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Nathan - Melts our hearts

Nathan is three and a half years old. He was diagnosed with mild autism about 4 months ago. We noticed that things were different with Nathan compared to our other children when they were that age, but we just thought he was really stubborn from the time he was two years old. Since he started on solids when he was a year old, he only eats crackers, plain waffles, dry cereal, fries and chicken nuggets (they have to be a certain texture), he used to panic when we would try to put him on the ground outside with no shoes on. He is very particular about the way things are done, likes to turn all of the lights on in the house, lines up his cars, smells Scentsy candles for hours, growls at people when they try to talk to him, has a hard time controlling his emotions when he is upset, answers "yes" when we ask him open-ended questions, has texture issues and much more. Nathan is very funny and his laugh is contagious. Blonde hair and blue eyes...he is going to be a heart breaker when he is older. When we had him evaluated, I had done a lot of research about autism and I had a feeling that was what was going on, but I wasn't sure. I felt so torn about how I would react to the results because if he had autism, that would explain so much, but if he didn't, I would feel like I just didn't know how to parent him correctly. I wasn't expecting to feel shocked at the results, but I was shocked. After about a month, the shock wore off and now we just take things one day at a time with a lot of therapies for Nathan. Aba, occupational therapy and feeding therapy. I read a quote that I absolutely love! Raising a child with autism does not TAKE a special family. It MAKES a family SPECIAL.

Jamie Bunch
Travis AFB, CA

a person of very great strength, intellect, or importance

Titan Jax was born in July two days after our one year wedding anniversary and we were over the moon. His name means a person of very great strength, intellect, or importance, we just knew that had to be the name for our first born child. Titan is silly; sweet; determined; active; strong; clumsy and smart. All the things a mother could hope for in a little boy. When he isn't being stingy with loves or way to involved with youtube he gives so much love and the most gentle kisses over and over. Just like his mother Titan LOVES Disney and has a serious smile when a certain redheaded mermaid sings to him from the tv. When Titan isn't running around the house shouting loud enough for 4 kids he can be found in his cuddle swing or on his bed playing with his action figures, cars and dinos. A few of his other favorite things are puzzles, and coloring and more recently PLAYDOH!!!! He will do anything you want if he can play with playdoh, lol. Next school year he will go to kindergarten because I can't believe I am even saying this but he will be 5 years old.

Oh and Titan was diagnosed as severely autistic in April 2014. . . a person of very great strength, intellect, or importance. He is here people, are you ready?

paulene conti
Roseville, CA

Being the sibling

My name is Kat. i am 16 and i am the oldest of four. Two of which, are Autistic. One of them is 4 the other is 3.

As they grew up the whole family noticed how they didnt learn to talk when they should have. We moved a few towns over from our house at the time to get them the services they needed and a year after their diagnosis, the 4 year old is in preschool and can actually communicate with us now and the 3 year old is learning signs to help communicate and is starting on her speech.

Both are very tech savvy, They can unlock an iphone and go straight to the app wanted no problem. You could move the apps around and they still we be able to find them. And they are smart with shapes and colors and recognizing characters.

Alot of people seem to think that having Autistic Siblings is horrible. But to be honest, they arent horrible at all. They listen, they do as asked and besides their speaking set back, they are normal toddlers. They are beyond adorable and I am so proud to be their older sister, their Kat Kat, their cuddle monster, their play toy and everything else.

I am proud to be related to two autistic kids. I will always stick by them. Even though i live across the country from them now, I will always be there for them. I love them to death. and I miss them so much. But the phone calls and skype calls i get with them puts a huge smile on my face and theirs. I hate looking around at my old school, because people would make fun of the autistic kids and the special needs kids and food allergy kids and i hated that. Because my three siblings(One has life threatening allergies) will be at that table. and I swear, if anyone makes fun of them, they will have to deal with me.

Anywho, I just wanted to share my little story ^^

Thank you for your time

Goodyear, AZ

My Husband Has Grown Through Aspergers & I Have Grown From It

I met my husband on the bus in 10th grade. While I never figured we'd ever date, we did quickly become friends. After a while, we did begin dating. He had broken up with me to date someone else, but we stayed friends. However, upon being verbally abused by a girl who ridiculed him for "being weird", he realized that, of all the girls he dated, I was the ONLY one who didn't hold his differences against him. If anything, I had accepted his differences, even admired them. He didn't like being touched, but he was so intelligent and thought outside of the box in such a way that'd leave you in awe. He couldn't process too many noises, but with his music, he could express himself in such a way that hit you right in the heart. It didn't take long after he broke up with me to realize how much he really did love me, and shortly afterwards, we were back together.

After dating for a couple of years, we finally got engaged and are now married with two kids; another on the way. I'm baffled at how far he's come!

Where touching was a no-no when we first started dating, he's now a cuddle bug! Where he avoided heavy socializing, he's now more social than I am! Working was assumed impossible for him six years ago; he's now working so I can be home with the kids, taking prominent steps towards being an electrician with mastery in mind. He still gets overwhelmed with too many noises, but he's filtering better so that he can process more.

And me?

I've learned patience. I've learned to communicate successfully with him in an understanding way. I learned his brute honesty isn't an attack, but an expression. I learned that beautiful things can come from what other's consider a handicap. Foremost, I learned that anything that seems impossible can be overcome. My husband is the biggest inspiration in my life and I count myself lucky to have him, Aspergers and all. He's an amazing, caring father and I'm proud of him.

Pam Jones
Windsor, PA

Brothers in Struggle

Autism is not a foreign thing to my family. My big brother John is somewhat low on the Autism scale. He has a very structured life and has lived in a group home since he was a teenager (he is now 47). He has no real concept of relationships or love. Growing up, he always got bullied, called names, etc. He was never accepted.

Then there is me...I always saw my brother and knew that I wasn't like him. In many ways, I felt like I was an ordinary kid, with ordinary likes and dislikes. However, I wasn't like any other kid. I truly enjoyed being by myself. When I was a teenager, my stepmother once said to me, "I wish you would get arrested or something, just so I know you are a normal kid". Was she right? Was I not a normal kid? When I was 22, I met a wonderful woman who later became my wife. Life seemed good, but there was always a problem. She told me that I have always preferred to get lost in video games and being alone than spending time with the family, including our kids. Things got worse. My marriage has suffered almost to the breaking point because I didn't know how to be a husband or father. I try, but I don't know what I am doing. The idea of being romantic, loving, and passionate is something I can't understand. I can give you a dictionary definition, but not much more. Everything I do has to have routine, down to a checklist. I am relatively intelligent - I have a Bachelor's degree and am working on a Master's degree now. However, I only understand structure and organization. It wasn't until my wife, a nurse, mentioned the possibility of me having Asperberger's Syndrome did something click. It was like the last puzzle piece fell into place! I broke down and cried. I haven't been diagnosed yet, but everything I have read about high-functioning autism fits me as if it was written about me. I feel like there is hope!

Port Orchard, WA

Jennalee, Life With Asperger's, Success, and Paying it Forward. I have Autism, but Autism doesn't have me!

My name is Jennalee. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 11. My parents always suspected there was something different about me, but it took a series of visits with neurologists in order for me to receive the proper diagnoses, after having been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder in preschool or kindergarten. I had intense obsessions with maps, nature, and animals during childhood. I barely even talked until I was 8 years old. I attended two K-12 special education private schools, one during grades K-3, one during grades 7-12, and I attended public schools during grades 4-6. At both my first school and the public schools, I was constantly bullied by students my own age, but I got along incredibly well with many older students who accepted me for who I am and would do anything possible to bring me out of my shell. I wandered around a lot, I fidgeted constantly, and I struggled to make eye contact or sit still in class. When I was in 7th grade, I went to a school more conducive to Asperger’s Syndrome that helped me succeed academically and led me to become a social butterfly today. I also met my long-term and current boyfriend at that school and we are very happy. There I earned numerous new friends of all ages who accepted me for who I am. I have attended 1 community college as well as 2 four-year colleges, all places of which I made amazing friends who accepted me for who I am despite my Autism. I am currently a junior in college majoring in social work with a concentration in child welfare and minor in childhood studies, as my dream is to give back to the community and help other people in honor of how people helped me through my struggles with Autism. I have Autism, but Autism doesn’t have me. Instead, Autism makes me better equipped for understanding other people with special needs and academic difficulties. If I can succeed, so can you! Never allow Autism to stop you from pursuing your dreams!

Mount Holly, NJ


In 2010 we found out that we were having a baby. we were unsure how we felt about this pregnancy as we already had 3 children the youngest being 13 years old and I was 38 years old. Because of my age I was deemed a high risk pregnancy and the journey started anything that could happen in a pregnancy did happen and we didn't know if our daughter was going to make it. at 7 months pregnant she was diagnosed with growth retardation and we knew that she may have problems. at 36 weeks we gave birth to a 3 pound baby girl and we knew right from the start that she was not your average child as she never cried. as she started getting older she was hitting her milestone and was progressing wonderfully and we couldn't be happier as our miracle child was never suppose to survive yet she was proving them wrong.i noticed her lining her toys up and not allowing any physical touching all well still not crying even when she got hurt. at 18 months she lost her voice and was no longer able to speak and the doctor diagnosed her with severe autism. she is now 4 and she fights everyday to learn and achieve what they said she never could.she teaches us new things everyday and we have found new ways to express our love for each other. she is now able to say some words with more words coming everyday and we know this journey has just begun but as she learns so do we and she has an a personality that draws people in and a smile that would melt the world. we are blessed to be able to call this girl our daughter

belleville, ON, Canada

My Non-Verbal Day

“Goodnight, Benson! I love you, boy,” I'd said to my hamster. It was the last thing I said out loud for the next 24 hours.

I decided to go non-verbal for a day. While I’m on the autism spectrum myself, I’ve always been verbal. I wanted to get a glimpse of what it might be like not to be able to speak, as some others on the spectrum experience. Of course, choosing not to talk isn’t exactly the same thing as being completely non-verbal. It was the closest I could think to get, however.

And I made it pretty easy on myself. I didn’t have to work. I didn’t have any important appointments or phone calls to make. I was thinking it would be a really simple Saturday. I was wrong.

I posted online:

“Just a few hours into my day of not speaking, and I'm already getting frustrated. I miss making sound. I want to hear my own voice. Speaking has now turned into this kind of art-form, and it's as though I'm not allowed to create.”

A friend came over to help me clean my room, and then we went out to a store. I posted:

"Finished cleaning my room with a friend. It was really hard! Afterward I went out to the store with her wearing a sign. I've learned that it's easier just not to try sometimes. I won't have a voice, but at least I won't be frustrated as much. It's such a feeling of hopelessness though."

“My non-verbal day isn't halfway over, and already I've 10x more respect for non-verbal people. Yes, my life is hard. But I can't imagine having to grow up this way and live it every day. I totally understand why many people use physical communication (grabbing, pulling, pushing, etc.). I know it's not acceptable, but it's a LOT easier than using an AAC. And when you're already frustrated, you want whatever is easiest.”

By the end of the day, I went to say goodnight to my hamster…and realized I couldn’t. I blew him a kiss and went to bed.

Erin Clemens
West Chester, PA

A Modern Helen Keller Story

My parents had always known there was something different about me- lining up toys for hours at a time, my poor social skills with kids my age, and my serious obsession with studying animals- they just knew there wasn't something right, but they knew they needed to do something to help me get up to par with all the other kids my age. My parents tried to teach me about social cues and how when kids say or do something they expect a certain response from me, I didn't understand why, but their advice worked. My new Mom taught me how to get through my grieving the loss of my biological Mom and Grandfather when I was 5 and 6, respectively. My Dad and new Mom taught me how to share a conversation and that not every conversation had to be about a topic that I liked. My new Mom worked especially hard with me to get me to read, socialize, she made me throw parties, join sports teams, clubs, and summer camps every year, it was pretty stressful for me, but once I got used to it I started to like it. Sometimes all her pushing to get me to get out there made me mad and sometimes we got into arguments over it, but looking back I am glad she did what she did for me. When I was finally diagnosed with Asperger's at 16 we were relieved to finally have a diagnosis that seemed to fit my habits. My parents were told to never expect me to live on my own, or hold a job, or get married, but my parents didn't listen. They knew I could do it. Now at 23 I have lived on my own since I was 18, I have been happily married for 5 years, go to college, and have a 2 year-old normal girl via planned pregnancy, and a small group of good friends. At the time, I wasn't happy with all the things my parents made me do, now I couldn't be happier that they pushed me so much!

Tara Lehman
Norfolk, VA

Different but the same

My name is Graham, I am 20 years old, I am autistic, well I like to say autism isn't me but I am autism :) I have struggled with it for most of my life but I have also managed to get to many milestones with help from friends and family. One of my biggest milestones i'd have to say would of been going off to college and maintaining my current job as a gas station attendant, my managers were really surprised since most people with autism have a difficult time interacting with others but I have learned to push myself through it although some days it doesn't work out as well as i'd like to. I personally couldn't imagine my life living without autism it has shown me so much and has given me such an amazing challenge as well brought amazing people into my life! I was actually offered to go back to the college and help others with disabilities mainly with autism and help them through their classes with how much I impressed the special needs office people I can't remember exactly what the office was called though. For those with autism never let it bring you down, let it shine and show the world how amazing you are! You are capable of so much and others can learn so much from you if they take their time with you!

Green Bay, WI
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