What a month! Autism Awareness month was filled with learning, fun and excitement. We had a fantastic two day conference where professionals, parents and care givers learned so much about autism and how best to help our children, young adult and adult population. We had great speakers and a birthday party to celebrate our 40th birthday. We were especially grateful for Chef W and Pieceful Solutions for providing the birthday cake and gluten free cupcakes. They were yummy.
We celebrated with our families at our annual spring picnic. We had a cupcake competition, a bounce house, face painting and balloons. We had over 140 people attend and our board especially enjoyed spending time with them all. A special thanks to Desiree Salas, Kristy Bristow and Trisha Folk-Dubios for their wonderful work in making it such a fun and successful event!
To wrap up the month we had an amazing Bowling for Autism. We had over 50 people attend and some amazing prizes and trophies for the winners. The trophies were sheer works of art made by Anthony Nunyah and Dino Sanchez! Thanks to Marina Haley, Christina Ertz and Kristy Bristow for their hard work. Jerry Lundy won our 50/50 raffle walking away with over $200 dollars. Thanks to Legoland we were able to give away 7 sets of four tickets to the following families; Sandra Sleiman, The Simpson family, Keri Maughan, Atoor Georgis, Kathleen Jones, Melissa Van Hook and Christine Ertz. If that were not exciting enough we also gave away prizes from Nationwide Vision, Costco, Salon Lola, Skate Land, Sumits Yoga and Heidi Bonaroti, and last but not least Big Five. A big thank you to our sponsor Essential Source for all of their support!
We could not have these great events if it were not for our fantastic board members and volunteers. Thank you volunteers for all that you do! We could not do it without you. A special thanks to Trisha Folk-Dubois and Desiree Salas for working so hard on Bowling for Autism and our picnic. They’re hard work made this month fun and exciting. Be sure to check us out on Facebook to see all the pictures!
Join us for Autism Awareness Month!
Saturday, April 27, 2013 10AM – 12PM
Brunswick Via Linda Lanes
9027 East Via Linda
Bowl for: $25 Per Individual Player, $50 Per Couple or
$125 Per Team of 5 or $150 team of 6
(includes 2 hours of bowling, shoes and a pitcher of soda per team)
Viewing Tickets: $15 minimum donation per ticket
Sponsor a bowler: $10 minimum donation
Trophies, Prizes and 50/50 Raffle
GREAT FUN FOR EVERYONE!
Today is Autism Awareness Day! If you have been on Facebook you could not have missed it. I am struck with all the different groups and people acknowledging the day. Fourteen years ago most people did not even know what autism was, including myself. Now you can’t not know about it. Autism is now one in fifty. When my son was diagnosed twelve years ago it was one in two hundred and fifty. Although many would like to say the increase is better diagnostics, most of us know that is not true. Look at Autism Speaks. When Mark was diagnosed Autism Speaks was sure it was a purely genetic disorder. Now, twelve years later, they even admit there is something going on in our environment. We can debate if it is vaccines, chemicals, plastics, or combination of all the different toxins now in our environment but right now everything is just theories. We simply do not have a super computer big enough to look at all the genes and all the toxins and figure it out. What we do know is that there are now a lot of families dealing with autism in our community. Autism Society of Greater Phoenix is a local organization that has been helping families one family at a time for forty years. All the funds raised by our organization stay in the valley to help families in our local area. We are affiliated with the national organization however we are our own 501c3. Every person on our board has a child on the spectrum and is passionate about helping others affected by autism. Autism Awareness is not just a day for us. We do our best to raise awareness every day of the year through our free speaker program, parent mentor program, online and support group meetings and conferences. Please consider helping us help others by making a donation to our organization.
A major research study reports that the prevalence of autism in children ages 6-17 has increased greatly from 2007 (1.15%, or 1 in 88) to 2011/2012 (2.0%, or 1 in 50). This is a huge increase in 4.5 years, and emphasizes the need for more research on treatment and prevention.
Would you like YOUR ARTWORK to appear on
Autism Society of Greater Phoenix’s 40th Anniversary T-shirt?
How about winning a Michael’s Gift Card or free art supplies?
All you need to do is:
1. Draw or paint anything Autism related on paper or sheet canvas (at least 8×10” but no larger than 11×17”) sign your name on the front.
2. Put it in a large envelope (flat, not folded – with the words DO NOT FOLD written on the envelope)
3. Include the registration form from this pdf ASGP KIDS ART CONTEST
4. Submit it by April 8, 2013 to:
Autism Society of Greater Phoenix – Art Contest Attn: Cynthia Macluskie
PO Box 10543 Phoenix, AZ 85064
INCOMPLETE SUBMISSIONS MAY BE DISQUALIFIED.
PRIZES: Grand Prize Winner gets a $50 Michael’s Gift Card, and his/her artwork appears on the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix 40th Anniversary T-Shirt. Three other winners will each receive a goody bag filled with Art Supplies.* A winner will be selected from each of the following age categories:
Primary (Pre-K–2nd Grade), Elementary (3rd–5th Grade), Middle School (6th–8th Grade), & High School. The Grand Prize T-shirt Design Winner will be determined from those four age category winners.
CONTEST RULES: T-Shirt Art Contest is open to Maricopa County residents in Pre-K through 12th grade. Only one entry per person is allowed, and the submission must be the child’s original artwork. Autism symbols such as puzzle pieces, puzzle piece ribbons along with images appropriate for a 40th Anniversary celebration are encouraged but not required. Deep contrasting colors scan better for the T-shirt than faint pastels. Tracings and computer-generated artwork are not allowed. Select artwork will be displayed at the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix’s Spring Picnic at McCormick Railroad Park on April 20, 2013 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM where winners will be announced and awards given. Contestants must be present to win. By submitting artwork to Autism Society of Greater Phoenix you are allowing us to use your image to be reproduced in marketing and fundraising campaigns for our 501c3. All artwork will be available for pick up as well that day. Any artwork not picked up will become property of ASGP unless other arrangements have been made.
T-shirts will be sold all year at all Autism Society of Greater Phoenix’s Events for fundraising purposes.
For a flyer click here ASGP KIDS ART CONTEST
Saturday, April 27th, 2013 10AM-12PM
Someone paid me a nice complement yesterday. They said I was resilient. It got me thinking about why I am resilient. I don’t think I started out that way. When the autism journey started I felt like I was on a roller coast of emotion and could barely function. First, I was overcome with grief. Second, I was living a life of frustration. Mark was constantly doing things that were so destructive. He threw eggs at my walls, poured milk in my carpet, covered the dog in toothpaste, painted my walls and carpet with paint, to name just a few. There were several times I found myself curled up in ball in the middle of my living room sobbing and fantasizing about being in a mental institution. I imagined the quiet and dreamed of someone taking care of me instead of me care taking this little person who was sometimes the cutest and most lovable child and other times was driving me crazy. I was not feeling or acting resilient. So what changed and how?
The first thing I did was fake it. I have used this skill a lot in my life. You know the quote “fake it until you make it.” Well, it is a neat little trick. You just put one foot in front of the other and fake it. I pretended I knew what I was doing. I read what I could and created programs for Mark. I did not try to make them perfect or find the perfect provider. I just faked it. Every day that I faked confidence and skill I got closer to having that skill. Mark’s programs got better designed and he made progress. Back when Mark was diagnosed there was no BCBA in our state and there was no Hab M. I was on my own. I made mistakes for sure. One day I realized that Mark had no descriptive words. I had accidentally left that out of the program. Darn! But no worries, I just built descriptive language in the program for the next day and we moved forward. I figured that doing something, even less than good, was better than nothing. I also knew that I loved Mark more than anything. I knew that my love would somehow permeate any program that I designed. I just kept faking it until one day I woke up and realized I was the expert on my child and what he needed.
I gave up my idea of perfection. This was really hard for me. Perfectionism runs in my family and I was queen of trying to do things perfectly. Autism certainly cured that! This is a blessing for me and my family. I read a great book that helped me change my views of perfection. Mindset by Carol Dwick is a fabulous book and I encourage all of you to read it. John Hopkins suggests that every parent of a child who is gifted read this book. I think the suggestion should be that every parent read this book. She discusses two very different mindsets; growth mindset and fixed mindset. I realized very early in the book I had a fixed mindset and that was a serious problem for me and for my son’s success. Fixed mind set means that you believe that skills and the brain are fixed. What you do well and what you are not good at are permanently etched into who you are. The growth mindset believes that your brain and your skills can grow and improve. Sounds simple? Well, it is once you really understand how fixed thinking sneaks into your life and your views. She does a beautiful job of explaining both mindsets, the research that supports her findings and personal stories that demonstrate her research. It is a quick read and very illuminating. I really believe that every parent should read this book and am so grateful that I have read it. It changed my life and the life of my child. There is a famous quote that I love that goes something like this:
Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.” – Author unknown
The second book that really helped me understand neuroplasticity was recommended to me by Dr. Martha Herbert who is a brilliant neurologist and a leading autism expert. The book The Brain That Changes Itself talks about the fairly new concept of neuroplasticity. When Mark was small the autism world was talking about how the child had to get the skills they needed by age 5 or age 7. If they did not talk by age 7 they would never talk. The brain would develop and become like cement, unable to change and mold. Then the concept of neuroplasticity became more commonly known to the layman. It means simply the brain can change at any time. Scientists used to believe that if the brain was damaged by stroke it could not repair itself. We now know it sometimes repairs or sometimes builds new pathways to compensate for damage. The brain can change!
These two concepts are really one major concept which is that we can change who we are and what our brain can do. Wow! That is powerful stuff. Once I believed that and incorporated it with faking it I was on the right track. My final change is still a work in progress. You see I am a sprinter. I don’t actually run. I mean that I am a sprinter in life. I sprint then rest then sprint again. This is not a very effective way to change patterns of behavior or changing the brain. I realized that although I love sprinting and that it sometimes serves me well it, I can really knock out a project when I have to, it was not working for me when it came to helping Mark and changing me. I needed to learn how to run a marathon. Let’s be honest. Life is a marathon. Fighting autism is a marathon. If you run it like a sprinter you will wear yourself out, give up from exhaustion or develop a defeatist attitude. My wonderful friend Susan Brokaw, who baby steps herself through life, and is the true turtle to my hare taught me this valuable lesson. I had to learn to baby step myself through life. I started categorizing activities on whether they were marathon worthy or sprint worthy. Cleaning the garage is definitely a sprint worthy activity. Learning to Zumba is a marathon. I don’t have an ounce of coordination and am not physically fit. But I will be as I baby step my way through learning and loving Zumba. I will wake up one day and be the best Zumba person in the class. It may not be this year or next but it will happen eventually. By realizing what tasks are marathon journeys requiring baby steps and changing my expectations makes the journey more bearable and me more successful.
Finally, setting goals is crucial. Defining what I want for myself, for my family and for my child are crucial to deciding whether to sprint or run a marathon. I keep a list of sprinting tasks for those days and times where I must honor myself by sprinting. I always feel great when I sprint, as long as the task warrants sprinting. I then have my goals which are marathons. I set up the goals with baby steps in mind and break each goal down into doable chunks with time frames that are realistic. I just start baby stepping my way through the goals. I have little rules that keep me going. I always do the task I hate the most in the morning so it is done and out of the way. I never relax until I have done my have too list and I am brutally honest about what is a have to and what is a would like to do.
I schedule in family fun, family time, couples time and me time. When I started this marathon Mark was the only thing I could think about or concentrate on. That was not good for me or my family. One month I decided to color coat my calendar. I highlighted all Mark stuff in blue, family stuff in green, work stuff in yellow, couples stuff in purple and me stuff in red. I realized I had a serious problem. I only had blue and yellow highlights with one green highlight for the whole month. That was not good. I needed balance. Highlighting became mandatory for a few months so that I could visually see that my schedule actually matched what my priorities were. It was hard.
I had trouble adding things on the list that were for me. I did not know what I liked or what I wanted to do. I did not know my husband anymore. He told me who he was going to vote for President (the last election) and I was floored. I realized we had gone a long time without talking to each other. I mean really sharing thoughts and ideas not just the day to day activities. I had to do something about getting to know who I was and who my husband was again. I started a list of things to try for me. Things I might be interested in. At first, the list was just one thing and now there are many things I want to try. I am currently working hard to become physically fit because I want to Trapeze! My husband and I go out to dinner once a week. We don’t have a lot of money so sometimes it is coffee at Starbucks or dinner at Rubio’s. But it is just the two of us. At first, we could not think of what to say to each other. But we faked it and baby stepped our way back into each others lives and hearts.
I actually use all of these skills without really thinking about it any more. They are ingrained in how I think and what I do. But it did not start out that way. I had keep at it. Sometimes I would fall off the wagon and I would just have to put myself right back on the wagon. Sometimes I just needed a break and then I could restart. I just kept four things in mind:
- Fake it until you make it
- Have growth mindset, the brain can change
- Life is a marathon baby step everything
- Set Goals and priorities
These four things have helped me accomplish so much. They have kept me sane and kept me from burning out. They are truly the things I have learned to be resilient. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.
If you are interested in buying and reading either book please buy it at the Autism Society Amazon store at this link:
Sometimes I just can’t read another book about autism. I simply need a break so I try to choose something else I care about, usually something to do with healthy diets or cleaning up my environment. In my view it is autism related since some of our kids are the canaries in the mine. My own family is a perfect example of this. Both Mark and I are sensitive to chemicals, dyes, preservatives and other such things that most people don’t even know exist. My husband bought me a beautiful new couch but I could not sit in the living room for well over a month because he had it sprayed with scotch guard. Every tine I sat in the living room I broke out in hives and had trouble breathing. I went to the doctor because being allergic to your couch is crazy, or so I thought. Turned out I am allergic to formaldehyde and the doctor assured me that I was not crazy. Turns out allergies to formaldehyde is fairly common. Who knew? So when I saw this book, Slow Death By Rubber Duck I simply could not resist. The cute innocent rubber duck and the title lured me in. I must say that it was a fun read. Of course, I love the subject and have several books on similar material, So maybe fun isn’t the right word for most readers. If you have read other books on this subject you will find some new information here and you will enjoy the fast pace. If you have never given a thought about all the chemicals in your own home this is the perfect book to start with. It presents the information in a simple easy to understand way without being too preachy. I especially enjoyed the authors attempts to poison themselves to test just how true the health claims were. The book gives easy ideas and solutions to cleaning up your environment without having to break the bank or become a wacko, as my husband so aptly puts it. It is a quick interesting read and I highly recommend it.
Here is what publisher days about the book:
Pollution is not only an abstract, distant problem seen in belching smokestacks and contaminated waterways; it’s also personal. Some of the most dangerous pollutants come from commonplace items in our homes and workplaces—shampoos and toothpastes, carpets and children’s toys.
To prove this point, leading environmentalists Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie conducted their own research by ingesting and inhaling a host of things that are part of our everyday lives. Using their own bodies as the reference point to tell the story of pollution in our modern world, they expose the miscreant corporate giants who manufacture the toxins, the weak-kneed government officials who let it happen, and the effects on people and families across the globe. This book—the testimony of their experience—exposes the extent to which we are poisoned every day of our lives.
To buy this book please follow the link and Autism Society will make a small percentage on your purchase. This will not increase the price for you but will benefit our organization.