Apr 1, 2013

Blogging for Autism Awareness


Happy April 1st cookie peeps!
 
For some, April 1st means April Fool's Day,
but for me, it marks the first day of a
very special month.
 
April is Autism Awareness Month!

 
 
For me, Autism Awareness is EVERYDAY.
 
For those of you new to
The Cookie Puzzle,
and don't know about my son,
I want to take some time to
introduce you to him,
his Autism,
our life,
our struggles,
and something very special
going on this month on this blog.
 
First,  about Collin.
 
Collin is almost 18.
 
His Birthday is April 11th.
 
He is my entire life.
 
He is a blessing.


 
But this post is about his Autism so let's get to it.
 
 
Collin was a dream baby!
He ate and slept very well, right from the start.
He met all the typical milestones while a baby and toddler,
walking, talking, eating...he was right on target.


 
It was not until he was 3.5, when I enrolled him in
preschool, that it was brought to my attention,
that something was a bit "off" with my perfect son.
 
There were signs, plenty of them,
but as a mom, you kind of  "overlook" them.
 
I majored in Early Childhood Education for
two years in College.
 
I worked in two preschools.
 
When I was pregnant with Collin,
I was a nanny for triplet girls.
 
I knew young children.
 
I would have KNOWN if something was
wrong with my child.


 
But, I did not SEE it,
he was not very social, but I thought it
was because he was an only child.
 
He was slightly obsessed with sticks
but, that is what boys do, right?


 
The director of the preschool, asked if she could
contact the local school district to see if they
would come and evaluate Collin.
 
That simple request, changed our lives forever.
 
Within a few short days, things moved fast.
 
The Director of Special Services came to the
preschool and observed Collin.
 
After a meeting, we decided that Collin should
move to the preschool, at the local public school.
 
Collin attended preschool, five days a week
for two years.
 
Then he started Kindergarten, and at the
end of the year, we decided that he was not
ready to move on, and we had him repeat Kindergarten.
Looking back, it was one of the best decisions
we ever made.  Collin needed that, and I had
to put aside my 'stigma' of repeating a
grade, for what was best for Collin.


 
During these first years of Collin being in
"the system", he was tested,
tested A LOT!
 
We knew something was "off" but getting
a firm diagnosis is hard.
 
It is not like you can take some blood and do a test,
and get a diagnosis.
 
When Collin was first diagnosed,his
diagnosis was
 
PDD-NOS
Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
 
We suspected that Collin was on the
Autism Spectrum, but could not
get firm test results.
 
It is hard to get accurate test results,
because, at least with Collin,
he had trouble testing, he could not
understand the questions,
he could not understand what
the evaluator was asking of him.
 
Finally...when Collin was about 6,
we got the educational diagnosis.
 
Collin was moderately-servery Autistic.

 
 
I remember that day like it was yesterday.
 
I remember the room, the smell, the people in the room,
what I was wearing, the look on the evaluator's face.
Everything from that day is engraved on my brain.
 
"Based on tests, observation, and results,
Collin is Moderately-Severely Autistic"
 
WOW!
 
Did not see that coming.
 
I have to wonder how other parents feel when they
hear those words?
Do they cry?
Do they scream?
Do they deny?
 
What are they feeling?
 
I can tell you, that beyond a shadow of a doubt, that for me,
it was one of the best day's of my life.
 
Why?  How can that be a good thing?
How can any mother, who loves her child, want to hear
that her child is Autistic?
Was I a monster?
Did I NOT love my child?
 
NO!
 
For me, it was a relief!
 
For me, it was the confirmation of a diagnosis.
 
For me, it was a gift.
 
Finally!
 
Finally!
 
I had what we had been searching for.
 
I listen to the test results, and the words that came out of my
mouth shocked everyone in the room.
 
" Good, now we have the key. We have the key to
unlock Collin's mind.  We know what we are
battling, and now,
armed with that key, we can help Collin"
 
And so it was.

 
I would love to tell you, that from that
day forward, it was smooth sailing.
 
But that would be a lie.
 
I would love to tell you,
that everything we tried worked.
 
Again, that would be a lie.
 
The thing about Autism is,
it is a Spectrum Disorder.

No two children are the same.
 
Every child is unique.  What works for one, does not work for others.
 
Heck, what works on Monday, might not work on Thursday.
 
Welcome to my crazy life!
 
It is crazy, but I am so blessed.

 
Collin, has grown into a fine young man.
 
For years, with therapy, and an amazing staff at the
school, Collin has met goal after goal,
milestone after milestone.

 
But...just when we think all is well,
we will hit a road block.
 
Sometimes those are simple little
detours.
 
Sometimes, they totally
rock our world.
 
And we find ourselves, shaking our heads,
crying, searching, praying for an
answer, a solution, to bring us
back to "our normal"
 
That is the thing, we embrace
"Our Normal".
 
It works for us.

 
Collin has his little "quirks"
And we play off of those,use them as
tools to teach him, motivate him, love him.
 
Collin is not a "touchy feely" type of person,
but praise him verbally, and his face lights up.
 
He is a very picky eater, but what he does eat,
has kept him healthy.
 
He has never been on antibiotics...EVER.
For years he would not take medicine, as a result,
when he was sick, he got fluids and rest.
 
He has an immune system that is out of this world.
 
Three years straight of perfect attendance at school!

 
It took years to get Collin to enjoy reading,
but once it clicked, there was no stopping him.
I can not keep him in books.
 
Right now, as Collin is ending his Junior year in High School,
and preparing for his final year, and life after school, things are HARD.
 
Collin is scared, he is worried, and he is confused.
School is like a second home for him.
He has been there so long, he does not want to leave.
He sees is classmates planning their futures, and he is
confused.  He thinks he needs to make plans, but
he does not like change.
 
He knows life will change for him, but scared to
try to plan for life after high school.
 
We have been meeting with people, people who
can help Collin get a job, and maybe, one day,
live independently, but he does not like them, or
I should say, he will not give them a chance.
 
He seems to think that once school is over,
he has to move away, and get a job.
 
No matter how many times we have told him, he
can stay with us forever, he is still scared that
he has to leave us.
 
This too will pass, in time, I hope.

 
 
Sooooo....let's get to
Blogging for Autism.
 
I started baking cookies for Collin, for him to take to
school, as a treat, for parties.
 
And Collin, quickly became obsessed with them,
he wanted cookies all the time, he wanted
cookie cutters, he looked at designs online.
 
It was something that he was
passionate about, he was
as obsessed with cookies as I was.
 
So...as I started doing them more and more,
I decided to call myself
 
The Cookie Puzzle
 
The puzzle is the universal symbol of Autism,
you will learn a lot about that this month.
 
Why?
 
Glad you asked.
 
I wanted to do something
 
BIG
 
For April, since it is Autism Awareness month.
 
But, well, I work full time, have to manage
a home, Collin, and once in a while,
give my husband a little home cooked meal,
laundry...all that jazz.
 
So...I turned to my friends.
 
I asked for help.
 
I sent emails,
I sent texts,
I sent messages.
 
And the response was
 
OVERWHELMING!
 
So many wanted to help.
 
This month, EVERYDAY of the month, I will
have a post on Autism on this blog.
 
Not written by me, but
guest post from some of the
most incredible people I know.
 
You will NOT be disappointed.
 
These ladies, and one gentleman,
knocked it out of the park.
 
They researched Autism
they created fun projects,
they shared their hearts,
their time,
and for just a brief moment,
my passion for Autism.


So each day this month, there will be a
guest post, written by people, who have joined me
in bringing Awareness to Autism.

I hope you enjoy them, and take the time to
visit each blog or Facebook page, and tell them
thank you for joining me in a great cause.

So...enough with the chatter..how about seeing some cookies?

Ok....here we go...finally.



As you know, the 1st of every month,
I join with Melissa  of Simply Sweets by Honeybee
 and Stephanie of Ellie's Bites Decorated Cookies
in their monthly "Inspiration Challenge"

This month, the theme is
April Showers.

So....I made

April Shower cookies!

 
 
 
 
and here on
The Cookie Puzzle
 
 
it is raining puzzle pieces!
 
 
Here at
The Cookie Puzzle,
it is raining Autism Posts!
 
 
Here at
The Cookie Puzzle,
it will be raining
Autism Posts all month!
 
 
So make sure you come back each and every day
this month to see the amazing post that
guest bloggers have done.
You will love them all, I did,
in fact...they all made me cry!
 


 
Every day this month has been filled with a blogger,
who has volunteered to post this month
about Autism Awareness, however, if you are a blogger
a parent or loved one of someone with Autism, or
someone who simple wants to join the cause,
please contact me at
 
 
because EVERY day should be
AUTISM AWARENESS DAY
and I will gladly put your
project and post onto this blog!
 
 

 
Until tomorrow......
 
 
 
Hugs
 

 
 

10 comments:

  1. This is such a touching post. I love everything about it :) Your April Showers cookies are AMAZING!!!!

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

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  3. Thank-you for sharing your heart, your passion, and your son.
    Be blessed!

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  4. OMG... I'm out of words. God Bless you and your beautiful family. You are right and your reaction to his diagnosis was correct, our job as parents is to recognize what our children need to grow and develop and become the people they are bound to be and give them the tools to help them get there, guide them, learn with them and from them. They have so much to teach us!!!!

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  5. You know how I feel about you. I think you are awesome and a great mother. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm so excited to be a part of this amazing project you have put together.

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  6. You are such an amazing woman and mother. I am so honored to have crossed your path in this life. I am honored to be apart of this blog. I can't wait to see all the different things this month.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this post with us, Kim! What a beautiful mom you are, and what a beautiful so you have! I can't wait to see all the blog posts this month!

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  8. Oh you had me in tears Kimmie. What a beautiful story. What a beautiful outlook. And Collin, what a beautiful boy. Ok, handsome young man. You've done an amazing job getting so many people to participate and to understand Autism. You are such an inspiration! Hugs, Cristin

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  9. Kim, thank you for sharing your story! The stress of high school graduation is stressful and the fear of the unknown has to be driving Collin nuts. I know things will all work out. You're such a wonderful mama to your boy, and I REALLY do believe YOU are supermom!

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  10. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Kim for this beautiful story.

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