Is anyone working here anymore!?

January 27, 2011

Ok, so I’ve been a REALLY bad blogger. I noticed I’ve addressed the topic of me being a bad blogger in some of my last posts and obviously I haven’t done any better.

I don’t really even have a good excuse. Sure, like any parent and full-time employee, I don’t always have a ton of time. But I think I have enough time to write a little bit every week or so at the least.

I think part of my problem is trying to figure out what exactly the scope of this blog should be. There are plenty of other places on the internet that break all the latest news about autism, so I probably don’t need to do that. I want to be able to share stories about how our son and our family is doing. I sometimes worry though about getting too personal…or maybe not personal enough. My greatest fear is always that someday in the future my son will read this blog and think, “Did I make your life really hard?”

That would really depress me because he has been the single biggest blessing in my life. Sure there are times when autism can be a struggle, but my son is so much more than autism. He is such a loving and sweet child and I wouldn’t trade a minute with him. I would never want him to think he makes my life harder, because that simply isn’t true. He has enriched my life so much and I learn something new from him everyday.

So all that to say…I suppose it would be a good idea for me to at least set some attainable goals with this blog. Perhaps write one entry a week at the least? Sometimes it will have to do with autism or what we’re up to. Maybe sometimes it will just be me riffing on topics I find interesting…sports, music, food, etc. Who knows?

Anyway, not sure if anyone still even visits this site, but instead of just promising some fresh content, I suppose I should actually just write something!

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Walk Now For Autism

September 20, 2010

Throughout the year Autism Speaks hosts ‘Walk Now For Autism’ events across the country. The Minnesota event is set for this Saturday, September 25th at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. I recently did an interview for my television program about the walk.

If you’d like more information about the walk, check out the official website.

Temple Grandin–The Movie

September 14, 2010

There’s a good chance you’ve already heard about the movie about Temple Grandin, aptly titled….”Temple Grandin.” It premiered in February on HBO & just recently won a bunch of Emmy’s including a Best Actress statuette for Claire Danes’ portrayal of Grandin.

Grandin was diagnosed with autism at a time when not as much was known about the disorder. Her Mother was advised by a doctor to put her in an institution. Her Mother refused to give up on her & Grandin eventually flourished to the point where she earned her Doctorate and is a world-renowned animal researcher.

I had wanted to see the movie when it premiered but we unfortunately don’t get HBO in our home. It recently was released on DVD & my wife and I just watched it. It was excellent! It is so inspiring! Whether you’d like to learn more about autism or are just a fan of well-made movies, then I think you need to watch it.

I’m also excited that Temple is coming to a college in my area next month to speak. We’ll definitely be in the crowd!

Here’s the trailer for the movie…..

So I guess it’s been a while….

July 14, 2010

Well, look who’s back! I have really been a horrible blogger in 2010! I had purposed to write more often this year and I haven’t done a very good job at that. Just life getting in the way I guess.

I’ll try to do a more proper post soon, but here’s just a little bit of what’s been going on lately. We recently did hyperbaric oxygen therapy with our son. We did 40 ‘dives’ in the chamber. Our hope was to see an increase in speech. So far, there really hasn’t been more speech, but we’ve noticed quite a few other positive changes. Our son seems to be a little bit more aware, his eye contact has been much improved, he’s laughing more, and he’s even been ‘teasing’ us quite a bit too.

I really get excited when he ‘teases’ us. That means his mind is grasping some things he wasn’t before. For instance, the other day I was playing with him in our backyard. He loves to use his swing set and had been swinging for quite a long time. He stopped and I gave him the option of another push and more swinging, or we could go inside and get something to eat. He got off the swing and ran over to the fence. I assumed this meant we were going inside. As I got close to the fence, he started laughing and dashed off back to the swing. He did this a few more times. He really kept looking for my reaction. It was a lot of fun and I felt like we were playing our own little game together. I really treasure those kinds of moments.

So even if we didn’t get the speech yet that we were hoping for, it was definitely worth the time and money for us to do the hyperbarics if we’re getting more glimpses of our little guy’s personality.

I also just finished reading “Not My Boy!” by Rodney Peete. He’s a retired NFL Quarterback who along with his wife, actress Holly Robinson Peete, has a young son with autism. I really enjoyed the book. It’s geared towards fathers. I really wish this book would have been out when we were first trying to learn about autism. Most of the books out there are geared towards mothers and are written by mothers. Those books are great too, but Peete was able to relay things from a man’s perspective. I would highly recommend reading this book if you’re a dad out there who has a kid on the autism spectrum. Even if you already know a lot of the stuff he’s talking about, I think you’ll still feel re-energized to fight for your child after reading the book.

Autism Healthcare Protection Act

May 12, 2010

Sorry for the lack of new posts lately. I intended to do several new posts throughout April, since it was National Autism Awareness Month, but as you can see I didn’t quite get that accomplished! Too busy living life I guess!

One thing I have been following with keen interest though this past month or two was the Autism Healthcare Protection Act, here in my home state of Minnesota. Around 20 or so states have been able to pass legislation that ends insurance discrimination against kids with autism. Minnesota has one of the highest rates of autism in the country, so it would seem to make sense to pass similar legislation here.

Thanks to the hard work of area autism advocates, the Autism Healthcare Protection Act gained approval in the Minnesota House, but last night all 6 members of the Minnesota Senate’s Health & Human Services Budget Division voted against it. So for now, there will be no end to insurance discrimination for our kids with autism this year in Minnesota. The Act is more or less dead for now.

You can read more about the Autism Healthcare Protection Act here. Interesting quote from this link, “this measure would have saved the state 3.6 million dollars by shifting the cost of therapy from Medical Assistance back to private insurance which should be paying for it anyway.” Who wouldn’t vote for this?

If you live in Minnesota, if might not be a bad idea to call the Senators that are listed in that article. Who knows…if enough people call, maybe they’ll change their minds?

I had the pleasure recently of interviewing Amy Dawson, a Minneapolis-area Attorney, who runs the Autism Advocacy & Law Center. In this interview, she explains more about insurance struggles families in Minnesota are facing.

And thanks to people like Amy Dawson…who use much of their time & talents to help families like mine. The battle might not be won yet, but with people like Amy on our side…we’re going to get there eventually.

Update on Feed My Starving Children

March 18, 2010

Just realized that I promised in my post about Feed My Starving Children earlier this month that I would post the story that I did about this great organization. Here it is!!!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

March 17, 2010

Here’s a picture of the shirt our favorite little Irishman is wearing today!!

Feed My Starving Children

March 1, 2010

I had an eye-opening experience this past weekend. The church my family attends, Eagle Brook Church, has been doing a series about social justice issues. We’ve been learning about why it’s important to take notice of those who need help not only in our own cities, but also across the world. For 10 days, we were given the chance to volunteer for a Twin Cities non-profit called Feed My Starving Children.  They are a hunger relief organization that provides food to over 60 countries.

They host what they call ‘mobile pack’ events where volunteers help to pack their meals. Throughout the course of 10 days, over 11-thousand volunteers from our church and our community came out to pack meals. I was fortunate enough to volunteer this past Saturday morning and it certainly was an amazing experience.

I believe I’ve always had a compassionate heart, but I can’t say I really know what it’s like to be truly hungry. Sure I might miss lunch by an hour or forget to eat breakfast, but that kind of hunger can easily be remedied. I can eat anytime, anyplace I want to. My biggest problem with food isn’t that I can’t get access to it…rather that since I can eat anything, I often eat too much. It’s hard for me to imagine that there are people who don’t have access to food and will literally starve to death.

But to help pack these meals, really forced me to think about world hunger. All of us volunteers were set up at different stations. I held each bag at my station tight so that they could go under a machine that would seal them tight. I got this job because the table I was at was mainly full of junior high-age kids and you needed to be at least 18 to do the bag job. I was asked if I was over 18. At first I jokingly said no, but I guess there aren’t too many bald 18 year olds with grey-speckled beards out there! 🙂

Before the event someone told me that the cool thing about volunteering for Feed My Starving Children, is that short of visiting one of these countries where the meals are sent..this is about as hands on as you can get. We were the last ones touching these bags. The next person to open this bag of food will be the mother of a starving child or someone who runs an orphanage.

During the hour and a half shift, my back really started to hurt. But before I could feel too sorry for myself, I had to give thanks for the many blessings I have. Surely an hour and a half of minor back discomfort is nothing compared to worrying about where your next meal will come from.

What does all of this have to do with autism? Not much, I suppose. From time to time I think I’ll write about things on this blog that aren’t necessarily autism-related. Perhaps that way I’ll actually post more! Plus, I guess it shows that autism hasn’t totally defined my family’s world and that we’re capable to seeing other things going on too.

I will say though that we often worry about my son’s diet. He’s on the GF/CF diet that so many kids with autism are on. He’s a very picky eater. Even though he mainly survives on chicken, mashed potatoes, and lately lots and lots of pudding, we have no problems having access to food and having the means to purchase it for him. For that I am very grateful. I just pray that somehow the rest of the world will be able to have a good, nutritious meal every day.

Here’s a video our church produced to promote the Feed My Starving Children event. It’s pretty short and should give you an even better idea of the program than my ramblings have. I’m also working on a story about the event for the tv station I work at. I’ll try to post that later this week when it’s done. If you’d like to learn even more about Feed My Starving Children, visit their website here.

Last Day to Vote!!!!

January 22, 2010

So I know I posted about this a few days ago, but today is the last day you can vote for the National Autism Association to win one of the $1-million prizes being given away through Chase Community Giving. There are 100 charities that people can vote on and the NAA is the only autism-related one. The top 5 vote getters will receive a $1-million prize. Just think how many families the NAA could help and what kind of resources they could provide with that kind of money. I’ve been impressed to see how many other autism organizations are throwing their support behind the NAA to win this. Usually it doesn’t seem like all these autism organizations get along too well, but this seems to be one instance where they’re all helping each other out.

So if you have a Facebook account, it only takes a few seconds to cast your vote here. And if you don’t use Facebook…what are you waiting for? Everybody else is on it. Just think…you can reconnect with family & friends and cast your vote!!!

Here’s the info that the NAA just sent out about this. Again, just go here and you’ll be able to cast your vote!!!!

Vote to raise money for NAA

January 15, 2010

There’s a contest going on now on Facebook where you can vote for a charity to receive $1-million. The only autism related charity is the National Autism Association. Here’s the details that the NAA posted….

“Dear Think Autism friends,

Last month your votes put the National Autism Association into Round 2 of Chase Community Giving – voting is now underway for $1,000,000!

Autism is a national health emergency, now affecting 1 in 110 children in the US, yet resources for families remain scarce and under-funded. On a very modest budget, NAA’s programs provide REAL help and hope to families affected by Autism. One million dollars is not a drop in the bucket for our organization, it is a game-changer and will allow us to significantly expand our programs.

NAA is the only autism organization in the running and we need your help! Please take a minute to cast your vote for NAA today. You can make a huge difference!

Click and vote at http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommuni…

Other ways you can help:

– Tell your friends you voted

– Request their support by adding a customized link to your page today – whether your a mom, a teacher, or Twilight Fan there’s one for you! Check them all out here:http://www.nationalautismassociation….

– Spread the hope anyway you can.

Chase the hope. And don’t forget to spread it.”

When you go there you can watch a video created for this. Here it is…

So if you’re on Facebook, go ahead and vote! It only takes a minute and it could really help the lives of families of children with autism.