, he snapped and started banging his head on the tile floor. Two days later his words were gone and the head banging continued. He never slept, actually til he was almost 4 he never slept all night. I begged for him to be evaluated and it took 2 Drs to agree he had PDD-NOS he was 18 months. Everything has been a battle. Talking, potty training, eating, sleeping, angry outbursts,transitions, new or change of plans and everyday life. He is so smart, caring, funny and loving. But those bad days, they can really put you through the ringer.

Tiffany McVay
Clarksville, TN

My two brothers!

My two oldest brothers are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. My oldest brother Thad two years ago was clinically diagnosed with Aspergers a high functioning form of Autism Spectrum. My second oldest brother Kyle when he was 8 years old was diagnosed with autism. I have seen how autism affects lives not only within the family but outside as well. If anyone out there has a family member with autism go give them a hug and tell them how much you love them. To live this life outside of a bubble is a precious gift from God. Thankfully after seeing the reality of autism I hope to bring more awareness to the disorder, because my life is different having experienced first hand the affects of autism.

Tyler turner
Cranford, NJ

To love and be loved in return

Clément is a strapping 12 years old french boy living in England. He was diagnosed with ASD aged one and half years old. Since, with the love and care of special individuals around him he is overcoming his handicap. Clément was non verbal until the age of 8. Uttering only a few words. He is now bilingual french/english and converse and understand in both languages. He still has a long way to go, but his progress are steady and continuous. His kindness to others knows no boundaries. When he smiles he lights up the world. His success was dependent on my ability to understand and communicate with him. So I went to research and learn everything I could about Autism and how to deal with him. I educated myself so in turn I could help him and gather around individuals that I know would assist. The intelligence of people is to first recognise that they do not have the required knowledge and therefore need to go the extra mile to acquire that knowledge. Patience, perseverance, courage, kindness, positiveness are qualities that I needed to develop even further to an extreme to be able to support him.

An autism story is not just about the sufferer but it is also about the people that surrounds him. All the sacrifices made, the tears shed, the relentness are rewarded with a simple smile, a hug, a kiss.

To all the people out there, caring and loving a person with autism, do not give up. You cannot afford to give up. You must carry on and just as I am you will find yourself eventually in a good place where the love that you have for one another will be all that prevails and will conquer mountains.

I am able and willing to help anyone that have the need for it. Whether for advice or simply a shoulder to cry on.

But you must believe and have hope, as without hope and belief there is no salvation.

Many thanks for reading our story.

Sylvie
London, United Kingdom

Autistic and Proud

Last year (at 38),I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Until then I had lived in the dark. I've always believed that I was different and felt as though people didn't completely understand me. Things were difficult, but after the diagnosis, I look back at what I've accomplished with more pride than ever. In my situation, Autism actually does have benefits.

Autism provided the obsessive drive that has allowed me to achieve nearly every goal I've ever set. When I was 12 years old, my goal in life was to manage the operation of an amusement park in Los Angeles. At 17, I started as a Ride Operator and fought my way up; every year moving closer to my dream. The Aspergian's unyielding determination helped me achieve my goal eventually managing the Operations Division, (pretty good for someone who is anti-social, anti-crowds, anti-noise...). The park helped me learn coping skills that I use on a daily basis. I can put on a face and mimic like a champ! When needed, I can turn on my social side, although I still loathe social events. Case in point: I tried to ditch out on a Christmas party where I was to be driven in a limo and receive a plaque for Operations Employee of the Year... hehe! Immersion into the uncomfortable can be beneficial. Years ago, I left Six Flags; Autism is my obsession now.

I wish that I would have been diagnosed earlier in life. Post-diagnosis has been eye opening. Now, my life makes sense. Granted, Autism is not easy and it has certainly helped push me to the edge time and time again, but now that I finally know, I'm better prepared. I discover new tendencies that we Aspies have on a daily basis and adjust accordingly. Awareness is life changing. I realize that crowds, noise, chaos, social events are not my style. However, I still view it as a gift in my case. I feel for people who struggle with it, but as for me, I don't want to be cured. I don't need a cure. I'm Autistic and proud.

Scott Gudmundson
Johnstown, CO

Huntin For A Cure For Hunter

Mama the words I have yet to hear from my 2 1/2 year old little boy Hunter! We always knew he was special from the day we brought him home from the hospital. Hunter never met any of his milestones on time he never really cooed or babbled as a baby. My husband and I knew that something wasn't right so started talking with his Dr and had Hunter tested for autism he was officially diagnosed June 2014! Hunter is slowly progressing and smiles and laughs all the time he loves mickey mouse climbing on everything! we would not change Hunter for the world because he is our special boy that didn't grow in my tummy but grew in my heart!!

Hunter's mommy

sarah
columbus, OH

Damon's Story

I had my little boy on May 19th of 2005. He was a cute little thing everything was alright after I had him. He made all the makers that a child should make. He was walking and talking around 2 years of age. I honestly didn't think anything was wrong with him until he started school. In kindergarten that's when the teacher said she was having trouble understanding my son. That he would want to be by himself, that he would talk out in class and disrupt what the teacher was teaching and that he was having trouble making friends with others. After almost a year of receiving calls from the school about his behavior it was decided that he be tested for autism and that when we found out that my little boy had autism. Although after that everything changed for the better we where able to send him to school without receiving calls every day saying your son had done this or that. That he was getting the help he needed was a weight off of me, because for the longest time I really didn't know what was wrong with my boy. Now almost three years later he is almost able to be in a classroom setting and not get into trouble. He still needs the help with a few things but he is somewhat able to understand how to act in a social setting and what he needs to do to stay on task. I know that some people have this harder then me but am honestly great full for the help he has received in the last three years and I hope that he will continue to improve. Thank you for reading my son's story. And I hope that it will inspire you not to give up hope.

Cindy Cummings
Houston, TX

Totally different child

Alex is 14 years old. He was diagnosed with many different diagnosis's until the end of 2nd grade when it was finally determined he had Aspergers. He was a very frustrated young kid. He was smart beyond his age. He loves routine and structure. He expects everyone to follow the rules completely... no gray area. At the end of 2nd grade he was completely in "learning support" class room primarily because of his behavior. He was really good at flipping desks and telling the teacher exactly how he felt about her. He was about 2 years behind all the other kids academically.Our home school district could not help him... Yes, I believe our home school district failed him in elementary school. He ended up at a partial hosipital school (he came home at night). He spent 5 years there. And boy has he changed. When he transitioned out of the school he gave the graduation speech. 7th grade he was in all regular ed classes except for math and science. Both of those were learning support classes... 8th grade he was only in learning support math. Now the new year started again...he is a freshman in high school He loves it.. all regular ed classes. Yes he still loves routine, and structure...but he can now handle rules being bent a little. We have come a long way from Elementary Alex to now Freshman Alex. We still have moments that his aspergers really takes over. But now we can "ride the wave".

jeanne
swissvale, PA

Jimmy Chavez

My brother is 14 years old, he was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. He's very low functioning so he doesn't talk and has trouble understanding from right or wrong.

It's been very hard for our family but we love him very much.

Recently he and our mother were on the news and you guys should check it out.

http://www.kusi.com/story/26379486/they-towed-his-car

Ashley
San Diego, CA

TOBY SLIPPED THROUGH THE NET

Toby is 15, and has only just been diagnosed as Autistic, even though the signs were there from the beginning. The general atmosphere here in the UK for the last couple of decades has been one of denial, where specialists even with their suspicions, have been frightened to come forward and speak out. Any talk of links between the MMR vaccine, and the Autistic Spectrum have quickly been hushed and swept under the carpet; any professional brave enough to stick his head above the parapet, has quickly been shot down.....

Toby's condition is undeniably linked to the vaccine. He was a well developed, talking, eating, healthy child. There were no signs of any problems at all, until post injection. Almost immediately, the change was dramatic, no talking, impossible eating regimes, difficulty with bowel movements, social interaction became difficult, no eye contact, etc., etc.

Over the next 13 years or so, the changes became more obvious, and although we were pushed down several routes of treatment, the underlying tension was there every time you raised the MMR theory, with people actually frightened to acknowledge publicly, that there could be a link. The professionals denied it, but us, the parents, knew there was a definitive link, and talking to parents in a similar position, only sought to reinforce our theory.

Now, the tide is turning, there is some agreement here that there could be a link, nobody talks publicly about it, but if you engage a professional and talk off the record, they are a little more relaxed. For us though, it's a little late. Toby is now a teenager, and has missed out on years of valuable time, where he could have had some decent help. In the UK, you get no help until you are diagnosed....

We love him dearly, he is a great boy, funny, articulate, focused and good company. He is a little bit reclusive, he's been out of the house less than a dozen times this year, preferring to interact online, but hopefully we can now move forward, and he can start to fulfill his fantastic potential.....

Anonymous
BOURNEMOUTH, United Kingdom

Different.......Never Less

My son's name is Anthony and after 6 long years of fighting for a diagnose and tantrum after tantrum, confusion and frustration I finally got an answer, Autism Disorder with ADHD. Didn't surprise me but did hurt to hear. I knew all along. He is the best child a mother could have. He is enrolled in an IB league school for gifted and talented children, plays sports, currently in American Football. But things aren't always as nice as they seem. At the age of 3 I was terrified of my son. He was nonverbal up until 4 and would take out all that frustration on me. When he was 5 I met my husband and his son who have helped me so much with my son I could never repay them for it. I know thanks to their help my son now is more verbal and his tantrums have reduced to 1 a month or so. He is very sensitive to the light, going out in the sun is such a nightmare, loud sounds horrible. But all these are just things we as a family had to learn to adapt to. Everyday is definitely a new challenge although we try hard to maintain everyday with the same routine or he will flip and as he gets older he gets stronger and tantrums are no longer rolling on the floor tantrums. I'm just learning how to work with him so I can understand him better. I always knew my baby was different, but never less.With the love and support from my husband and my stepson who have been a great help in my son's journey I know we will be fine. Couldn't do it with out my husband and stepson they are a true blessing through out this journey. I can't wait to see my son become a the great and successful man I know he will become one day!

Alejandra Rugg
Sturtevant, WI
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