Monday, February 20, 2012

Be Inspired!



to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence: His courage inspired his followers.
to produce or arouse (a feeling, thought, etc.): to inspire confidence in others.
to fill or affect with a specified feeling, thought, etc.: to inspire a person with distrust.
to influence or impel: Competition inspired her to greater efforts.
to animate, as an influence, feeling, thought, or the like, does: They were inspired by a belief in a better future.

What inspires you?  You might answer my question with the question, "To do what?" To get out of bed! To go to work! To do your best at school! To make a new friend!  Inspiration goes beyond motivation.  We might be motivated to get out of bed because we have to ready ourselves for an appointment or obligation.  Our motivation to go to work may come from the promised paycheck.  But inspiration is something else -- something more.  When you look at the etymology of inspire, you get a sense of a breathing in of spirit.  So the life-giving air in your lungs to do well at school might come from an enlightened teacher.  And the breezy spirit of friendship might have blown in your next BFF.

I can tell you unequivocally that I am inspired by my children with autism to do my job tirelessly and with fresh air daily.  I wonder how many neuro-typical people realize how hard my children with differently-wired brains work to do so many things that come effortlessly to them: use and interpret body language, tone of voice, and comedic timing; initiate and maintain social relationships; process and respond appropriately to verbal language.  I could look at them and despair; but instead, I look at them and breathe deeply.

Look at your person with autism today and be inspired to do better -- for him or her and for yourself.  (And if you don't have a person with autism, you won't have to look too hard.  If you know 100 people, you likely are already connected.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

SPECIAL ALERT for Autism Society Chapters

We are tickled by the overwhelmingly positive response to the Autism Society of Ohio, Greater Akron office campaign to bring our autism peer education DVDs to schools.  (Here's the Facebook thread.)  Select Autism Society chapters across the country received an email earlier this month with a special offer for our 2-disc DVD set, which includes How Can I Be a Good Friend to Someone with Autism? (2007), intended for grades K-5, and the award-winning Choosing To Be a GFF (2011), for grades 6-8.

If your chapter was NOT on our email list, please have them get in touch with Chelsea, who will gladly send the details so you can get this campaign ready for schools in your area in recognition of National Autism Awareness Month!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Twitter Storm on Autism Sunday

Do you tweet?  Perhaps I should frame that question in a more developed context.  In this world of social media, we all make choices about what we are/not interested in knowing and/or sharing about our own lives and the world's happenings.  There's Facebook for the more personal socializing, and LinkedIn for the professional networking.  Then there's Twitter, which tends to be a chaotic mash-up of news links and stream-of-consciousness opining.  Whether you tweet (post messages under your own user name) or lurk (follow other users of twitter-verse), if you have tweeps (Twitter users you follow and followers) who care about autism, then you've likely heard that yesterday, February 12, was Autism Sunday.

So what does that mean?  It means that a dad in the UK started the concept of an international day of prayer for autism a decade ago.  And in the worldwide social media revolution, having a topic "trend" on Twitter has become a coveted phenomenon.  So theoretically, encouraging Twitter users globally to post about autism using the #autismsunday hashtag would put autism awareness on the Trending map.  A fine idea for the 100 million or so users in twitter-verse.

As I write this post in the middle of the night on Saturday, I have no predictions about the likelihood of Autism Sunday's Twitter-storm success.  I do, however, have some predictions about what our family will do on Autism Sunday.

We'll wake up to get ready for church: me first as Mom, and I'll wake my 10-year-old daughter with Asperger's Syndrome, because with the difficulty she has with focus and executive functioning, it takes her longer than the average tween to get ready for anything.  I'll give my husband the first "alarm" before I hit the shower, and the second wake-up call thereafter.  My 13-year-old son with PDD-NOS is the lowest priority when it comes to the rousing roster.  He's so hyper-efficient in his morning routine that if he's left to wait, he becomes anxious.

So an hour or so after our household Sunday dance begins, we'll head to our place of worship to pray.  I'll probably throw an extra prayer about autism in either in our house of worship and/or somewhere else along the 24 hours that make up Autism Sunday.  It might be while I observe how difficult a time our son has balancing the "rules" in his mind with the happenings of a church service.  It might be while my daughter gazes at my face during a song she remembers I like deep in my soul, because she wants to see if I'm crying.  It might be as I'm balancing the day's menu with the particular food quirks of my teenager in mind.

I don't need a Twitter-storm to make me aware of autism.  But I do appreciate the prayers, and hope that February 12 inspired at least one more person to think about the 1% of people who experience the world through autism, and all their caretakers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bowling with Autism

There are so many things I love about Good Friend, Inc., but our annual Hawaiian-themed bowling event is my favorite. It's so much more than a fundraiser: It's a time for families and friends to enjoy one another while supporting a good cause. A time for colleagues to see each others' silly sides. An opportunity to perhaps win a prize for your creativity with a coconut (for real - that's a prize category this year!). And that's just on event day.

When I take a moment to pause during the event, I see people bowling side-by-side with families they've never met, but whom they may have seen. And before that day, when the typically-developing community member saw that 9-year-old boy with autism having a meltdown in a department store, she might have thought to herself how ill-behaved he was. Or perhaps she cast a glance at the bewildered mother and wondered why she wasn't managing the situation more strong-handedly.

But at the Hoa Aloha Autism Awareness Bowling Event, they might understand a little bit better that bowling with autism can be hard.  There's all this noise that perturbs the auditory sensitivity, and a throng of unfamiliar people adds unpredictability.  There are turns to take and minutes to wait -- such difficult, sometimes abstract concepts for concrete thinkers with autism.  And that darn bake sale is ever-beckoning little ones back for more, regardless of their brain wiring.

So, sure, I can fill you with a bunch of statistics in preparation of National Autism Awareness Month (April):
But I don't know that offering head knowledge is the best way for you to understand how important it is for our organization to provide social support to communities including people with autism.  I hope you'll join us at New Berlin Bowl on April 22.  We've increased our goal for this year's event by 25%, so we need more teams, more companies, more donors than ever before to extend themselves in the pursuit of autism awareness, acceptance, and empathy.  For more information or to register your team, click here.