Reflect Not Deflect

Sunday night in the middle of the night my oldest son started texting me, I kept hearing Luke Combs text tone over and over. You see I have one of his ringtones attached to my son’s number. Luke is my favorite country singer and my son reminds me of him. As much as I love hearing Luke’s songs, I wasn’t happy that my son was texting over and over so late. I grabbed my phone to see what was so important. Of course as soon as I read his texts, my heart broke. He was letting me know about the senseless murder of people at a Country Music fest, which Luke Combs actually happened to be performing at.I thought to myself once again Hate rears it’s despicable head. I started watching the news and looking on social media, another coward had decided to shoot innocent people. I will never understand how people can be so full of hate.
I felt so helpless and full of hurt as I watched the footage. I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I laid in bed watching classic TV to try to calm down. I knew I was going to need to talk with Peyton when he woke up, about once again about how evil people can be. I feel like I am always having this discussion. We have talked with him about bullies and people who choose to deflect their issues rather than reflect, but mass shootings aren’t easy to explain. Peyton is very sweet and gentle and doesn’t understand why people are so mean.
I really don’t have words for this latest display of hateful violence. Daily I see people attacking each other on twitter because they disagree. I started calling it slanderous bullying. Peyton has asked me several times why people have to be so mean just because they don’t like who someone voted for. I’ve tried to explain to him that many times people take it as a personal attack against their views,rather than everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I really am on my last nerve with some of the offensive & slanderous “name tags” being put on people.
It’s a bit puzzling to me how people can sit on social media and name call, finger point and make “threats” then say they disdain bullies. This justification of anything goes because someone else said something you disagree with HAS TO STOP! My prayer and hope is that people look inside of themselves instead of deflect. We can’t control what others say & do, but we can control ourselves. If we choose to not play the game of verbal violence, maybe just maybe others will stop as well. Let’s all make a vow to tone down the rhetoric. While words are only words, they can lead to more.

I hope we can return good for evil, reflect not deflect, open our hearts and minds, disagree with respect and support causes not agendas! While this won’t stop evil, it’s a great start and we need to start somewhere because if we don’t I am not sure what will happen.

Guest Blog: Autism spectrum disorders 101

We are honored to have as our guest blogger this week: Action Behavior Centers. Please check out their website at ActionBehavior.com

Autism Spectrum Disorder 101: 4 Revelations from Autism

 

 

 

Autism Spectrum Disorder 101: 4 Revelations from Autism Research

Just last week, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced some exciting news for the autism community – the agency has awarded the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) with nearly $100 million in research grants to fund large projects over the next five years.

These projects, aimed at building a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and developing treatment options, will delve into some specific areas of interest, like how ASD differs in boys and girls, earlier ways to detect ASD, and how to improve interventions based on specific symptoms.

Over the last decade, autism research has come a long way. Action Behavior Centers, an ABA (applied behavior analysis) provider in Texas, created a new infographic highlighting some of the latest insights gained from autism studies. These studies, as well as some interesting outside research, are outlined below.

1. Many nonverbal children overcome severe language delays by age 8

A 2013 study uncovered some reassuring findings for families with nonverbal children on the spectrum. The study included 535 kids who were nonverbal at the age of 4, and found that the majority of these children achieved either phrase speech (70 percent) or fluent speech (47 percent) by age 8.

2. Girls and boys experience autism very differently

It’s well known that ASD is much more common amongst males – in fact, boys are nearly 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. Scientists are still trying to figure out the reason for this gender discrepancy, but recent research has shown that girls tend to show less repetitive and restrictive behaviors (RRBs) than boys. RRBs feed into some of the core signs of ASD, like hand flapping, excessively lining up objects, and trouble with transitions.

3. Parent-infant interactions can ease signs of autism later on

In a large study of over 1,400 children and adolescents with ASD, parents were split into one of two groups: one group was trained to interact with their infant’s facial expressions and gestures in a certain way, and the other was the control group. A 2017 follow-up study on these children found that those in the experimental group showed less severe autism signs by toddler age than those in the control group.

4. Technology is creating options for earlier diagnoses

With the rise of technology, researchers are discovering methods that could allow for earlier detection of ASD. Currently, autism can be reliably diagnosed around 18 months to 2 years of age. However, by using brain scans and artificial intelligence, a team of researchers was able to predict which 6-month old infants would be diagnosed with ASD with an impressive 96 percent accuracy. Another innovative option for early autism detection is rapid eye movement tests, according to a team of neuroscientists from New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Peyton!!

This Friday Peyton turns 18! I am approaching this birthday with both happiness, and a bit of regret. When my older kids became adults, I went through the normal stresses of did I prepare them for adulthood, were they ready to make “adult decisions”  that would affect them the rest of their lives? I remember when Paul was looking at colleges and such, it was such a great experience, the excitement of his heading to college. I realized a few years ago that it would be different with Peyton, no matter what. Too often I get caught up in stressing about his future, that I forget to ask him what he wants and what he wants to do. When my older kids turned 16, I discussed with each one of them…their goals, plans and dreams for the future. I knew what they wanted to achieve, and then worked on a plan to help them achieve that. With Peyton it has always been different, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a right to have a say in his future.

A month ago I said to him “guess who is going to be 18 in a month!” I expected him to get excited and happy that he was going to be an adult. Instead he got so upset. I asked him what was wrong and what he responded with, hurt my heart. He told me he was afraid to be an adult, because of his autism he couldn’t talk that well, and didn’t feel like he was really an adult in many ways. I felt so bad for him, I sat down and had a long talk with him. I told him he was doing great and I see awesome growth in him all the time. Even though he is almost 18, he doesn’t feel like he is ready for what lies ahead. I felt really bad that I didn’t sit down with him at 16 and have his “goals & dreams” speech with him. Even though he may not completely understand what the conversation is, I should have given him the opportunity to have his thoughts heard. I realized that sometimes when I try to “protect” him I am actually “hurting” him. He needs to be able to make decisions more and have his views heard more.

We are planning to travel soon, and I have made a conscious decision to include him in the plans, and listen to him more. I can’t tell him he is an adult, but treat him like a child. He may not be ready to be “an adult” yet, but time doesn’t stop because he isn’t ready. I know it needs to be a team effort between he and I for him to become an “adult” He may never be able to live on his own, drive a car etc… But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be given the opportunity to try. It also doesn’t mean he isn’t entitled to his own voice. We all become “true adults” at our own pace. Peyton may take a bit longer, and may never be one by others definition. However; I feel very confident that given the right support and encouragement he will be an awesome “adult” Happy 18th Birthday Peyton, I love you with all my heart!

Don’t Mess with Texas

As most of you know this past week or so has been an almost surreal time in Texas. As I was thinking about writing this blog, I struggled with how to write this. I want to make sure I make this about everyone who was affected and everyone who gave so selflessly, not about me.

I have been through other Hurricanes as I lived in Florida for many years. I honestly wasn’t stressed about this one, as I figured it would be a day of storms and then we’d be done. As the storm got closer and the weather people became truly stressed, I started to worry. I didn’t want Peyton to know I was worried, as he tends to really stress whenever any storms are happening. I saw him sitting in his massage chair, quite a bit so I knew he was well aware there was some “danger” heading toward us.

Friday night the storm started, we all started to realize this was going to be big, little did many of us realize just how big. Harvey came and he didn’t leave, he seemed to have a love for Texas, like so many of us. The problem was he wasn’t good to us. No matter how awful Harvey was, Texas was stronger. The will, resolve and love of the people of Texas was shown over and over. That love, that determination and resolve was watched by people all over the world. The people watching decided they needed and wanted to help, I truly believe they helped because they saw Texans as awesome people. No one cared what color skin, ethnicity, religion you were, or who you voted for….they cared that you loved, cared, and believed in the goodness of EVERYONE! A week before Harvey came, this country was coming apart at the seams. The people of Houston and of Texas grabbed a huge needle and thread and not only repaired the tear, but did it with love. I sat glued to channel 13, abc news. I cried, I laughed and I cheered as I watched the “Cajun Navy” and many, many, many others come. People grabbed everything they could and went out risking their lives, to save EVERYONE. The resolve and strength of people was overwhelming to me. Whole families’ belongings were reduced to a garbage bag and even sometimes a small grocery bag. Yet, when many were interviewed they were so thankful to be alive. They focused on the positive, thanked those who saved them, and chose to see the silver lining.

This is what is great about Texans, they see what unites them, not what divides them. Oh I know there are some who choose to be negative, but they are a small number, and like Harvey will fade away into the background. Now comes the really hard part… The rebuilding for so, so many… But just like when Harvey was trying to break our will and our spirit. I truly believe we will see the strength, resolve, compassion and love of Texans. That huge needle and thread will become a hammer, saw and nails. I hope the world keeps watching because Texans believe in actions, not words and the lessons they teach are Huge, because everything is bigger in Texas! We are Houston Strong, We are Texas Strong! I am sure Harvey and maybe even a few others learned….Don’t Mess with Texas!

Life Skills : Nutrition

During our upcoming Awesomism Quilt tour, we plan to travel around the country and talk to different organizations about many issues facing the autism community, including the low employment rate for autistic adults. (See our Sponsorship tab above if you would like to help us). Going hand-in-hand with employment skills are different Life Skills. For instance the ability to dress, clean and fix your own meals, of course depending on the level of autonomy that the autistic individual is capable of.

We have emphasized to Peyton the importance of good, balanced nutrition. We have also taught him a few basic cooking skills and most importantly, the ability to follow directions when preparing a meal. He usually fixes his own breakfast, anything from a bowl of cereal, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, pancakes or even French Toast. For lunch, he makes his own sandwich, sometimes grilled cheese, grilled ham and cheese etc… He tries to mix it up. And tho Lynne or myself usually prepares dinner, we make sure that he has a balanced meal with at least one veggie. 

Once, while making something on the stove for breakfast, he melted the food cover for the microwave. This provided us the opportunity to enforce some important safety cautions, such as making sure there is nothing flammable on or near the stove. Now, he always checks that there is nothing that could catch on fire while cooking. We still have a big concern about his cooking when we are out, so he will usually just prepare something in the microwave if we are not around.

Work with your awesomism child to see what level of cooking they can attain. If microwaving  is the limit that you and they feel comfortable, then get healthy foods to keep in the freezer. Some may really take to cooking and discover a hidden talent and possible employment future. Look on YouTube for recipes and cooking videos. The ability to look up and learn things from Youtube is a great skill in itself and can teach them many Life Skills that you may not have the time (let’s face….patience) to teach.

A good understanding of life’s basics is a great start to securing your child’s future.