Tag Archives | inspirational

42 days ago

I’ve been wrestling with myself about whether or not I’d write something about Steve Jobs… everyone else is doing it, people must be getting tired of it by now… but I really, really…. really wanted to say this.

I am not a “fanboi”, as they’re called… meaning I’ve never stood in line to buy an Apple product, I have only ever had a couple of Apple products in my life. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t see the impact that Apple, and of course, Steve Jobs, has had on just about every aspect of our current lives.

Especially being in the Autism community where the Apple ipad inadvertently opened up the world of Autism to a whole new way of thinking.

But this is not a post about Steve Jobs or his products.

The answer to life, the universe and everything

If you’ve never read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I have to explain this to you because it’s a bit of a very interesting coincidence.

In the book, some super beings ask a supercomputer for “Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything“, it calculates for 7.5 million years before reaching the final answer…. 42.

Why is this a coincidence?

The number of days between Steve Jobs retiring as Apple’s CEO and his death? 42

Working Living until the very end

steve jobs

by Lea Suzuki of the San Francisco Chronicle

The reason that his death came as such a shock to people is that, just a month ago, he was still at Apple, steering the ship.

That just doesn’t happen. You see, people tend to leave work once they get sick. They find out that they have months or even years left, they’re weak… so they step away and make the most of the life they have left.

Not Steve Jobs.

When I first thought about it, I admired how he worked right up until the very end.. or at least, a whole lot closer to the very end than most others would ever do.

I quickly corrected myself though, because the very fact that he was there until the very end was indication enough that to Steve, it wasn’t work. We already knew that though, in that he always professed to love what he did and told others to do what they love. And he proved it all the time.

Some would say that he was a natural at giving his presentations and a marketing genius… I think he just genuinely loved his work. He was proud. That sort of enthusiasm and excitement can’t be faked.

If all of that isn’t proof enough that he loved what he did… 42 will forever be proof enough for me.

He was there because he really was making the most of the life that he had left.

Do not do, be

In the short time since his death (less than 18 hours ago now from the time of my writing this), there has been a constant stream across all social networks of inspiring thoughts, phrases, paragraphs and even entire speeches of his and it’s truly great to see.

But all of these great things he said, he didn’t just say them, he didn’t just do some of the things he said… as many of us will try to do, he was those things. He lived it.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish” is how he finished his speech at Stanford in 2005. Inspiring words, great thought… but how many of us will live that way from here on out?

He did.

There are a LOT of very wise and inspiring quotes of his that I could list out here, the fact is… none of them will do you any good unless you live them. Don’t just agree with him, don’t just believe the words he says… live them.

Here is the video of that speech, please watch:

Here’s to the crazy ones

This commercial from 1997 was never aired. It was narrated by Steve Jobs and has the tagline “Think Different”. If this doesn’t give you a sense of how Steve Jobs’ mind worked… nothing will:

Why did Steve Jobs identify with the people in that commercial so well? Why did he deserve to be included with that list of people?

Because he lived it. He didn’t just say the words. He didn’t just believe it. He lived it.

Impacted our lives

I see a lot of people writing about how his products have impacted our lives, how his thinking has impacted our lives… what I truly love reading are the posts from Silicon Valley from people who became great people in their own right, because of how Steve Jobs impacted their lives far more than a new iPhone ever could.

I don’t need his products to feel his impact. And that’s the beauty of what he was able to accomplish and the true testament to who he was.

I want to live my life as he lived his… doing what I love. I want to do what I enjoy doing until my 42 comes.

More so than that, I want the same for my children. You see, Autism or not, I want my children to find what makes them happy and then to do it. But as a parent of a child with Autism, it’s even more paramount as one of the defining characteristics of Autism is that autistics can excel quite profoundly so long as they’re able to do what it is that they love.

Trying to force someone to conform, in other words, to put a square peg into a round hole, simply does not work. Not with Autism, not without Autism.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” ~ Steve Jobs

His products changed the world.
His innovations improved our lives.
His lessons inspire us to carry that forward.

The man did not die.. he became legend.


Comments { 3 }

What does Pikachu have to do with Autism? Allow me to explain.

My son has recently gotten on board with the Pokemon craze that many of us parents so desperately try to avoid. It’s costly and annoying and the effect it has on children borders on an addiction.

Still though, I find myself strangely compelled by it myself as I found myself having a lot of questions about it. The answers, I’ve discovered, are really quite inspiring.

pikachuWho is Pikachu?

In the cartoon world, Pokemon are essentially the animals of the planet. Water, fire, plants, bugs, sky… you name it. Where we have living creatures on Earth, there are living Pokemon in their universe.

Pikachu is one such creature… he’s a cute little mouse like Pokemon that is an electric type, meaning that he can create thunderbolts and other such electrical attacks.

In the cartoon, trainers capture these Pokemon and train them to do battle. The Pokemon battle each other but are all generally very friendly. They battle, one wins, one loses… they celebrate after and go on their way.

What makes Pikachu the special one?

Well, to start with… Pikachu isn’t very powerful. In fact, there’s another Pokemon called Raichu that is actually an “evolved” version of Pikachu… a level up, if you will. And even Raichu is not very strong compared to many others.

In fact, there are some Pokemon that are believed to have created life, the universe and the rest of the other Pokemon. Some of them are deities over dimensions such as space and time.

So why does Pikachu get all of the attention? Well, he has one quality that the rest of the Pokemon do not have… a never quit heart the size of the moon.

Repeatedly in the cartoon and especially in the movies, you really get a sense of just how tenacious Pikachu really is… how he really would do anything for his trainer, for all people and for all living creatures. Over and over again, there are situations where all hope seems lost and this little mouse like creature just never gives up.

In one movie, Pokemon were pit against each other… not just to battle for the sport of it, but to hurt each other… and this one lone Pikachu refused to fight. He took hit after hit…. never once attacking back.

The truly amazing thing, once you get into the series, is seeing how this brave little guy with such a big heart influences his trainer… Ash. Ash is an egotistical little kid who thinks he’s the best… who thinks he can do no wrong… can never lose… and as the series goes on, you can see him become the human equivalent of Pikachu… a very brave, very determined, a very modest  boy with an over sized heat.

Wait, so what does all of this have to do with Autism?

Well, first of all, did you know that Pokemon was created by a man with Aspergers?

On top of that, I can’t help but feel a connection somehow… when I picture this modestly little, somewhat weak Pokemon besting some much stronger adversaries, becoming the most loved out of all of them, all around the world…. being a source of inspiration and wisdom for the one that is supposed to be training him….  I see a bit of that in my son.

My son might not be the strongest, fastest or smartest in the world… in fact, he might have a lot going against him, what many would see as weaknesses, but I know that he can over come any adversary or beat all odds so long as he never gives up and keeps his heart full of love.

My son isn’t Pikachu and I’m not his trainer, but he is my source of inspiration and wisdom… he is the one that has shown me how to be a much better person by being more like him.

Comments { 4 }

What a difference six years can make

Yesterday was Cameron’s birthday… the day he was born… 6 years ago. I originally started writing this post yesterday, to be posted on his birthday but we did so much the whole day that I never did get that chance.

Even though he’s taller than many nine year old children, he’s still and always will be my little boy.

If you have a few minutes, I’d like to give you 6 years.

Once upon a time, I think it was a Thursday…

cameron 0 days old

Cameron - 0 days old

Showing up at the hospital at 8am on the 27th, my wife was “induced” at 11am… wait, wait, wait, push, push, push… my beautiful little boy was born 14 hours later, after 1am on Thursday morning.

That whole first year was amazing… having this little baby sleeping on my chest as I lie on the couch, feeling his little fingers grab onto my finger.

It was everything that parenthood was meant to be. Even the 3 hour feeds all day and night. Friends and family would look at me with this wide smile, sarcastically asking how much sleep I was getting or how tired I was… to their disappointment, I was more than happy with how it was. I don’t even remember how much sleep I got, all I know is that I would have been happy being awake for the whole year… so that I wouldn’t miss a thing.

I loved it.

Enter the villain of our story

first birthday - cakeOn Cameron’s first birthday, my wife had this wonderful vision of a smashed up birthday cake all over the place. She had one made with 2/3 icing and only 1/3 actual cake… this makes it easier to get little fingers into and spread around.

But that didn’t happen. It turned out that we had the only little boy in the world (or so we thought at the time) that didn’t like to get dirty. My wife took his hand and buried it into the cake, which fascinated Cameron but again… it wasn’t what we had hoped for.

With the help of some off camera funny faces, we were able to get the picture that we thought would make it all… “normal.” It was what we had to do to get what we wanted. Not what he wanted.

On top of that… his entire first year was without any words, toilet training and without any more snuggling on the couch together.

His first year, he had to spend a good 20-40 minutes with me on the couch at the start of each day or else he’d be upset.

That hasn’t happened since.

The battle begins

After Cameron turned 1, he spent most of his time separating blocks by colour, lining up cars, flipping them over to spin the wheels, doing his Thai-Chi and other very unusual and repetitive behaviours.

I spent a fair portion of that year doing research and when Cameron turned 2, I asked our family doctor for an assessment.

He told me that Cameron was a bright boy, that he was likely just going to be a late talker and recommended we just wait.

We respected his opinion but insisted anyhow… 6 months later, I was in Toronto with Cameron, visiting a hospital.

Cameron in the news

Cameron in the news

During Cameron’s assessment, Cameron shocked me. Almost even worried me…. he spoke!

The doctor took out a little bottle, a little wand and filled the room with bubbles. To my complete and total surprise, Cameron said “bubbles!”

To be perfectly honest, and the reason I say it worried me, was that this.. of all times, would be when he speaks. That these people would look at me like a neurotic parent that was just wasting their time or worse, making things up. See, I had told them that Cameron can’t speak. He just proved me wrong… right in front of them.

How embarrassing! Wonderful… but embarrassing.

It turns out that I didn’t have anything to worry about because they diagnosed him with PDD-NOS, on the Autism Spectrum. One word certainly isn’t enough to fool a doctor out of a diagnosis… I know that now, I didn’t then.

Fast forward a bit

I’ve written previously about the 3 year wait lists we were put on, the $150/hour speech therapy appointments… how my wife took it upon herself to learn the treatments and therapies so she could do it at home…  I’ve even written several times about how we gave up our house, everything we had and moved pretty far in order to get Cameron into a special school where he could excel rather than regress… so I won’t repeat it.

I will, however, tell you about something amazing.

When Cameron was diagnosed, despite having said one word… they told me that it’s entirely possible he might never have “normal speech” and even if he does, it’s even more likely that he’ll never be very good at social interaction and communication.

We were told not to be too disappointed or hard on him if he just can’t grasp toilet training.

Essentially, we were told not to expect the worst but to be prepared for it. Cameron may never progress, he may progress and then regress… anything was possible.

Cameron proved them wrong. Not us, Cameron did.

Truly inspirational

Cameron iPad

Reading Cat in the Hat

I will never deny that my wife and I have done a lot to get where we are.. we’ve never given up and always tried our hardest. But the truth is that the real person responsible for where Cameron is today is Cameron.

At 6 years old, Cameron is reading Cat in the Hat books himself, he has friends, he’s doing well at school, he can ride a bike now (for the most part), he can finish video games, he speaks in complete sentences (he even says “You and I” instead of “me and you”!!)… he’s doing exceptionally well.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t still have his issues… his senses are still very sensitive, he still needs his specific diet, he still gets overwhelmed quickly and needs quiet time… you get the idea.

I try my best to support people, give them positivity and even inspire people as best I can but the honest truth is that the real inspiration is Cameron.

It’s just simply amazing to think of how well he’s doing despite all of the things I was told almost 4 years ago. He’s overcoming obstacles, he’s smashing through barriers. He’s never giving up.

I don’t just say that as a proud parent.. if you ever get to meet Cameron, you’ll see it in him.

Never Giving Up

As soon as I could have actual conversations with him… I would ask Cameron “What do you do when you fall down?” and his very simple answer was “get up”.

I asked him that at least 2 or 3 times a week, for over two years now. Half the time he answers on auto pilot (without thinking about it), the other half he is always happy to answer because I always praise him so much for being right.

He didn’t learn that from me. I learned it from him. All I ever do is remind him.

Cameron didn’t learn to ride his bike until he was 5… he started learning when he was 3. It took a long time but he never gave up. Cameron had a very hard time playing any sort of video game due to poor motor control but a year later, he could win most races at Mario Kart Wii.

Reading, writing, math, puzzles… it never mattered what it was, he would do it every day, on his own, never willing to give it up.

It was really quite easy for my wife to sit him down to learn the alphabet or numbers or how to do tasks because he was always eager to learn them and no matter how hard it was, he was always eager to keep doing it over and over.

And if there is something he can’t do, if a bad guy in a game can beat him… he gets mad. Not meltdown mad… just… mad. When that happens, there is no turning off the game, there is no doing anything else. It drives him.

No matter how inspiring people can be, no matter how much wisdom they have to share with me… no one inspires me as much as Cameron does.

My hope is that one day he’ll be able to look back on this blog and anything else I do and realize how much he has done for me. I’m so very proud of him.

Cameron - 6 Years Old

Cameron - 6 Years Old

Comments { 4 }