Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

A Rainbow of Acceptance: A Newby Mom’s Guide to Autism Acceptance Month

PicsArt_1459380615307This April is my first Autism Acceptance Month with a diagnosed ASD kiddo. Through several awesome Facebook support groups I have learned so much about the rich and beautiful spectrum of autism. I’ve grown as a mom and gained insight into my own childhood.

Something that stood out to me though was the somewhat confusing number of campaigns and colors for Autism Awareness/Acceptance. So this is the basic guide I’ve made through my research. I’m having trouble linking to various things, so please look these up and do research for yourself. Knowledge is power.

The Puzzle Piece- This is one of the first symbols for Autism. It dates back to 1963 and was chosen because of the “puzzling” nature of autism. It originally had an image of a crying child in it to show the sorrow autism caused. It has been updated to colorful primary hues. Some support this symbol as a way of showing that autistic people deserve to “fit” in society and that we are all part of the greater picture. Others avoid it because of the past connotations that autistic people are like a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit or that they are somehow missing pieces needed to be a whole person.

Light it up Blue- This campaign is sponsored by Autism Speaks and is often represented by a blue puzzle piece. This one tends to lean more towards awareness than true acceptance. They are criticized by many autistic people because of their views on the causes of autism and that it should be cured.

Red Instead/Walk in Red- In response to the backlash against Autism Speaks and Light It Up Blue, this movement was founded. It encourages people to seek autism acceptance and education and to chose red instead of blue.

Tone It Down Taupe- This is similar to Red Instead. It was founded by autistic women in hopes of giving an alternative to Autism Speaks and the blue puzzle piece. They encourage people to tone it down and focus on education and acceptance.

Autism Doesn’t Make Me Blue (Gold)- This is another alternative campaign. Au is the periodic symbol for gold. So this plays on the “Au” in Autism.

Rainbow Infinity Symbol/Color the World- The rainbow symbolizes the vast spectrum of autism. And the infinity sign symbolizes the greater Neurodiversity Movement. (This is my personal favorite because I adore the concept of neurodiversity.)

I hope this helps you navigate this month and what it means. No matter how you choose to color your world, please use this month to educate yourself and others on the beauty of the spectrum. Please research any charity or organization you want to support. Ask yourself if they are really bettering the world for autistic peoples? Are they seeking awareness of an “illness” or acceptance of those with a neurodivergent brain?

Again, I am new on my knowledge journey and this is just a basic overview of my research. If you have anything to add or useful links, please feel free to comment with them!

With Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

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Professor,Wildling, and Goofball

I’ve decided to give the kids more interesting designations than just their first initial for the blog. So I’m doing a little update here on each kiddo.

It has been a wild month, but we are making it. Sometimes we choose personal mental health over being social. Sometimes we have rough days. But as always, life finds a way. We are so blessed by these three little souls.

Professor

K, our little professor, will be 7 in June. He was recently diagnosed with high functioning autism, ADHD, and anxiety. His diagnosis has given us the means to finally get the school on board with helping him. I’m hoping we can soon get an IEP and some services.

It is hard to give words to the emotions of this month. I don’t mourn the diagnosis, but the lost time. I feel bad that he struggled to fit in last year and we didn’t realize he was having sensory issues. I am beyond blessed by his teacher this year. She has done a few modifications without the IEP in place that have made a huge difference for him.

He continues to amaze me with his depths of knowledge. He can understand things far beyond his years, but can’t remember where he left his shoes or how he managed to lose his socks during school.

Usually he isn’t snuggly like the other two, but sometimes he asks if he can rest with me for a bit. My heart soars as he leans into me and we just exist together for a bit.

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Wildling

Oh, sweet E… Our wild child. Her latest interest has been in cooking. She will gladly help me make dinner or bake a cake. She also likes to get into the spice cabinet and do “science” in the bathroom. She loves to sing and gets perturbed if someone tries to sing along to her song.

She is by far my most challenging child. I adore her. Parenting her is a constant battle between reigning her in and allowing her to be herself. I don’t worry much about people pushing her around as she gets older. She is going to give them hell.

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Goofball

Baby F isn’t a baby anymore! He is now a spunky two year old. (When did that happen?!)

He recently had his second set of tubes put in. All the early ear infections have his speech a bit delayed. He talks a lot, but doesn’t enunciate his beginning and ending sounds. Speech has been fun for him. He really likes Miss Julie.

This kid is so funny and sweet. He loves to snuggle and give kisses. And then occasionally he is replaced by a toddler changeling and wails and gnashes his little teeth. Oh, toddlerhood.

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Well, for now I am going to help Daddy Miller get our small humans in bed. I have a Professor in my lap.

Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

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It’s a pen.

Well friends,

We continue along on our journey for an official diagnosis for K. It is going well and we have an awesome developmental pediatrician. So far we are definitely looking at High Functioning Autism and possible ADHD.

On Wednesday we did academic and IQ testing. We weren’t at all surprised to learn he is one smart kiddo. His reading skills are especially developed.

During the IQ testing there was a section of verbal riddles.

“They have buttons. You hold it in your hand. You use it to solve math problems.”

“Pen!”

“Good try, but not what I was looking for.”

He grabs the pen he’d just used to do a math assessment off the table.

“Look! It has clicky buttons. I hold it. I do math with it.”

“That is clever, but not what I was looking for.”

“Oh. A calculator then. But pen is still right.”

I love the way his mind works.

Things I’ve learned so far:

*Sometimes advocating for your child means being mean or pushy with the school. (His teacher is awesome, but the admins were dragging on some things. We are finally getting a 504 in place to officially allow him some of the modifications his teacher already does. And after his IQ testing, his teacher pushed for him to get to do some advanced math with the GT teacher once a week.)

*Some of his most endearing personality traits are also part of his autism. I adore his speech patterns and his creativity. I love the way his mind works.

*Helping him will be a balance of teaching him “normal” social skills and teaching those around him that “normal” is often overrated.

*Sometimes people get so caught up in not labeling kids, but we are all labeled to an extent. I’d rather him be labeled Autistic (a medical condition) than just be labeled a problem kid because he has a hard time staying focused.

*The more I learn about it, the more I see things in my own personality and childhood. I don’t know that I’m necessarily autistic as well, but K did get some of his personality from me.

*ADHD surprised me because I’ve never considered him hyper. But it does make sense with trouble focusing on tasks. But I love that the doctor said no medication for now. ADHD does not have to mean automatically being medicated. It may be needed down the road, but for now we are redirecting and eliminating sensory overload.

*The extra attention for K means a very needy E. This week has her wanting to be in my lap all the time. So I’m trying to balance time between each of them.

That’s all I’ve got for now!

Love,

Cori “Mama” Miller

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My Child Is Not Broken: surviving the testing process for Asperger’s

We announced to family and friends today that our oldest is starting testing for Asperger’s Syndrome (also called High Functioning Autism).

Our K has always had a quirky, beautiful personality. As a toddler he sounded like a tiny professor. He had an advanced vocabulary and an obsession for machines and astronomy. We also noticed that he was very sensitive. He had an extreme hatred for the vacuum and for group singing (the birthday song especially). I would have to set up pretend scenarios to get his cooperation with basic tasks.

“Ok Mighty Machine Boy, I need you to go move five toy cars the toy box garage.”

As he has gotten into school we noticed that his verbal and reading skills were much higher than his motor skills. Writing was hard. He isn’t as coordinated in PE.

We’ve worked extensively with his teacher this year to find what works well for him. She is amazing. She knows how to earn his cooperation. She knows that schedule changes and fire drills are difficult for him. This process and this school year have been immeasurably better because of her.

So here we are now. After a therapy evaluation and visits with his pediatrician we have come to realize many of these things are markers for Asperger’s.

This month we will have three appointments to do various testing and he will have a genetic screening. We should have a diagnosis by March. We are very fortunate to have found a developmental pediatrician that can see us so quickly. Many people wait months and months to get in to one.

Things you need to know about this process:

  1. My child is not broken and diagnosis will not “fix” him. Getting the diagnosis will help us be the best parents we can be for him. It will also allow the school to grant certain modifications to help him reach his maximum learning potential.
  2. Please do not feel sorry for us or offer condolences. Again, he is NOT broken. This diagnosis does not change who he is. My child is still beautiful and amazing. His brain is just wired a little differently. A diagnosis of Autism is not something to mourn.
  3. Please continue to laugh with us and appreciate the beautiful soul he is. Pray for him to continue to feel loved and to hold up well during the testing process. He may want to tell you about it. He might not. Just love him.
  4. Please let us parent. We are doing the best we can and it can be hard to balance disciple with not overwhelming him. We are working with his pediatrician, developmental pediatrician, and therapist. What worked for you as a parent may, and probably will, be very different for us. We know our child and how to approach him.
  5. We love and appreciate our family and friends, but will be very busy in the coming month. Getting a diagnosis is a process and we are exhausted. If we forget to call you back, please know that it isn’t a purposeful slight.

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This is a shirt we recently got him while explaining all of this. It represents our current journey with him. Neurodiversity means that some special souls have brains that are wired a bit differently from the rest of us. Our differences help keep the world beautiful.

Love Always,

Cori “Mama” Miller

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