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ParaEducate Expressions of PosAutivity #AutismPositivity2014

By ParaEducate

For the second year in a row, ParaEducate is proud participate in AutismPostivity2014. This year’s blog request was to focus on positive stories about Autism. Renay H. Marquez, Co-Founder of ParaEducate and a paraeducator, has chosen to share a personal story of Autism.

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The story starts nearly seven years ago. The young man I was working with was sitting with his case manager going over the new topic: Disability Awareness. Unlike other times, this student did not have to fear any other student leaning over and learning of his disability. The classroom was empty. I was just in the room that morning.

And he didn’t make eye contact with her. He had the conversation that was his homework assignment with his parents: “When did you know I had a disability? And what happened?”  A young man knowing he had been different all this time but now his fate seemingly sealed in this box that had been originally labeled “Hope” with all the dreams that he and his parents had always spoken about for his life. Now the label was tattered, frayed, and all but removed replaced with the word “Autism.”

And then we move this story to the last two years. When I had become the voice of comfort for some close friends hearing that their boxes of Hope for their own sons was seemingly changed by the confirmation of “Autism.” And then watching them stand and not know what action to take to be able to take that next step.

And what I had to say to all the parents I’ve come across, I said to my friends:

You love your son. You have always loved your child.

Autism is the name for the stuff that you always thought you really had a hard time loving.

Autism is not the end, it is only a beginning.

And if you remove the word from the box, you’ve ignored everything else about your child.

You love your daughter. You have always loved your child.

Knowing what it is called won’t take away any of the fears or worries. Some of them are transformed, but you can’t ignore the reality.

And once the fog had disappeared and been replaced by the series of changes the family will have to get used to, none of this will seem so foreign. And you have a different family story to talk about around the table about the way your family became one.

Now the boys’ world  is a little different. I can point out who are successful with and without disabilities and none of that matters because they are all human. And ultimately, this is the lesson I need the boys to learn above all else. Remind the boys of the truth in the  fragility of humanity. Remind the boys that others have the right to their humanity as well. Remind you that we all come to that understanding at different places just as we are all growing up in our own time. Not on a time table based on a date of the calendar. There are times when the boys will “just get it.” There will be times when they forget it. They might know the name of the reason why they have to work so much harder, and there might know be others who know why the boys have to work harder. But the boys aren’t alone. The boys have me. The boys have their respective parents. The boys have the mountain of other people who I have introduced to them also living with Autism.

Now, the young man in the beginning of our story, he’s now 20. He happens to be going to college. There are other young men and women who have had the same story told to them. And they’ve dealt with it differently each growing in their own way, some of them went to college, some of them are holding down jobs. You’ve met some of them. You didn’t know back then when I knew, before your parents knew. You just saw gangly legs and arms, a few unkempt teenage mustaches, and a bright smile. You heard some forced greetings. You know you fit there with these students. And your path will be there for you. Because while Autism veiled your parent’s original hopes, Autism and Hope were really sitting side by side on that box.

Original post at:http://blog.paraeducate.com/?p=497

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A Kindergartener’s Short Definition of “Autistic” #AutismPositivity2014

By Kim

Screen shot 2014-04-28 at 10.14.58 PMMy six-year-old son, Will, had been very excited about his new Lego minifigure that he named Max. One day, when I picked him up from school, his aide told me that Will had been playing with Max and calling him “auto-tistic.” Even with his adorable mispronunciation, we could guess that Will was trying to say “autistic.”

I’ve talked to Will about autism, but I’ve never been sure how much he understands. He knows he is autistic and he has heard me mention other autistic people as well. But I had never heard him talk about anyone being autistic before. This was something new.

I asked him, “Buddy, what do you mean when you say ‘auto-tistic?'”

And Will replied, “Fantastic.”

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Expressions of PosAutivity #AutismPositivity2014

We know you have been waiting… and we have been working and organizing behind the scenes and now we are excited to announce:

The Third Annual Autism Positivity Flashblog on April 30th, 2014!!

Join us in honouring diverse forms of communication and in celebrating Autism Acceptance and we will once again flood Google with positive messages about Autism. 

“Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014″

Screen shot 2014-04-21 at 6.45.04 PMExpressions of PosAutivity is intended to be a celebration of the multiple and varied ways to express experience or convey ideas. This year we hope to highlight the importance of flexibility in communication within our diverse community and honour multiple forms of personal expression, from the written word, to art, to photography, or a video (as a link), or…

We invite you to explore, share, and celebrate your moments, stories, or images of courage, strength,  and/or positive identity and pride in a way that speaks to you and rails against stigma. Express something PosAutive about autism, about being Autistic, or about the Autistic person/people in your life, etc.

Last year and the year before, hundreds of bloggers came together in a show of support and solidarity in response to negative stigma. The posts that came flooding in from all over the world were a beautiful example of the power of strength in numbers. With so much negativity still surrounding Autism and the misinformation and misconceptions that continue to abound, we this year invite you to participate in an intentional celebration of acceptance intended to highlight the importance of flexibility in communication within our diverse community.

We welcome all of you, anyone who is Autistic, anyone who has an Autistic person in their life, and all who blog about autism to share a message of support, wisdom, hope, and pride to this year’s flashblog by posting to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1fWjZ76uOG2KK3u0EsZll12EQ_6goDNVzEKK2BBZ8R7k/viewform

Please join with us on the last day of Autism Acceptance Month – April 30th, 2014 – in a Flash Blog of Autism Positivity.

To participate:

1. Publish your post on April 30th in the following title format: “[Your Blog] Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014″

2. Share your post on Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media site using the hashtag #AutismPositivity2014

3. Add your link to the Autism Positivity website (submit here or above) and grab the badge from the page tab above.

4. Share/reblog this message to your blog, page, etc.

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Thank you,

The Autism Positivity Project Flashblog Team, 2014

If you have any questions, please contact us at autismpositivity@gmail.com

We can also be found on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingAboutPerspectivesAutismPositivity

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/positivityautie/autism-positivity-2012/

Tumblr: http://autismpositivity.tumblr.com/

Twitter: @PositivityAutie

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Awakening: Reinventing Mommy Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published on Reinventing Mommy at http://reinventingmommy.blogspot.com/2013/05/awakening-reinventing-mommy-celebrates.html and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
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When I sat with my screen open to a blank page contemplating what I would write for Autism Positivity 2013, I had a hard time selecting one specific aspect of my sweet 4-year old autistic son that does not fill me with boundless joy.  He is positivity and love and goodness personified.

Yet, when thinking on this journey that both my boy and I walk hand-in-hand each day, one word came to mind – awakening.

You see, before my son was born, I was a workaholic quality engineer for a tissue processing company.  On the day I went into the hospital to give birth, I had been on bed rest for two weeks.  I looked forward to returning to my normalcy – the hustle and bustle of my career.  If not for my son’s special needs and eventual autism diagnosis, I might still would be in that same building, cranking out reports day-after-day.  My son would be in daycare like so many other children his age.  We would be looking at private schools for his coming Kindergarten year.  He might have a sibling.  I would hurriedly make my usual Earl Grey Tea without enjoyment and would speak to people in passing.  We would be an absolutely ordinary family.  Nothing remarkable about us, really.

This little boy I carried and delivered that day had other plans.  He was here to change the world for more people than he could possibly imagine.  There would be nothing ordinary about him; he was destined for an extraordinary life.

Indeed, he has been my greatest teacher.  After my son was diagnosed, his very wise developmental pediatrician recommended that I seek training in DIR/Floortime from a very respected professional at Floortime Atlanta.  I immersed myself in her teachings and those of Dr. Stanley Greenspan, but their most poignant piece of advice was this:  Follow Your Child’s Lead.

And I have been doing so ever since.

It was a radical shift in everything I had learned about parenting.  For the first two years of his life, I had operated on the principle that so many are taught – parenting is a dictatorship.  It was my role to command; it was his to follow.  I had to throw away the parenting books full of advice and milestones and take his hand, giving him control over the life through which I was to lead him.  Instead, I gave him control, stayed at his side, and was determined to let him determine the course in the days and months and years ahead.

Floortime and my son reversed those roles and – in doing so – opened my eyes to the world as I had never seen it before.  No longer did I see flapping hands as a negative; they were a sign of my son’s overflowing joy.  When I got down on his level, put my head alongside his, and looked to see what he was seeing, I saw incredible wonders and beauty in our world that I never knew existed.  In trying to take into account his sensory needs, my senses were opened to experiences that I never imagined.  I learned just how little we really needed words for communication, that I could understand my boy without him ever saying a word.

It is through my son that I have come to understand what true beauty really is.  It is through him that I take the moment to breathe in each experience and live life to its fullest.  My morning tea no longer is made in a rush.  Instead, I inhale the aromas and watch the leaves swirl peacefully in the infuser.  I listen to the gentle clinking of the rock sugar as it hits the bottom of my glass.  I see hues of color in each bubble and marvel at its travels on the breeze.  I know that all behavior is communication and I open my eyes to hear what it is that he has to tell me.  I know that love comes in so many forms that I cannot say that his lack of spontaneous hugs and kisses means he doesn’t love; rather, his whole existence is an outpouring of love.

My little boy – my little boy who says so little while saying so much – taught me all of this.  I’d argue that it is because of his autism that he has opened my eyes and ears and heart and soul to all of the richness that life has to offer.  I followed his lead and he’s showing me the world through his eyes.

What a beautiful awakening I have experienced…all because of one little boy.

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Cari Noga Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published by Cari Noga on http://www.carinoga.com/2013/04/30/1000-ausome-things/ and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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So it looks like one thing. Son spells out name with train tracks. Cute.

Alphabet tracks

That’s what I would have thought three years ago. And then dismissed it.

But when my son did this two nights ago, it took my breath away. After all, difficulty with communication is a hallmark of autism. That’s what the professionals say.

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Restless Hands: What Autism Means To Me #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published on Restless Hands, at http://restlesshands42.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/restlesshands42-celebrates-1000-ausome-things-autismpositivity2013/and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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It’s been a rough week so far, and I’m tired, so this will be short.

Autism has brought so much positivity into my life. I still don’t know if I qualify for a “formal” autism diagnosis, but it doesn’t really matter. The autistic community has accepted me, and supported me, and helped me to understand myself, and now I no longer feel isolated for my scattered handful of mental functioning deficits, and that is enough.

Autism has given me friends, and new hobbies, and new ways of thinking about myself, and of thinking about others, and thinking about thinking, and about education, and about human rights and dignity and intelligence.

A few days ago, I saw a screening of the documentary “Wretches and Jabberers,” the story of two men who grew up without any codified means of communication and then, as adults, traveled the world teaching others about autism and about the fact that intelligence does not require speech.

And I cried at the times in the film where I could understand the body language and needs of these men and their own aides did not.

And my dear friend and housemate flapped zir hands with me at the wonderful parts.

And zir boyfriend laughed with the two of us at some of the ridiculously clueless comments that a few allistic (non-autistic) audience members made afterward, and the three of us cheered for the two autistic young men who volunteered to come up to the microphone and tell the whole audience that they liked the film.

Autism means many different things to different people, including people on the spectrum and their families. I know that for many people, being autistic has involved a lot of pain and suffering and stigma and struggle.

I will continue to fight for a world in which being autistic does not have to involve any more pain or suffering or stigma than not being autistic.

Because to me autism means, and will always mean: laughter with happy flaps, and the fun of pointing out patterns and oddities to each other, and rocking while brainstorming about disability rights, and geeky jokes, and people who squee in joy with me at rainbow colors and the unexpected beauty of under-appreciated things like math, and science, and solitude.

To me, that is autism.

And I hope they never find a cure.

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My Boys with Autism are Awesome #AutismPositivity2013 Kat’s Cafe

This post was originally published by Katrina Moody on Kat’s Cafe, at http://katscafe.org/boys-with-autism-awesome and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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Being Positive about Autism

Last year I was a part of the Autism Positivity project because I felt it was so important to present the positive side of autism. Our reality, yes, but not always so awful, autism is just a part of who my boys are, and my boys with autism are freakin’ awesome!

I’m not going to say it’s always rainbows and puppy dog tails, but my three guys have shown me, time and time again, how utterly awesome they really are, and this year’s Autism Positivity Project asked us to focus on that “Ausome” and share it around.

I couldn’t ask for a better reason to share a bit of our reality with you all. You see, it’s easy to be depressed, to feel overwhelmed, and to worry about the future when you have children with special needs. It doesn’t matter if your kids have autism or some other diagnosis, if you can’t see the positive in it and who those amazing kids are then it’s harder than ever to be the best parent you can be.

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