So much of looking good comes from the inside. It has been said that beauty has a lot to do with character, and because April is Autism month, we’re focusing on supporting this character-enhancing cause.
Helping to fund research for Autism requires compassion and determination. Chances are you know someone with an autistic child. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects four to five times more boys than girls and is diagnosed ten times more now than it was 40 years ago. Even so, there are a lot of misconceptions about the disorder. Loving mothers of autistic children are our inspiration this month. They work tirelessly to nurture their children with love and patience.
“Even though 1 in 88 is affected, not enough is known about Autism which leads to some very rough days for us,” says Pam, the mother of six-year-old Hendrik, diagnosed with PDD-NOS (a form of Autism) in November 2011. This sweet boy with a big heart has been misunderstood. “One of Hendrik’s teachers last year told me that he is more naughty than he is Autistic. Then another [teacher] told his private counselor that my husband and I just need to discipline him more.
“In [our] case, Autism is misunderstood because Hendrik is so high functioning. For the most part, he acts and looks like “normal” kids. People always tell me, ‘You’d never know.’ I know they mean well, but it’s difficult because when he does get frustrated he gets very loud and aggressive. Not all kids react the same as Hendrik, but typically a child on the [ASD] spectrum will throw a tantrum like a young child. This is when onlookers say things like, ‘You should discipline him’ or ‘Spank him, he’ll learn.’ It’s not that simple,” she explains. “Uneducated opinions like these led me to change the school Hendrik attends and to quit my office job so that I could focus on Hendrik.”
“He is the most amazing human being I have ever met. He brings me back to what life is really all about; love. He gives me hope that this world of hate and hurt will change.”
The love that Pam has for her son is clearly what drives her to continue working toward shining a light on Autism.
Kate, a hard-working mom of a bright-eyed second-grader named Max, discovered her son’s differences when he was an exceptional three-year-old. “We noticed he was extraordinary. Max wasn’t into sports, playing with other children or running on the playground; he preferred train parts. After watching Max for several months, we started putting the pieces of our puzzle together. He was very hyperactive, had no concept of consequences, was pretty socially inappropriate and he chose us! Yep, our boy was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of higher-functioning Autism. We immediately sought a variety of different resources, a special Autism doctor, medicines, creams, elixirs, support groups, a Special Education team and every bit of knowledge we could get our hands on. Some things helped, some didn’t and almost all of it was as frustrating for Max as it was for the rest of the family.”
Her inspiring optimism is beautiful. “We take each day as it comes. We laugh, we cry, we learn and thank God every day because He knew we were up for His challenge.”
Kate and Pam are just a small sampling of the thousands of parents who have an autistic child. Miche is working to support this cause by donating a portion of proceeds this month to Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization funding Autism research and education.
“Knowledge truly is power and the more we know and learn, the more pieces of the puzzle we can assemble together. Bring it on!” says Kate, enthusiastically. We agree.