Healing Haiti

January 13, 2010

You’ve likely by now seen all the reports on the news and the internet about the devastation by the earthquake in Haiti. I thought I’d use a post for readers of this blog to let you know about a couple that uses their time & talents to help those in Haiti.

Our family knows this couple at our church who run the Healing Haiti mission. They partner with a variety of charities in Haiti that provide clean water, build orphanages, etc. I’ve had the pleasure of doing a couple of stories on this couple through the tv station I work at. Here’s one of them with Alyn Shannon. She makes jewelry and all the proceeds benefit Haiti. You can see her work at her GS2 Studios website.

If you’d like to learn more about the Healing Haiti initiatives, check out their website here. They’ve been working in Haiti long before this earthquake happened and I know they’ll be pouring their hearts & souls into helping rebuild there. Take a moment to check out the story and their websites, and if you’re able to, make a donation to help out.

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A Hopeful Video

January 8, 2010

My wife came across this great video recently of a 17 year old girl with autism. She is very articulate and explains what it’s been like to have autism. I’ve really been wondering a lot lately about what might be going on in the heads of these kids with autism. You hear so many stories of autistic kids having so much more in their heads than we give them credit for. We just assume that if there are communication difficulties, then the kids aren’t absorbing anything. But as you’ll learn from this video, these kids are picking up quite a bit.

So if you’re a parent of a child with autism, this should give you some great hope and encouragement. Even if you have no immediate connection to autism and are just interested/curious about it, then check this out.

MTV’s True Life: “I Have Autism”

January 5, 2010

My wife and I have always been big fans of the ‘True Life’ series on MTV. These hour-long documentaries have followed a wide variety of subjects including “I’m Going to Performing Arts Camp,” “I Have Embarrassing Parents,” and “I’m a Jersey Shore Girl.” You name it, they’ve probably covered it by now.

In 2007, they did a show called “I Have Autism.” They follow 3 different young men with autism. One is pretty severe and is learning to use an assistive device to communicate. Another is very talented at art, but is having problems with meltdowns. And another young man has Asperger’s and is trying to launch a stand-up comedy career.

I’ve been wanting to see this for a while. I must have missed it when it first aired and even though MTV airs these things all the time, I’ve never caught a rerun. Now though, you can watch a ton of the full “True Life” episodes on MTV’s website for free. I finally got around to watching “I Have Autism” and I thought it was very interesting. It probably would have been very hard for me to watch when we were first dealing with our son’s diagnosis, but 2 years into this for me, and it’s not as hard. I can look past some of the challenges these families are facing and instead share joy with their triumphs. Plus, our son is 4 and it doesn’t do me a whole lot of good right now to project what his life will be like when he’s in his late teens like the guys who are featured in this show.

So if you’ve got a little under an hour to spare, it’s worth a watch. You’ll laugh at times, and I think you’ll cry at times, especially for the young man who is so excited to plan his first ever birthday party with friends.

I can never seem to figure out how to embed videos here if they’re not on YouTube, so if you want to watch MTV’s True Life: “I Have Autism” then go to this link.

A Story of Recovery on CNN

December 10, 2009

Has it really been almost 2 months since my last post? Trust me, I’ve had plenty of brilliant ideas floating around in my head of things to write about on here, but I never seem to actually get around to doing it. Perhaps in 2010 I will maintain some semblance of activity on here.

Just saw this very inspiring story on CNN’s website and thought I’d share it here. I thought it was a very well-done piece about a family who recovered their son from autism. The main person in this interview, Karen Siff Exkorn, has actually written a book that we’ve (ok my wife read the whole thing, but I looked at it) read called “The Autism Sourcebook.”

I found that our story is fairly similar to this family’s story in the beginning. The reporter notes that not every child will respond as favorably as this one did to early intervention like ABA therapy, but I’m hopeful we’re on the road to the same success the Exkorn’s achieved.

I’ve been trying in vain to embed the clip right here, but I’m not having much success. So just go here and you can watch it.

Best Buds

October 16, 2009

My son and I have always gotten along well, but since this summer we’ve become quite the pals. There were days in the past I would so long for us to have a closer relationship. He went through the normal stages of being closer to Mommy and I was confused as to how to get closer to him. I think maybe for a while I used autism as an excuse for me to not try to enter his world as much as I should have.

“I don’t know how to play with him!” I would say to my wife. “You just have to get in there and try,” she would say. But it always felt kind of like the whole chicken vs. egg debate. Was he not responding to me as much because I wasn’t playing with him a ton? Or was I not playing with him a ton because he didn’t respond to me?

At some point I guess I made a conscious decision to just meet my little boy where he’s at. Instead of focusing so much on the things I thought he couldn’t do, why not pour my energies into the things he CAN do? What a novel concept!

I felt like we as a family were placing so many demands on how he was supposed to act at all times. We couldn’t enjoy a leisurely trip to the park because he doesn’t play with the equipment there the way ‘typical’ kids do. Well, once I made the decision to enjoy the things he enjoys, we all had a lot more fun. Who sets the rules at the park? If he wants to swing for a half hour at a time and is enjoying it, why don’t I just lighten up and enjoy it too?

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Our relationship has just grown by leaps and bounds these last few months. I wake up every morning to hear him calling out “Daddy! Daddy!” If I happen to be at work late, he’ll keep calling my name until I come home. He’s always taking me by the hand to go off on an adventure in the house.

I love that little boy so much and I’m so glad I made the decision to not be so uptight and to spend more of my energy having fun, playing, and encouraging him. Does this mean I’m not still striving to help him succeed in life? Hardly. But I think this approach is going to help him more in the long-run by letting him know I accept and love all his unique gifts and talents and will cheer him on regardless of what all the other kids out there are doing.

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I Am Autism

September 24, 2009

A friend just sent me this video produced by Autism Speaks. Very powerful and kind of similar in tone to a blog post my wife wrote a while back. You can watch it below. I promise I’ll actually write a blog post soon that isn’t just somebody else’s video or article. But I guess there’s nothing wrong with showing some videos of hope, is there?

Touchdown!!!

September 23, 2009

Here’s another inspiring story I just came across about a young man with autism scoring his first touchdown for his school’s football team. I just love reading these!! You can read it at the link below.

Autistic player’s dream comes true as he scores his first touchdown.

Inspiring Video

September 14, 2009

I just love seeing hopeful videos like this one! My parents recently forwarded me this CBS News story about a young girl with autism who has found her voice through song. I think this one really resonates with me because our little guy is so into music too. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll be singing the national anthem at a game? I have every confidence that he can. The only thing that might hold him back isn’t autism…it’s the fact that our family is not historically known as being great singers!  🙂

Check out this story, it’s only a couple of minutes long.

Vote for Us in the Transitions Photo Contest

September 11, 2009

I need your help! I appreciate those of you who visit this blog even with my not-so-regular posts.  I know this is the lazy route, but I’ve just copied & pasted what my wife wrote recently, so here’s why I need your help….

Josiah has worn glasses since he was two, and they have Transitions lenses. We entered a photo contest sponsored by Transitions lenses to win $10,000, which we would use to help pay for Josiah’s biomedical treatments. They are also giving away $10,000 to the grand prize winner’s chosen charity. Ours would be TACA: Talk About Curing Autism, because they are a parent-led organization that gives grants to families who don’t have the money for treatments and special diets. I think that’s great!

So, here’s what I’m asking you to do:

Go to http://www.transitions.com/liveyourvision/, click on “view entries.” You’ll need to register to vote (it’s lame, but they won’t send you anything if you don’t check the box.) Once you’re in, go to the search box and type in “autism.” Look for the picture of Josiah in the car. We have three of them on there, but thought splitting the vote might actually be a bad thing, so please vote for the car.

Sorry their voting process seems a little clunky, but I appreciate you doing it for us! Also, you could spread the word to your friends on Facebook, etc just by giving them this blog link. Hey, be creative if you like. The contest ends October 15. I’ll let you know if we win! Thanks again, friends.

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Walk Now For Autism Preview

September 2, 2009

I recently did an interview for the station I work at which was a preview of the Minnesota Walk Now For Autism put on by Autism Speaks. The event is on Saturday, September 26th at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN for anyone interested. I went last year and was amazed at the turnout. 

Here’s the interview about the walk, autism in general, and Autism Speaks for your viewing pleasure….