We love it so much that we not only want to experience it ourselves, but we want to bring it to as many people in and around Richmond as we can. We believe that play is an integral part of life, and can be the best motivator for good behavior, good character development, and even hard work that there is. Even so, we also know that it can be a little hard to come by in our day-to-day lives.
Hello, Internet! My name is Cole Szymonik, and I have autism Asperger’s Syndrome. Normally, the term “syndrome” implies a debilitating mental condition that the victim must deal with for his or her entire life, but Asperger’s is different; Asperger’s is a debilitating mental condition that the victim must deal with for his or her entire life that can make him or her smarter. That’s right – Asperger’s has pros (like making me a nerd) and cons (like making me a nerd). Of course, in order for this passage to make sense, I will have to elaborate on this idea.
One of the greatest benefits of having Asperger’s syndrome is a boost in cognitive ability and learning skills. I find this very useful when going to school, playing video games, or interpreting modern art (Okay, that blob is red and weird, so… does it represent the artist’s anxieties, or…). The ability to learn quickly is very useful in a workplace environment, so Asperger’s helps in that regard, as well.
That said, Asperger’s syndrome has its downsides, too. One of the biggest problems caused by Asperger’s is the intensification of natural emotions – good for watching drama, but bad for keeping quiet in school. I sometimes get in trouble because of my feelings, so I have to go to a special class called “Social Skills”. The class is an uncomfortable tradeoff – It helps me deal with my emotions at the cost of my intelligence and my sanity. It is also very difficult to find people similar to myself, so I feel like a social outcast.
But you kind of are a social outcast.
Oh yeah, punk?
And what makes you think I’m a social outcast?
Well, for one thing, you’re talking to yourself. Typing to yourself, even.
Why, you —
…Thanks, I needed that. Anyway, I often feel like a social outcast, so…there’s that.
As can be seen, Asperger’s syndrome has both upsides and downsides. Insert good conclusion sentence here. See ya!
An increasing number of children are experiencing developmental challenges, and autism spectrum disorder is often being identified as the culprit. Dr. Evelyn Frazier, who specializes in autism spectrum disorder at Bon Secours Developmental and Special Needs Pediatrics at St. Mary’s Hospital, notes that the onset of autism can be
indicated by a delay in language development, a lack of eye contact or very little interest in caregivers or other children.
To be happy, to have fun, to learn, to sing, to talk with their kids, they are all expectations of every mother. No one would say that these are hard things to do, but for a mom of a child with autism, it isn´t that easy. For two years I’ve been struggling with communication and some behavior issues with my little 4 years old boy with autism.
As a family, we tried to go to the movies several times, but we failed. Me or my husband had to go outside the theater because our baby was noisy, or anxious, or trying to eat someone else´s popcorn or soda. We tried to keep him in a regular school, but some misses declared incapable to keep him, so we had to make changes. We tried to teach him to say some words, but he just brings what he wants or pushes us to get it. That made us feel frustrated, angry and worried. We started to visit specialists, to test him, and spending more time and money trying to find out what was wrong with him. At the beginning, we saw those expectations falling down. We stopped to try for a while.
However, after researching and meeting new people, we realized that we can still be happy, learn, sing, communicate, and have fun with him and his brother. And guess what? It’s not that difficult now! I mean, we cannot do everything as we want it, but we try to find new ways that works for him and for us. For now, we don’t go to the movies together, my husband and I take turns to go with our oldest boy and the other stays home eating popcorn with Andy. We looked for therapy institutions and special needs schools from the government in order to not to spend money we don’t have, and still help our boy. We enjoy doing those activities he enjoys like swimming, running, riding bikes, and jumping. We can go to restaurants or some other public places carrying an electronic device with us so he can watch his favorite series, and songs as well as play educational games. We can travel longer distances and change the route being aware of his emotions and mood. We can buy enough food he likes so he can eat well. And, of course, we can talk to people around us about how important it is their help. All these adjustments have made us notice how much happier our baby boy is. In conclusion, we can still be happy. Not only BE HAPPY IN SPITE OF our circumstances, but BECAUSE of them.
I´m happy when looks at me and, even though he doesn´t speak, he lets me know how much he loves me. I’m happy when he dares to do something new, and he learns. I’m happy to know more than before, to be more human, to be wiser, and stronger than ever. I believe in Happiness. This is our life, this is what we have, and what we love. I just would want it other way.
“What is happening in his head, ooh, I wish I knew, I wish I knew”
— from “Go To The Mirror!”, by Pete Townshend
In January 2003, my wife Carissa was pregnant with our last child. At the time, I remember thinking how little I cared about the triviality of the baby’s gender, and only caring about having a healthy baby. This was in part due to my profession as a pediatrician and in part due to being an older parent at 40. Both experiences had me realize that so many things could go wrong, I never did take for granted the gift of having a healthy, happy, “typical” child. My son was delivered via elective c-section, and, after having respiratory difficulties that resolved within 24 hours of life, seemed perfectly healthy.
I’d like to preface this letter by acknowledging the determination and dedication our mother has for you. She has been able to start a movement in the name of you and everything you stand for.
As your sister, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to know someone as kind and innocent and gentle as you are. You do not see the cruelty in this world, and that is something everyone is not able to claim. Sometimes I am scared for you and your future, I innately want to protect you from the evils and hardness of real life. Although I know that we only have control over ourselves and cannot control the forces of nature that surround and influence our everyday life, I also realize there will be people who come into your life that don’t know about the gifts that you teach n all you do. Many may not understand why you may do the things you do. Do not let their lack of knowledge and naivety taint your soul.
I know that I can only protect you when I’m with you and as you get older those moments lessen, but you are smart and I know you will continue to change and impact this world.
You are one of a kind Marky, stay raw and stay innocent.
We, your family will be here for you always no matter what.
Words cannot begin to explain the emotions and experiences you have taught me and allowed me to feel.
I love you so very much!
In today’s society, we are expected to wear many hats. Some of us not only wear them but, also design and make our hats too. Being a parent is a perfect example of a high-stress situation and when you have a special needs child the level can sky rocket. Research has shown low to moderate levels of stress are actually good for us because it keeps us moving and motivated. However, high levels of stress are considered as big “no-nos” because of the harm it does to the body. It is suggested that when you start to feel stressed you take a break and do something relaxing to lighten the load. The question is, “what are we supposed to do for relaxation?” If you are a person that is used to spending most of their day multitasking and being nothing less than a superhero, how do you turn it off for some “me time”?
As Spring Break approaches for many families, road travel will be increasing . If you are one of the many families that will be on the road, whether by car, train or plane- here are some ideas to make it all a little bit more pleasant for ALL in the car.
When we found out that we were having twins – I heard “wow you will have your hands full”. Then when our twins were born too early and our littlest one – Anna Kathryn – was only 2 lbs., I heard “you are in our prayers”. Than when we got the diagnosis that Anna Kathryn had Prader Willi Syndrome, I heard “God chose you”.
Family, friends and even strangers mean so well when they tell you these little tidbits of what they think are kind words. The fact is when your family enters the world of being a “special needs family” we are no more prepared, chosen or special than any other family. We are thrust into a world that we know little to nothing about – but what we do know is that we love our children like I hope most parents do and we start our journey albeit a different one.
In a lot of ways Anna and Kayla are typical twin sisters, they fight, they laugh, they cuddle, they fight..but then there are the differences. Anna has spent at least a third of her life in the hospital, which means Kayla has spent one third of her life with an absent mom, too much time sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a hospital room and way too much cafeteria food.
I was determined to make our family just like every other family, I did not feel “stronger”, “chosen” or any of the other things so many people tried to tell me I was. I am tired, frustrated, confused and even sometimes angry. I think families like ours do ourselves an injustice – WE are different – we are not like other families – I mean in some ways sure we are – we work, we sleep (sometimes), our kids go to school…but it is different.
When Anna, in addition to having Prader Willi Syndrome, having over 16 spine surgeries and than in April had a sugery that resulted in her becoming a Quadriplegic – our family once again heard those kind words from a lot of those same people. But the fact is our family has faced many, many challenges that thankfully most families do not have to face.
As we embark on this next new “normal” – I think I realize that we are perhaps “chosen” – we choose to make it work, we choose to celebrate tiny milestones and giggles that most families may never notice, we choose to allow ourselves to cry, we choose to learn how to ask for help, we choose to realize how this one small child that has struggled her entire life – has changed us! We are blessed (and tired)