Archive | September, 2012

The stick man

cameron stick figuresCameron drew this great picture today. He’s really quite proud of it.

Can you tell what it’s a picture of? And who those people are?

I’ll let you know if you’re right at the bottom of this post.

The point of this post though, is that his drawing got me to thinking and for some reason, I just couldn’t let it go and it dawned on me that this is really very important.

The Stick Man

A circle for the head. A line for the body. A line for each arm and a line for each leg. That’s it. Big deal. Right?

Well, consider this; every single child, ever, has started out by drawing a stick man.

Most of you are probably thinking “ya? so?” while some others will be processing it for a moment to either form an argument to agree or disagree with that assessment.

A small, very rare portion, of you are probably dawning on just how significant that really is.

Think of it

When you stop and do the math on that, it’s really quite remarkable. Let’s say we focus on only the population we have now, not the population through out history. Just the people on Earth right now.

That’s just over 7 billion people, living on several continents, in hundreds of countries, with a variety of skin colours and languages, rich and poor, religious and not, special needs or not, high and low IQs… everyone!! And they’ve all (or at least very close to all) drawn a stick figure. Whether it’s in the sand, in stone, on paper, an etch-a-sketch or what ever means they have… children draw the stick man.

Sadly, this isn’t a post about world unity, give peace a chance, joining with our brothers and sisters and so on.

No. It’s about you. You and your child.

The first step

The real significance in this is that this is a common first step in what becomes a world of endless possibilities. Some of those children become astronauts, athletes, musicians and the ones that really love those stick men continue on to become artists.

But when you think about the greatest people in the world, whether brilliant or athletic or seemingly “born with talent” individuals, they all sucked at drawing the human form!

Even those who go on to be widely regarded as the greatest artists in the world, sucked at it at first.

The last step

I also consider the stick man as the last step in what makes us all the same.

From that stick man on, we stop doing the same things that everyone else on the planet has done. We keep on drawing or we find other interests. We persevere or we give up. We make decisions every single day that forever shape and alter our lives in ways that have never happened to anyone else, ever.

It’s humbling to think that we all started out with the same talent (or lack of talent, depending on how you view a stick man) but it’s also monumental to think that it’s the last time that any of us will ever do something that every single other person has done too. (I mean, aside from bodily functions and other such humanity type stuff we need to do)


When I look at my son’s drawing, a bunch of stick man figures together, I think of all the people that came before him, doing the same thing. How their parents must have admired their work too. How they must have progressed from that stick man to works of art that became priceless.

I think of presidents, rocket scientists, athletes and everyone else in the world that all started out with a stick man on a piece of paper and how they started out just like my boy.

No, not everyone has the same support in life along the way nor does everyone have the same challenges but in that stick man drawing is a beginning. And it’s a very big world and there are going to be many, many more steps taken after that first one.

And if any of those other people can go from a stick man to becoming anything they want to be, then so can my boy. So can anyone!

So when your child draws a stick man and hands it to you and says it’s you, or your spouse, or a friend or what ever it is… don’t just say “that’s nice” and put it on a shelf or in the recycle bin.

Really look at it and appreciate what’s coming next. Whether big or small, record breaking or not, what comes next is the rest of their lives and it’s going to be amazing!

The Answer

I did promise to tell you what it was that my son drew in that picture. I didn’t forget.

It’s The Avengers!

Hulk, Iron-Man, Thor, Captain America and some pink girl he decided had to be the villain.


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Crap or Cone

One of, if not the, most positive people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting is a pink haired, very flamboyant man named John “Halcyon” Styn. In the time I had known him, or known of him, he had never been involved in any drama, he never seemed to be where problems were or bad things were going down… he just always seemed to have a smile and was always happy to see you. Even if you’ve never met him before.

Recently, he gave a TED talk. If you have never heard of TED talks, I highly suggest you take some time and sit and watch some. The top minds in the world give short talks that will forever change your perspective on life.

John’s talk is one that may do just that for you as well.

It’s less than 17 minutes (which in the world of autism parenting is a LONG TIME) but I ask that you set aside the time today to watch this. It’s important. Honest.

And when you’re done, continue on reading below the video.

The entire discussion is so powerful and there really is a lot to take in but my focus, right now, is on one very important aspect of life; you have to ask yourself, “crap or cone?”

Essentially, you can focus on the crap and spend all your time thinking about it, talking about it, living in it… or you can focus on the cone and cherish it, enjoy it, share it with others.

What it comes down to is, both methods will get you results. But one might get you the results you want while the other will likely get you the results you want so desperately to avoid.

To put it another way, if you are always seeking the positives in everything… eventually that’s what you will find. But the same is true of the negatives.

And it’s hard to do. It’s so very hard to do when the deck seems stacked against you. When things just seem to keep going from bad to worse. That’s true of anyone and even more so when autism or other disorders or disabilities are involved.

But the same principle holds true. In fact, I’d argue that it’s even more true.

Autism can be hard… very very hard. I won’t deny that.

But that still doesn’t change the fact that what you decide to focus on will dictate how much enjoyment you have out of life. It will determine what your life will look like when you look back on it years from now.

Here’s a hint: when that day comes, when you think back on all of what your life once was, if you had focused on the crap, you’ll remember the diagnosis, the therapy, the schedules, the chaos, etc but if you focus on the cone, you’ll remember the child.

It’s easy to forget that it’s within our power to make that decision, especially when things seem so out of our control. But we do.

It’s a choice.

It’s your choice.

What will be your focus?

Crap or cone?

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Why I write about autism

If you read my blog already, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a little while now. The blog is 2.5 years old now and I think I’ve hit a stage in this blog’s life where I start to question what it is that I’m doing with it, where I want it to go and most importantly, what exactly it is that I’m trying to say with it.

It’s caused me to ask myself one simple question: why do I write about autism?

In the beginning

When I started my blog, it was mostly just to write about my son and the experiences we had together. I made observations about certain things he’d do and I’d give examples of how my wife and I became aware that he had autism.

I didn’t write to make a statement or to impact other’s decisions or opinions. I didn’t write to inform anyone of anything either. I didn’t write because I felt I had to or because I felt anyone wanted me to.

It was a quiet but very satisfying time for my blog where I felt good about what I was doing. I still do, of course. But it was a different kind of good feeling. It was peaceful and gratifying.

As my blog grew, that all changed.

Over time

As the blog grew, like most bloggers, I found myself weighing in on community topics, giving my opinion on researchers that seem to only be trying to blame mothers for their child’s autism, on the crazy things that Jenny McCarthy was up to, the vaccine debate and so on.

I tried to balance a lot of that with emotional posts, praising people for being people. Whether they’re parents doing their best or autistics for doing their best, I tried my best to keep myself and my readers looking towards the positives.

But somewhere along the way, again, like most bloggers, I found myself being yelled at or dragged down by bickering and arguing, general negativity or any number of other methods.

Some people feel they’re forever the victim and no matter what I say to them, it’s an attempt at hurting them more. Some people feel that the universe is a very dark place and that I offend them by simply having a smile. Some people feel that their experiences outweigh my experiences and thus, I should not have my experiences at all.

These things sound absurd, but they really happen.

The law of averages says that, in the case of blogging, no matter how much you try to avoid negativity, the more readers you reach, the more likely you are to encounter it.

Eventually it becomes inevitable and should you be able to cope and continue to grow, you’ll encounter that negativity more and more, over and over. Should you reach a sizable enough audience, it becomes a daily occurrence.

And that can weigh heavily on your shoulders. No matter how strong you were in the beginning, it gets hard.

why write about autismWhy carry on?

So the question becomes, if you’ve gotten yourself to the point of the daily negativity, why carry on? Well, the law of averages may state that you’re going to be stuck with it but it also says that you’ll have thousands of positives for every negative. And having thousands of positives daily really is worth one negative, right?

For example, I often hear from people how my posts have helped them when they needed it most, or that my posts are what they look forward to reading every day, or that appreciate the time and energy I put into doing what they wish they could do themselves… I love to hear from people who say these things, not because they praise me, but because it means that I am making a difference. I am outweighing the negative with the positive. What I write matters.

Still though, why? Why do I write? It’s not for the praise. It’s not to know that what I say matters. It’s not really even to make a difference. It is nice to hear these things. And believe me when I say that I honestly and completely appreciate every single one of my readers. I always make every effort to reply to every email and tweet and message.

But I’ve come to realize that I don’t write for my readers. I don’t write for the media. I don’t write for the masses. I don’t even write for my son.

I write for me.

That sounds self centered. I realize that. But it’s true.

Well no. It used to be true.

And that’s the problem.

Figuring it out

I’ve been frustrated for quite some time but only in the last month or so have I really just put the whole thing on hold and really given it serious thought.

Had I run out of things to say? Was I no longer able to cope with the negativity?

In my frustration, others reached out to me and told me to write for the good of all autistics. Others told me to write for my son and even more so, for his future. Others told me that, again, my writings helped them and that it helps others and thus, I should continue doing so.

These are all beautiful reasons to get back to my keyboard and push forward, but I didn’t. These reasons should have been good enough. They should have been all the motivation I needed. But they weren’t.

So I went back to page 1 and started reading. And it occured to me that all those reasons, while great reasons, were not the reason.

I needed to know why the frustration started. I needed to know where I went off course. I needed to know what it was that I was missing.

And I found it, back in my old blog entries.

I need to write for me.

No one else.

Going forward

I can’t say it enough, that I value and appreciate my readers and hope I never stop hearing the positives. I could do with less negatives but that’s another story.

But as much as I love every single reader I have, I have to admit to myself and acknowledge to you right now that I didn’t write for my readers in the beginning and I won’t do it anymore.

Somewhere along the way I did though. As responses came in and I started hearing from my readers, my reasons for writing slowly changed and I didn’t even realize it.  I started writing just to help people, to get more of those responses and to make a bigger difference.

I don’t know why or how, but I believe, that’s when I lost my spark.

That’s when I started to get frustrated.

I hadn’t run out of things to say and it wasn’t that the negativity became too much for me… it just didn’t feel right anymore.

And that is what’s most important, I think.

You can write for your autistic child or to help others dealing with autism or to educate others about autism or to make a statement about autism or to make a change in the world for autism; these are great reasons to write. And if these are your reasons for writing, that’s wonderful. But it’s not my reason.

I’ve realized that those are things that I hope my writings will do. But it’s not why I write.

If I write for me, as me, and stay true to me, those things will happen on their own. At least, I hope they will. They did before.

To stay true and honest, I need to write because I want to write. Writing for any other reason compromises that.

I hope you understand. Thank you for reading.

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A Road Map for Autism

From the first moment a child is diagnosed with autism, parents find themselves catapulted into a chaotic world of therapies, alternative treatments, and doctor appointments. We are left to fend for ourselves as snake oil salesmen try to take advantage, book authors offer conflicting points of view, and everyone from the family physician to Great Aunt Hilda offer their opinions on our children and our parenting. Sometimes these opinions are informed, and many times they are not. We often exhaust ourselves running through what feels like a rat maze, in search of answers or at least some advice that actually helps. We develop our own opinions, fend off curious strangers in the grocery store, and probably find ourselves engaged, on several occasions, in World War III via internet message boards.


All of this happens because we don’t have definitive proof of anything. What causes autism? What is the best method of treatment? Which therapies work, and which ones are a waste of time and money? What path do we take when there are so many options, none of which have a clear end point? All of these questions remain a mystery. As scientists work to unravel the causes and possible treatments for autism, we parents are scrambling to find our own answers. There is this sense of fear pervading every choice we make: Am I doing enough? Is this the right choice? Is this even working? What if I don’t do it, and I find out later this is the best treatment? What if I miss a crucial window of development?


This may be the most difficult part of raising our children. The fact that we don’t have a clear course of action laid out for us means we are often confused, overwhelmed, and fearful of doing the wrong thing or not enough of the right thing.


On the other hand, it can be a blessing in disguise. It’s a bit like taking a trip without a roadmap. Yes, it can be stressful and we may feel lost at times. But we also end up exploring down side roads we may never have noticed otherwise. We see and experience things off the beaten path, and make discoveries of our own. Along the way we find what works for our children and adopt those strategies. Through trial and error, we also learn what does not work, and we are free to discard those treatments and move on.


In the world of raising children with autism, no two paths are alike. For my family, I found that enrolling my sons in an intensive, autism-only preschool had a huge impact on their development. They learned, from professionals specifically trained in autism interventions, how to communicate well enough to convey their basic needs. They learned how to sit still (mostly), pay attention, and work independently when required. All of these skills served them well when they were later mainstreamed into regular elementary school classrooms. Now that they are capable of mainstreaming in their school environments, they are learning more speech and social skills from their typically-developing peers.


I also moved the family to a tiny mountain town with a small public school system. There are only about 15 to 20 kids in each grade, and my sons are recognized and understood when we are out and about in the community. I found that this lifestyle led to an absence of bullying, and a lot of understanding and inclusion. We also immersed ourselves in the natural beauty of our surroundings, with plenty of hiking, swimming and other outdoor time, which has helped their sensory systems regulate. I didn’t read about this in a book. It was just something I felt, intuitively, that they needed. And it worked.


Other families are taking completely different approaches. They mainstream in preschool, or they don’t mainstream later. They live in bustling cities with access to everything they can imagine. Their children attend huge schools with hundreds, or even thousands, of other kids. Their paths are different, but they are finding what works for them as well.


Maybe there is a lesson we can take from this. The treatments for autism are as diverse as our children, and there is no set formula that will always work for every kid. The most important strategies aren’t found in books or on websites, but are innate qualities we can all embrace in ourselves. Follow your intuition. Listen to your child. When something works, keep doing it even if you feel silly. If it doesn’t work, discard it and move on. Respect your doctor’s opinion, but also realize they don’t have all the answers yet. And whatever you do, don’t worry about what Great Aunt Hilda thinks. The best advocate for your child is you.


So get in the driver’s seat, buckle up, and get ready for an adventure. There is no road map for autism, so you’re going to take some crazy side roads and wacky wrong turns. Sometimes you may find yourself alone on the road, and at other times you may ride in a caravan. You probably won’t take quite the same path as anyone else, but the path you do find will be the right one for your child.



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Disadvantage of Being Obese During Pregnancy

Obesity is a becoming a huge medical problem that is growing in an uncontrollable fashion. Health experts are now aiming to educate more people about the disadvantages of becoming obese. These days, it is easier to experience weight gain than weight loss. According to statistics, more women fall in the category of obesity than men. Scientifically, women have more fats cells compared with men.

During the state of pregnancy, women’s hormones change and along with these changes, some women experience an increase in their appetite for food. This increase in appetite may lead to weight gain and can eventually result in medical problems such as autism in their unborn child.

Disadvantage of Being Obese during Pregnancy

Obesity is measured by the use of the body mass index, which is the division of weight in kilograms over height in centimeters of a person. You can check your body mass index to know if you are obese, average, or too skinny for your height. There are many potential health hazards when a pregnant woman is obese such as heart problems and diabetes as well as bearing a child with autism disorder. Autism is experienced by children at the age of 3 years old. It usually affects the developmental stage, particularly the child’s language skills, social skills and having behavior that is restrictive and repetitive in nature. What happens is that when a pregnant woman is obese, the development of the synapse and nerve cells is altered, resulting in the child developing the medical condition autism. Obesity during pregnancy can put the mother and her baby in danger of health problems that are serious and obesity can also interfere with a woman’s fertility level.

Another disadvantage brought about by obesity during pregnancy is that it can lead to the woman facing social issues. Obese people are looked down on by the rest of society. Aside from that, the pregnant woman may also experience problems related to the body structure and can lead to experiencing difficulty in moving as well as requiring excessive sleep and rest episodes. Lastly, being obese during pregnancy may lead to the woman experiencing personality related problems such as tiredness, sloppy attitude, lack of concentration and abnormal movement of the body. In order to prevent such occurrences, pregnant women should try and avoid obesity.


Despite the fact that it is easier to gain weight than lose it, the best way for pregnant women to deal with obesity is through healthy dieting.  The goal should be to have excellent fitness and nutrition during the pregnancy period by eating the right kinds of food like fruits, vegetables, and other protein rich foods. Vitamins and mineral rich foods can also be added to the diet to keep healthy.

If you are planning to get pregnant, then one of the best things to do is to undergo healthy weight loss prior to becoming pregnant.   You can do TRX training classes or perhaps undergo a 24hour fitness workout program. Even during pregnancy, women can still continue with an exercise program. There are many types of exercises which are suitable for pregnant woman; you can ask your specified health care provider for details. Exercise does not need to be strenuous; instead it can be simple and gentle exercise like walking for about 30 minutes daily. This will also help in the reduction of risk for any potential complication towards one’s health during pregnancy and certainly help to avoid becoming obese.

Apart from fitness workouts, one can try Medifast and BistroMD which provide healthy meal replacements for quick and safe weight loss. Get the Bistro MD deals here and visit for the latest Medifast offers.
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