Light It Up Blue Today {Autism Awareness Month}

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 on April 2, 2012 – World Autism Awareness Day.

HOW YOU CAN SHOW YOUR SUPPORT:

1) Wear blue today

2) Purchase blue light bulbs from Home Depot and replace your outdoor lights with blue ones

3) Change your Facebook status or profile picture to the Light It Up Blue logo (found here)

4) Bake cookies and ice them with blue frosting to pass out to friends or coworkers

5) Tweet facts about Autism and use the hashtag #lightitupblue

6) Donate to Autism Speaks

7) Add the Light It Up Blue logo to your email signature

8) Shop at places that are donating a portion of today’s profits to an Autism organization

1 In 88 Is Not Just A Number {Autism Awareness Month}

(Update 4/26/2018: CDC estimate of autism prevalence increases to 15%. Now 1 in 59 children.)

(Update 4/2/14: The new numbers are 1 in 68.)

1 in 88.

That’s the new number that’s being given from the CDC.

1 in 88 children have Autism.

My son, Lucas, is one of those 88.

I see it when he plays as he lines up his cars and then gathers them into a pile.

I see it in his eyes as I desperately try to understand what he is trying to tell me.

I see it as I watch him contort his little mouth into a scream at what seems like nothing.

I see it as he spins around, on tippy toes, and moves his arms to the music he hears.

Know what else I see?

I see a little boy whose smile lights up the room.

I see a little boy who couldn’t be happier cuddling in the crook of daddy’s arm.

I see a little boy who will laugh with delight as he runs around outside.

I see a little boy who is just the same as he was before his diagnosis.

1 in 88 is not just a number.

He’s my son.

The same little boy that stole my heart the day he was born.

DVD Giveaway- A Mile In His Shoes {Charity Hopping Around The World Giveaway Event}

Welcome to the Charity Hopping Around the World Giveaway Hop
Hosted by:
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
Reading Away the Days
Reading a Little Bit of Everything
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Purpose: To promote a charity that you support.

All bloggers will be giving away an item related to their charity or something book related.

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The charity that I am featuring for this event is Autism Speaks. My youngest was diagnosed with Autism recently and Autism Speaks has really been a great source of information. They even have a 100 day kit they provide to families {free of charge} to help them get through the first 100 days after their child is diagnosed. See my post about their free resources here.

GIVEAWAY

My giveaway for this event is the DVD ‘A Mile In His Shoes’. This movie is about a child who has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.

Here is more about the movie:

“Only a miracle can help baseball coach Arthur “Murph” Murphy (Dean Cain) and his losing minor league baseball team. As Murph sets out to recruit new talent, he stumbles upon Mickey (Luke Schroder), a young farmer with an incredible pitcher’s arm. However, Mickey’s parents are reluctant in allowing him to join the team because he has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Murph convinces Mickey’s parents that life in the minor league will benefit their unique son, but he doesn’t realize just how much his new recruit will help the team’s game and, more importantly, their spirit. Based on a true story, A Mile in His Shoes is an inspirational film that celebrates faith, determination and the power of friendship.”

HOW TO ENTER

Leave a comment telling me why you’d like to win this movie.

For an extra entry you can share this giveaway with others through social media.

Giveaway ends April 4, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post but did receive a copy of the movie.)

Find more giveaways at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

Stories Of Autism & Firefly Nights Photography

In December, Lucas was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We found out about this wonderful non-profit, Stories of Autism, that is “dedicated to heightening autism awareness through the exhibition of its portraits and stories of children and adults on the autism spectrum.” They match children who have Autism to a local photographer to tell the children’s stories through a picture and we were matched with Megan of Firefly Nights Photography.

I was kind of nervous because our last experience {at a department store photography studio} was an absolute disaster. My children were antsy and didn’t want to sit still which made it difficult to get a good picture but, even worse, was the negative attitude of the photographer. Every minute or so she’d make a comment or disgusted noise every time my 3 year old son moved. Not only did she do this in front of our family but she made the comments loud enough for people outside the room to hear. I was embarrassed and furious at the behavior of this so called “manager” of the studio so I finally just blurted out that they had special needs. It stopped the constant stream of comments on her end and I got a “sorry, I didn’t know”. I was so upset that, after over 3 and a half years of going to the same photography studio, I never returned to get pictures taken there again. I even received a coupon for free portraits as an “apology” from their corporate office but my experience was so horrible that I don’t intend to use it. I didn’t want anything free. I just wanted assurance that these photographers would receive training on dealing with children who had special needs so no family would ever have to go through what ours went through.

I didn’t know that there were photographers out there who specialized in taking pictures of children who have special needs.

After being matched with Megan I looked through her site and saw that she took stunning pictures. That was wonderful but what really excited me was that she had experience working with children who had special needs and was the mother of one herself. Even more reassuring was the contract that I had to sign that had a rule saying parents could not apologize for their child’s behavior. It was comforting to know that I was not going to have to stress out if Lucas didn’t sit still or if he had a meltdown. She would understand because she’s been there, too.

On St. Patrick’s Day we headed over to her photography studio. My mom came with so she could help with Jacob while Lucas was getting his pictures taken. The Firefly Nights Studio was nice and spacious and Megan encouraged my two little sensory seekers to run from one end of the room to the other while we got set up. Deciding that it would be tough to get pictures of Lucas while his brother was there my mom took Jacob out for a walk. We started with trying to take pictures of Lucas jumping on the bed but he didn’t want to do that. Megan did get some great shots of him on the bed laying down. Here’s one of them:

Megan was very patient and had no problem switching up what she was doing depending on Luke’s cues. She didn’t try to force any poses {which my little opinionated Lucas would not have allowed anyways}. Eventually he ended up sitting on a crate in another part of the studio, eating a lollipop and playing with a box of band-aids. Megan assured me that she could edit some of the shots so those distractions wouldn’t be in the pictures. She ended up with a beautiful photo to send in for Stories of Autism that I absolutely love. You can see which image she chose over in her blog post.

I am so thankful for Megan donating her time to Stories of Autism. I wanted to share that she also does something special for Autism Awareness Month in April. She has two days that she offers mini sessions to families with no session fee and no minimum order. April 14th she is offering sittings for children with Autism and on April 22nd she is having “sibling day” and taking pictures of children who have a sister or brother on the spectrum. You can learn more about these very special days on Megan’s blog. Sessions are filling up fast (if not full already) so make sure to contact her as soon as you can.

If you take your child, with special needs or not, to Firefly Nights Photography I’d love to hear about your experience and see the pictures you get taken!

(Disclosure: My son received a free photography session and we are receiving a disk of images since we visited through Stories Of Autism. I was not compensated to write a post about our experience but I wanted to because we had such an amazing experience and I want other families in the Chicago area to know that getting pictures taken of their special needs children can be a great experience.)

Free Resources For Families From Autism Speaks

Lucas was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum on Tuesday and since then I have spent hours looking for resources to help me understand Autism and how best to help him. I came across some free resources offered by Autism Speaks.

One is a 100 Day Kit to help families make the best use of the first 100 days after their children are diagnosed with Autism. It  is downloadable or, if your child has been diagnosed in the past six months, can be mailed to your home or picked up from a local FedEx Office location. The second resource is an Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit. Both resources are FREE.

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If you know of any other resources I’d love to hear about them :)