Have you ever had a moment when your child did or said something awkward in public? Then, the response from people around you was less than favorable? How did you respond? A situation such as this happened for us recently. As a result, I had an “ah-ha” moment, as an Autism mom, ally, and advocate.
Recently, we were attending a community festival. My daughter “Amazing Grace” initially chose to play in a jumpy house area made for younger children (0-5) instead of the larger and more challenging jumpy obstacle course made for children her age (6 years +). After a while, I encouraged Grace to try the other area which was more age-appropriate. I could feel the eyes of the person monitoring the jumpy. I imagined that she wondered, “Why does this 8-year old want to play in this small jumpy?” and “Why is she having such a hard time leaving upon request?” At this moment, I realized that I had two options: I could become upset or offended or I could use this as a teachable moment. On this day, I chose the latter. I began to inform the jumpy monitor about Grace and her unique challenges related to Autism. The young ride operator was very grateful, as she had no understanding or knowledge about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
After giving Grace a 5-minute countdown, she was able to transition to the larger and more challenging jumpy obstacle course. She had a blast! She slowly built her confidence and was able to successfully navigate the play area along with her peers. (The next challenge was getting her to leave this play area 😉)
The incident at this festival is just one example of how we can turn those awkward moments into teachable moments. As parents and allies, we want everyone to embrace Autism…moving from awareness to true acceptance. However, some people are truly ignorant when it comes to the challenges and great strengths of our kids and young adults. How can we expect the world to know more and make better choices if we don’t educate them? This is my epiphany, although the implementation is a work in progress….
Parents let’s continue to advocate strong for our kids with unique needs. If not us, then who?
To be a person is to have a story to tell. — Isak Dinesen
Have you ever had "one of those years"? Where you can't wait for New Year's Eve and the next year to begin, but its only April? Well 2014 was that year for me. In January 2014 I was diagnosed with cancer. In March, my father suddenly passed away. Then in June, my daughter Grace was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism. Talk about a triple whammy! But, by grace, faith, and the help of a supportive community, I was able to come through that tough year and now it is all apart of my story.
I am so honored to share excerpts from my story here with you. I strongly believe that sharing your story is therapeutic and may also benefit the life of another is ways you will never imagine.
In viewing our website and previous post, you are likely aware of how my "Autism Story" began. At age three and a half, my daughter Grace was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism. For me, the diagnosis was a confirmation and brought relief as well as many unanswered questions. However, having worked with children on the Autism spectrum for many years as a speech therapist, I knew that Grace could now begin to receive the needed supports that would empower her to be her best.
Now Grace is six years old. We have had many ups and downs, like when we both cried at the first friend's birthday party that she attended. It was terribly over stimulating, yet I refused to leave thinking that things would get better. Well they didn't! But, I did learn what not to do the next time. Now, I am happy to say that Grace enjoys attending birthday parties, for the most part anyway, and now neither of us leaves in tears.
I have also enjoyed simply amazing moments with Grace. Such as riding the Sky Ride at Sea World every time we visit. So high above the water, Grace is simply in heaven. What a joy to see her face each time we enter the ride!
Are you ready to tell your story?
If so, please briefly discuss how your child was identified with Autism or some other related social challenge? How has this impacted your life and your family? Describe an "amazing moment" that you've shared with your child so far in your journey.
Or maybe you are a grandparent, aunt, or co-worker of a child or adult with Autism. Please share your story as well. How has Autism impacted your life for the better?
I look forward to reading about each of your wonderfully unique stories.
Please post your comments below and have an amazing day!
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Grace who loved water fountains, outer space, rainbows, and dancing to music from the 70s...
Grace is my now 6-year old daughter with High-Functioning Autism. When she was born, her grandfather named her "Amazing Grace". He has passed away now, but little did he know how simply amazing she would be!
Grace is the inspiration for Sanford Autism Consulting. After embracing her diagnosis and exploring services and resources in our community, I wanted to provide that same support to other parents who were on their own Autism journey.
Please join us on as we laugh, cry, learn, and most of all enjoy our journey with Grace. I hope that you will learn more about how to best support your child, friend, significant other and encourage them to be the best that they can be. Simply Amazing!
Crystal Sanford, M.Ed., M.A. CCC-SLP is an Educational Consultant, IEP & Autism Advocate and Speech Pathologist. She is also the host of inspiring podcasts, Thriving Special Families and Thriving Autism Families! Her passion is advocating STRONG alongside fellow Autism and special needs parents, helping them to persistently pursue what their children deserve at school. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and two children in San Diego, CA.