Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Precious Boy Turns 8

It's hard to believe that my baby turned 8 years old today. It has been 8 very eventful years in the life of our family since we welcomed child number 3. When Seth joined our family in October of 2001 Luke was a month shy of 2 years old and Bella was almost 7 months shy of 4 years old. It was a very overwhelming time for me as a mom to 3 young kiddos. The next 3 or 4 years were short on sleep and long on stress, but as the kids have grown and matured things have calmed down a bit in our lives. Now the kids are fairly independent and can be very helpful, even Seth enjoys helping unload the dishwasher and helping mom carry in the groceries after a trip to the grocery store.

Seth's autism diagnosis was a huge turning point in the life of our family. I can tell you when most events in my life occurred in relation to that fateful day 5 1/2 years ago. I often think of events as either pre or post autism. Having a child with a severe disability changes your entire perspective on parenting and life. But not in all bad ways. Autism has taught me to put things in perspective and has made me realize what is truly important. I don't get bent out of shape if my kids don't get straight A's or if they are not the star athlete on their team. Autism in my life has helped me to value the little things. My dreams for my children are markedly different than they were pre-autism.

There were days when I didn't think we would make it through, when I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up from the nightmare I was living through. But by the grace of God we are walking through this challenge in the life of our family. Bella & Luke have grown into caring, compassionate kids that look out for their little brother in a beautiful way. And Seth is growing and maturing in his own right. He is more engaged with those around him, his reading and math skills are growing quickly, and he is doing much better with going out in the community - I no longer have to keep a tight hold on his hand at all times, he will stay close to me for the most part.

On Saturday we are excited to have Seth's first big birthday party. In previous years we didn't feel he would enjoy a large celebration, but this year we felt his was ready for a grand celebration. The party will have a lego theme - Seth's favorite thing in the world - complete with the Star Wars Lego video game on a big screen and a lego cake. We are excited to celebrate with family and friends. I'm excited to celebrate the life of a little boy who has shown me my own capacity for great love and great perseverance, love in a way I didn't know I could love and the ability to persevere that I didn't know I possessed. Love and perseverance that could only come through the extravagant grace of God.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Do You Believe that 1 in 60 American Males Has Autism?

David Kirby - one of my heroes in the autism community and a genuinely nice guy who Mike and I have had the pleasure of meeting personally wrote a great article on Huffington Post that reiterates what I shared in my last post. Please take a look!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stop the Madness!!

A new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics shows that 1 in 100 children ages 3 to 17 now have autism. You can read the CNN story about this new study at This study shows a rise from the previously published numbers of 1 in 150. And yet the health officials in our country continue to refuse to do the research into environmental triggers that are causing the autism in our children. They continue to cling to the genetic theory - even though it's impossible to have a genetic epidemic. They also continue to claim that the rise may just be due to better diagnosis instead of facing the terrifying epidemic that is before us.

Thirty years ago 1 in 10,000 children had autism. I know one of those 1 in 10,000 - he's a bright , wonderful man now who is doing very well as a result of much advocacy on his mother's part. I am blessed to call his mom my friend. She tells me that she was completely alone in seeking treatment and educational intervention for her son - she did not know any other families in her area who had children with autism, because there were no other families in her area who had children with autism. I can't imagine how lonely that must of been, but she is an amazingly strong and resilient lady who blazed a trail for many moms to follow. She has been a tremendous support and encouragement to me and I am so thankful for her friendship.

Loneliness in this struggle is not a problem today. I am good friends with 3 other moms in my community who are facing the same struggles with their children and know of numerous other families who are also walking this journey just in my small Midwestern community. There are 10-15 support groups throughout the state of Iowa alone to help families dealing with autism. Autism is certainly on the rise - it is not just due to better diagnosis or my friend would have met other moms 30 years ago who were going through the same journey.

When will our health officials wake up and realize that something or numerous somethings we are exposing our kids to are contributing to the rise of childhood autism along with the rise in numerous other childhood diseases including asthma, allergies, diabetes and cancer just to name a few? When will the madness stop? Many toxins in our environment are causing these diseases in children and many diseases in adults as well. These toxins bombard us throughout our days including the food we are eating with pesticides, food dyes, preservatives and genetically modified ingredients; the toxic cleaning products we use and breath in our homes; the flame retardants that are sprayed on all mattresses and children pajamas, the array of toxins in our vaccines that we inject into our bodies, the airborne mercury we breathe that is given off by coal-fired power plants; and the list could go on and on.

We must wake up and demand that the leaders of the health agencies in our country who are supposed to protect us start addressing the real problems instead of sticking their heads in the sand and throwing money into areas of research that are archaic and useless. We must start taking personal responsibility for our own families and rid our lives of as many of these toxins as possible. We must educate ourselves on health issues and share the knowledge we have with other so they can lead healthier lives. We must stop poisoning our children! We must stop the madness!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Move is On Again!

After a few days in limbo we have had some doors closing here in Marshalltown and are seeing that we do indeed need to make the move over to Ames. It has been a roller coaster couple of weeks, but we're now once again set now on getting moved as soon as the house sells. It is bittersweet to think of leaving Marshalltown - the many wonderful friends, our great church, and the wonderful home the Lord has allowed us to live in for the past 7 years. After being here for a total of 13 years, it's a little hard to imagine moving. When we moved to Marshalltown we intended to stay for only a few years, but plans changed.

We are thankful that we're only moving 40 minutes away and will be able to keep in touch with friends in Marshalltown. Mike and I are looking forward to refamiliarizing ourselves with our old college stomping grounds and taking advantage of all the cultural opportunities, in addition to the better shopping and restaurant options available there. It will be fairly easy to entice friends to come and visit if we just ask to meet them at Great Plains Pizza or Hickory Park for supper - two of our favorite restaurants in all of Iowa!

Bella & Luke are still not happy about the move. Bella informed me last week that she's moving back to Marshalltown when she grows up and she's going to raise her family here. I tried to tell her there's a great big, beautiful world out there and she could live anywhere across the US when she gets older, but she was having none of it. I am confident that once we get moved over and the kids get settled into school, church and extracurricular activities they will begin to like Ames as much as they have liked Marshalltown.

We had a showing on the house on Friday and heard good reports. The couple is a first time buyer and therefore need to make a decision in the next week or two. We're hopeful our house wowed them and we are praying that the first showing will be the only showing and they will give us an offer next week. Through all of this I have seen God's hand at work and I am confident that His timing is best for us, so whether the house sells next week or in 6 weeks I know it will be the right timing for our family.