Shining My Little Light

I’ve been blogging since November of 2006.  Wow.  Really??  Yes, really.  I had to go back to the archives to confirm the date.  I never actually thought I would blog this long, but I love getting my thoughts out.  An unexpected by-product occurred when I started “meeting” and getting to know other bloggers and commenters.  I’m one of those bloggers that walks the line between anonymity and being known.  I started off completely anonymous, barring my initials of course, then along the way I met other bloggers who’ve posted my picture and name on their sites, with links back to me my site.  No biggie, I’m not wanted by law enforcement.  Eventually, family and friends who don’t blog asked me to post my blogs to facebook.  I complied without giving it too much thought.  Not quite so anonymous anymore, huh?

I’ve been having an internal debate over a few issues that I don’t speak about on the blog.  Then two things happened – Sunday’s “Stream of Conciousness” topic was “What are some things you wish you could blog about but can’t?”.  One of my blog buddies, Rose’s Daughter, opened up in her post.  I felt myself leaning toward publishing a draft that has been sitting for months.  Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control released new findings regarding autism in America.  I sat at the computer this morning and started typing.

In January 2011, my fantastically happy, rambunctious, clever two-year old son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (for the purpose of this post, I’m simply going to refer to it as autism)  I’d never met anyone with autism and it simply wasn’t something that I heard discussed often.  Of course I knew it existed, but like most people, my only real point of reference was Dustin Hoffman’s brilliant performance in “Rain Man“.  Announced yesterday, 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls) in the US have autism.  One in 88 children?  One in 54 boys?  Think of 2 elementary school classrooms.  At least one (if not more) of those boys will have autism.

Thankfully, we noticed some things that didn’t feel quite right at a very early stage.  For a disorder like autism, early intervention is the key to providing the best therapeutic and educational opportunities.  LittleTDJ has been blessed with some of the best therapists and teachers.  We are so very honored to have him in our lives.  He’s teaching everyone around him that labels are unimportant as he continues to exceed all stereotypes and preconceived notions regarding his diagnosis and his future.   My son’s diagnosis is not the dark, gloomy cloud that I feared it would be.  Rather, he’s brightening each of our days with his unique ability to see the world in a truly different way.  In fact, his charismatic personality and engaging smile have thrust us into the forefront of some autism awareness activities such as participating in the production of educational videos and commercials.  I decided to share with my blog family because I think it’s important to give a voice and face to this disorder.

I’ve never posted a picture of myself or my family on this site, but I’ve decided that today is the day.  I’m delighted to show my blog family a picture of Little TDJ.  He is the greatest joy in my life.  And today’s the day that I ask y’all to do something for him.  For our family.  For families around the world.

April is Autism Awareness Month and April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.  Light It Up Blue, in its third year, is a unique global initiative by Autism Speaks to help raise awareness about the growing public health concern that is autism. Iconic landmarks around the world will Light It Up Blue to show their support.

What can you do?  Well, I’m happy you asked.  We need your help in shining the light on autism.  You can mosey on over to Home Dep.ot, Low.es, or Targ.et and grab one, two or ten blue lights.  Change the bulbs on your porch/patio and shine them brightly on April 2.   You can wear an item of blue clothing.  Heck, leave the bulbs in all month and wear as blue as your own.  And, if you get a chance, do a little reading about what autism is and what it isn’t.

Having autism is only one part of who my son is.  He has blessed and enriched our lives beyond measure and he’s just 3 years old.  Together, my family and I will be working to shine the light on autism in America, especially amongst minorities where children are diagnosed at lower rates and at higher ages.  I’ve decided to start a series of posts related to autism and how it is affecting our lives.  Not sure how regular it will be cause y’all know I don’t ever want to feel pressured to blog.

I believe that LittleTDJ was a unique gift bestowed upon me from God.  He hugged me this morning and issued one of his favorite requests, “10 kisses please”.   How could I resist?

Why aren’t more people talking about autism?  I don’t know.  I do know that the initial diagnosis hit me like a sledgehammer and I needed time to adjust.  Time to conduct research, time to get my emotions in check, and time to get myself ready to face the world on behalf of my son.  Has autism affected you personally?  Do you have any experiences that you’d like to share?  Do you have any questions regarding autism in general?  Ask away and I’m happy to answer to the best of my ability.  Please don’t utter the phrase, “I’m so sorry” or I’ll ban you from the blog!  =)

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51 thoughts on “Shining My Little Light

  1. you got it!!! I’m wearing blue on Monday!!! Will try to get Mister to change the outside lights to blue before he leaves for work travel

  2. I’m so happy that my post helped you decide to share with us! Your son is ADORABLE!! Look at all that happy cuteness!!!!
    Autism is such a well known, but little talked about issue in our communities. We definetly need more research on why and how it affects our boys! I firmly believe in early intervention too. It always always helps.
    I will be wearing blue April 2!

  3. Thank you for sharing. After seeing the statistics on yesterday, I had already decided to read and educate myself. So, now I have an excuse to head back to Home Depot and this time not for selfish reasons. Your son is so cute and adorable.

  4. awww he’s handsome! All of the things you described about him I can see in that picture.

    autism is not a death sentence so I don’t feel bad or sorry for you guys. I know it’s something that can be managed and treated and I know you’ll do everything to make sure he doesn’t feel like hes different from anyone.

    I’m glad you opened up about this, maybe you’ll be of help to someone else who is dealing with this and feels alone.

    I’ll be wearing my blue. Gonna see if Jas has some to wear too :)

  5. This is my first time visiting your blog, and I absolutely LOVE this post. Thank you for sharing about your family and your son. How cute is he!!!!! Two very close members of my family are young men with Autism. Love them to death, and they help everyone who comes in contact with them to see them as a person, and to understand that Autism is not all of who they are. I will proudly wear blue on April 2nd.

    Thank you for visiting my blog, and for the kind comments. That is what brought me to yours and I am better for it. =D

  6. Our porch light has been out for quite some time! This perfect motivation for me to finally go out and buy a bulb, a blue one!
    Also, Little TDJ is a cutie pie, thanks for sharing the picture and your story.

  7. He is adorable! I can definitely sport blue but I can’t even pretend like we could handle putting out blue lights. We still haven’t changed the dead bulbs from last year. SMH.

    I know that I was on high alert with my son because I recalled reading autism strikes boys more often than girls. And even though I don’t buy that certain vaccinations cause autism, I was a little nervous when it was time for his MMR vaccine.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Thank you for sharing. Your son is a cutie pie!

    While I have a cousin who is autistic, I admit that I really don’t know much about it. Looking at the “red flags” for autism, there are a lot of similarities with prematurity. I wonder how a parent can be sure that their child is autistic and that it’s not just aspects of their personality.

  9. Little TDJ is one adorable lil guy. I think he has your smile.

    My close friend is has a wonderful 11 year old with Autism. She too was stopped in her tracks. Unfortunately, southern VA did not have very many resources for her son. She returned to Long Island to find an abundance of resources. She keeps us informed about the resources and events in the NY Metro area (Broadways the Lion King special showing, carnivals and the annual walk at Jones Beach).

    I will gladly were blue. Please keep us informed on how to be a support personally and on a global scale.

    PS. Did the secret santa box arrive yet? It’s spring…

  10. He’s adorable! Thank you for sharing! It’s so true there aren’t enough minority faces. Where on the spectrum is he? How does early intervention help? What are the issues with late diagnoses? What fears did you have for him when you first heard his diagnosis that you now believe were unfounded?

  11. He is a so handsome! I have a cousin with autism and I have done quite a bit of research. So many more mothers are coming out of the shadows. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m certain someone has been affected by your story in positive way.

    I’ll put on my blue for Autism!

  12. Dude, I better mosey on out and get me a blue light bulb stat!!! I will sport the blue to support autism. If you ever want me to forward you emails I get in regards to the subject please let me know. I get contacted about books, dvd’s etc all the time and I am sure you can find some of it useful. best to you guys and your little man is adorable!!! :-)

  13. Thank you for sharing! Your son is so cute. It was really nice to read this because I’ve been listening to a lot of news stories about autism and I can’t get over how prevalent it is. I’m expecting our first child (a boy) in August and it’s so nice that you’re going to share some of your experiences with your son.

    I also started off blogging anonymously, but I gave that up when I started blogging for ShopRite and they put my first and last name out there… didn’t bother me. Now my url is my government name. :-)

  14. I will replace one on my porch lights with a blue bulb. I have three lights, so I should be able to remember to change one of them. Thank you for making the decision to share.

  15. I am forever inspired by and proud of the phenomenal woman you are! I feel so blessed to have you and Little TDJ in my life <3 I look forward to lighting it up blue on Monday and throughout April.

  16. Aww… look at little Mr. TDJ nice to see him again. :) I lol at the sweater swag cuz I thought same thing. He’s swagged out. :)

    I will wear blue on Monday (I needed an idea anyway) and I will put a blue bulb in showing my support to “shine the light”. If there are any other ways I can support you personally email me.

  17. He is adorable!! Thanks for letting us know about the shining our blue tomorrow – I’d seen the study results but hadn’t heard about the Light It Up Blue piece.

    And I had NO IDEA that you were in the Blogging Since 2006 Club!!! We’re like, blogging DINOSAURS ;)

  18. Awwww! I’m so proud of you for doing this Taya Mae. Now that you’ve done this, I hope that you can breathe a sigh of relief and go on to tackle other hard subjects…like cats.

  19. Little TDJ is simply edible! That smile will light up ANY room! I love the post! I heard the story on NPR and I was taken aback with the numbers. I’m glad you shared your story to put a “regular” face on autism. We know about Toni Braxton and her son but I can’t relate always to the tales of the “rich” so it’s good to get a viewpoint from someone I consider my peer.

    I’m reading this post on April 2nd…at work…so I’m already dressed….in green….but do not fret my dear, I am changing the bulbs in our porch lights tonight AND I will be rocking BLUE this month!

  20. You will be in my thoughts on Monday.
    Thanks for sharing a photo of your son (now I wonder what you look like!)
    PS – I’m currently wearing blue pajamas.

  21. Thanks for sharing! And what a great picture of Little Mr. TDJ – he is so cute!

    I’m late reading this post, but as fortune would have it, I am rocking a blue necklace today and I think that counts. I don’t know much – anything really – about autism. If I know anyone who is autistic (has autism?) I don’t know it. Look forward to being educated through your posts. Glad you decided to share – I think it will be beneficial for all.

  22. I just saw this today. Thanks for sharing. My cousin’s son has Autism and they also saw the signs early on and were able to get him into a program.

  23. I’m just reading this, but it’s not too late for me to head to Lo.we’s and get my blue light. I’m glad you shared this with us.

  24. He is gorgeous!! I’m so happy that you decided to open up to us as well. My school does a lot of events for Autism Speaks, and I’m proud to be apart of a school that genuinely cares. Thank you for sharing a topic that not many would have.

  25. Girl he is gorgeous! I applaude you for opening up as much as you have, knowing people that you know in *real life* are reading. I still haven’t done that.

    At my class reunion in 2009, two of my classmates had daughters around the same age with autism. It surprised me. It made it all the more real.

  26. Look at your little smiling “light”! What a gorgeous big boy you have! Thank you for the education and for sharing something so deeply personal with us. I’ll be getting a blue light bulb this weekend!

  27. I’m really late so I’ll go get my Blue light and display it for the month of April. I have a cousin with Autism who is around 24 years old. So my family has been learning about this more and more for many years. Yet there is still so much we don’t know! I heard the report on ABC about 1 in 88! I was shocked. Between Autism and ADD I wonder if some kids are being cross diagnosed? My mind always questions.

    I haven’t seen Little TDJ in quite a while. He is such a handsome young man!

  28. I think it’s been a while since I’ve seen your little pumpkin in person! Can we remedy that soon? :) Thanks for posting this. I’ve known about autism for several years. My former company always had a team that walked in the Austism Speaks walk each November here in DC. I participated twice. Keep shining the light!

  29. Shining light indeed. Super cute little guy! I have a family member thriving with Autism. He graduated high school and his Mom is researching schools to help him in his every day life.

    Thanks for sharing your story and

  30. Thank you so much for posting this. My friend’s son has autism and he is NOTHING like Rain Man. If you met him, you’d think he is a person who is slow to warm up to strangers, LOL!

    Little TDJ is a cutie pie!

  31. first time poster by way of Monica Mingo. Your son is BEAUTIFUL, i’m loving his big happy smile.

    Sorry, too late for April 2nd but I will honor your son and my girlfriend’s son (whose 18 now) by *attempting* to change my FB page to blue for the month (first, I gotta research how to change the whole page, dang this new FB).

  32. What a wonderful post! Lil man is so handsome and his smile is truly heartwarming. Thank you for sharing your story and a picture of your son.

  33. Thank you for being so transparent..i do believe that in sharing personal experiences can we really help and support each other in this blogland! Little Man is adorable and i couldn’t resist the 10 kisses please either!

  34. so, i’m all late on this post. i’m mad at you for keeping him under wraps! he is so stinking cute!!!!!!!!!! beyond that, i’m so happy that more people are using their platform and voice to talk about autism, pediatric stroke and other things that are so rarely spoken of. i’ve learned so much from my blogging buddies!!! thanks for this post.

    one request… keep the pictures of mr. handsome (yes, that’s what i’ve named him) coming!

  35. Awesome post! And he is such a little cutie!!! I’m glad you opened up and I bet you feel better too! I once, for a day or two wondered about things I would or would not blog about but then by day three I no longer cared! which is why my post are sometimes random, why I have multiple blogs, and why I can blog about God and homework, and rap music and wine all in the same platform! My life is often random so my blog reflects that!
    Thanks for posting the autism ratios, I often wondered why it seems like so many more girls were effected compared to boys. That is a big disparity,
    Smooches hun!

  36. Thank you for sharing your son with us. He is so handsome! When my son was 2 we noticed that in comparison to other children his age, that he was “different”. After many dr. visits he started speech therapy and continued until he was 5. We went through many tests and psychological evaluations, where they finally diagnosed him with having a developmental delay. I was told among other things that he would need one on one help all throughout school. I blamed myself a lot, because I thought I babied him. Fast forward to 2012, my son is doing extremely well. He is in regular classes at school and is very social. He does well in all of his subjects except reading. He struggles with comprehension. I said all that to say, that a lot of people will try and label your son, and try and convince you to do things you may not feel comfortable with. Trust your mommy instinct, you know your son best.

  37. Pingback: Seen Around Town: Walk Now for Autism Speaks | i.choose.the.sun.

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