Thursday, May 12, 2011

Aid for Abby ( A child Artist)

Aid for abby from "Etsy Talent Hunt"

 Appeal by "Etsy Talent Hunt" 
Just want to support this cute Artist who need your help :)


I am a single mom with one of my 4 children suffering from autism and a language disorder. She is my youngest. My older children have done well in life and are self-sufficient. Due to circumstances beyond my control regarding employment, we lost everything. House, car, possessions. We are extremely fortunate that a neighbor came to our rescue and provided us with a place to stay. We brought with us our clothing and our photographs, my sewing machines (which I recently had to sell) and the therapy dog, Buster. The neighbor has been kind to us and I believe God intervened on our behalf. It is not easy to live with a child that has autism as any parent who has a child like mine will attest to. My daughter's care is not covered by insurance that is carried on her. Since her diagnosis at the age of 2 1/2 years until now at the age of 11, her cost of care has been my sole responsibility. I do not have any credit cards (so I have no debt there). It's not easy, I will tell you that. I have the same hopes, dreams and plans for her as I do my other children.
I have learned so much from my daughter that it would be hard to sum it up in one word. Each day I experience the joy of learning something new from her. I have had the honor of watching her make such tremendous progress in school even with Autism. I take her to all of her other therapy appointments outside of school. My daughter, like other children who have Autism have an inner sense of self. They know who they are and what makes them happy. They don’t seem to be affected by the same time constraints, worries, and anxieties about the future. I have come to appreciate more just living in the moment. After all, the now is really all we have! The past is in our minds and the future is not guaranteed with an outcome that may or may not ever occur.

Abby is my fourth child. I eagerly awaited her birth. The first words out of my mouth the moment that my beautiful daughter was born was “God has blessed me with a precious little girl.” I couldn’t take my eyes off my bundle of joy. You begin to think of all the wonderful journeys that you will have together as a mom and daughter. While I would think about those journeys that we would take together, I had no idea of the life journey that was already set in motion. I have learned so much from my beautiful little girl. The most important is that of unconditional love and patience.

The three most common early symptoms of Autistic Disorder are a lack of eye contact, a lack of pointing and a lack of responding. Many children with Autistic Disorder have little or no interest in making friends or establishing relationships and often seem more interested in objects than in people. They don’t engage in typical play activities like pretend play, and they use toys differently from typical children, preferring to line them up or else focus on parts of a toy (e.g. twirling the string on a pull toy or spinning the wheels of a new car). This was the case with Abby. She would spend hours lining up toys making sure they were all in perfect order.

Abby was completely the opposite of her older siblings. While the other siblings had been quite active and verbal, Abby was quiet and reserved. I wasn’t initially concerned because I felt that there was so much noise in the house from the siblings that Abby would not be able to get a word in any conversation. Abby was an easy going infant and toddler and was not a high maintenance baby like the other siblings. In fact, Abby was quite content to keep herself busy with her own activities of lining objects up along the table or floor. About this time, I also noticed that she had sensitive hearing and that these noises would upset her. Noises such as a loud television, motorcycles, applause for an indoor area. She would put her hands over her ears and started to cry. I often thought she could hear a gnat fart as her hearing was that sensitive!

I became concerned around the time that Abby turned 18 months old that she did not have the vocabulary of other children her age. A visit to her pediatrician confirmed that she needed to be referred to a developmental specialist as she only had 5 words at a time where she should have had hundreds. Upon the pediatrician’s recommendation of two physicians, one a neurologist and the other a developmental pediatrician, we made the appointments. When tested, Abby had an IQ of 70, a score that, coupled with the fact that she showed significant deficits in communication skills, social skills and everyday adaptive behavior, Abby was ultimately give a diagnosis of Autistic Disorder.

Only people who have an autistic child can possibly know how it feels to hear the news of his or her own child being diagnosed with “Autism Spectrum Disorder”. How your world comes crumbling under your feet, how your heart wanted to stop the very moment, unable to block out what you had just heard. This was I and I am sure was the same way my husband felt when he heard the devastating news. Unfortunately, he never overcame the denial phase. Probably he was more in a denial than me, for my motherly instinct was that something is wrong. At first, everything appeared okay. Our daughter, an energetic infant, full of smiles, growing lovely in all aspect, developing to her age, was able to talk, at least 5 words that she could utter and then at some point, she started to regress, in progress.

These were some of the signs of Autism. I can recall trying to get Abby to say the word “milk” was a four hour struggle, with crying and tantrum, only pointing towards the refrigerator refusing to say “milk” just simply walk away and curled up on the sofa. Most of the time, I simply can’t get her to do anything; she was always in a “quiet state” staring. Abby will not make “eye contact”, sometimes response to her name, in a quick glance to us. She was very quiet, kept to herself most of the time even Abby’s food appetite had changed, she became an extremely picky eater. Abby would not interact with babies her own age while she was in a playgroup, keep clinging to me, or will play in a corner by herself. These were some of the changes had me wondering “Why?” Abby was a healthy baby otherwise; we live a normal healthy life, with no wild lifestyle, that can cause damage to my baby or myself. I previously had three normal deliveries of three healthy and normal babies before she was born. We were told it was not our fault as parents, and that the cause of autism remains unknown.

Abby has had probably every therapy there is for the treatment of autism and expressive/receptive language disorder. There are two private insurance policies on her. None of which pay for her treatments so the burden is a heavy one and bore entirely by myself.

Abby was also tested by the local school system for inclusion in early intervention programs that are available. She qualified and at the early age of 3, she started Special Education Class with a therapist assisting her. Most of the basic school lessons and basic understanding of the concepts of things around her were presented in a visual way, by using picture cards. As a mother, I am very pleased with her achievement and have seen a tremendous change of who she was and who she is at present. She continues to strive to make progress towards her IEP goals. Beside her school lessons coming along fine, she now has a best buddy at school that she relates to.

She has mastered the basic techniques of doing things for her age group, like putting on her shoes, clothes (have trouble sometimes with her pants buttons) although she still does not pick out her own clothes to wear, using the potty, (had fully mastered the potty at age 5), and trying to brush her hair.

Abby still has her challenges. She gets frustrated easily; she demonstrates symptoms of “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” (like making sure her play horse collection is placed exactly in the same place, putting on lights in certain room and lately gets frustrated if her books are out of place. She will get moody if something is missing and she can’t find it immediately. She is still a picky eater (sometimes she will try eating ham and chicken; however chicken nuggets still remain her favorite.

The challenges however are taking a back seat to the progress she has made. Her tantrums are getting fewer when she goes out. Going to the doctor is less stressful lately for she shows no tantrums, she acts as "normal as can be", listening and responding to the doctor, even going as far as saying what she feels is going wrong.

Abby does obsess about certain topics such as trains, horses and wheel or circles to the point where nothing or no one else seems to exist. She has a tendency to fixate on specific routine or ritual, have stereotyped or repetitive actions or movements or fixate on parts of objects (e.g. wheels of a train). Abby also has a heightened sensitivity to certain sounds, sights, smells, tastes or textures. Thus, a lot of her artwork is done in circles or wheels.
Abby also has self-stimulating behaviors called stims. These are self-stimulatory behaviors. Repetitive behaviors, like spinning in circles or twirling hair, they are common in autistic people. They are not unique to those with autism, but the difference between the autistic stims is that they have a way of shutting off the brain to other stimuli. This can be a good thing when the brain is over stimulated and just needs a break. Don’t we wish we all had a way to shut out the world sometimes? But, if a person is in an autistic stim, it is near impossible to get their attention.

Please don’t pity me. That is not the point of this information that I have chosen to share with you. I have been blessed with four awesome children. Abby has never been a burden or an embarrassment. She is my daughter. She can’t help her stims and there’s nothing that can be done to stop them, even if I tried.

I also ask you to put yourself in the shoes of someone who's family is affected by autism. The battle of emotions, stress, guilt, worry, and mental distress can be overwhelming and exhausting. AND the families live with this 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Of course, like so many individuals and families that are out there struggling, I am no different. Do I wish I could have had a magic wand to change some of the past struggles that my family has endured, yes! Have I learned from these experiences, yes! Would I trade the bond of love that our family has come to enjoy because of all the struggles, no!

So to my daughter who suffers from autism, I love you exactly as you are, today, in this moment. I accept you for who you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are all a mother could ask for. I will love you no matter where this journey in life takes us. All you have to do is keep being yourself. That is what I truly love about you. You are just yourself!
Thank you for being you. Thank you for accepting me with all my faults. You bring so many wonderful things to my life each and every day. Thank you for inspiring me to become a better person and mom to you and others. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for trusting that everything is working out exactly as it’s supposed to. I'm trying the best that I can and someday, yes, we will have a home again to call our own.

My daughter's constant companion is Buster. He is a beagle with quite a personality. Our prior therapy dog, Duke, a certified therapy dog and lovable labrador was quite up in the years and passed on. Although my daughter probably could do without a therapy dog as she is much older now and less dependent on having everything handled for her, her heart still ached for a companion. A beagle wasn't my first choice. I would have preferred another labrador myself but the opportunity presented itself for us to get Buster. We received Buster at 6 weeks of age. He is now 3 years of age. He has had training but he will never be a therapy dog. In fact, I believe this may be the first dog in history to be autistic! I'm convinced that he must be. He doesn't come when we call his name, he does whatever he wants and ignores all of us except for my daughter. He somehow senses that she needs him and I believe he needs her just as much.

Our venture into making dog treats was not by accident. It was a way that I could teach my daughter about baking and at the same time allow her to make a "gift" for her Buster. I'm teaching her a life skill. She will need to know how to cook for herself when I am no longer around. I will add that my daughter makes the best waffles I have ever tasted!

I appreciate you taking the time and reading our story. It was difficult for me to write about but at the same time, it was a stress reliever. I believe that one day, we will again have a place that we can call home, our own home. Abby’s artwork that she makes is also a way in which for her to learn a skill that will allow her to make income as she transitions into adulthood.