Have any of you had your life touched in some way by someone with autism, or on the autistic spectrum, including ADHD? Did you know that 1 out of every 60 kids is diagnosed to be on the spectrum?
Then along comes my second grandson. Although in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit the first 3 days of his life, he seemed to meet all his developmental milestones, although he was always plagued by ear infections and was prescribed antibiotic after antibiotic along the way. However, by about 18 months he started to regress. What little speech he had began to disappear. He had less and less eye contact and seemed to spend more and more time in his own world.
My background in early childhood education told me that by age 2 he should have at least 20 words, so we stepped out of our denial and began the journey of learning the impact of high levels of mercury and other heavy metals trapped in his body, and other sensitivities that cloud his brain.
We have taken a biomedical approach, and Brody will soon begin I. V chelation therapy. His parents even made the hard decision to short-sale their house that is on the take-off flight path of a major airport to minimize his exposure to the jet fuel that contains the contaminants that have rained on him since he was born. All of this is calling us to be more mindful of pollution and do what we can to create a more green environment for all our kids.
The other day my daughter showed me an ad in Parent’s Magazine for weighted vests that looks like a fireman’s or a policeman’s uniform. Children with sensory needs often benefit from the added weight to ‘ground’ them. I commented to my daughter how we have normalized this problem. Now in a magazine for typical children, products to deal with sensory issues are becoming mainstream and accepted as normal.
These amazing young people seem to have a divine assignment. They are our canaries in the gold mine if we dare to listen. They are telling us through the oddities of their challenges that our earth is troubled and our abilities to deeply connect and communicate are in peril. It is not only about what we are here to teach them, but I think even more important to become curious about what they are here to teach us. They are calling us to deepen the quality of our relationships and fine-tune our ability to see joy in the oddest places. They invite us to make friends not only with technology, but with one another, face to face, heart to heart. They challenge us to look beyond differences to see our common ground.
Talking about autism is not easy, but once I started to share a bit about the journey of my grandsons, I quickly learned that Donna Roberts, a colleague of mine at Circle Connections, also has a son with autism. Gabe is now 10.
The more willing I became to share about my experiences, the more stories I heard, and I became aware of how commonplace this disorder is.
This is Autism Awareness Month. Let this be the opportunity for you to become a bit more curious about why so many of these kids havethis challenging social/physical/psychological disorder that impedes their ability to connect.
To expand the awareness about autism and to serve these kids and their families touched by autism, Donna Roberts, a colleague at Circle Connections (http://www.circleconnections.com) took a bold and creative step forward. It all started when Donna saw a documentary called “Autism: The Musical” about an acting project for children with autism. She approached Florida Repertory Theatre about doing a class, and they said yes.
To read the full story, visit:
To read more press about the program, visit:
And even though I had a very long day cluttered with challenging situation exacerbated by autism, I feel so blessed by my grandchildren just as they are. A lucid, focused moment or a game of tickle are worth three times their weight in gold.
Happiness can be found in the oddest places.
If you have had a hard day, too, and even if you haven’t, I dare you not to smile after watching the following video: