Light It Up Blue For Our ‘Distracted Ducks’

Tomorrow my family will be wearing blue – will PROUDLY be wearing blue. Myself, my husband and our two children will help promote the incredible, international, Light It Up Blue campaign that kicks off World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month.

Iconic landmarks around the globe – including the Empire State Building in New York City and Willis Tower in Chicago along with the CN Tower in Toronto and Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia – as well as airports, bridges, museums, concert halls, restaurants, and retail stores, are among more than 100 structures in over 16 U.S. cities and nine countries around the world that will light up in bright blue tonight.

As the parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I cannot express how much this campaign means to me personally. I would wear blue every day of the year if it would help promote autism awareness! To me, the reason autism is so tricky is because we get a diagnosis of it and advice about  improving it, but we get nothing solid about what it means for the future.  People ask me how we deal with it and I always explain we take it one day at a time. If we sat around and worried about what the future may hold, we’d drive ourselves crazy.

On the bright side, things like speech therapy, OT therapy, family support, patient parents and loving teachers make it all better. Our autistic children make huge strides forward every single minute of the day. My heart goes out to the undiagnosed children who are struggling, the families who can’t afford the help they need and the “distracted ducks” that are living in an odd, isolated world.

Autism Speaks, North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, is launching this campaign. Since its inception only five short years ago, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $142.5 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families through 2014. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

What can you do? How can you make a difference? Wear blue with pride tomorrow. 🙂

Read more about MommyQ’s life with autistic child:

– Living with Autism Diagnosis: One Year Later

– Autism Rides Off Into The Sunset

Swallow Your Pride: Get Your Toddler Speech Therapy

If you’re reading this post with tears rolling down your cheeks because your pediatrician just told you your child needs speech therapy, go get a tissue and take a deep breath. You’ll be fine. If you’re reading this because you secretly fear your child is having developmental issues in regards to speech & language, keep on reading. I’m not an autism expert, nor am I a medical professional. I’m just a mom who has “been there and done that” when it comes to this topic.

My reason for writing this post is two-fold. First, it’s my way of honoring and promoting Autism Awareness Day. Second, I want to reassure parents that the delays your child might have are not your fault and you need to put your ego aside in order to what’s best for him or her.

Some parents are comfortable accepting the fact that their toddler isn’t reaching language milestones. Others would rather live in denial thinking their child is just a “late bloomer” and any day now it will all “click.”  Before my oldest was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, my husband and I did a little bit of both. We realized he wasn’t talking and interacting like he should, but at the same time he was our first child – we had no idea what to expect. We kept thinking he’d start talking more next month or next month or next month. If it wasn’t for one of his Mother’s Day Out teachers bringing his communication issues to our attention in a rather blunt way, I’m not sure what we would’ve done.

It’s hard to stay on point in this post because there is so much info to share. The point is if you think your toddler might need help talking, interacting with peers and communicating ideas, there’s nothing wrong with seeking help from a speech therapist. If the therapist evaluates your child and says all of his or her issues are totally within the norm, then you have nothing to worry about. If the therapist thinks your child does need help, start as soon as possible. The worst part about getting my son’s diagnosis was realizing he could have gotten help much sooner.

You want to help your toddler before he or she becomes a preschooler. You would much rather deal with speech issues prior to kindergarten. And there is no shame in having a child in therapy whether it’s speech therapy or OT therapy. You didn’t pass on a “stupid” gene to your child or do something wrong during pregnancy. Nobody blames you for having a child with speech delays. And it’s nothing to be embarrassed about either! Your pride should always take a backseat to your child’s ability to thrive. Always! People are much more understanding and accepting than you think. Trust me!

You can learn exactly how speech therapy helps by reading a few testimonials  from other parents here. Occupational therapy is also important for children with ASD and autism, although  many children without autism also require OT therapy to help them with gross and fine motor skills. If your toddler flops around on the floor a lot or walks on tip-toes or skips around a lot – I guess you could say if they don’t walk with purpose, he or she might need OT therapy as well.

It may seem like a big deal now, but a few months down the road, this will be a blip on the radar. Your child will start making progress quickly and before you know it, the strides foward will outweigh the milestones misses.