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love of my life

When I first found out I was pregnant with my son Hayden, I was 5 months along already. He was the best thing that ever happened to me because he saved it.

My life was going down the drain and fast but once I found out then gave birth, my life has never been better.

My son wasn't diagnosed until he was five years old, should half way through pre-k. I may not have liked what I heard but it explained so much to me as well.

Ever since then, my son has become brighter everyday. He may test me or the teachers, but I'm always learning. He teaches me to view the world differently then I could ever imagine.

Everyone he views as a friend and he doesn't judge. He loves everyone and makes my life full. I feel like through him, I see a million rainbows. Nothing is ever wrong or right, it just is. He's a strong independent boy and is laughing all the time. His smile lights up my world and I couldn't be more proud.

Deanna Eaton
Mount Airy, NC

Fifteen-Year-Old with Autism connects with Video

Antonio has been uploading his videos to YouTube for four years. Initially, they could be hard to understand and some viewers would make unkind comments. Antonio was undeterred. So long as people were showing up to watch, he was thrilled.

Though he has trouble connecting with other kids in person and has been the subject of a lot of school yard bullying and rejection, connecting via a computer has been a far better experience. He's learned about video-editing, using royalty-free music, authoring DVDs and animation - all of this despite developmental delays, autism and cerebral palsy.

His shows are about pirates, evil twins and cowboys, and many are about his life. He publishes a "vlog" detailing his dog walks and day to day activities. He recently made a music video, "The Awesome Music", using natural sounds like a door closing, gargling and typing on a keyboard.

With a video camera and a laptop Antonio soars, alongside and sometimes past, his typical peers.

Though his parents tried to get involved, he's always insisted on working independently. He's had moments of frustration but managed to figure out where to look for help and worked through to the other side of every challenge. He's testament to the fact that we should never count these kids out. We just need to know when to get out of the way sometimes.

Now, at fifteen-years-old he has three channels, one "Copyrightmoviestvshowsongs funny videos guy" has 400,000 views and 380 subscribers. His goal is to get to 400 subscribers. I have no doubt he will get there and beyond.

Juliana Piccillo
Tucson, AZ

A new understanding

Hey everyone my name is Jackie i am 22 and i am the mother of two amazing little girls. Chloie is almost 4 and Makennley is 2 months old. Both little girls different in so many ways. I gave birth to Chloie on feb 20th 2011 and she was my blessing from god... After 8 miscarriages and finding out her pregnancy was a twin pregnancy and loosing her twin at 10 weeks i cherished every day that little girl was inside me growing strong and healthy... Chloie Noelle Jackson was born at 38 weeks and was 5 pounds 13 oz and 19.5 in long... she was pure perfection... i was 18 years old and knew being a single teen parent was going to be hard.. but i had no idea what i was truly in for. As chloie grew older their was no doubt she was the smartest little girl i knew...but something just was not right... She would not talk and was not walking as soon as she should have been... at about twoshe started saying single words like momma and milk and cup. Just the basic words most one year old knew and at two she was walking good but was VERY clumsy and super hyper... I met my Husband a month after my daughter turned two years old and he fell in love with her. But even right away he noticed she was a bit different... She never talked much and had so much energy that it was unreal she never took a break... After weeks of debate we decided to take her to the doctors and talk about why she was so behind on talking and why she was so out of control.... It has been so hard and difficult. Family members will not even watch her because she is so out of control and i did not know why until a week ago.. One week ago my now almost 4 year old was diagnosed with ADHD and Autism and Aspurgers.. I am so new to this and not sure how to take this all in.

longview, WA

If I could only walk a mile in his shoes....

My son, Dyson was diagnosed with autism at 2 yo. There were no signs of it prior to the age of 13 months; by 15 months, I could no longer keep inside the changes I was rapidly seeing in him. All the typical signs of autism were there suddenly. He would not respond to his own name anymore, he avoided other kids when they tried to join his play, he walked on his tip-toes, he was not saying any of 9 to 11 words he was saying before, etc. At first I was so consumed with doctor visits and research, that I didn't think about the bigger picture. My son now 9 years old, has been going to public school since he was 3. He is and always has been very loving boy. Although considered non-verbal, he does communicated through sign-language, PECS. Dyson has tons of love, support. His little sisters at their young ages look out for him, as well as cousins, friends. You don't know the places autism can take a person until you are living it every single day. I have cried numerous nights. At first it was always "WHY?" and then after some time, I don't recall when, I embrace autism. Its what I know, and in a sense it was "normal" to me. These children are gifted. Its a shame that this whole spectrum has miles of chaos and unanswered questions! A part of me is throwing my hands up and saying, "my child is fine, why try fixing what isn't broken?" and other parts of me are torn, thinking about what his adult life is going to be like, and the all infamous wonder of all parents of autistic children, "who is going to be there for him/her after I am gone?"

Federal Dam, MN

My boy max xx the light in every room x

I noticed from 3 months old that something seemed different, my boy would hold his hand over his eyes n wave it n watch it, he was/is obsessed with mickey mouse club house and becomes transfixed on it.. He sat, climbed, walked all early. But he didn't talk, clap, wave, point etc at all. He has sleeping issues in that he doesn't! Lol ever.. or seems like it and is on a new trial of melatonin.

These days max has just turned 2 in august, he's in a senco nursery 5 mornings a week and thriving, he has a speech therapist go in and the senco teachers there are all fab with him.. In just 4 weeks we have words! Yes please, thank you, dad, ty (his brother), mickey, drink, biscuit, he also uses the pecs system. He doesn't give people eye contact but it's getting better, he's still outgoing tho.. loves the park, loves other kids chasing him, loves dogs, always laughing.. I may not know maxs future, but I'll be right there encouraging him always n forever xxx

cannock, United Kingdom

Hi im proud to say im Isaick Gable Mom

Isaick I just wanted to let you know you are my hero and im so proud of you! You have people make fun Of you on a daily bases say mean things mean looks. And you get upset and aggravated at times but you still manage to hold your head up smile and keep going .. you have your moments and you have your fits but tht dont hold you back . You work so hard in therapy you try to do what your suppose to do. You are talking and have sence u were almost 5 . And you have accomplish so much more . You are in regular classes, doing sports, etc. Even with us finding out u can no longer hear in right ear u still say its ok Mommy ill be like superman and hear real good in other ear you always look at the positive. I wanted to let you. Know im very proud of you and keep up the good work . With all this hard work you will be able to be a Cop are a lawyer for kids in no time Just like you want to be . And so much more ... im so proud to say im ur mom because you are a fighter and i get to stand beside you and see it all love u and i will never stop fighting for you either. Thank You for being you always and never being negative and having a warm heart even when they dont deserve it ... Love You and always will

Starla Gable
Wilsonville, AL

My life with Aspergers

My mom have told me I always was the odd girl at kindergarten. I never spoke to anyone but my best (and only) friend. In 1st grade I got one new friend that I always stayed with. All the time. By 7th grade I only had one friend again. I had had a huge fight with my first friend and she wouldn't speak to me again. When my only friend started talking to other people and make other friends I got jealous and tried to talk to people. I got bullied a lot so no one really paid attention to my hellos or any other kind of trying to make friends. It ended up with me crying in my room and playing with barbie. I got bullied at home to. By my dad that every day told me how much of a freak I am. Now my life is great. My mom took me and left my dad. I started at a new school in 8th grade and got good grades. I have always loved reading and now I'm calm enough to do it. I have always been depressed and now I'm taking medicine against depression so I can finally laugh and smile again. The scars on my hands don't bother me anymore. I'm happy again. The one big thing in my life is Twilight. I got 928 posters in my room and over 175 Twilight stuff. Such as autographs and a costume and a ton of jewellery. This November I'm going to meet some of the actors which have been my dream since I was 8. I'm now in 10th grade and my life is as perfect as it can get. I only got one thing to say to everyone else out there. Stay strong!

Trondheim, Norway

Awareness for Adults with Autism

I am the parent of a of an adult man with autism who at age 27 has never been able to communicate with words. He still lives at home with me and attends an adult day program 4 days a week (behavioral skills is the focus) where he interacts with peers much like himself. I just don't see a lot of awareness on Facebook that focuses on autistic individuals like my son… And there are more like him than people realize

Laura Jaquess
Golden, CO

Children With Autism Can Learn When Given A Chance

This story is one of hope and encouragement for parents or any caregivers who have a child with Autism. I am a reading specialist and took up a request last year from a parent to work with his child who had Autism. The concerns from the parent were that his 7-year-old son had not been making any progress in school (child was in school since age 3) in learning to read. Specifically, the child did not know more than 10 sight words, had no understanding of phonics, and was unable to write words or simple sentences. The school made little or no effort to help him progress. At first, I noticed it was very difficult to administer assessments that would provide valid results since the boy was very active and had difficulty focusing. However, I decided it would certainly be worth some effort to see if he would respond to good reading instruction that other children are typically provided in school during first and second grade (with appropriate adaptations made for this child).

Instruction started at a first grade level and included activities such as making words, directly teaching all key phonics skills (the boy loved coloring, so I tried to integrate as many sheets/materials as possible that involved coloring and phonics) listening to stories on tape from reading textbooks and then having the boy read the same stories aloud, orally discussing stories with the student (often about the characters, setting, events, etc.), providing reinforcement stories for the child to read with his parents between lessons, and also using a research-based technique called emotional thermometers (this strategy helped the boy identify and relate to simple emotional states of characters in fiction stories and increased comprehension dramatically). I am proud to report that in less than one month, the boy was making amazing progress and was actually reading simple stories, writing some complete sentences, and reading many sight words. After about 11 months, the child had progressed more than a full grade and a half. The lesson is this: children with Autism can and do learn when given a chance.

Chicago, IL

Brotherly Love

I was 2 when I told my parents I wanted a little brother. Of course they tried to explain I might get a sister but, i was adamant that I'd asked God for a brother and that's what i would get. My baby brother, Khalil was born when I was 3 years and 4 months old. He's the light of our lives. He didn't talk to anyone but me until he was 4 years old. He would shyly whisper to me when he wanted or needed something such as food or the bathroom. One day, after my parents had yet again not believed my stories that he could speak, he was sitting on the swings in our backyard singing the alphabet that I'd been teaching him to himself. I rushed into to the kitchen and dragged my mother out so she could see. He wasn't given a formal diagnosis until he was 12 years old, when he was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. At that time, my father was advised to permanently institutionalize him. Doctors said he'd be a burden on our family otherwise. My brother is 27 now, he served 4 years in the Marine Corps as a jet engine mechanic, and now serves in the National Guard whilst attending college via the GI Bill. Nobody will ever tell him what he can't do again.

Kadeshia Easton
Pittsburgh, PA
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