Allen Frances I Hope You Are Listening 12

The beautiful child who started me on this journey is fortunate to be very high on the Autism Spectrum, but that does not mean that she has had it easy. For years no one identified her sensory issues as causing any of her complaints about loud noises, strong smells, scratchy clothes, or bright lights hurting her eyes. No one understood how hard transitions were for her either.

We told her she was being ridiculous and made her feel guilty for things that she could not control on the advice of her doctors. Well-meaning teachers, friends, and even some family members did not understand her and some judged her and/or us harshly, so we do understand the isolation of autism and how it changes lives.

We are among the lucky ones, as we have a select group of friends who support us and who stuck by us during the difficult times. Our child is now doing well and I am sure she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to do. She has already overcome so much including bullying from a group of mean girls who did not understand her.

Therefore, I have asked myself if the upcoming change in the DSM, which is the diagnostic manual for diagnoses that are classified under mental health, really matters. Many of us are not even comfortable with autism spectrum being in the mental health manual at all since it is really a neurological diagnosis. Maybe all of this will one day be a moot point as doctors continue to try to figure out new ways to verify the diagnosis. Reference this article for more about this:
Researchers Discover Test That May Identify Autism Patients « CBS Boston – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and Boston’s Best.

I seriously doubt that it matters much to us at this point. However, given how hard it was for us to get the right diagnosis, will removing Asperger’s Syndrome from the DSM make it even harder for others to get the right diagnosis? I hope not, but if Allen Frances had any thing to say about it, it may. See this synopsis from NPR’s “All Things Considered” for more about this: What’s A Mental Disorder? Even Experts Can’t Agree : NPR.

FYI: My child has not received any taxpayer-funded services and I know many others haven’t either, so Allen Frances is misinformed as to why families seek the correct diagnosis. I also know that my child’s sensory sensitivity is real because she can hear my conversations from two rooms away even with the doors closed and even when I whisper. People like Allen Frances make life harder instead of easier for those with loved ones on the high-end of the spectrum. Isn’t it bad enough that lay people already think Asperger’s is just shyness or social ineptitude without having people make things harder for us? I am fighting to get someone to notice my blogs and to understand and to help me fight intolerance, so children get the help and support they need. Yet, Allen Frances makes headlines and my little novel goes unnoticed.

God Bless All of the Delightfully Different Children of the World!

April 10, 2011 Update:
I finally got a chance to review the proposed DSM changes a couple of months ago. My daughter and Mia, the character in my novel both meet the criteria for level I autism under the new criteria. The best thing about the new criteria is that it includes sensory sensitivity traits for the first time. Still, it is unclear if doctors will continue to fail to recognize autism spectrum traits in girls. I hope they will not because I know the dire consequences of their mistakes.

The past few weeks have taught me that the effects of past bullying and years of being misunderstood before getting the correct diagnosis still linger. I have not felt as lucky although I know there is still hope. My wonderful husband is now fully on board to do whatever it takes to help our daughter. I ask that you help to educate others so other girls do not have to suffer the pain of being misunderstood by their families, by their teachers, by counselors, by doctors, and by their peers. We risk wasting the bright minds and talent of so many unless society changes to a place of understanding, patience and acceptance.

Something That Makes Me Smile 17

Technically, I only signed up for one post a week and I already posted this week, but I like today’s topic on the Word Press Post A Day Challenge, so I’m going to post on this one too. Below is a picture of me with someone who definitely makes me smile.  FYI his eyes are really brown, but mine are really blue. Camera’s don’t like to photograph the true color of my eyes expect from an angle! Oh Well!!!!My Golden - Copy

More That Makes Me Smile!

My Corgi's Puppy Days

Summer time in ColoradoColorado Winter Fun

Post A Week 2011: Who Deserves More Credit?

schoolThis topic is the second topic on Word Press’ Challenge. I’m skipping topic one since I only agreed to do the once a week challenge. Besides this is an easy one for me to write about as it fits nicely into the core topics of this blog. Thanks Word Press!

I believe every child with any type of difference deserves more credit, but especially those who are schooled in mainstream classrooms. They have to work at least twice as hard as their peers and many of them still excel in the classroom. Some of them are in hostile environments where they endure daily meanness from peers who don’t understand their challenges.  Sometimes they have the added challenge of teachers, counselors, and even parents who fail to understand. 

  • Can you image having to tune out noise that sounds as loud as a jack hammer and still being able to concentrate on what the teacher is saying? That is exactly what many children with sensory sensitivity do every day.
  • What if you have cerebral palsy and boys on the school bus throw open condoms in your hair while calling you names? It happened to a young child in Florida.
  • What if you are a teenager who just reached puberty, you aren’t even old enough to have really experienced the world and other children are calling you gay and telling you to go hang yourself every day?
  • What if you stand up for someone and others target you and maybe even threaten your life? All of these things have happened in our schools.
  • Don’t those who are different deserve credit for enduring and surviving against all odds?
  • For the ones who couldn’t take it anymore, don’t we owe them understanding and a different world, so no others suffer the same fate?

I think we do, so I ask you to help me see that they all get the credit they deserve. Help me to change our schools and our world to a more tolerant environment where people really try to understand and support others. You can help do this by educating yourself and your children about differences by reading books like Delightfully Different. You can do this by speaking up when you see people mistreating others. You can do this by offering a smile or even offering help instead of judging others who are different.        

I’m Posting Every Week in 2011! 6

Life's Journey - Copy

I’ve decided I want to make a bigger commitment to my blog in 2011.  Rather than just thinking about doing it, I am joining the WordPress.com “Post a Day in 2011” challenge as motivation.  They included an option to post once a week, so this is what I am agreeing to do.  Autism spectrum, bully prevention, and the importance of tolerance and forgiveness will still be the main focus of this blog. Therefore, I plan to post at least twice a week on my core topics as well.

I’m promising to make use of The Daily Post, and the community of other bloggers to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can. Switching gears once a week might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful.  It might also give my audience more insights about me.  I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.

Mahalo,

D. S. Walker