Friday, April 1, 2011


April is Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd is World Autism Day. (I know this may sound boring, but PLEASE read on anyway). This month organizations around the world will be organizing events to spread the word about autism. Currently, 1 out of every 91 children will be diagnosed with autism. I, as a mother of an autistic child, urge you to read this post and pass it along to anybody you think may need this information.

My son, "L", is autistic. As a toddler, he was healthy and sweet and meeting all of his developmental goals. I was about six months pregnant with our daughter "E" when I noticed "L" was not talking as much as he used to. He had been putting two words together (bye-bye-dada) but slowly those words disappeared. This didn't happen overnight. He was a happy, very loving little boy so I didn't worry too much about it. Our older son "J" didn't talk much at all until he was four (neither did my Hubby).

After our daughter "E" was born, I noticed he didn't seem to like her that much, or even notice her. He didn't seem curious about her, although he did like her toys. I would catch him with his face up to the TV looking out of the corner of his eyes. Weird. I noticed that he seemed to pace or wander around the house instead of being really involved in playing. He had once been a great eater, but I noticed he would only eat certain things now - not that unusual for a 2-3 year old. I noticed he looked at his hands a lot. He would hold them up and look at his palms and then flip it over and look at the top of his hand. He walked on his tip toes. He liked to sleep in the crack between his mattress and the wall. He would wake up in the middle of the night and fuss for an hour or so before FINALLY going back to sleep. He played with his toys, but didn't play with his brothers and sisters. He played "beside" them, not "with" them. He was a happy, giggling, VERY AFFECTIONATE little guy. He would sit and rock with me for as long as I could sit. I had several people ask me about his language delay (friends and relatives) and suggest that I should have him tested for autism, but that sounded ridiculous to me.

I based my opinion of autism on a movie I saw about autism in the 80's. There was a kid who would sit in the corner, spin plates, flap his hands, rock back and forth and never speak or give eye contact and he would not let anyone touch him. MY KID IS NOTHING LIKE THAT KID! Well, I was right about that. I thought autistic kids were all like that. I thought they all flapped their hands and didn't like to be touched and would shy away and stay locked in their own little worlds. My kid was constantly hugging me. He didn't flap his hands or spin the wheels on his cars, etc.

After some research I discovered that my information on autism was WRONG! Autistic kids have sensory processing issues. One of "L"'s issues is that he can't feel his body in space. It's like his nerves don't tell his brain where his arm is. Therefore, he needs that pressure (from a hug or tight space) on his body to be able to "feel" his body. He also has some sensory issues with his eyes (hence the TV watching against the screen and out of the corner of his eye). Tip toe walking is another big red flag that I was totally unaware of. He also has texture issues. He doesn't like to touch slimy stuff (finger paint, etc.). He doesn't like to eat mushy stuff (mashed potatoes). Sleeping issues are also very common in autistic children.

My fear is that someone out there may be holding off on testing their child because they don't know some of the signs or out of fear. The media is not always forthcoming with signs and symptoms for autism. They rarely mention anything about the sensory issues. I just want people to be aware that not all autistic kids flap their hands and don't like to be touched. If you have met one autistic child, you have met one autistic child. Each is VERY different according to his or her own sensory disorder and/or personality.

If your child is diagnosed with autism, there are many options for therapy, but the younger they are, the better. "L" was diagnosed at 3 years and 4 months old. I WISH I had listened to my friends and relatives that suggested I have him tested a full year earlier. He is now in Kindergarten and in a special class for kids with developmental problems. He has wonderful therapists and teachers, nutritionists, etc. and I am proud to say that he is making great progress. When "L" was first diagnosed with autism, we were told he would "never go to college, never say I love you, and possibly never speak, never get married and have a family", etc. This was completely devastating to me. He has been in therapy for 3 1/2 years and is making great progress. Nobody knows what your child can do. I now hear "I love you" twenty times a day. While he doesn't speak in a normal conversation, he does convey his wants and needs and has made amazing strides. We are very happy with his progress. Anything is possible.

"L" is the light of my life. He is loud and is annoying at times, but his little smile makes even the crappiest day better. He is smart and he gives the best hugs and kisses ever. He has a sweet little giggle and a sense of humor.

Please pass this on to anyone you think may need this info and feel free to contact me (not that I have all the answers, but I am always willing to share what I do know). Below are several websites for more information on autism spectrum disorders.

Autism Speaks

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)

Also, if you have a newly diagnosed child with autism or know somebody who does, I HIGHLY suggest reading this book. 

You can get it on Amazon for less than  $10.  It's a super easy read (I finished it in a couple of hours) and is very informative about sensory disorders.  We bought one for everyone in our family.

Have a great weekend!

I'm linking this post to:

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Becky @ Organizing Made Fun and several other bloggers are joining together for Autism Awareness Month to make you more aware of autism.  The following bloggers are participating:

Organizing Made Fun

Earth Monkey Moms

A Bowl Full of Lemons

Goodbye House, Hello Home

Pieces of My Heart

Caffeinated Autism Mom

Mom's Flight School

This Journey Through Life

Helping My Boys

My Thirty One

Life with Lissy

This Journey Through My Life

Endless Crafting

Loving In This Life with 5

Becky would love to have HUGE list of bloggers joining her, so won't you?

Email Becky {here} if you would like to light up your blog this month.

Autism websites:

Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks Blog

Autism websites:

Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks Blog



  1. what a great article and beautiful little boy :)

  2. Oh my goodness! That picture made me smile! He is absolutely one of the most beautiful children I have ever known! Wonderful post!

  3. Thanks for the great post, Tanya. While I did know some information about autism I learned several things in reading this. I will be sharing this with a friend who thinks she may need to get her son tested. And thank you for sharing this with all of us. Your son is precious, what a darling photo!
    Have a wonderful weekend...

  4. What a sweet boy you have! Thanks for sharing your story and about autism awareness. I learned from this post, I like you thought autism had distinct behaivors to watch for. Thanks for your heart towards helping children and their families!

  5. What a cutie! Thanks for the info. You're a good mama, Tanya!

  6. Tanya,
    Thank you so much for bringing all of this to light. Your little boy is a KEEPER! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  7. What a sweet photo! Thank you for sharing your story with everyone. You never know who it might help!

  8. Thanks for sharing, Tanya!! :) I'm going to post this on my FB!

  9. What a cutie he is!!
    You're a great mama for sharing this information!

  10. He's beautiful!

    What a thoughtful and insightful post. We too have children in our lives who are affected by Autism, and the more educated people are, the better.

    Thanks for opening your heart, and sharing your personal story.

  11. I'm just now getting caught up on blog reading. I'm so glad that I didn't miss this. It's wonderful. I have a friend whose autistic son is my younger daughter's age. How she wishes they had the made the strides twenty years ago that they have made in recent years.

    I just heard from another friend with an autistic granddaughter that they doing a great deal of research at the University of Washington. Her family is part of a research group.

    I pray for continued EUREKA in the cause of autism.

    And your L is a beautiful child! I think he has your eyes and smile. Of course, I don't know his Dad.

  12. I hope you don't mind, but I just put a little blurb on my blog to redirect readers here. I don't know how much traffic there is out there today, but you have a post worth reading!

  13. Thanks for such an informative article. I have a friend with a child that I am fairly convinced has Autism....but I don't dare to ask if she has had him tested. I can see now that I need to push past my insecurities to help her out if she has not already found help. Thanks!!!!

  14. Thank you for this post. We are going for assessment with our first baby N (4.5yr) next week. Other parents don't always understand why we are pushing for a 'label' when he seems 'normal' enough to them. They do not see the things we have to do to keep things 'normal'. He talks a lot, but a lot is repeated language at least in structure. he trys to play with others, but only really manages to during the 'run around like a loony' type games. He needs his attention kept - repeated instruction, no waiting around. We have to 'make' him wash, or go toilet (he's only part toilet trained at 4.5, and won't go in places he doesn't know or if they have hand dryers). His diet is really limited by texture issues too. I just want to be told that he has a real identifiable 'something', that we've not just raised a fussy spoilt brat. A label is fine by me if it helps us understand and explain him better and helps us to help him have a happy less stressful life.

  15. Rachel- I totally understand. Send me your email so I can reply privately.


  16. Thank you for helping us raise Awareness! I have an 8 year old, recently diagnosed, with Aspergers. I blog at Pieces Of My Heart and Pieces of My Home... invite you to come by anytime. =) I'll be following your blog!

  17. Such an informative post - what a great way to raise awareness. L is such a cutie, and I know that he is as blessed with wonderful parents as you are with him.