Friday, July 25, 2008

Seeking the Best Options

As we near fall and the beginning of another school year I am contemplating the best schooling options for our children. We've settled on the plan for the 2008-2009 school year, but I am looking toward the future with questions. Bella & Luke will return to GMG - a small district northeast of Marshalltown they have been attending for the past 4 years. And we will continue to home school Seth along with his in-home ABA therapy and private speech and occupational therapy. These are the best options available for our kiddos here in Marshalltown. But at times I am frustrated by the lack of options, especially for Seth. The closest autism specific school is over an hour away and as I talk with parents around the state, most are dissatisfied with the programming their children with autism are receiving from their respective public school systems and yet really don't feel they have any other options. Unfortunately this is the nature of the beast when you live in a largely rural state.

Mike & I have been talking about our plans for the future in regards to schooling options, particularly for Seth. While we are very invested in the community we live in, Mike loves his job, we love our church and friends here; moving may be a necessity to provide Seth with a better educational placement. I would love to think that I can home school him long term, but in all honesty I don't know that this is the best option for him, me, or our family at large. As he has grown and started exhibiting problem behaviors, working with him throughout the day has begun to often bring me to the point of exhaustion by dinner time, leaving me with very little physical or emotional energy to give to my other children.

In addition to this contemplation over the past few week I was recently outraged by comments made by a national radio host. Last week Michael Savage made some completely ignorant comments on his program about autism. He stated his belief that the rise in autism is not a true increase, but instead basically a parenting issue - parents not disciplining their kids or teaching them how to act appropriately. He spewed a slew of nasty names to describe children with autism and claimed parents are seeking the label just to get government assistance. This type of completely idiotic thinking exhibits Savage's complete and utter lack of knowledge or compassion about autism. Having had 2 children before my child affected by autism who do obey and behave in general, his line reasoning falls apart in our particular situation. I have no idea what would prompt someone to spew such hurtful garbage at other human beings with so little understanding of the vast struggles that autism presents to children and families.

With all that many in the autism community have been doing to educate people about autism and bring greater awareness and acceptance to this illness, it is a crying shame to see someone take us in the wrong direction with such ignorant, hurtful ideas transmitted across national radio waves. Many are calling for Savage's firing over these statements and many stations are taking action to remove him from their programming. I applaud these stations! These statements do nothing to help make the way for better treatment and education for children with autism which is so greatly needed. Families in our nation affected by autism need the support and compassion of those around us, not judgement. So as I'm contemplating schooling options or the lack thereof for my son, this idiot is spewing his hateful and harmful thoughts to our entire nation, potentially affecting the thinking of individuals who will vote on funding issues for education who might think that if autism is just due to bad parenting we certainly should not commit more tax dollars to education to provide for the needs of these children. This is a dangerous line of thinking to plant in people's minds when these children have very real needs - often physical and neurological needs that take a great deal of time, attention, and money to address.

If you are a Savage listener I would challenge you to let him know your thoughts on his recent statements and if your not - make a point of turning him off if you come across his program. I wasn't a listener and now will make sure to never become one. Then continue to do your part to educate those in your world about the disease of autism and the real challenges that children and families face. Autism has been the single greatest challenge to my parenting, but I'd like to believe it has made me a better parent than I'd ever have been without it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I'm back!

I can't believe it's been almost a month and a half since I last posted. The month of June was extraordinarily busy. It began with a big weekend of dance recitals and a visit from Grandma & Grandpa. Isabella did a wonderful job at the recitals and Luke decided after attending for the first time that maybe he'd like to take dance also. We're thinking soccer would be a better way to burn off some energy for him, but we'll see.

Following the recital weekend I was excited to watch for news on the "Green our Vaccines" rally which was held on June 4th in DC. Over 8000 people attended the rally and march. Numerous people spoke at the rally which was held on the capitol lawn including Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Boyd Haley (my favorite chemist - professor at University of Kentucky), Carolyn Mahoney (rep. from NY who has sponsored various legislation in our favor), and many more. It was a touching event that I wish I could have attended. I'm just so thankful that they word is getting out there about the risks of vaccines and the need to slow down the schedule and clean out the toxins. If you'd like to learn more about the "Green our Vaccines" rally, you can watch video at or read about the event at (scroll down about halfway down this webpage to find info about the event).

Mid-month we took a trip to Nebraska to visit family and then left the kiddos with my parents to get away as a couple to a conference in Las Vegas. Mike had a big AV conference there and I tagged along. It was great to get away and seeing Las Vegas for the first time was quite impressive. We got home from this trip and had 2 days to get ready for Vacation Bible School. We had about 100 children attend through the week and had a great, but exhausting time. Then the day after VBS wrapped up we left for a week-long trip to Tennessee. We met up with old college friends for an annual reunion near the home of one of the families. On the way home from Tennessee we stopped to visit friends in northern Indiana and had a wonderful visit including the chance to take the train into downtown Chicago and experience the big city with our big kids (Seth stayed back at our friends house with my girlfriend who generously offered to stay back with him).

We survived the month. Overall it was a good month, but much busier than I'd really like to be. But through all the craziness I was blessed to see God's hand in various situations. I was so thankful for the opportunity to get away with my husband and relieved that Seth did well staying with Nana & Papa. Even though it was taxing on the leaders of VBS to have such a large turn out at VBS, it was also a huge blessing to see so many kids so excited to learn about Jesus. At least 8 children made first time decisions to ask Jesus into their hearts. On our trip to Tennesse we were blessed time and again with affirming and encouraging words from our old friends and the staff at the camp we stayed at. Finally on our stop in Indiana, we were touched by our friends willingness to stay back with Seth so the rest of our family could take in the city.

This week we have an autism awareness booth at our county fair and hope that word of our support group will spread through this event along with educating more people about autism. As I write this I'm reflecting on a day where autism had a really ugly impact on my son. He had a really rough day yesterday and was insistent on getting what he wanted at all costs, including inflicting harm on himself, others and our home. 'No' and 'wait' are concepts he seems unable to accept even though we've worked for years on helping him to understand and deal with these words. Days like yesterday are the days that make me really angry at this disorder for what it's doing to my son as he went to bed with a fresh bruise on his forehead from banging his head and I have a fresh bruise brewing on my arm from him banging his head on me. The impact of this disorder on children and their families is huge. My prayer is that progress will be made soon in discovering the cause and helpful therapies for autism.