Archive | January, 2015

5 Things I wish I knew before Autism

Tamara Wood is a proud mother of two amazing boys. After searching for a solution for her son Alex, who is affected by Autism, Tamara found the AngelSense solution for her family. It gave her a great deal of peace of mind, and her enthusiasm for the company only increased – she joined the AngelSense team as a customer care specialist.

tamara's familyI am the mother to two wonderful little boys, one who has autism and one who is “normal” (whatever that is!). There are many things we didn’t know before we became parents, and even less when you hear a word like “autism.” There are somethings I wish I had known before my son was born, and I wish I could share them with every parent out there.

 

Insurance

Before autism, the most I cared to know – or needed to know – about insurance was copay, deductible, out-of-pocket, yada, yada, yada… I wish I had known all of the loopholes and red tape that can make your head spin concerning HPCPS and ICD-9 codes and all of those neat little “tricks” that you should really do to make your life easier. Like keeping track of who I spoke to and that gosh darnit they did say that! – this is more than just a good idea, it is crucial people! Or how a medical/insurance journal with a history of therapies, doctors, important health info, and bills is beyond just being organized; it is a savior of brain cells at those times when my brain hurts on marathon phone call days.

Acronyms

I wish I had known that I was going to be learning another language for school/therapy. ARD, AU, IEP, BIP, AT, ESY, LRE, OT, PT, ST, etc., just to name a few. Now these acronyms have been a part of our lives for almost 7 years and just slip off the tongue, but boy, can those ARD meetings be confusing when they are literally speaking a different language.

The AUsomeness of the autism community

I wish I had known going in that I was going to be a part of a very special group of families that are so free with advice, support, resources, and all around laughs to help you through. I can’t express how much of a release it is to talk to others that understand and can find the humor in our daily lives. Swapping public meltdown stories, how talented my son is at finger painting his whole room at 3am (that smell is not funny at 3am), and just being able to relax with others who “get it” is very important.

Romance

I wish I had known that the definition of romance was going to change. Finding an experienced sitter, having money, having time, and honestly just having the energy are just some of the factors. Romance in our house is my husband doing the dishes for me, helping each other clean up the 3am finger painting, being an eternal tag team for when the other has just had too much, and dates that are only retreating to another room to sit and watch TV because we just don’t have the energy to do much else. And finding that this can be enough.

The Box

I wish that I had known that thinking outside of the box was going to actually be the only way of thinking from then on. Our life is the equivalent of having a beautiful boy with the curiosity and development of a toddler and the physical ability of a 10 year old – for the past 8 years. This makes thinking about safety (and sanity) a very big part of our lives. Going out to eat, planning a date, going to the store, holidays, and even just rearranging the furniture require quite a bit of resourcefulness and thinking outside the box.

It has been a rough road at times, but I can’t imagine our lives any differently and I wouldn’t trade our kids for anything – we love them just the way they are. The autism community has brought me something else – recently, I have been blessed to be able to work from home in order to take care of him. And I am doubly blessed to be able to work for AngelSense, a company that helps us keep him safe by knowing where he is at all times and being able to listen to him throughout his day.

Founded by parents of special needs children, and employing other special needs’ parents, AngelSense provides so much peace of mind in so many ways. With the Guardian GPS device I can monitor my son through out his day, when he is out of our sight. I can check on him from my smartphone or the computer, and make sure he’s where I want him to be! Working for a company that understands me and my family has been just another example of the wonderful way we all support each other. I know so much now and hope that sharing my experience helps someone who might feel alone today.

Visit AngelSense at: https://www.angelsense.com.

 

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If I could could suggest just one New Years resolution, it would be this

resolutionsI know this is a bit late but there are still some people out there that are unsure of what they should “resolve” to do for the new year.

Well, Autcraft, my Minecraft server for children with autism and their families has been receiving some media coverage in recent weeks and there was one question that I got from everyone that really stands out as very important and thus, would make for the perfect New Years resolution: “What is it about Autcraft that is helping these kids to make friends, to talk to other people, to learn to read/write faster and to make such great progress in such little time?

The answer? Be less afraid.

On the server, we remove the risk of bullying but it’s more than that. The children there all have a lot of similarities and know what it feels like to be judged or bullied or hurt, so they don’t do that to each other. They welcome each other’s obsessions and ideas and if they do disagree, they do it in a way so as to not upset each other. This allows them all to feel unafraid to express themselves and even make mistakes.

I’d like to break this down into a New Years Resolution sort of way to look at it.

Be less afraid to be embarrassed

One of the biggest fears many of us have is the fear of embarrassment. We don’t want anyone to laugh at us or to think we’re stupid and so we either take the safest path or just do nothing at all in order to avoid that risk. However, when you watch some of the greatest comedians ever, their greatest asset is… embarrassment! They get as silly as they need to be in order to entertain us and to laugh… not to laugh at them, but to laugh because they want us to laugh.

So how do you be less afraid to be embarrassed? You own it. If you slip and fall or make a mistake, you laugh first and then you tell others about the crazy thing you did. When you own it, it’s your joke and it’s your tool to do with as you wish. How can anyone ever make fun of you when you own the tool they’re trying to use? That’s what the comedians did. They took something that they should have been afraid of and they took ownership of it. Once you do that, you’ll be less afraid to do it in the future.

Be less afraid to be yourself

This is the hard one because everyone likely wants you to do what they consider normal or what society expects of you. Now granted, if killing everyone is how you think you are, then this doesn’t apply to you. But thinking differently from the rest of the world is how great inventors change the world or how scientists make sense of the universe. If you stick to the previous point (less afraid to be embarrassed) than this should actually be an easy one for you. Being yourself, as wacky or silly or quiet or what ever you want to be might not be huge world changers but it will change your world. It will change for the absolute better.

When you be yourself and others are able to be themselves, that’s when you truly do find people that you have a lot in common with. That’s when you start making real friends because now you’re being open and honest with someone. Many friendships that I see are based on lies or huge compromises and even sometimes, I wouldn’t really call them friends. But if you are yourself and your friend is too and you like each other, there’s no greater friendship than that because you are both being honest with each other and yourselves.

Be less afraid to hurt yourself

I admit it, I really don’t want to hurt myself. Pain, it’s no fun. But when I think about the athletes at the Olympics or sports professionals, I know that they’ve done their fair share of hurting. In fact, when they say that they’ve been working at their sport every day of their life to get better, that’s not true. Because you can be absolutely certain that every single one of them has had some down time due to an injury.

They aren’t afraid to hurt themselves because they know that it’s one of those things that has to happen if they’re going to be the best some day. No one gets through life without some scratches and scrapes so you might as well stop trying to avoid it. Luckily though, our wondrous and amazing bodies are remarkably capable of healing. So unless you really do some damage, you’ll likely be back up and at it pretty quick.

Yes, no one wants to be hurt and that’s why we do everything in our power to ensure that doesn’t happen but it also should not be a reason to stop us. Take the safety precautions, think of everything that could go wrong and take measure to prevent them… and then do it. Yeah, you still might get hurt but then again, you still might end up being the best some day.

Be less afraid to hurt

No, this isn’t the same as the last point. Pain and hurting are often two different things. For example, many people, when they hurt themselves, they feel both pain and hurt… the pain from injury but also the hurt from the failure.

Hurt comes in many forms such as disappointment, depression, anger and then there are others such as when you lose a friend. But if we’re so afraid of these things that we avoid them then that means that we avoid doing things that could disappoint us or depress us or anger us… it means avoiding friendships. There’s a lot that we really should not be missing out on and certainly not because they might hurt.

Like all things, it’s going to happen but also, they’re going to require practice. No one knows how to be a great friend at first and no one knows how to do everything so perfect that they never get angry or disappoint themselves. You have to work at all these things and push through the hurt before you can conquer these things. And chances are, if you want them that bad, they’re worth it.

Also, the biggest difference between hurting yourself and feeling hurt is that one, anyone can do to you and the other you can only do to yourself.

Be less afraid to tell someone that you appreciate them

So often I am reminded that a job well done proceeds quietly, it’s only when everyone wants to contact you that you realize something is wrong.

What we really need more of in this world is for people to simply say, “you did a great job!” But this is something that many of us fear. For what ever reason, between these two emotions, it’s far easier to be angry with someone directly to their face than to be proud of them and tell them they did well. I suspect it has something to do with those awkward feelings from back in high school where, as teens, we were afraid to tell the other kid that we liked them. Something from that sticks with us and, as adults, we become afraid to tell someone we like what they did. Or maybe we just feel it’s unimportant because they’re doing their job.. what more do they need?

I don’t really know why it is but I see people actually shying away and saying no when others tell them that they should commend someone for a job well done. They are quite literally afraid to do it even though they would love for someone else to do that for them when ever they do a good job themselves.

All the other points are for you but for this one, do it for others. Be less afraid to give someone a pat on the back if they deserve it. It could really change that person’s who day… maybe even life. That’s pretty cool, right?

Be less afraid to take risks

Yes, this last one is rather cliche by now. We’ve all heard it. But the truth is that life really is short, only we don’t tend to realize that until later in life when we look back with regret. We think of all the times we didn’t do that we really wanted to do because we were afraid. It’s at this point we lower our eyes to the ground and realize that it was foolish to be so afraid. It was foolish to miss that opportunity for nothing because by the time we recognize all this… it’s too late.

We don’t have time machines and no one will truly be able to describe this feeling to you accurately while you’re young but there has to be some way to convince yourself that if you don’t take that risk now to do what you really want to do, one day it’ll be too late. You’ll have that regret to live with.

While that fear feels all too real right now, while right now, it paralyzes you and controls you… one day a much older you will think that it was nothing. You froze, for nothing. And you missed your chance, for nothing. And you’ll never get it back.

Don’t let fear rob you of moments. Those moments add up to your life. If you miss too many of them…

Like the children on that Minecraft server, be less afraid and you too will be amazed at the progress that comes from it.

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