Posted in Autism, Resources for Special Needs

Blog #91~Autism Statistics: 1 in 68 Children

Blog #91~Autism Statistics: 1 in 68 Children

As most people know, April is Autism Awareness Month. Just a few weeks ago came the sobering news that 1 in 68 children in the US have autism (according to estimates from CDC’s March 2014 study).

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Take a look at how the numbers have increased over the years…..

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The new statistics represent a 30 percent increase from the 2012 estimates of 1 in 88 children with autism. Why are the numbers growing so rapidly? Some speculate that it’s because the diagnostic methods which have improved over the years. I find it hard to believe that this is the only reason that the numbers are increasing. According to TACA (Talk About Curing Autism (www.tacanow.org), More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined. In addition, autism costs the nation over $137 billion per year, a figure expected to significantly increase in the next decade.”

Autism has no single, known cause. There have been numerous studies linking autism to a wide variety of genetic and environmental factors. There have been several studies linking vaccines to autism and many parents who feel strongly that this was the case with their children.

Here’s the bottom line, there is a generation of children and their families who have been severely affected by autism. These children, like my son Nick are growing up and becoming adults.

Nick age 20……

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Children and adults with autism are out in the community full force, with even more coming behind us. It’s time for a comprehensive national strategy. We need leadership to help us find answers for causes, treatment, solutions and resources for people who live with autism. We need compassion when we are out in the community struggling with our kids who make loud noises, flap their hands and have knock down drag out meltdowns. Changing the light bulb blue to promote  autism awareness isn’t going to help make things better for the lives of those affected by autism.

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It’s time to send a loud message to Washington that the needs of the autism community are growing rapidly and the resources are limited, (not to mention the family bathrooms). I worry that when my son ages out of the school system at age 22, he’ll be stuck on a waiting list because there aren’t enough facilities available for community work, leisure and a secure group home. I am not alone here; there are almost two million others in the country who go to bed each night with the same concerns. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

Posted in Autism, Behavior/ ABA, Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #90~Autism Awareness Nick Style

Blog #90~Autism Awareness Nick Style

It’s April which is “Autism Awareness Month”. Believe me I am quite aware of autism. Nick never lets me forget, nor anyone else who is around him. Last week was spring break. My twenty year old son who has Down syndrome and autism was lighting up more than just blue. Here are the highlights…

Day one of spring break:

Nick is pushing every button he can find, microwave and bathroom fans, turning up the TV volume to 99 and finding the one button on the iPod home which blasts Hispanic radio music. It’s going to be a long week. The music is heavily laden with the sounds of trumpets, trombones and accordions. By the way, the radio station is WLEY-FM (107.9 FM La Ley) features a regional Mexican music format focusing on Ranchera.

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Day two of spring break:

It started out with Nick popping up at 6:30am. He came in and pressed the iPod home button to 107.9FM next to my bed as he giggled and let out a big fart. He followed this up with an early screening of “Grown Ups” (volume level 99) and blasting the water faucets. Thankfully Lara, his respite worker took him to see the new Muppets movie and out to lunch. That afternoon, he crawled into bed with his DVD player wearing his blue sunglasses. The “Grown Ups” movie may get deep sixed before this week is over.

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Day three of spring break:

I got a 5:15am wakeup call from Nick, (mind you on any school day I have to throw a stick of dynamite in his bed to wake him up). I put him back to bed and managed to sleep in until 7:30am. Morning coffee time was drowned in you guessed it another showing of the movie, “Grown Ups”. All day long nothing but yelling, tennis ball can tapping, and microwave/ phone intercom button pushing. In between those antics, Nick would run upstairs to push the iPod to 107.9. Viva Nick! The noise can be mind numbing, not to mention the snot rockets he blows and wipes across the flat screen TV. Today is “World Autism Awareness Day”. Believe me I am well aware of it.

Day four of spring break:

It’s cold and rainy, but at least he slept in until 7:30am. Nick watched movies with his respite worker while I went in to teach stability ball and step classes. He was even sillier today, must be the cabin fever. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Silly guy 🙂 …..

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His favorite dumping spot, behind the flat screen TV.  Good news, I found my shoes….

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Poor Stuart Little…..

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Day five of spring break:

It’s my day off from teaching and thankfully Nick slept in until 9:00am so I was able to enjoy my first cup of coffee in peace.  He was pretty good today, with the exception of a few button pushes, blasting 107.9 and flicking the bathroom light on and off while I showered. It was cold and blustery so we bundled up and headed out to Taco Bell.

Nick loaded up with stims……

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He was so excited when we got there. Just one problem, the ice machine wasn’t working. Nick stood there pushing the ice button to no avail for several minutes. He wouldn’t budge. One thing about autism, any change in routine is a possible trigger to set him off.

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I finally got the attention of a worker who was able to fill up our cups with ice behind the counter. Meltdown, deflected….. whew!

Day six of spring break:

Hallelujah, Nick slept in until 10:00am! Thankfully he chose to watch a different movie…….

The other guys

I took him out to eat at Burger King. We usually go out later around 1:30pm to avoid the lunch crowds and curious stares. I couldn’t believe it, when we walked up to the drink station guess what? They were out of Sprite…. are you F’ing kidding me?

Nooooooooooooooo…….

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I asked Nick if he wanted Coke or Minute Maid Lemonade. He screamed and pinched his cheeks hard. We made it to the table but he wouldn’t eat.  He kept clutching and pulling at his cheeks.  Finally, he started to eat his fries but wouldn’t touch his drink. “Nick, want to drink your Coke?”   He let out a big yell. Another couple whipped their heads around staring at us. I smiled and said, “That’s autism, isn’t it nice?” After eating all his fries and chicken tenders he finally took a sip of his drink and let out a burp and a smile. Whew, meltdown avoided. This calls for some ice cream…..

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The sun came out and the temps were warming up close to 50 degrees, so we took a walk in the park.  It was a nice, peaceful ending to a long week.

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It’s not all noise, pranks and chaos with Nick. He does sugar coat things with his smile, hugs, kisses, snuggles and elbow bumps. I’ve come to appreciate his creativity and sense of humor that keeps me on my toes. Hope you enjoyed my installments of autism awareness, Nick style. That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa