Tag Archives | motivation

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

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The Source of my Inspiration

Spending most of my time online, I find a lot of people that are very good with words and are able to inspire and motivate people simply with the words they say. Some are just random people on twitter or facebook, others, like Temple Grandin, are reaching us through film, news or other means that being a celebrity can bring you.

While I do enjoy reading the posts or watching the videos, I find that they don’t inspire me anywhere near as much as my own children do.

I think that most of us take reading and writing for granted, and just assume that our children can do it and so we practice with them. But when you really think about it, how difficult is that really? Especially with limited motor skills, much less understanding of language?

That’s just one subject, think of ALL the things being bombarded on children to learn… and sure, we help them as best we can, but it’s a lot! And most of the time, we go through the motions with them without usually giving much thought into just how hard it must be for them.

Then you throw something like Autism on top of all the other problems… you see your child sad because they have no friends, they get frustrated easily because none of what you’re teaching makes much sense, they feel overwhelmed very easily, they have even less motor skills than what you expect they should at their age… and yet, despite the difficulty and despite the odds, they keep trying.

My son has done his first 5 days of his second year at school and has yet to get a single thinking chair or time out. He’s been doing well at learning how to read 3 letter words and can write his name. He even does addition and subtraction on numbers under 10! He has been verbal for less than half of his life and here he is overcoming so much… I think about it and wonder… would I keep trying as hard as he does?

Yes, I find all people with Autism to be amazing, yes I do constantly find myself impressed with the amount of support that parents give each other and yes, motivational and inspirational people move me with their words… but the real source of my inspiration, the ones that truly makes me believe that you can do anything…. are my children.

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A Challenge to Tony Robbins: Get Involved in The Autism Community

Yes you’re a great motivator and the inspiration guru to the stars, but I’d like to see you step up to a truly great challenge and get involved in the Autism community.

Let’s face it, motivating people that seek you out (so there’s already something there that they’re just waiting to hear) and are readily able to pay for the tickets to your show, or ebooks or premium services on your site or what ever else… that’s all well and good… but it’s not a real challenge for a man like Tony Robbins.

I want to see you walk into a house and prevent something like this from happening: Murder Suicide Involving Mom and Son with Autism

I’d like to see you contend with children that won’t look you in the eye, that won’t answer your questions, that throw a tantrum at the drop of a hat… I want to see you talk to the parents that give up their cable, telephone and other luxury expenses to be able to afford their child’s diet and therapy sessions and try to motivate them.

Mr Tony Robbins, I really do like your work, honestly I do… it has no effect on me and I don’t feel inspired in the slightest however, but that’s not your fault… it’s mine. I know that I’m not the only one though, I know that there are many of us that know that our children will never be able to attend your seminars because they would never be able to handle being in a crowded room of screaming people with lights, sound systems and everything else. I know that many of us would never be able to afford the tickets anyhow.

I also know that it’s not a good business decision for you to get involved in the Autism community because no one makes money helping people that have no money. It’s good for public image but between you and I, I know you don’t need much help with that anyhow.

All the same though, I’d still love to see you get involved. I’d still love to see moms and dads and lonely people with Autism brought back from the brink and helped out by those who have the ability to do so.. you are one such man.

We don’t need a spokesman, we don’t need a celebrity to bring awareness, we need honest to goodness support and compassion… quite simply, we need help.

We’re the Autism community, we support each other and try to pass along words of encouragement knowing no one can see our tears while we sit at our computer keyboard…  but if that news story and the dozens like them are any indication, we’re just not strong enough. There’s too much to live with, too much to deal with and, because this is our children we’re talking about, there’s too much at stake.

You talk about challenges during your seminars, well… I’m putting this one out to you, because I respect you and I think (in the extremely unlikely event that you should ever even read this) that if anyone could say the words necessary to stop news stories like that from becoming more frequent… it’s you.

What do you say?

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How Do You Change The World For Your Autistic Child When You’re A No One?

This is not a rhetorical question, I’m sorry if you are here hoping to find an answer… because I don’t have one. I’m kind of hoping that some of you will reply with some ideas because I’m fresh out. I don’t mean to sound like a downer, but let’s face it, we all want what is best for not only our own children but also for all those yet to be born, with or without Autism.

None of us are Superman, and even he can’t change the ways of man… the greed inherent in humans shows it’s ugly head to us every single day with oil spills, economic collapses built on risky wheeling and dealing at the top, pharmaceutical companies putting profits before health and so on and so forth. How does the average person like me contend with all of this?

I would like to think that if I stick with this blog, if I stick with my minuscule little presence in the ever growing online Autism community, maybe I will play some small role.. maybe my ever so tiny voice will be that last little bit needed to push the community voice from unheard to world changing… then again, I could win the lottery too.

Becoming part of the community has been great, I’ve met some wonderful people that truly are making a difference.. we all know how much awareness Jenny McCarthy and Holly Peete have raised, but they’re celebs. Some people have started up amazing organizations such as Autism Speaks but they’re philanthropists and entrepreneurs. One amazing dad is even running 60 marathons to raise awareness… but then, he’s good at that.

Me? I… hmm… I don’t really have any skills to speak of. I am not a doctor, scientist, athlete, celebrity, no business skills, don’t have a clue about raising money much less having a charity, I don’t have shirts to sell, no radio station, I don’t have wise words of wisdom, I have no real advice to give or knowledge to be writing articles/books and the list goes on and on. I’m just your average guy that started a blog with a terrible domain name and decided to jot down some of my experiences. That’s the best I’ve got and it… gets 20 visitors a day.

I feel so very lost in a world of great people doing great things while I sit here and try to write something positive.  I’ve written some pretty negative stuff actually, but I never do hit the publish button. It’s a bit like therapy at the time, get it all out, into words and then erase it. I figure, maybe I can’t change the world but I do know that bringing other people down won’t help, plus, that’s not the purpose of me sharing with you.

In the end, I guess all I can really ever do is do my best for my children. To always be there, always support them, always encourage them and just do my best to teach them right from wrong… and from there, I hope for the best.

I can’t change the world no matter how much I really wish I could… I can’t even make anything better in my own life. But I’ll never stop trying to prepare my boys for what is out there. I’ve missed my chances, if there were any… but my boys have a long life ahead of them filled with limitless possibilities.

Maybe they will change the world. I can’t do much, but I can dream.

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