This is a quick shout out to all the strong, loving, AWEsome moms I met yesterday at the 2014 Day of Pampering at the First United Methodist Church of Mechanicsburg. So many women shared their heartache, their struggles, but, mostly, their joy with me. To quote the beloved Dr. Seuss, my "heart grew three sizes that day". I promised these AWE inspiring moms that I would post the video I shared yesterday since there was a bit of a technical glitch with the audio. I also promised that I would invite everyone in attendance to my house for a glitch free showing along with wine, but, due to my public speaking anxiety, I failed to give the audience my address. I swear, it had nothing to do with my fear of the bill for the wine I would have needed to purchase for these amazing ladies.
I was AWEstruck by your compassion, strength and determination to make sure your intricate, one of a kind snowflake remains visible and that their uniqueness is never lost in the blanket of snow. Remember, even on the days when your snowflake seems invisible to everyone, YOU will always make sure he or she can be seen. "Stand up Mother!" because you are not invisible either. Your child sees you and so does every mother loving their unique snowflake with a "different" ability!
Here is the clip from the Emmys when Temple asked her mother, who believed, "different, not less" to "Stand up mother". Makes me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Minecraft. If you haven't heard of it, then you obviously do not have school aged kids, you do not ever enter into retail establishments and you quite obviously have not fallen prey to social media. In other words, you must be living under a virtual pile of Legos. I admit, I'm no Minecraft expert, but, since Minecraft in the ONLY thing that comes out of Emma and Ryan's mouths these days, I have been dragged into the Minecraft world, with no sword or pick axe to gauge my ears out, so I've picked up on the basics.
From what I have been able to grasp, right before my eyes glaze over from the obsessive Minecraft chatter, you are alone in a virtual world that sort of resembles an island. With little to survive than your bare hands and the various minerals and materials you can find in said world to build shelter, tools, and whatever else you need to protect yourself from the things that go bump in the night. Think Tom Hanks in Castaway, sans Wilson, and throw in a zombie or creeper...or two. There is a creative mode with lots of creative building options to enhance your anything goes virtual world and a survival mode where you also get to build, in order to protect yourself from the zombies, creepers and spiders who are just waiting to take you out. Tom Hanks had no idea how good he had it with only madness barking at his makeshift cave door. And unlike Tom Hanks, in your Minecraft virtual world, you can continue to be alone in your deserted island like world, or you can invite friends to join you.
In addition to the Minecraft game itself, there are also YouTube Videos where people narrate and record their actions in their Minecraft virtual world. The most famous of these is Stampylonghead, with over 1.6 million followers and over 818 videos. This dude, with his horribly overexaggerated and highly excitable British accent, has a lot of time on his hands. I swear, I hear Stampylonghead while awake and in my sleep. This is because Ryan can mimick Stampy's voice to a tee and does so most of the day and in his dreams at night. I swear, Ryan's British accent is so good, he could easily land a role on Downton Abbey. I understand why parents like this Minecraft game. There is a lot of creativity, imagination and wholesome, mostly non-violent fun that draws kids in like bees to honey. As cool as the game is though, I'm ready for a bug zapper.
I had been telling Ryan for months that I thought he should try Minecraft since I read that tons of kids, including kids with an ASD, love the game, but Ryan kept saying it was stupid, because Ryan has a teenage brother who told him it was stupid. Needless to say, this teenage brother, who shoots Nazis in Call of Duty and runs from the police in his Lamborghini while playing GTA (Grand Theft Auto for all you newbs) feels that a virtual Lego type world, of old style graphics, is lame and since Ryan has worshipped Kyle from the moment Ryan was born, Ryan believed Minecraft was stupid too. Until Ryan's little sister built her first shelter and killed her first Creeper. Emma didn't reach "worship" status, but, she did impress her brother Ryan, which is more difficult than taking out a zombie with a diamond sword (we sound like a terribly violent family, don't we?).
Ryan's worship like nature of his big brother Kyle is twofold. One, Kyle has an extremely big heart and he "gets" Ryan, and two, quite simply, is birth order. Kyle was here first, so, Ryan doesn't know a life without Kyle, but, you can bet all your Minecraft diamonds that Ryan remembers life before his little sister arrived on the scene. Suffice it to say, Ryan would never string the words "worship" and "Emma" together in the same sentence.
Prior to Emma's arrival, Ryan had Mommy's attention most of the time. After all, Kyle was older and let's be AWEnest, Kyle was easier. Ryan struggled with sensory overload which lead to meltdowns. Ryan had a hard time communicating, which lead to frustration and subsequently, more meltdowns. In those early years, with all those meltdowns (Ryan and mine), we were more like a run for your life Chernobyl Disaster than a happy go lucky family. So, for a kid who craved routine, who survived on same, and who counted on Mommy to get him safely through his day, a new baby was a swell idea! Poor guy. Ryan had no idea what he was in for, and quite frankly, neither did I.
When Ryan came to visit Emma and I in the hospital after Emma was born, he literally threw a stuffed animal on her head and he did not acknowledge her presence. He was more interested in the buttons that raised and lowered the bed, the nurse call button (we almost got thrown out) and the cookie I had on my tray from lunch. This "pretend she doesn't exist" routine lasted a few weeks, until one day Ryan decided enough was enough and he locked his traitorous mother and screaming, smelly baby sister outside twice in one day.
It was a sticky, humid, beautiful summer day. The kind of day you appreciate in mid-August because you know all too soon, the heat and warmth of summer will soon be replaced with the crisp, cool days of fall. As I sat on the porch swing, sniffing my new baby's head, taking in the fading days of summer, I smiled happily thinking all was right with the world. My smile was quickly replaced with a puzzled expression at the slight "click" I heard at the back door. I saw a flash of red run past the window and I knew in an instant, that "click" was not the sound of summer wishing me well and locking me out, it was my darling son locking me and his baby sister out of the house...with not another soul inside the house.
I slowly got off the porch, trying not to jostle my sleeping princess and went and knocked on the door. "Hey baby, will you unlock the door and let sissy and I back in?", I said sweetly while peering through the window. There Ryan sat on the couch blatantly ignoring me while he happily played on his Leapster. "Ryan let Mommy in", a little more sternly. Ryan got off the couch and I immediately felt relief since I assumed he was coming to open the door. Nope. Ryan climbed on the back of the love seat, looked me in the eye (no trouble making eye contact in this situation) and shook his head no. Well, suffice it to say, that the postpartum hormones kicked in at that point, "Open the #*%$*%# door right #*%$%# now", as veins bulged out of my neck. Still, Ryan sat on the couch, shaking his head back and forth. No way, was his evil mother, who ruined his world, and that no good, smelly, loud, baby getting back in the house. Not until I called Dan, who had to come and let us in, not once, but twice (hormones, remember?). Yeah, it's pretty safe to say that Ryan did not "worship" his sister Emma the way he did big brother Kyle. She was a disruption...a change...a deal breaker.
Over the years, Emma has felt this preferential treatment for Kyle over her when it comes to Ryan's love and affection. Most days she accepts it, and other days, it breaks her sweet, sensitive heart. I once found a birthday card Emma had made for Ryan crumpled up and stuffed under her bed. Drawn on computer paper and carefully folded in half, was a 4 year old's exact replica of our backyard with a stick figure of a Emma and Ryan happily swinging together, which at the time, rarely ever happened. The crayon strokes spoke volumes of this little sister's true desire, to have her brother interact with her, to have her brother play with her, to have her brother look at her, the way he looked at Kyle. When I asked Emma why she didn't give it to Ryan, her dejected little shoulders shrugged and she said, "Because he will think it's stupid.". I told Emma to give it to Ryan anyway. Ryan looked at the card, tossed it on his dresser and said, "It's not my birthday anymore" and went back to his game. As much as I wanted to smack Ryan on the head with the card, I tried to explain how much love and time Emma had put into making his card and that his actions hurt Emma's feelings. This past Valentine's Day when Emma made a card for everyone in our family, except Ryan, I didn't need to ask why and I didn't insist on her running up to her room and making him one. Ryan would have thought the card was stupid (again), unless of course Emma had taped candy to the card. Ryan loves his sister, he just doesn't communicate that love in a way that Emma understands...yet.
Although I have explained autism to Emma and I have read books about autism specifically written for siblings of an autistic child, it's hard for a 7 year old's head and heart to grasp. AWEnestly, some days it's hard for a 44 year old mother to grasp. It's difficult for Emma to understand why Ryan doesn't hug and kiss her like Kyle does. It's hard to understand why cards and pictures made with love are rejected or ignored by him. It's hard to understand why she can connect with with every person she meets, but, not the one person she really wants to...her brother. Then along comes a guy named Steve with his blocks made of cobblestone, dirt, and clay as well as a pick axe and sword to keep the creepers and zombies out of their carefully constructed, mutually adored, virtual world and block by block, a connection has been made.
Who knew the phenomenon called Minecraft could not only build homes in virtual lands, but, Minecraft has helped build a relationship between a brother and sister that once seemed as unlikely as a creeper and zombie sitting down for afternoon tea. A bridge has been built that not only connects their virtual worlds, but, has also connected their hearts. Emma had to go to a deserted world and dig deep to find the proper materials to build a pick axe that was strong enough, and unique enough, to finally break through the wall of autism and find her brother. And Ryan, who for so many years, kept building his house with thicker, stronger bricks, finally let his little sister in and has promised her that he will continue to do so, as long as she doesn't chose a user name that is "stupid and ridiculous".
Now I'm the creeper standing outside their real world, outside Ryan's bedroom door where they play Minecraft for hours, hoping that neither one of them senses me and comes at me with their diamond sword. As I slowly crack the door while creeping, I see Emma on the top bunk, the glow of the iPad illuminating her smiling, happy face. On the bottom bunk is Ryan, wrapped from head to toe in his Angry Birds blanket, the only sign that someone is under the blanket is the perfect British accent coming from Ryan's mimicking lips. As an unwanted, spawned creeper, I quietly and stealthily push the bedroom door open wider, risking my safety by breaking the darkness with the hallway light in my attempt to get even closer to this somewhat magical moment. As I hold my breath, trying to stay hidden, I finally hear, with no trace of Stampylonghead's British accent, Ryan yell, "Hey Emma, can you come into my world?". As I stifle my tears at the deeper meaning to those long awaited words, I swear Emma feels the dual meaning too. I can almost feel the joy emanating from Emma's heart as she happily yells back, while tap, tap, tapping her iPad, "I'm coming Ryan! I finally found you in your world!".
I recognize that when the Minecraft obsession ends, so may the intensity of the connection, but, for now, Ryan is not locking his little sister out on the back porch...he has finally...finally, let her in. I hope that whatever zombies and creepers lie ahead in the real world, Ryan will tackle them with a diamond sword in one hand, while holding onto his little sister with the other, because alone he can build a shelter, but, together they can build a fortress. A fortress that hopefully, will keep out their mean, old, creeper mother who makes them occasionally leave their virtual world for the real one.
So, I had to run to Target (again) this weekend, which was probably my third trip there this week. I swear, I feel like Norm from Cheers when I walk in to the place where everybody knows my name. The employees all greet me with a "What could she possibly need now?" smile and treat me like Norm, minus the beer. Suffice it to say, I'm a frequent Target shopper, so a Sunday morning trip to the store that has everything, was not really a big deal, except, Ryan wanted to go with me...on a Sunday....the day that comes after Saturday and since Saturdays are Ryan's "day off", I was torn with what to do. When some folks take a day off, they may spend it doing chores around the house, or sitting poolside with friends, or perhaps taking a little holiday with family, not Ryan. Ryan's idea of a "day off" each and every Saturday is no homework, no reading, no piano practice, no changing clothes, no brushing hair and unfortunately, no shower. This use to be no big deal, until puberty hit and with the rush of hormones, came the rush of greasy hair, oily skin and the stench of teenage boy. This stench tends to linger when said boy wears the same clothes for 36 hours. The weekends are a bit sketchy around here especially if a Target trip is planned following the "day off".
I know what you are thinking, if Ryan wants to go to Target on a Sunday then he needs to shower and change his clothes before I take him out in public right? Wrong. Showering Sunday morning or afternoon prior to a trip to Target, which ironically was for soap and laundry detergent, would not hold off the boy stench until Monday after school and asking Ryan to shower and change his clothes Sunday morning and Sunday night....twice in one day is AWEnestly the funniest thing I have ever heard. Ever. I promise you, Ryan will never be a believer in the old adage "clothes make the man".
Mark Twain is the chap we owe the "Clothes make the man" quote, but, did you know the entire quote is, "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little to no influence on society."? Ha! That's the second funniest thing I have ever heard. Poor Mark would have to revamp the second half of his quote if he spent ten minutes in front of a television or computer screen and saw our nearly naked influential society now. Good ole Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens (you're welcome), believed that people will judge you based on the way you dress, and I'm afraid that part of his 100 plus year belief still holds true today. I'm sure my Target employee friends were judging Ryan's rumpled clothes and uncombed hair on Sunday, but, I bet they were grateful for worn out fleece pants versus no pants at all.
Time for some naked AWEnesty my friends. Prior to having a child with an ASD, a so called, "special needs child" (Isn't every child's needs "special"?), when I would see kids with different abilities looking disheveled with unkempt hair, clothes that didn't match, weren't in season, or in style, or in the proper size, I would think to myself, "Even though their child may have special needs, why in the world do the parents dress them like they do?". Clueless, who stood right next to me, with her impeccably dressed kids, agreed wholeheartedly. Oh how naive and ignorant I was then, succumbing to Mark Twain's belief that clothes, do indeed, make the man.
It's difficult enough when you have a neurotypical child and you want to dress them just "so", and your idea of "so" and their idea of "so" is not even close. Well, throw in a dash of autism, and it kind of makes you want to resurrect Mark Twain so you can kick him in the head. I'm betting Mark Twain never had to dress a child with an ASD, so he didn't have to take into account the way clothes feel, sound or even smell (yes, smell). Many kids with an ASD are so sensitive to how things feel that they would prefer an old cotton pajama top, worn 24/7, that is so small it cuts off the circulation at their armpits, rather than wear a fits just right, hasn't been washed 85 times, new shirt. Face it, if you didn't worry about people like Mark Twain judging you, you'd wear your cozy fleece jammies to the the office, to the grocery store, and to the symphony. Fleece jammies are much more comfortable than a stiff, pressed shirt, wedgie inducing tights, or a scratchy wool sweater, but, many of us believe Mark Twain, so we save our comfy clothes for curling up on the couch at home alone...where no one will see us or judge us.
Cleanliness helps make the man too, and any mother of a pre-teen or teenage boy will tell you, showers don't rank very high on the "Things I Need To Do Today" chart. For a kid who feels the water is too "stingy", the shampoo too "flowery" and the towel too "scratchy", showers rank even lower on the chart, thus the creation of Shower Free, Day Off, Saturday. Ever since Ryan was little, he hated rubbing a towel over his skin to dry off. There were moans, groans, and accusations of me tearing his skin off while just trying to keep him from dripping all over the place. Heaven help me, and my hearing, if I accidentally scraped his skin with the tag on the towel. It's truly a miracle this boy was ever clean. Just like many things that Ryan has struggled with, he found his own way to cope with the horror of towel drying after a shower....he air drys. Yep, he lays on the floor in a heap with a towel draped over him waiting for his skin to be dry enough to throw on shorts that are too small and a soft fleece Mario blanket that he wears like a shawl. Mark Twain would most certainly tsk, tsk, tsk over such an ensemble. This new found drying method certainly increases shower time two fold, but, the boy is clean, the boy is dressed (sort of), and the boy is happy.
With Ryan's reluctance to have anything touch his head, using a hair dryer to dry his hair is not his preference. This means, most nights, Ryan goes to bed with a wet head, so you can only imagine what his hair looks like upon wakening. Although I try to "fix it" by wrapping a completely dry, take it right out of the drawer, dish towel around his shoulders, then wetting one of two hairbrushes that are acceptable for his delicate head, and pushing gently (never, ever pulling) down on the numerous horns that have sprouted on his head while he was sleeping, to the reprimands of "you are soaking me" and "stop ripping my hair out of my skull". Regardless of my efforts, most days, Ryan still runs to the bus with unruly, dripping wet hair. I worry about how it looks for a second, but, as he runs across the street in a coat two sizes too small and yells, "I love you so much Mommy", the worry quickly fades away. While I watch the bus pull away, I can still see the horns sticking up on Ryan's head and his wrists sticking out of his coat sleeves, as he happily waves goodbye, and I am reminded of that mother I use to be. The mother who once believed that clothes make the man. I smile gratefully as I wave goodbye to my son. Grateful that it took a sensitive little boy to prove how wrong Mark Twain and I both were.
So trust me, when you see a child with a different ability looking a little unkempt, with uncombed hair and clothes that have seen better days, the mother knows and the mother cares. She knows what people are thinking because chances are, she once thought it herself, once when she was a Mark Twain believer. Now, the mother sees past the hair, past the clothes, and past the juice mustache because the mother has seen the progress where once she was told would be none, she has seen the obstacles that were so difficult to overcome, she has seen the achievements that even she once doubted would ever occur. This mother, that holds the hand and the heart of this less than tidy child, and who sees past appearances, knows something Mark Twain did not. Clothes may make the man, but, judging someone by what they wear and how they look, will keep you from discovering the beautiful soul who lies beneath those clothes, regardless if those clothes are clean, dirty, old or new.
Now that Ryan is older, he is beginning to care more about his appearance....if his hair is sticking up, if he has a grape juice mustache and if his clothes feel and fit right...just not on Saturdays, or Sundays for that matter. Ryan understands that there are "make the man" school clothes and comfy home clothes. The school clothes are removed as soon as Ryan's backpack hits the foyer floor and he races to his bedroom to put on his too small, comfy clothes and quickly discards his clothes that make the man into his hamper. Ryan has brand new soft Hollister sweatpants that may make the man, but, he still prefers his one size too small, grey fleece pants that make the boy, the boy who cares little about others' judgement and more about the grade and comfort of the cotton in his clothes. Mark Twain may not have approved of Ryan's Target appearance last weekend, but for those who don't know what goes on behind the clothes, for those who don't know who it is that lies behind the clothes, it's easy to judge based on a disheveled appearance alone. Especially if the person passing judgement doesn't know that each and every Saturday is a very deserving, very necessary, and sometimes very stinky, day off.
We all know that one year equals 365 days. This is because in the system of solar calendars, the length of day is determined by the approximate amount of time it takes Earth to rotate once on its axis (about 24 hours). The length of a year is measured by the time it takes Earth to rotate around the sun (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds). I'm sure you all knew that at some point in time. This information, which, basically, gives you the answer to your exasperated question of why there aren't more hours in the day, can be found somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of your mind where algebraic equations and elements from the Periodic Table still linger. You may not be able to regurgitate this information so fluidly, because AWEnestly, it doesn't really matter why the days aren't long enough, you begrudgingly accept that it is....what it is. Now, Ryan, he has this info at the forefront of his mind. He doesn't have to dig as deep as the rest of us and for a mother who has very few firing brain cells left, I am so grateful for Ryan's AWEsome brain.
I bet, just like me, off the top of your head, you didn't know that 365 days in a year equals 8,760 hours in a year which equals 525,600 minutes in a year which equals 31,556,926 seconds in a year. And of those 8,760 hours in a year, approximately 2,920 of those hours we humans spend snoozing away. That leaves about 5,840 hours spent awake. And in the past 5,840 hours, this mom, this blogger, this AWEtism advocate has been working very, very hard to walk the walk, since I spent 525,600 minutes talking the talk (I talk in my sleep, just ask Dan).
You know the old saying, "If you're gonna talk the talk, you better walk, the walk", a sort of "practice what you preach" ideology. If you are gonna run your mouth, then you better back up whatever it is you are spouting. I swear, I can actually remember spouting the old "walk the walk" idiom as a senior in high school, to some lowly freshman. This freshman was talking smack about me and some of my friends, so, having to follow high school protocol, I needed to confront this meager freshman about her inability to conform to the well known high school hierarchy. Suffice it to say, this freshman decided to talk the talk and walk the walk and a good old fashion girl fight ensued. Yep, this not afraid of a bunch of senior high school girls freshman, decided to back up her talk with a few punches which resulted in both of us being suspended from school for three days, and a new nickname for little, scrappy, old me..."Rocky" (my friends weren't very creative). However, I don't recall my Rocky namesake having to shamefully hobble down the hallway to retrieve his red ballet flat that went sailing through the air during the scuffle after one of his fights. Yep, if you are going to talk the talk, then you damn well better back that talk up by having your brain, your heart, and your feet, do just what your mouth, or in my case, my typing fingers, said you would do. I have been officially talking the talk, or should I say, blogging the blog, for exactly 365 days today.
This is my 68th blog post since I first introduced The AWEnesty of Autism blog, 365 days ago. Wow, that's a lot of talk. With all this talk, I have been given a gift and a challenge. The gift comes in the form of you, my readers. With your AWEsome support and your willingness to learn, understand and accept, "different, not less", you inspire me to keep blogging, keep advocating and keep educating. Your compassion to share The AWEnesty of Autism with others who either "get it" or don't, has lead to greater awareness as well as numerous opportunities to share my belief of "different, not less" in my attempt to raise even more awareness and to share my Ryan...my joy....my heart as he continues to put the AWE in AWEtism.
The challenge of all this talk, has been for me to "walk the walk" and not just provide you all with lip service and story telling. I promised to be AWEnest and part of that AWEnesty comes in the form of practicing what I preach. Putting my feelings to words and knowing people are reading those words has made me become a better advocate, teacher, and most importantly, a better mother. I owe that to all of you.
When I talk the talk and tell you that this somewhat unstable (oh, the truth in those words) volcano continues to work hard at becoming dormant, I try to walk the walk by not blowing my top over something as little as a forgotten homework assignment. When Ryan says he needs ideas for a writing assignment, and my examples aren't exactly what Ryan is looking for, and, two hours later not a mark is made on his paper, I find myself counting to ten....like I told you I would, instead of going up in flames. Your comments, your support, your Facebook Likes, ring loudly in my almost ready to blow volcanic ears. It's like Big Brother is watching and I don't want to get caught being this phony...this fake blogger who is just blowing smoke (pun intended). I'm trying to walk the walk, for Ryan, for me, and for you.
When I talk the talk and tell you I am absolutely, without question, done with Denial and Clueless and then those two persistent wenches come knocking on my door, I try to remember my words, I try to practice what I preach and slam the door in both their faces. Some days, I admit, it's easier said than done...easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk. When Ryan tells me his lack of friends doesn't make him sad, Denial still tries to convince me that a life without friends is no life at all. Valuing friends in my life, as much as I value air in my lungs, makes Denial's words feel like a knife shoved deep in my saddened heart. In those moments, when my friendless son's words break my heart, my own words that I spouted to you ring in my head. The talk I used to convince you that the F Word, the Friend Word, is only a vulgar word when Denial whispers it in my ear. So, I walk the walk, by saying that F word (sadly, not the other one) less frequently as this word friend, that is as important as air to me, feels very different in Ryan's lungs.
When I talk the talk about "different, not less", and encourage you to accept this by stepping outside your box and trying to understand and connect with "different", I walk the walk by going out of my way to also see "different" as just different, regardless of the extreme variances of what "different" means. This may come in the form of a sympathetic smile to a harried mother trying to hold it together while her "different" child has a full blown meltdown in the middle of Toys r Us. I have also walked the walk by attempting to connect more frequently with kids who may seem "different" by engaging with them, talking with them, and "seeing" them. I recognize that in my attempt, I may be ignored, rebuffed, or yelled at, but, by trying to connect, in that moment, that kid may no longer feel invisible.
When I talk the talk about Ryan's differences, being just that, differences...nothing less....nothing bad, and how these differences may seem odd or weird to most, I try to walk the walk by not cringing when Ryan makes goofy facial grimaces and odd noises the minute he walks through the door after school. After all, how can I expect you not to think, "Whoa, what the heck is that about?!" if I'm thinking the exact same thing? So, I walk the walk by reminding myself that Ryan keeps those noises and faces at bay most of the day while at school, so when he is home, where he is safe, he should have at it. Your support, your acceptance, your cheerleading, has helped me walk the walk by planting a big, wet kiss on Ryan's cheek in between facial grimaces without so much as the slightest cringe (by me, that is, Ryan quickly cringes and wipes the wet kiss off).
When I talk the talk and tell you I will be AWEnest and share my real, raw thoughts and feelings, I have to walk the walk by being AWEnest with myself too. On days where I tell myself that I'm going to be more patient, more understanding, but, Ryan's overloaded sensory system and my overloaded hormones shoot that plan all to he**, I walk the walk by practicing what I preach to all of you and remind myself that all parents, whether or not they are loving a child with an ASD, have days where they need a time out (and a big, big glass of wine). And just like we forgive our children when they make mistakes, and just like I tell you to forgive yourselves when you are less than perfect, I have to walk the walk by forgiving myself too, and eventually letting myself out of time out (and putting down the wine bottle, I mean, wine glass). Your appreciation and encouragement of my AWEnesty, the good, the bad, the ugly, has allowed me to be more AWEnest with myself.
I am so grateful for these past 365 days...these past 8,760 hours. The AWEnesty of Autism has gone beyond my wildest dreams and I owe that to all of you, so please accept my sincere gratitude. I have been deeply humbled by your comments, your encouragement and your kind words of support. Whether you are loving a child with AWEtism and feel like I am sharing "our story", or if you have been reading the blog just to try and understand, "different, not less", or if you are a family member or a friend and feel like you have to read each post in case I ask you about it and you struggle with faking it, I thank you. YOU have made a difference. Although I have tried to raise AWEtism Awareness over these past 8,760 hours, (well, technically, it's more like 5,840...I love sleeping) ironically, I have become more aware. More aware of my own faults, more aware of my own actions, more aware of my own "talk", more aware of my own "walk", which has inevitably lead me to become more aware of my own beautiful, AWEsome son. How can we ever thank you enough?
Some days, walking the walk is tough, and I stumble and stagger to the point I look like I'm hitting the wine bottle again, but, if I'm going to talk the talk, then I need to walk the walk, regardless of how difficult it may be. So thank you for reading my talk, for encouraging me to keep talking and keep walking. Thank you for your support, your loyalty and your compassion. I hope that these next 365 days lead to more awareness for my readers and for me. I hope we all continue to watch Ryan grow and thrive and celebrate his accomplishments and pick him up and encourage him when he falls. Ryan is just one boy, 1 out of 54 boys and 1 out of 252 girls, whose story is being told. Thank you for taking the time to get to know him and kids like him.
One year ago, I asked Ryan's permission to start The AWEnesty of Autism and although, he gave his permission, Ryan was disappointed to know the blog would not make him "rich" or "famous". Even though Ryan may not find his fame and fortune through The AWEnesty of Autism, I hope that Ryan recognizes that although he has been a silent partner and not shared any "talk", the "walk" he is walking is more AWE-inspiring, more AWEnest and more AWEsome than this blogger could ever put into words. When words fail, actions can prevail and according to Ryan's brain (which I never doubt in the areas of math, science and music), I only have 8,760 hours until the Earth makes another full rotation around the sun and we are smack dab in the middle of January 24th, 2015. We still have a long way to go friends, and with your continued support, I will keep walking the walk, so even more folks understand, accept and believe the talk of "different, not less".
Keeping it real, raw, and AWEnest while laughing, loving and living in our world
touched by Autism.
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