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Little Bear

Zachary or Z was diagnosed with Autism about 5 years ago. At the time, he was 10 years old and I was concerned that he could not be diagnosed anymore. When he was a baby he was going through all the developmental steps as he should and when he started to talk, it stopped. Zachary was about 1. He regressed in his development. Luckily, his middle brother has special needs (VCFS) that affected his speech, so we knew to call the program that he was in for therapy to get Zachary help.

The therapists never brought up Autism. The first anyone uttered that word was at our church VBS and Zachary was 3. The next I would hear about it was when Zachary was in kindergarten. The school was able to continue with getting the aide needed to keep him within the special ed department, so we didn't pursue it. It wasn't until the magnitude of his melt-downs changed, the realization of the cognitive disability and worrying about his future (as we had to start thinking about his brother's future) that the need for a diagnosis was needed to be able to open doors easier, if he needed them to be.

Although I already knew, I cried when I read the diagnosis because it became real. Z (he can't stand the sound of his name) is graduating 8th grade and is being confirmed. His melt-downs are still hard to deal with but are not a frequent as they used to be. People ask what he is like when he melts down and I tell them that Z gets as big as a bear. But that big bear turns into the sweetest little bear when he is calm and has always been my little bear.

Heather
Sheboygan Falls, WI

How Autism Affects Me

By: Olivia, 10 yrs old

Having a sibling with autism can be hard sometimes. I have a 4-year-old sister named Haylee with autism. She can’t do things as well as other kids her age can.

Haylee has therapists that help her to learn. When I come home from school, a lot of times there will be a therapist helping her. I don’t mind! I just know that they are helping making it possible for me and my family to be able to talk and do other things with my sister someday.

Sometimes other children think that it’s funny that she can’t do as many things other kids can or that she makes noises that you wouldn’t usually hear from a 4-year-old. I have to stick up for Haylee. She is just different than most kids and that is OK because everyone is different.

Haylee loves to play. One of her talents is wearing me and my family out!!! She loves to run around and then you have to chase her. She LOVES to swing as well!!! If you were to push her for a day, she would swing for a day. If you where to push her for a week, she would swing for a week!

She also loves school. She goes to the same school that me and my brother do. My brother and I ride with her on the special education bus because we don’t want her to be alone.

One of Haylee’s favorite things is her iPad. She goes where the iPad goes! It can be hard to take it away sometimes. Sometimes she gets special privileges with it. I know that it can sometimes seem unfair, but we can do things that she can’t or isn’t allowed to do.

Autism has different effects on everyone who has it. We don’t know why Haylee has Autism; we just know that everyone is special and unique in their own little way.

Shayleen
Fairfield, OH

Sweet 16th to my severe autistic daughter

Would just like to share a short Praise for my sweet daughter Taylor, she is getting ready to turn sweet 16, she is a very sweet, kind, loving, big heart, wonderful person. She has very little speech, communication of no more than a 3 year old, she is such a great girl, Its rough sometimes but I love her so much that I look over the hard moments. Hopeing she has a great 16th birthday, she has to go to school for LIfe Skills class's over and hour there and a hour back, since our home based school doesnt offer any classes that would benefit her. She doesnt have friends like a normal 16 year old, she does take up with people (some do not except her) its sad to say but some of our own family do not except her and treat or like a human being or love her the way she desrves. I would do anything and everything to help her that I can. I am going to make her sweet 16 birthday as special as I can make it, she likes to color and say abcs, and listen to music (loves certain artist :) I pray for her every day, I Pray for all kids, and adults that suffer from autisum,, they have feelings,hearts, just like everyone else, I wish people would just stop and think of what they go thru, and How everything effects them weather you think it does or not..HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY SWEET PRECIOUS TAYLOR....MOMMY LOVES YOU SWEET ANGEL! I call her my Angel because I know God sent her to me for a reason! God Bless You All.............

jessica white
Bunker Hill, IN

My sister and our story~

My name is Brenna, I have a sister who has a form of Autism. Her name is Amber. Forgive me for not knowing the name of what she has. From the time we were kids, it was hard for me to understand why my sister had more attention from our parents than I did. It sparked a lot of anger inside of me, even into my high school years I hated talking about my sister. Anytime someone came up to me and asked me about her, I would give them short answers like "She's good. Doing well. I'll tell her hi." and then I would walk away. I know I probably sound like someone who deserves a hard slap to the face, but, this is how I truly acted.

It still bothers me to this day, that many people still come up to me, asking about her. But I've learned to live with the fact that she is different, in a very special way. She's slow, finds things funnier than most others would, opens up to people far to easily, sometimes still annoys me when she is curious about anything and everything and repeatedly asks about it. And I admit, sometimes I still yell at her without thinking about it. But I do apologize later and we make up. I wouldn't change her for any amount of riches in the world. She's my sister and I love her very much.

We still have our ups and down, as I am almost 21 and she is currently 27. I understand that she takes things in slower and sometimes I have to take a deep breath and talk things out with her. She gets frustrated and cries over the easiest of things. And those are the times I've learned to sit down and explain things slowly to her, so she understands what is going on. And those are the times that seem to help her the most. Things may still be bumpy between us, but, we are are still siblings, sisters, and nothing will ever change that.

Brenna Swab
Brockway, PA

My best friend!

When my little brother was born I knew he would be my best friend. I was 8 years old when he was born and 11 years old when he was diagnosed with high functioning autism. He had the stereotypical behaviors of autism but it never really posed much of a problem for our family. I was the family member he bonded with the most; we would have endless hours of playing and talking. When he began puberty however he developed severe obsessive compulsive disorder. I felt like I lost my best friend forever, all of a sudden he was having ritualistic behaviors for hours and was exhibiting violent behavior to himself and others. But after months of trying different medications and therapy I am proud to say I have my best friend back. He is back to making silly jokes and being the curious life loving little man I knew. He is my constant inspiration. If he recover from obsessive compulsive disorder and go through life on the spectrum I know I can get through anything. He will always be my au-mazing best friend!

Anonymous
North Miami, FL

The First Asperger's Kid in School

When my son Clint was 10 years old he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Up until that time some of the professionals at the school said they were afraid to tell me they thought he was Autistic. They were wrong. I was so glad to have a diagnosis because up until then I had been fumbling in the dark. I listened to the doctors and the teachers who told me to put him on Ritalin and on Lithium and every other drug you can think of. We tried them all. It was obvious to me that they were not what he needed. Thank goodness for the diagnosis. Once I knew what was wrong we worked hard to overcome it! Clint graduated from High School and started college at The University of Tennessee. I had promised him that things would be better for him at the university but sadly life was not! The Disability Department did not know anything about Asperger's and thought I was trying to pull a fast one on them by asking for him to have extra time to take his tests and to do his work on the computer. Even though he had scored high on the ACT test and they had to accept him, they wanted him retested because they didn't believe he was Autistic. He took Science classes and wanted to be a doctor. He could name every bone and muscle in the body by their Latin name. He studied Japanese and Latin and made an A in College Chemistry! He became a licensed massage therapist and was doing great when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2006. After 2 stem cell transplants at Vanderbilt Hospital and several rounds of chemo he was pronounced terminal. He passed away February 15, 2008. At his service many of his friends were unaware that he was Autistic. He had come so far and done so well. His friends and family started a foundation called The Clinton T Walker Foundation Inc. We have just finished the 7th World Autism Walk.

Anonymous
knoxville, TN

Hayden's Way

By age 1, he gave up his bottle and pacifier on his own and went to straws and sippy cups. But he wasn't crawling or lifting his head while doing belly time. He wasn't rolling around either. He would say dada but nothing else. By age 2, he was walking, He wouldn't use a fork or spoon. At age 2, his peditrician thought that he should be speaking more than 3 words and babbling more, even showing signs of pretend more than he was. It was suggest that we have him tested for Autism. Though he was diagnosed with ASD, we were in denial. We didn't see it. By age 2 1/2 - 3, we were all learning sign language as a form of communication and he's in preschool, were they have him learning the PECS System as well as sign language as a form of communication.I am online every day, reading stories, learning more about Autism, some days crying and feeling frustrated, some days feeling hopeful and empowered with knowledge to try and help myself as well as my son. I have gained much patience in all of this, it even amazes me. He will be four in July. He is amazing to say the least. He is loving, kind, and funny. He still is non verbal but communicates well through sign. He is smart and masters puzzles, games, has amazing computer skills and can take apart and put back together many things. He is great when we go places, shopping, restaurants and such. He's not a wanderer. He helps around the house all the time. We still have obstacles to face. Eye contact isn't always there and he's such a picky food eater. He sleeps great but we have difficulties with potty training. To this day, we still don't always see Autism. We see that he has different abilities than others. He lights up a room with his smile. He makes me a better person and I love him to the moon and back. He's my teacher and I'm still learning.

Rhonda L DiMaggio
Uncasville, CT

Confusion

Our son is 27 months old. Since he was a baby he has been kind of distant. Unlike our second child he didn't really care to be held, wouldn't mimic facial expression, was behind in rolling/crawling. By one he wasn't talking or pointing. He starting rocking back/forth,stimming,hitting himself, and banging his head. I searched these things on the internet and immediately autism came up.

We brought our concerns to his physician. We were referred to a specialist. His first appointment they did an evaluation, referred him to speech therapy. He was 20 months. His hand gestures changed, but didn't stop. The doctor told us he wasn't sure yet, and wanted to wait. His speech was recorded as that of an 8 month old at 24 months.

7 months after his evaluation, we are still in speech therapy. He has finally started talking! He still has tantrums, rocks, makes hand gestures, (but less) He loves cars and anything that spins, prefers to be alone, doesn't like to be cuddled unless it's on his terms, looks at things out of the corner of his eye, and slaps himself in the face.

We go back and forth, but his speech pathologist who works with autistic children seems to think he is autistic. Everytime they say it, it burns in my chest. For a while I felt as if I lost a part of myself. It was like I was grieving. Would my son ever play sports? Would he get bullied in school? Would he be able to be independent? Would he ever tell me he loves me? Will he get married? Have children?

To me, the diagnosis will not change anything. He will still be my baby. Right now we go back and forth, and it hurts me when people recognize his behaviors and say things like "Why does he do that?" "Look at his eyes! Why is he doing that?" He doesn't seem different to me. He's perfect in my eyes.

I just want the peace instead of wondering everyday "is he or isn't he?"

Anonymous
unknown, CA

My three year old just diagnosed with Autism

Hello my name is Veronica. Me and my husband have a three year old son, Mason, who was just diagnosed with Autism. He is developmental delay by one year. He does not have many words and bables a lot. He is in pre-k at the elementary school I work at. He does have some social problems for instance: he pushes his friends and hits them. He throws tantrums but he is frustrated that he can not speak. Me and my husband knew there was something wrong when he was around 2 and we knew it had to be autism. So we were not surprised by the diagnose. He receives speech therapy while he is in school and also occupational therapy. He loves going to school.

Veronica Lynch
Virginia Beach, VA

There was something different... Not bad... Just different.

I went to an LGB Youth Group from being 14. And one day, when I was 20, I was informed that there was a new girl starting. I'm not going to lie, I only went to be nosy. When I got there, there was this girl, she was quiet at first. Very wall-flower-like. She only spoke when someone spoke to her, and answered direct questions, but didn't join in with others conversations. She played a game of pool with my sister, and played SingStar with me. She had the most beautiful voice I had ever heard in my life. At the end of the night I got her number. She asked me to meet her the following day, so I did. I took her for something to eat, and after I went home, I asked her out by text. She asked me to stay over at her Mum's. I knew she was different... Not bad... Just different. I had never met anyone like her.

Now, I had worked in a Residential School for Children with Autism and CB for 2 years prior to meeting her. While we were going out I started to notice little things. She liked strict routine, didn't like certain textures, she had obsessions (Sleeping Beauty, Tetley Tea Folk) and she would get very passionate about certain things that somehow seemed trivial to me. She didn't understand jokes or social norms. I loved her all the more. But there was something niggling at the back of my mind, and it took me a long time to say anything. I finally asked her if she had heard of Asperger's Syndrome.

I discussed it at length with her, and we went down all the right channels. Last year in July, she got a diagnosis. Asperger's, as I had suspected. She has an Autism Nurse that visits every 2 weeks, and she has made great progress. I am so very proud of the person she has become. We'll have been together 4 years in June. And she really is the most amazing girl I've ever met... She's the blonde one.

Steff Millington
Mexborough, United Kingdom
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