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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