May 18, 2015

Wedding Vows

Posted in AMT's Faves, Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , at 12:42 pm by autismmommytherapist

POAC Gala 008

Eleven years ago this fall my husband Jeff and I made our official debut into the world of autism, when our then eighteen-month-old son Justin was given the diagnosis of PDD-NOS by a lovely and very caring developmental pediatrician. At the time she didn’t want to give him an official autism diagnosis both because he was so young, and because he was so affectionate with his parents. As the visit concluded she recommended that we have him seen by either Georgetown hospital or Kennedy Krieger Institute when he turned two, and since Georgetown was closer, we went in that direction. We hunkered down for six months and did thirty hours a week of ABA therapy ourselves (at the time Virginia’s Early Intervention system didn’t recognize an autism diagnosis,) and waited for the big day we’d finally get the “A” word. We figured since it was “elite” Georgetown Hospital things would go fairly smoothly; we’d get the official diagnosis we’d eventually need for a pre-school handicapped program, and that would be that.

We could not have been more wrong.

Everything ran fairly smoothly at the hospital until we had a lengthy wait for the examination by their developmental pediatrician Dr. L (my theory is your wait-time for a member of the medical profession is directly proportionate to how important they feel you should think they are.) Justin let his displeasure be known throughout the entire physical exam (I often wondered if the physician or the two-year-old would prevail,) but finally she finished. I then made the mistake of asking her if there were any tests that would help determine the causes of Justin’s intermittent reflux, diarrhea and constipation, and she replied in the negative, then brightened considerably. This incredibly taciturn doctor actually looked like she was headed for a spa day.

Beaming, she let us know that there were no tests to be conducted on these issues, but that Justin should definitely get a twenty-four hour EEG. When I asked if there were any studies out there that showed this test could actually produce results that would help autistic kids, she excitedly told us that her colleague Dr. Z was performing a study on overnight EEGs, and if we were lucky there would still be room for Justin to participate. She then pointed out the pictures lining the walls of the room that showed a number of children with intimidating head gear. All of them were smiling, looking at the camera, and were peacefully wearing what looked like an alien football helmet strapped to their skulls.

I sensed with Justin we wouldn’t even get one damn electrode on his little head.

I reiterated my question about how this could possibly help my son, and looking deeply offended, our developmental pediatrician of the day responded that we would be helping science, implying how could we ask for anything more? Jeff and I locked eyes, and I saw that his expression of exasperation, fatigue, and a slight dose of hilarity mirrored mine. That was the moment I knew my husband and I would make it. We were a team. We were in this together.

And we both thought Dr. L was full of crap.

We’ll be married nineteen years this month, and while our journey with autism has certainly had its share of bumps along the road, we’ve weathered them all together. We learned that for our marriage to thrive and not just survive, we had to take time for ourselves individually. We learned we had to carve out time together without our kids, even though it’s stressful to make those occasions happen. We’ve learned how to cover for each other when one parent has had enough, and we’ve learned how to ask for outside help, which wasn’t easy for us. Finally, we’ve learned how to find the humor in almost any situation with our kids, which I believe is the glue that’s actually kept us together the last twelve years.

We learned how to take a deep breath and rely on each other. He’s my partner and my friend, and I wouldn’t want to walk this road with anyone else.

 

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May 11, 2015

Birthday Boy

Posted in AMT's Faves, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , at 12:37 pm by autismmommytherapist

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My boy turns twelve tomorrow.

It was just yesterday I held you in my arms, curled like a comma into my love.

You are two-thirds of the way to being grown, and every day reveals more glimpses of the man you’ll become.

There are so many things to celebrate.

Your smile that lights up the world; I will do anything to elicit it.

Your perserverance in the face of any adversity.

Your unending patience with your little brother and his demands.

Your innate intelligence, and how you push yourself ever forward to achieve your goals.

Your words, in part because it helps your communicate, but mostly because saying them clearly makes you proud.

Your ability to inhabit the present moment.

Your abundant affection, which you shower upon me throughout the day.

How hard your work in school every single day.

Your ability to inspire everyone in your life to be their best selves.

Your inherent joy in the world around you.

Happy birthday to my sweet boy who made me a mom, my best job yet.

I love you!

 

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May 4, 2015

Ten Things to Tell a Special Needs Mom

Posted in AMT's Faves, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , at 2:59 pm by autismmommytherapist

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Eleven years ago my husband and I entered a developmental pediatrician’s office with our then seventeen-month-old son, Justin. We were both nervous and resigned, anticipating, and in some ways welcoming, the autism diagnosis we were sure our boy would merit. Four years later we would retrace our steps in a different state with our second son, Zach. On this occasion we were much less scared, even eager to get a diagnosis to help us to access services. It wasn’t that we were less concerned about the progress of our second child. It’s just that by then we’d been doing the “autism gig” for the length of a presidential term, and we had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Those four years had taught me indelibly what it means to be a special needs mom.

I learned so much from my eldest child, and then again from my youngest. I learned about my limits, and how to stretch them to accommodate my children’s needs. I learned about the endless boundaries of love, and how to summon patience I didn’t know I had. I learned so much, knowledge I wish I’d had at my fingertips when my first child was diagnosed.

If I could go back in time, these are the ten things I’d tell myself about my impending journey of parenting two children on the autism spectrum:

1) You will revel in even the smallest increments of progress, progress you would not have noticed if your children were typical.

2) You will learn to always push your children to do a little bit more than you think they can.

3) You will learn how to be flexible (this one remains a challenge for me.)

4) You will worry about what happens to them when you’re gone. This one you will never conquer.

5) You will irrevocably alter your definition of what comprises a successful childhood.

6) You will learn how to ask for help (this one remains a challenge too.)

7) You will learn how to listen, really listen, both to your one son’s vocal attempts and to your other’s complete sentences.

8) You will learn, through lots of practice, how to be patient.

9) You will learn that the inability to speak does not mean your son does not have a lot to say.

10) You will learn, perhaps most importantly, to make time for yourself.

My heartfelt wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, particularly those in the autism community!

For more on my family visit my blog at autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com/

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April 27, 2015

Into the Woods

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 2:05 pm by autismmommytherapist

This past weekend, yours truly, the official “girly-girl,” roughed it in the woods of Allaire and went camping. By camping I mean REAL camping, without a heated tent (someone had one, was so jealous!) smelly port-o-potties (two for seventy-five people,) and no running water. Did I mention this was a Cub Scout event, so no “Mommy juice” allowed either.

What we won’t do for our children.

We survived, and parts of the adventure we even thrived. I learned that Zach can only handle so much unstructured time on one of these trips, and I’ll plan accordingly next year (yes people, this is a “one-night-a-year” affair, I have my limits.) I figured out that assembling/dissembling a tent is beyond my skill set (along with cooking and various other tasks,) and yet managed to find a way to get my “tent needs” met (thanks again Bob, Angie and Ty!) I learned that my son doesn’t feel the need to say the Lord’s prayer if he’s sleeping with his mommy (which I found so adorable I really wanted to celebrate with the chocolate I forgot to pack.) I learned that even with three pairs of warm socks my feet will be icicles from the ankles down (I foresee a pair of “camping Uggs” in my near future.)

Most importantly, I learned to let go and have fun.

While this will sound somewhat less important than learning how to meet my camp housing needs, I assure you it’s not. For years I labored under the illusion that if I just had enough information I could control the outcome of any event involving my two autistic kids. After a number of birthday parties, holiday dinners, and hell, just trying to get them to eat something, my stubborn little brain finally figured out my inner control freak would not win in every situation. Eventually, I slowly let that little goal (along with having skinny thighs) go by the wayside. The anxiety regarding things that were supposed to be fun (but often, let me tell you friends, were not) lingered however, and for years I found myself dreading taking my kids places that for 98% of the population were enjoyable.

Okay, maybe kids’ birthday parties are not that enjoyable, but you get what I mean.

This weekend I put all my autism-related anxiety aside and just had some good old-fashioned (unfortunately teetotalling) fun, and went with the flow. When my boy had some social issues and wanted to go home I didn’t automatically go to my freak-out place, and managed to calmly talk him out of it. When the offer of a night hike was something less than alluring to my son (who’s not a big fan of the night to begin with) I got him to go anyway.

He later said it was his favorite part of the trip (next to sleeping in a tent with his mommy, yes he earned extra technology time with that one.) When I realized at 2:15 AM my frozen feet would be keeping me up for the rest of the night, I actually just relaxed and made a list of (SPOILER ALERT!) of how many ways the last episode of Grey’s Anatomy pissed me off (really Mer, you forget to call Der’s sister the neuro-surgeon to the scene as a just in case?)

I went with the flow. There was both yin and yang to this trip, but my boy woke up Sunday with a big smile and a proclamation that he wanted to do it again (2016 my dear, 2016.)

He had fun. We overcame obstacles that even two years ago would have done us in. I banished my worry companions to the woods, and for me anyway, relaxed. It’s taken over a decade, but I’m finally learning how to live more in the moment and acknowledge that even the unpleasant ones don’t last forever; that just on the horizon something better will usually come along if I just wait.

I had fun (and a big glass of Pinot Grigiot Sunday night with the accompanying “make-up chocolate.”)

I’ve been in the woods with autism a long, long time. And I just now feel like I’m starting to come out of them.

 

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April 20, 2015

Parents of Autistic Children (POAC) Walk-a-thon

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , at 1:41 pm by autismmommytherapist

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I love POAC (Parents of Autistic Children, Brick NJ.)

I’ll have you know that for me to say I love something is a big deal, as I usually reserve such a glowing pronouncement for my family, wine, chocolate or Game of Thrones (yes, I’m a fantasy geek.) So I don’t pen these words lightly, and I’d like to tell you why.

For the past eleven years I’ve been wrestling with, learning from, and as much as possible embracing autism due to my boys’ diagnoses, and I’ve turned to many different individuals and organizations for help. I’ve been fortunate to receive excellent medical care through Autism Speaks, names of autism providers through Autism New Jersey, and other helpful hints and tips through a number of other organizations. I am grateful for all they’ve collectively done for my family.

But my heart remains with POAC.

In part it’s because I have a soft spot for the underdog, as this wonderful organization is funded solely by private donations. In part it’s because it’s local, and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know its head honchos, who have been personally helpful to me in the past. If I’m honest though, there’s one main reason I remain faithful (and it’s not just the fabulous food they often have at events.)

It’s that they provide wonderful recreational outings for our families all year long, safe havens where anything goes and autistic children and their families can just be themselves.

Over the past nine years since we relocated to New Jersey I have attended numerous and excellent free workshops about autism that POAC has offered to the public. POAC has also provided my children with opportunities to surf, ride horses, go to Twisters, attend FunTime America, participate in elaborate carnivals at Georgian Court, and a myriad of other fun (and always free!) activities. There have been prolonged periods where it was almost impossible to get my severely autistic child, Justin, out of the house, and yet for the majority of the last few years we were able to attend these events, and at almost every one of them he had fun.

And truly, at the end of the day it should be about what he thinks is fun, not what I think should be fun for him.

POAC is having their annual Ocean/Monmouth County walk-a-thon on Saturday, May 16th at 11:00 at First Energy Park in Lakewood, and I’m writing today to ask you to attend, or contribute, or both. The event is filled with autism-related vendors, a playground, food, and activities, and culminates in a powerful walk around the stadium, which moves me every single year.

We’re a community often divided. It is amazing to see such solidarity and support come together.

I’m including the link to POAC’s website below. I’ll be there on the 16th with Zachary, who will be there not only walking for himself, but to support his older brother. I’ll be the short blond desperately trying to keep up with the super-fast eight-year-old (and failing miserably.)

Hope to see you there, and thank-you for reading!

http://www.poac.net/


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April 13, 2015

Someone Special Needs You

Posted in AMT's Faves, Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 11:47 am by autismmommytherapist

XMAS 2014 011

Ed. Note: Someone Special Needs You (SSNY) is having their annual walk on Saturday June 6th from 9:00 to noon at Divine Park at The Lake at Spring Lake (park in train station at Warren and Railroad Ave, starting point at 5th and Warren Ave.) Here is information about the organization. We hope you join us!

Everyone needs a place to belong. And for my children, one of those places has been Someone Special Needs You.

I’ve written before about our participation in SSNY, from Easter Egg hunts to Halloween activities, as well as visits from Santa, and carnivals. Vince Scanelli and his wife Gina are the co-founders, and their mission is twofold. First, they provide a monthly arena where children of all ages and disabilities can convene to do crafts and various activities with high school buddies. These teens are carefully selected to pair with the children, and provide them with a wonderful opportunity for friendship. Justin has absolutely reveled in the experience over the eight years we’ve been attending the meetings, changing from a child who wanted nothing to do with crafts or teen-agers, to a boy who can’t wait to assemble a leprechaun and hug a pretty girl. He’s grown to love these nights, and in keeping with family tradition, I’ve brought Zachary too.

The second part of their mission includes the creation of a group home on a farm, a topic near and dear to my heart. SSNY has been afforded the gift of twelve acres of land in Colts Neck, and as soon as the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” are crossed, construction will begin. A friend of Vince’s who is a planner knew he wanted to do a farm, and he knew a builder who was involved with affordable housing. They then connected with New Horizons in Autism. SSNY needs about two million dollars to complete everything, but the property is ready, and has been donated by a large development called Overbrook Farms.

It will be a working farm for adults with autism, and will include several green-houses as well. Vince hopes to have sheep, chickens and alpacas in abundance (I admit, I had to google the latter, I need to brush up on my farm vocabulary.) He hopes to provide a safe and productive atmosphere within which a number of fortunate adults with autism can live and thrive, together.

The farm sits on twelve acres at the end of a cul-de-sac, has two barns, and it’s just beautiful. Vince says the farm will have ten beds, two wings for five adults each. Since it has the barns he hopes they will be able to do many different farming activities, raise alpacas, maybe have horses, and host events. Vince’s goal is for the adults to work the land. He’d love to see it provide jobs for the people who live there, and for people in the community to get involved as well.

SSNY is always on the look-out for new participants for their monthly sessions, and they meet the third Friday of the month at the Colts Neck Reformed Church, from 6:00 to 7:00 in the evening. They also greatly appreciate donations of any sort toward the creation of the group home. Trust me, it is a daunting task to bring this kind of wide-scale dream to fruition. As Vince and his wife are two of the kindest, most generous parents I have encountered on my New Jersey autism journey, I truly hope they succeed in reaching their goal.

Someone Special Needs You will be having their annual walk on Saturday June 6th in Spring Lake, from 9:00 AM to noon (please see above for details.) Please join us if you can. You can also donate by going to their website at http://www.ssny.org

The fundraising site for the walk is http://www.crowdrise.com/2015ssny Come create a team and walk!
Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

If you’re interested in attending the crafts sessions the next get-together is Friday, 4/17, at 6:00, and all families are more than welcome to attend. Hope to see you there!

Vincent Scanelli is the president of the non-profit Someone Special Needs You (SSNY), as well as the president of the Douglass Organization for Occupational and Related Educational Services, Inc. (DOORS) program at Rutgers University. He serves as Vice-President for Ride for Autism, a group home liaison for New Horizons in Autism, and as a Community Work Partner for the Monmouth County Chapter of the Arc of New Jersey. Vince is the owner of the Colts Neck Insurance Agency, and has twenty-five years of expertise in financial planning as well as specializing in special needs and estate planning. He has two daughters and an adult son on the autism spectrum.

Colts Neck Reformed Church
72 County Road 537 West
Colts Neck, NJ 07722

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April 6, 2015

Ten Ways to Reach Out to the Autism Community

Posted in AMT's Faves, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 10:30 am by autismmommytherapist

Summer Fun 2007 032

Eleven years ago, my eldest son Justin was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. At the time I didn’t know any other families with autistic children other than the ones I’d had in my homeroom as a teacher, and those children were much older than my son. I didn’t know who to turn to for help in supplementing the scant eight hours of services Justin was receiving each month from Virginia’s Early Intervention. I had so many questions regarding the gluten-free diet, yet didn’t know whom to ask for advice. I knew I needed a place to vent, but wasn’t sure I’d find a support group to fit into, as several had turned me away because my son was not high-functioning. Even months after Justin’s developmental pediatrician told us the news, I was still scared at what the future held, overwhelmed, and alone.

It finally hit me one day that I used to be someone who helped others, but now for my son’s sake I needed to ask for help. Fortunately I turned to the autism community, and found a wealth of support, advice and resources.

Sometimes, the people I met even provided me with a much needed laugh (and wine.)

The autism community both online and in your “own backyard” can be instrumental in helping you surmount challenges, in giving you ideas, and in being a place where you can feel surrounded by people who “get it.” Here are some of my favorite ways to integrate into the community, because we all need a place where we feel we belong:

1) If you’re fortunate enough to live in a state which provides ample Early Intervention therapy hours for your child, reach out to your child’s therapists with any questions you have. I have two children on the spectrum, and their therapists have given me suggestions on developmental pediatricians, support groups, and much more. I often asked them to question their other clients for me regarding resources, and in doing so they provided me with a wealth of information. I found that even if they couldn’t answer my question, they knew who to ask.

2) If you’re looking for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) providers for your child, try your local colleges or universities. Talk to the secretaries in the education department and ask if you can put up a flier, or have the professors mention the opportunity to their students. We acquired several of our therapists that way, and it was a win-win for all of us.

3) If you’re just beginning your journey with autism ask your Early Intervention coordinator about programs, services, and camps. We found out about several local autism organizations that way, as well as about a number of camps that turned out to be wonderful for our son.

4) If your child is already in school join your local SEPTA, or Special Education PTA. The parents in mine have been extremely helpful, plus they’ve provided an important sounding board for me over the years (and I’ve made friends!)

5) Check out the Autism Speaks website and Facebook page. Just their tool kits alone have helped me overcome many challenges with my kids both at home and in the community.

6) Reach out to different autism organizations and attend as many workshops as you can. Many are free, and along with the information provided you might make some great contacts.

7) Join a local support group. Reach out to local autism organizations and even to your child’s doctors to find one. They can be a great place (if the fit is right) to vent, celebrate your child’s accomplishments, and learn.

8) If you are looking for a social skills group for your child, try nearby psychologists and psychiatrists as well as local hospitals for suggestions.

9) If your child is still young ask your Early Intervention providers if they can recommend other moms with autistic children to whom they’ve delivered services in the past. I’m still friends with many of my kids’ providers (we spent so much time together after all,) and I’ve helped out a few parents over the years. I also met a few wonderful moms who were farther along than I was who turned out to be a great help.

10) You will undoubtedly have a number of people try to “set you up” with other autism parents, and I used to roll my eyes at times at peoples’ matchmaking. However, one of my dearest “autism mommy friends” is from my son’s hairdresser who wouldn’t let me leave her establishment until I’d spoken on the phone to her client. You just never know!


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April 2, 2015

World Autism Awareness Day

Posted in Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , at 9:24 am by autismmommytherapist

Halloween 2014 064

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and this is the time of year I tend to take stock of the McCafferty clan, and also look back on past years to see what I’ve written about. In former years I’ve penned blogs about amazing autism advocates in our community, written about my eldest son’s burgeoning awareness in the world, and about moving from awareness to acceptance. Yet I realized as I look back at the last few years I’ve neglected someone.

My littlest love, to be exact.

Second grade has been a pivotal year for Zach, one in which he has become more aware both of autism’s limitations and its gifts. This year he has stood up for himself and staunchly denied that autism is a “boo-boo on the brain” to a fellow sibling autism support group friend. He has used autism as an excuse to get out of homework (he was denied.) He has also made the connection that he is a great reader most likely due to autism, specifically the hyperlexia we believe he has, that enabled him to start reading at the tender age of three.

As with everything in life, there’s the yin, and there’s the yang.

We told Zach he had a little autism (compared to his older brother who has a lot) over a year ago, and for months afterwards I expected to have more dialogue with him about it. The truth is he’s only just begun asking questions about his life, which I won’t share here.

But it is abundantly clear that he is aware of his autism, and his differences.

I agonized over whether or not it was the right time to tell him a little over a year ago. But divulging my son’s disorder to him occurred when he asked me if he had autism too, and it seemed the perfect moment to discuss it. At the time we talked about the challenges and “bonuses” autism brought to him; the former of which makes it difficult to focus sometimes, the latter of which I believe has gifted him both with a superb memory for facts and of course his amazing reading abilities. Later that night he hugged and kissed me and went to sleep, business as usual, no more conversation required.

So far, he seems at peace with his diagnosis. My son is proud of who he is. And for his awareness, and most importantly, his acceptance, I am eternally grateful.

 

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March 24, 2015

Transition

Posted in My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 2:54 pm by autismmommytherapist

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It rests precariously on the edge of the countertop, the brightly colored flyer proclaiming “Transition!” in bold letters, urging me to read it and ignore the dinner I’m supposed to be preparing. I toss it into a pile I actually have a prayer of looking at later and return to my prep for potato-chip chicken (I know, worst mom ever, but it’s delish!) I have more mundane matters to attend to right now, like trying to remember where I put the ketchup when I began this endeavor. It will be hours before I return to this invitation, but return to it I will.

My son is almost twelve, will be officially “in transition” in two years. For a planner like me, I know I have to read that paper.

This is not the first missive I’ve received either through the mail or electronically on this topic, but until today I’ve either ignored the emails or tossed the info, deeming it too soon to delve into this arena of Justin’s impending life that I admit I find completely intimidating. I know it’s still early, and that I have wonderful resources at my disposal.

Justin is in an exemplary private school for autism, and I’ve been assured they will do whatever they can to make certain my son is engaged in some productive activity after he graduates at twenty-one. I have friends with adult children who have already passed that “legal to drink” mark, and I know they’ll help me the best they can. There are also a myriad of agencies in New Jersey with fabulous workshops for me to attend in the future, all of which I’m sure will guide me well. But the real conundrum for me is a question only Justin can answer, and I’m not sure he’ll be able

to do so.

What does my boy want to do with his life?

The truth is college, career, and independent living are not in the cards for my son. He can nod “yes” or “no” to uncomplicated questions, and make simple requests on his iPad for items he wants. At some point however I’m going to want his input, and I just don’t think I’ll get it, although I never truly thought he’d speak and at age eleven he now has a few words. I do have a dream for him- that he’ll live on a farm, work the land a few hours a day in some capacity, and have access to horses for frequent riding.

But honestly, I really have no idea if this is what he wants to do. His main activities to date are playing DVDs on his player, engaging in some computer games, and occasionally watching a movie with his mom and brother. He likes a brief daily outing, but mostly he likes to be at home, and by home I mean inside the confines of our house.

Lately, as I’ve been talking to friends in a similar boat, it’s struck me that I will probably be making all the decisions regarding the last sixty years of his life for him. It’s a huge responsibility, one I hope I get right.

As I write my thoughts it also strikes me that I will have to figure out a balance for him, a life comprised of work he may not want to do, coupled with his leisure pastimes which he would engage in all day if we let him. I take a deep breath as I put that mimeographed missive in the “done” pile and walk away, realizing it really is too soon to plan.

The autism landscape is thankfully changing quickly. I simply cannot anticipate what Justin’s options will be in nine years, and more importantly, I can’t know what Justin himself will be like in less than a decade. All I can do is continue to do my best by him, and hope.

And I’m going to hope too that somehow, in his way, he’ll let me know if he’s happy.

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March 17, 2015

My Birthday Boy

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , at 11:38 am by autismmommytherapist

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To Zach, my dear, beautiful boy,

Just a short time ago you turned eight (and it seems a short time ago you were still in diapers.) As is the McCafferty custom you had no less than four birthday parties (your mother believes everyone should have a birthday month,) and you enjoyed all of them thoroughly. You’ve grown into such a wonderful “medium boy,” as you like to say.

And your father and I couldn’t be more proud.

We’re proud of your kindness and generosity of spirit.

We’re proud of how you share your challenges and triumphs with Justin even though he doesn’t respond in words.

We’re proud of how hard you work in school (even when you don’t always want to.)

We’re proud of how you stand up for yourself, telling others your autism is not a “boo-boo on the brain,” but a different way of thinking.

We’re proud of how hard you work in your after-school activities.

We’re proud of how you’re always at your brother’s side to help him when he needs it.

We’re proud of your sense of humor and killer knock-knock jokes (you got those from your dad.)

We’re proud of your wish to right the injustices of the world (and your fearlessness in doing so.)

But mostly, we’re proud of your heart full of love, and so grateful you’re ours.

We love you, happy birthday sweet boy!


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