Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rounding Out Autism Awareness Month

Last week I went to a two-day autism conference. It was mainly filled with therapists and teachers, and about three parents (two being me and my friend, Laurie). It was a great conference. Dr. Barry Prizant, Ph.D. was the speaker. He has spent around 40 years studying and working with children who have autism. He and his team have come up with the SCERTS Model, which is an educational approach for children on the autism spectrum. The thing I liked best about this approach was it is child and family centered and relationship based. Isn't that what we all want...to be affirmed, accepted, and loved?

Dr. Prizant showed many video segments. I have to admit I got teary-eyed more than a couple of times. It was amazing to watch where some of the children started and to hear where they are now! He shared stories of children that were now accomplished artists, musicians, inventors, and even a few that are speakers that go all over the world to share what it is like to have autism. That is how we are learning more about what autism is like...because those that are getting older are able to tell us. Just amazing!

I won't go into too much more, but I did want to share two of my favorite quotes from the seminar:

Definition of autism:
"Autism means that someone is really smart in some things but needs a lot of help in other things." Mrs. Frizell's 2nd Grade class (1997)

Now, I don't know Mrs. Frizell, but I thought this was an excellent way to explain autism to a young child.

"Have high expectations for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but with appropriate, and when necessary, high levels of support." Ros Blackburn (adult with autism and speaker)

I totally agree with her. I expect a lot from Evan. He is capable of so much! I also want others to expect a lot from him. However, he will require support in some areas to reach his fullest potential. It is up to us (those in the community not living with autism) to give that support.

I did get some new ideas from the seminar on some things I am going to try with Evan, and I'm really excited about that! I'll let you know later if Evan is as excited about those ideas! Ha! :)

As April comes to an end, thank you for allowing me to share more about our story with you. Thank you for taking time to read more about autism (even if it was just through my ramblings). Most of all, thank you for praying for my sweet boy. I ask that you continue to remember us, as we are going through meetings with the school district to determine Evan's educational experience. Talk about a huge responsibility! Evan has been in his present school since he was two, and this will be a huge transition for all of us. Having your child go to Kindergarten is an exciting time for any family, but when you throw autism in the mix, there is a whole new set of worries and anxiety that comes for a parent. I know in the end, he will be okay, it's just getting to that point. If you know someone who has autism or a parent of a child with autism, give them a great big hug. I'm sure they would appreciate it!

Love and hugs,
Leigh Ann

My Sweet Evan
Not Defined by Autism

One last thing...I saw this interview with Jenny McCarthy (her son, also named Evan, has autism) some time ago. Then, my knowledgeable blog friends, Lauryn and Traci, posted this on their blogs. I thought that was a great idea because Jenny has a platform a lot of us moms wish we had. She is our voice in a lot of ways. You can watch it here.


LOVE YOU A GOOGLE... said...

Leigh Ann-

That is so awesome! Evan is definitely not defined by Autism. I get teared up just reading your blog, I can feel the love and desires you have for Evan! I will definitely continue to be in prayer for you and his teachers as you begin this new journey with your sweet little baby. :( Do they ever stop being "your baby"? :) I enjoyed your ramblings and learned a lot so keep it up! :) Love ya!


Candy said...

I love his great big smile and big brown eyes. :) Thanks for sharing this, Leigh Ann. You are such a fun, loving mom! I will continue to pray for ya'll as Evan gets ready to head off to kindergarten. :) I also have enjoyed reading your entries about Autism and have learned so much.

Michele said...

Thank YOU for sharing with us - I can tell your boy is abundantly blessed with you as his mom...as are you to have him as your son :)

Megan L Hutchings said...

As always Leigh Ann, your family is in my thoughts and prayers. I am so glad that this April you shared your story and got some great new ideas to help with Evan. He is handsome and full of so much life!

I wish I could fly out to AR to meet you for lunch!

Kelly said...

Leigh Ann - I'm glad you are sharing with us about Evan and autism. I admire you so much as a mom. God knew what kind of mother you would be!
Also - I was very excited last week when I bought something at T. J. maxx - they asked everyone if they wanted to donate $1 for autism. I'm glad they are raising money and I smiled because I thought of you as I said "OH YES!"

Meag said...

Evan and your family are in my prayers! I will be thinking of you esspecially as you get ready to do his IEP (don't sweat it... it can always be amended!!) and prepare for a new school and Kindergarten! Thank you for sharing your story and the things you continue to learn!!!

Traci said...

I will continue to pray for Evan. I think he is going to do great because he has such a great support system at home and a smart mommy!!

The preschool we just finished up used the Scerts model with pictures from Boardmaker. Riley did so well and has come so far, he is ready for a new school in the fall.

Thank you for all your sweet posts on autism this month. You inspire me, Leigh Ann!