Thursday, April 2, 2009

The "A" Word

I snapped this of Derek and Ella Grace after the committee meeting at the Capitol on Tuesday while we were on our way to the car. They were walking in front of me and I could not pass up the opportunity. I thought it was SO sweet.


Today is World Autism Awareness Day. I have been thinking a lot this week how autism is a word I really don't like but it is in my daily vocabulary.

I know I have written about this subject SO much. If you would like to read Evan's story, you can go here. Autism is not our lives but it is a part of it. Every year I find we are doing SO much better with managing autism, especially emotionally on my part. No one expects something like autism to happen to "their" child. I know I never expected it. I think all parents who get any type of diagnosis of any special need for their child go through a whole grieving process. The life you dreamed of and the life you dreamed for your child is not to be. It all changes in one moment. It doesn't mean the dream is not as wonderful and blessed...it's just different than what you thought it was going to be. Believe me, I have been in the throes of despair (I still can go there some days), but for the most part, I am filled with hope for the future. We are so blessed, and I don't take for granted that we truly have it much easier for the most part than a lot families. Every day things like going to the movies or the grocery store can be torment for kids. with autism. There are so many that would not have been able to enjoy the trip to the water park we took over Spring Break because the entire experience would be just too overwhelming. Evan is able to do SO much. I am thankful for so many things, but the simple things like being able to have fun, play, laugh, run and jump are things I am thankful for daily. Being in the special needs world definitely has put a lot of things in perspective for me. There is ALWAYS something in which to be thankful for!

Our State Capitol

Isn't it amazing to look back and see how your life has unfolded and that it has been God's plan all along? It's amazing and bizarre to me that I have come from the depression of an autism diagnosis to being able to share so freely even on this blog about Evan's story and our journey. I would not have been able to do this even two years ago. Plus, I would have NEVER ever thought I would have been at the state Capitol talking about this very issue. It has taken a LONG time to get to this point, but by the grace of God we have made it this far, Evan is doing well, and I am now hoping that our story can some how help....even it if is just a little encouragement.


Derek and Ella Grace in the rotunda of the Capitol this week.
EG was SO incredibly good during the session. She sat so quietly for an hour! Such a trooper.

Tuesday I went to the Capitol to testify. I only got teary once (a little better than last time). The committee voted to pass Senate Bill 913, and it is on its way to the Senate floor. This bill is an insurance reform bill that will require insurance companies to cover autism spectrum disorder treatments. I'm not going to go into it now, but it would shock you to know how some children with autism can't get the help they need because it is not covered under insurance. To be a parent that can't help their child has to be the worst feeling in the world. I am praying this bill will pass through the House and our Governor will approve it as well. This will give so many children struggling with autism the best chance in life. Since it passed this committee, I'll be out there again this Friday, doing the same little speech. I am NOT a speaker! (In fact, the only thing I remember from my college speech class is the leg wrestling matches we had. Now, wasn't that good use of my parents' money? Ha!) I just go in there as a mom telling my son's story from the heart. I told Derek that I can't believe the one thing that scares me more than anything (public speaking) that I have now done three times! Ha!

I just thank you all from the bottom of my heart for encouraging me. Several of you tell me you pray for me and/or Evan every single day, and I can't tell you what that means to me. I remember when I started my blog I had decided not to write about autism. I wanted this blog to be an outlet for me and a place where I wasn't thinking about it. Well, last April during Autism Awareness Month, I decided to go ahead and share about Evan's autism. I am so glad I did! You guys have been so encouraging to me and blessed my heart. You all have been a rock for me, and I have felt your prayers every time I have gotten ready to do this little speech. Thank you!

If you think about it today, would please say a prayer for all the children out there with an autism spectrum disorder and also those who struggle with any type of special need and also their parents? Thank you!

They were handing this flyer out at the Capitol. The statistics on the front are SO scary...1 in 93 boys in Arkansas are diagnosed with autism!!! SO scary. I was surprised to see a familiar little face on the flyer. Do you recognize the little mug third down on the far right? :)

17 comments:

Kelly said...

I've been thinking of you today - they talked about it on GMA today (about insurance not covering help) and make sure you read Beth Moore's blog today.
I'm proud of you Leigh Ann - you are an amazing mother! and Evan is a precious boy!

Heather said...

Leigh Ann- I pray every single day for you and Evan...and another one of my best friends who has a son with Autism. You guys are truly my heroes! I love how God is using you and asking you to speak (even though it's not your favorite thing!) and I am going to pray specifically that the bill pass the AR leg.! Thanks for this post today.....Evan is so blessed to have you as his momma!

Ang said...

thank you

Traci said...

Leigh Ann, you give me strength in your words. I love how honest you are in talking about Autism. You are definitely making a difference by speaking! It gives me chills to know that someone could possibly get the help they need because you took the time to go and speak.

I love Evan's little face and when I pray for Riley, I pray for Evan and Price, too. I am so thankful to have met you! :)

By the way, you reminded me about today and I had to quickly post something! :)

Abby said...

I am so PROUD of you! You are making a difference, ya know? I know you touched those lawmakers hearts with your story. What a gift you have given to the families in Arkansas who need help getting help. Love you!

Faith said...

Leigh Ann, you are an amazing mother and I am so proud of everything that you do for your children. They are so blessed to have you as their mom!

Love all those sweet pictures...especially that first one. I recognize that hair bow ;-)

Becky said...

I'm glad you decided to share Evan's story last year with your bloggy friends. You are such an amazing mother and wife. You're family is so lucky to have you Leigh Ann.

Jacquie said...

I thought about you this morning when I heard today was World Autism Day. You are such a great mom... and I'm so grateful that you've shared about Evan on your blog. It has made me so much more aware myself.

I love that picture of Derek and EG!!

The Pooles said...

Wow, Leigh Ann you are making such a difference not only for Evan, but for so many others.

Tracy, Christy, and Noah said...

I am so glad to see the progress that Evan has made. It makes me feel hopeful for Noah

motherof3fellows said...

I'm sure it's hard going through what you have to, but I know you have helped alot of people going through the same thing. We need more people like you! :)

Jenna said...

I loved reading this post Leigh Ann. Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

Jodee Leader said...

I love, love, love the first picture! It's just precious.

Thank you also for educating me on Autism. In general, I don't know much about it.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Meagan said...

LAH, you are an inspiration... truly! You know you and Evan as well as Derek and Ella Grace are in my prayers always. I am so proud of you for speaking up and helping the cause, I just can't tell you how proud!!!! You are one amazing person and mother!!! I hope I can be half as great as you are when I'm a mom of two some day!!

Lauren said...

I love the picture of D and EG - so sweet.

I have no doubt you did an amazing job at conveying your experience and your emotion to them.

sherri said...

Hi there, this is my first time visiting. I was touched by your post. I work with autism everyday in my job as a speech pathologist and one of my best friends has a son with autism. I am so proud of you getting up and speaking about it. That's awesome! It's moms like you that will make a difference!

Audrey said...

Of course Evan is on the there! He is too adorable! You are amazing!