Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Let Adversity Make You; Not Break You! By ME!!! :-) 2011

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dashed Hopes

One of my friends (we'll call her A) recently posted a status update on Facebook that really upset me. Her daughter "M" (who has ASD) came home from school very excited about a birthday party invite. When "A" went through "M's" backpack the invitation was not there. Thinking her daughter had lost her invitation because all of the other children in the class had received invites A called the mom who responded that "M" was not invited because she doesn't talk and her child likes to talk. OMG I was so flabbergasted and angry. That mother does not realize she is robbing "M" of a very important social learning experience. It is due to these exclusions that our children suffer so much. The discrimination in the case is so very hurtful, just because T is not very verbal doesn't mean she doesn't communicate. And the biggest question of all... Where the HELL was the teacher? These things are not supposed to happen in classrooms. With my children the teachers made it very clear that the only way invitations could be issued at school is if EVERYONE in the class received one. This is why I have chosen the moniker Autismwarrior... Not because I want to fight Autism... There are many willing to take on that cause, but I want to fight the discrimination, intolerance, slights, and negative perceptions the general public have of children with Autism. I don't think there are enough words in the English language to express my anger and disgust!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Dear Betty Crocker,
My name is Valerie Arias, and I am the mother of three children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Due to my sons' health concerns we have adopted a Gluten Free environment in the home. Previously this was extremely difficult, due to the fact that my sons love treats, and there were very few available to them. In the past we have tried mixes and boxed goods to try to imitate the great taste and satisfaction that comes from indulging in a fantastically wonderful dessert. We had thus far been unsuccessful, every new treat tried was a waste of money and food, as texture issues are a large part of our life. You can not imagine the great joy of finding your G.F brownie mix on the shelf in Safeway! I practically danced a jig! Not only did my sons kill the brownies, but my daughter uttered a sigh of bliss (I haven't heard one of these from her since brownies were abolished),and my husband looked at me quizzically, as he thought I had strayed from the diet. Needless to say, your boxed dessert was a tremendous hit in our family. I cannot describe to you exactly what this means to our family, but you have made my day a little bit easier.
Thank You,
Valerie Bray-Arias
P.S. I have posted information about this treat on many of the blogs I visit, as well as my own. WWW.AUTISMWARRIOR.BLOGSPOT.COM

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Love My Life.

Do I have regrets? Yes, I have a few. I regret I didn't listen to my Mom. But what 19 year old really does? My children were not stolen by Autism. Their souls were not the victims of a cruel hijacking. Fate did not perpetrate an evil hoax upon my family. I don't blame God, the vaccines, medical professionals or myself (not anymore). Do I feel sorry for me? Not really. Ok, well sometimes, but only during times of high stress, such as the onset of a seizure, or long waits in an emergency room. I am pretty emotional. I cry. It feels good. When people start talking about the effects of Autism, I get sad, because I understand what they are saying, and sometimes wish I didn't. This constitutes about 2% of my time. So 98% of the time I am happy. Wow, I said it and meant it! Autism has forever changed my outlook on life. I enjoy the small moments. I enjoy a fleeting smile, a momentous hug, the random high five. I enjoy the MOMENT! I used to be impatient for the morrow, today I am patience personified (but only today...I don't know what tomorrow will bring). My life is Happy Feet ten times a day. If I'm lucky we can watch Finding Nemo. And what a life it is. All happy endings. I live in a world where my 14 year old son still believes in Fairy Tales. Now that is a Miracle. I live in a world where my children (all four of them) absolutely stand by their convictions. A Rarity. My sons are never afraid to hold my hands or show affection in public, ever. What more can I say! I LOVE MY LIFE!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Items Of Interest.

Here are some Items I found interesting. Please be a critical thinker and research any of the articles you find interesting. Remember, studies are not valid if they have not been proved conclusively or if they have not been tested by duration. Also the sampling has to be representative of the whole, not a special group. Many people will feed you anything you are willing to believe. Keep in mind that the interenet for the most part has NO editors to make sure the facts are checked!---Take care! --Val Arias

Sick Monkeys: Research Links Vaccine Load, Autism SignsBy Dan Olmsted www. ageofautism. com/
The first research project to examine effects of the total vaccine load received by children in the 1990s has found autism-like signs and symptoms in infant monkeys vaccinated the same way. The study's principal investigator, Laura Hewitson from the University of Pittsburgh, reports developmental delays, behavior problems and brain changes in macaque monkeys that mimic "certain neurological abnormalities of autism."The findings are being reported Friday and Saturday at a major international autism conference in London.Although couched in scientific language [see three papers below], Hewitson's findings are explosive. They suggest, for the first time, that our closest animal cousins develop characteristics of autism when subjected to the same immunizations – such as the MMR shot -- and vaccine formulations – such as the mercury preservative thimerosal -- that American children received when autism diagnoses exploded in the 1990s.The first publicly reported results of this research project come in both oral and poster presentations on Friday and Saturday at the International Meeting For Autism Research in London. Poster presentations must go through a form of peer review before they are presented at the conference; the papers have not yet appeared in a scientific journal.In addition to Hewitson's oral presentation today, on Saturday in one of two related poster presentations, the researchers also are reporting in their abstract that "vaccinated animals exhibited progressively severe chronic active inflammation [in gastrointestinal tissue] whereas unexposed animals did not We have found many significant differences in the GI tissue gene expression profiles between vaccinated and unvaccinated animals." Numerous scientific studies, as well as many parents, report severe GI ailments in children with regressive autism.The results are sure to be controversial, in part because they lend credence to studies first published in 1998 by British pediatric gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, one of Hewitson's co-authors on these findings. He described an unusual inflammatory bowel condition in children who had regressed into autism after they received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination. Wakefield is currently fighting charges of medical misconduct in Britain over allegations of conflict-of-interest and improper procedures related to that paper. He denies the charges.In the program for the conference, the 7th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), there are three separate presentations listed that report results from the overall research program. The first, an oral presentation entitled "Pediatric Vaccines Influence Primate Behavior, and Amygdala Growth and Opioid Ligand Binding" (the "amygdala abstract") was led by Dr. Hewitson and lists 12 co-authors, including five of her colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Wakefield. Other authors are chemists, pathologists and psychologists from the universities of Kentucky, California-Irvine, and Washington.Hewitson's introductory presentation will be followed by two poster presentations on Saturday; one of the two, "Pediatric Vaccines Influence Primate Behavior, and Brain Stem Volume and Opioid Ligand Binding", was led by Wakefield and includes six additional co-authors.It focuses on the developmental effect of vaccine exposures on brain growth during infancy. The second, "Microarray Analysis of GI Tissue in a Macaque Model of the Effects of Infant Vaccination," was led by Steven Walker of Wake Forest University and performed gene array analysis on the intestinal tissues of the vaccinated and unvaccinated monkeys.The studies address – albeit in animals, not children -- one of the major criticisms by parents and scientists concerned about a possible link between the greatly stepped-up immunization schedule in the 1990s, including higher exposure to the mercury preservative, and autism. While the Food and Drug Administration approves individual vaccines as safe and effective, and an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the childhood immunization schedule adopted by the states, the overall health outcomes from the total vaccine load, versus no vaccinations at all, have never been compared, the authors said.A bill requiring the government to conduct a study of autism rates in unvaccinated American children is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, co-sponsored by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Tom Osborne (R.-Neb.). Just this week, former National Institutes of Health Director Bernadine Healy called for more research into a possible vaccine link to autism and said the question had not been settled, despite repeated assertions to that effect by the CDC, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics.In the abstract for today's oral presentation, the authors noted that macaques, the type of monkey used in the study, "are commonly used in pre-clinical vaccine safety testing, but the combined childhood vaccine regimen, rather than individual vaccines, has not been studied. Childhood vaccines are a possible causal factor in autism, and abnormal behaviors and anomalous amygdala growth are potentially inter-related features of this condition."The study found evidence of both behavioral and biological changes after the 13 macaque monkey infants were administered proportional doses, adjusted for age, of the vaccines recommended between 1994 and 1999. Three monkeys were not given any vaccines."Primate development, cognition and social behavior were assessed for both vaccinated and unvaccinated infants using standardized tests developed at the Washington National Primate Research Center." MRI and PET scans looked for brain changes after administration of the MMR."Compared with unexposed animals, significant neurodevelopmental deficits were evident for exposed animals in survival reflexes, tests of color discrimination and reversal, and learning sets," the authors reported. "Differences in behaviors were observed between exposed and unexposed animals and within the exposed group before and after MMR vaccination. Compared with unexposed animals, exposed animals showed attenuation of amygdala growth and differences in the amygdala binding of [11C]diprenorphine. Interaction models identified significant associations between specific aberrant social and non-social behaviors, isotope binding, and vaccine exposure."One of the Saturday abstracts makes the further point that the research "revealed significant differences between exposed and unexposed animals" in the kinds of developmental behaviors a mother might be able to observe, "with delayed acquisition of root, suck, clasp hand, and clasp foot reflexes." They conclude by noting that "This animal model examines the neurological consequences of the childhood vaccine regimen, Functional and … brainstem anomalies were evident in vaccinated animals that may be relevant to some aspects of autism.The findings raise important safety issues while providing a potential animal model for examining aspects of causation and disease pathogenesis in acquired neurodevelopmental disorders"-- Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.DO SOMETHING ABOUT AUTISM NOWSUBSCRIBE. . .!... Read, then Forward the Schafer Autism Report.$35 for 1 year - or free!www. sarnet. org• • •Three Vaccine-Autism PapersPresented this weekend at the International Autism Conference in LondonPediatric Vaccines Influence Primate Behavior, and Amygdala Growth and Opioid Ligand Binding Friday, May 16, 2008: IMFARL. Hewitson , Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, et al.Background: Macaques are commonly used in pre-clinical vaccine safety testing, but the combined childhood vaccine regimen, rather than individual vaccines, has not been studied. Childhood vaccines are a possible causal factor in autism, and abnormal behaviors and anomalous amygdala growth are potentially inter-related features of this condition.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to compare early infant cognition and behavior with amygdala size and opioid binding in rhesus macaques receiving the recommended childhood vaccines (1994-1999), the majority of which contained the bactericidal preservative ethylmercurithiosalicylic acid (thimerosal).Methods: Macaques were administered the recommended infant vaccines, adjusted for age and thimerosal dose (exposed; N=13), or saline (unexposed; N=3). Primate development, cognition and social behavior were assessed for both vaccinated and unvaccinated infants using standardized tests developed at the Washington National Primate Research Center. Amygdala growth and binding were measured serially by MRI and by the binding of the non-selective opioid antagonist [11C]diprenorphine, measured by PET, respectively, before (T1) and after (T2) the administration of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR).Results: Compared with unexposed animals, significant neurodevelopmental deficits were evident for exposed animals in survival reflexes, tests of color discrimination and reversal, and learning sets. Differences in behaviors were observed between exposed and unexposed animals and within the exposed group before and after MMR vaccination. Compared with unexposed animals, exposed animals showed attenuation of amygdala growth and differences in the amygdala binding of [11C]diprenorphine. Interaction models identified significant associations between specific aberrant social and non-social behaviors, isotope binding, and vaccine exposure.Conclusions: This animal model, which examines for the first time, behavioral, functional, and neuromorphometric consequences of the childhood vaccine regimen, mimics certain neurological abnormalities of autism. The findings raise important safety issues while providing a potential model for examining aspects of causation and disease pathogenesis in acquired disorders of behavior and development.• • •
Pediatric Vaccines Influence Primate Behavior, and Brain Stem Volume and Opioid Ligand BindingSaturday, IMFARWakefield , Thoughtful House Center for Children, Austin, TX C, et al.Background: Abnormal brainstem structure and function have been reported in children with autism. Opioid receptors play key roles in neuro-ontogeny, are present in brainstem nuclei, and may influence aspects of autism. Childhood vaccines are a possible causal factor in autism and while primates are used in pre-clinical vaccine safety testing, the recommended infant regimen (1994-1999) has not been tested.Objectives: The objective of this study was to compare brain stem volume and opioid binding in rhesus infants receiving the recommended infant vaccine regimen.Methods: Rhesus macaques were administered vaccines adjusted for age and thimerosal dose (exposed; N=13), or placebo (unexposed; N=3) from birth onwards. Brainstem volume was measured by quantitative MRI, and binding of the non-selective opioid antagonist [11C]diprenorphine (DPN) was measured by PET, at 2 (T1) and 4 (T2) months of age. Neonatal reflexes and sensorimotor responses were measured in standardized tests for 30 days.Results: Kaplan-Meier survival analyses revealed significant differences between exposed and unexposed animals, with delayed acquisition of root, suck, clasp hand, and clasp foot reflexes. Interaction models examined possible relationships between time-to-acquisition of reflexes, exposure, [3C]DPN binding, and volume. Statistically significant interactions between exposure and time-to-acquisition of reflex on overall levels of binding at T1 and T2 were observed for all 18 reflexes. For all but one (snout), this involved a mean increase in time-to-acquisition of the reflex for exposed animals. In each model there was also a significant interaction between exposure and MRI volume on overall binding.Conclusions: This animal model examines the neurological consequences of the childhood vaccine regimen. Functional and neuromorphometric brainstem anomalies were evident in vaccinated animals that may be relevant to some aspects of autism. The findings raise important safety issues while providing a potential animal model for examining aspects of causation and disease pathogenesis in acquired neurodevelopmental disorders.• • •Microarray Analysis of GI Tissue in a Macaque Model of the Effects of Infant Vaccination Saturday, May 17, 2008 IMFARS. J. Walker , Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, et al.Background: There has been considerable debate regarding the question of an interaction between childhood vaccinations and adverse sequelae in the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, and central nervous system of some recipients. These systems, either singly or in combination, appear to be adversely affected in many ASD children. Although pre-clinical tests of individual vaccines routinely find the risk/benefit ratio to be low, previously there has not been a study to examine the effects of the comprehensive vaccination regime currently in use for infants.Objectives: This study was designed to evaluate potential alterations in normal growth and development resulting from the vaccine regimen that was in use from 1994-1999. Specifically, this portion of the study was to compare the gene expression profiles obtained from gastrointestinal tissue from vaccinated and unvaccinated infants.Methods: Infant male macaques were vaccinated (or given saline placebo) using the human vaccination schedule. Dosages and times of administration were adjusted for differences between macaques and humans. Biopsy tissue was collected from the animals at three time points: (1) 10 weeks [pre-MMR1], (2) 14 weeks [post-MMR1] and, (3) 12-15 months [at necropsy]. Whole genome microarray analysis was performed on RNA extracted from the GI tissue from 7 vaccinated and 2 unvaccinated animals at each of these 3 time points (27 samples total).Results: Histopathological examination revealed that vaccinated animals exhibited progressively severe chronic active inflammation, whereas unexposed animals did not. Gene expression comparisons between the groups (vaccinated versus unvaccinated) revealed only 120 genes differentially expressed (fc >1.5; log ratio p<0.001)>

I am not sure how effective this test would be, I am afraid there would probably be quite a few False Positives. But it may be worth looking at for those with a high risk and for those who already have concerns!--Val Arias

New Test To Detect Autism At 9 Months By Anne McIlroy in the Globe and Mail ...com/57742fMcMaster University researcher Mel Rutherford has developed a 10-minute test to tell if babies as young as nine months are at high risk of having autism.At a conference in London today, Dr. Rutherford will present preliminary results from a continuing experiment in which she settles babies in a car seat and uses an eye tracker to assess their interest in images on a computer screen.Are they more interested in a face, or another image matched for lightness and contrast? Do they prefer looking at the eyes or the mouth? Do they follow the movement of the eyes in a face? Do they spend more time watching two balls that look like they are playing together, or two that are bouncing independently? One group of babies in her study is at high risk of having the neurological disorder because a sibling has it.The control group is made up of babies with no family history of autism.Even at nine months, the babies at high risk of having autism are less drawn to faces, less likely to follow a change in eye direction, and less interested in the balls that are playing together.This means, she says, that the test could be used as a fast, objective screening tool to identify babies that need to be closely watched because they may develop autism.But she can't yet use the test to diagnose babies."Right now I can't look at a nine-month-old and say this kid has autism and this kid doesn't. But we are working toward that," she says.So far, more than 40 babies have been tested at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. Thirteen of them have been in the high-risk group. The children came back at age 2, and three of the 13 in the high-risk group were diagnosed with the disorder.As she recruits more children into the study, she is hoping to see a difference between children in the high-risk group who are diagnosed with the disorder and those who are not."Ultimately we want to look at an individual baby and say, 'What is the probability of this baby developing with autism?'"The earliest that autism can be reliably diagnosed is age 2, and most children in Ontario are not diagnosed until they are 3 or 4.But her preliminary results show that autism is developing much earlier, Dr. Rutherford says. The results were reviewed by a jury of scientists before today's conference, but have not yet appeared in a medical journal.Autism and related conditions, known under the catch-all term autism spectrum disorders, have become increasingly common in recent years. The Autism Society Canada estimates the incidence rate in the country is one in every 286 births. The condition is about four times more common in boys than girls.The earlier a child is diagnosed with autism, the better the overall prognosis, Dr. Rutherford says.While there are behavioural therapies for toddlers with the disorder, there are none yet for babies, but they shouldn't be hard to develop, she says."It would be trying to work with the children to develop an interest in social things in their environment, to try and encourage an interest in faces ... these are the things the kids are not developing in the same way as typical kids."Stacy Maynard is the mother of two-year-old Adam, who was recently diagnosed with autism. Before he started his therapy, he wasn't making eye contact with her or speaking much. He didn't respond when she said his name, and never asked her for anything.But the Oakville, Ont., woman has noticed a huge difference in her youngest son after only two months of therapy. He has two three-hour sessions a week to work on language, eye contact and cognitive skills."The progress he has made is astronomical. He is looking at me. He can point out objects now. He said 'bye-bye' to me a couple of weeks ago and I pretty much broke down in tears."He has started joining in activities with the rest of his family, including his four-year-old brother, rather than always playing by himself."On Mother's Day he saw the three of us dancing in the kitchen. He put his cup down on the table and came to join in, which is amazing."Ms. Maynard knows she was lucky that Adam was diagnosed at 2, but she wishes she had known about his condition earlier."I have a child who was diagnosed early, and I still feel like I am catching up," she said. "To have a diagnosis at an earlier age would be unbelievable. The outcome would be so much better for the child."• • •

I personally do not have my children Vaccinated. I do not recommend this for all parents. My feeling on the matter is TOO MANY, TOO SOON! So take care and go into your childs appointments EDUCATED!

Parents Opting Out Of Children's VaccinationsBy Ivanhoe Broadcast News Service ...com/4ln6ppChildhood vaccinations have become a very controversial topic over the past decade. In 1983, 10 vaccines were recommended for a child from birth to age six by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).Today, the CDC recommends up to 36 vaccinations in the first six years of life. More families are stepping up and shunning inoculations. They are opting out for religious, medical or philosophical reasons. Every state has exemption vaccinations laws. Some states allow only medical and religious exemption, while others allow philosophical exemption.Less than one percent of school-age children in each state have exemption from vaccines, but the numbers are going up. The rates of opt out requests have nearly doubled in many school districts across the country. This means more and more kids are in school and are not vaccinated. This has the medical community concerned for general public health.Parents are choosing to opt out their children of vaccinations for a number of reasons. Some of the resistance to vaccines is because parents believe there is a link between a vaccine preservative called thimerosal and autism.Scientific studies have failed to find a causal link between the two. Another reason parents choose not to vaccinate is because the diseases vaccinated for are very rare.A study published by the CDC showed that death rates for the diseases that can be prevented by childhood vaccinations are at an all-time low in the United States. Doctors say that these figures show the vaccinations are working, but they are a victim of their own success.Whether or not it is easy or difficult to opt out of vaccines depends on the state you live in. Chantal Wilford lives in Florida. She went to the county health department and simply asked for a religious exemption. She said they explained the risks involved in choosing not to vaccinate, but she did not have to state her religion or have any documentation proving her religious belief; however, Rita Palma of New York sought a religious exemption from vaccines for her three sons but was turned down after a hearing with school officials. After submitting a written request for a religious waiver, she was questioned at a two-hour hearing by a lawyer. The New York Civil Liberties Union is now pursuing her case. Also, a lawmaker in Palma's area has now introduced a conscientious exemption bill for vaccines.The medical community says the fewer people immunized, the greater the risk that the infections can return as a public health issue. Many doctors understand that vaccination is a choice, but they caution parents about the risks of opting out. Some risks include long-lasting side effects of meningitis, complications from Hepatitis B or C, and brain damage or death from rubella or, in rare cases, whooping cough. There is also a cost factor. It's estimated that for every dollar spent on vaccinations, $10 is saved in long-term health issues. One recent example of the risk came about in San Diego in February this year. Eleven children got measles after an unvaccinated child returned from Switzerland with the disease.Doctors say this shows that if too many people choose not to vaccinate, we could see the return of some very serious diseases such as the measles and hepatitis. Parents who opt out argue that they are not interested in the general public health; they are concerned with their own child's health. While doctors say vaccines are safe, the parents who opt out feel they are not safe and fear an assault on the immune system at a very young age.• • •
Is the Proliferation of Vaccinations Really In Your Child's Best Interest?By Barbara Jamison For the News-Sentinel....com/6hsaoj All parents should review the list of routinely recommended vaccinations for babies, toddlers and young children prior to giving consent. Read the available information about each vaccine. Go online or to the public library. Ask a friend, co-worker, nurse or doctor for in-depth information regarding each vaccine.Ask questions such as: How dangerous is the illness? Is my child likely to contract the illness? What are the risks of the vaccine?Vaccination against disease has been an ongoing process since the smallpox inoculations in the late 1700s. At that time, the etiology of common infectious diseases was unknown. Today in America, most people have an excellent quality of food, water and proper sanitation. We understand how disease is spread and have access to treatment.It is time to take a new look at the need for specific vaccinations. Vaccination is designed to benefit the public health. It is a one-size-fits-all approach. Thus, the rural Midwestern baby receives the same treatment as the crowded inner-city baby. Surely, the needs of these babies are not the same.Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for men who have sex with men, IV drug users and babies prior to hospital discharge after birth. This is because the government wishes to avoid future cases of Hepatitis B. Thus, all babies, regardless of the likelihood of exposure, are given this injection. Does that seem appropriate to you? This same theory is the reason for the recent push to vaccinate all 11- to 12-year-old females against HPV (human papilloma virus), which is spread by sexual contact. Another example: Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease spread through contaminated food and water. Children are not among the high-risk group.Does your infant really need this shot?A prudent approach would be to target a specific vaccine to specific patient populations. The minimal recommended vaccination schedule includes 60 doses — some different strains of the same illness — for 14 diseases by age 18 months. It is common for the shots to be bunched in one day. If the baby is “off” schedule, your 15-month-old may receive all the 12-18 monthly doses on the same office or clinic visit. Surely, this must have some adverse effect on the immature immune system.Some scientists correlate the proliferation of autoimmune disorders in our society to multiple vaccinations at that very early age — illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, lupus, inflammatory bowel, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and certain cancers. Some medical researchers and parents believe components of vaccine products cause or did cause autism and other neurological disorders. All vaccines carry risk and can be fatal. Indeed, a reaction is the expected outcome necessary to provide immunity.+ Read more: ...com/6hsaojToday's SAR is provided through the support of paid subscription readers.- THANK YOU -

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I am...For Mothers

I found this poem during my travels and it truly says it all...

I am ..............for mothers.By Michelle Guppy I am the little engine that did. When on my journey in life, my tracks led me to a mountain - a diagnosis of Autism - I looked at it with defeat - thinking there was no way I could climb over it. I then pondered the obstacle before me, and I then said to myself over and over, "I think I can, I think I can...," then I slowly started climbing the mountain saying to myself over and over, "I know I can, I know I can,...." and then I made it over that ominous diagnosis of Autism and continued my journey.

I am the little engine that did.I am more devoted than Noah's wife. I am cooped up in this "houseboat" for 365 days and 365 nights a year, constantly taking care of and cleaning up after my "herd of animals." And when the storms of isolation and monotony become most unbearable, I do not jump ship. Instead I wait for the rainbow that is sure to come.

I am Xena. Real life warrior goddess of Autism. With my steel plated armor I can fight anyone who gets in the way of progress for my child. I can fight the stares and ignorance of typpies - those without autism in their lives - and educate them as to why my child is the way he is, and why he does the things he does. I can fight the schools to have them properly educate my child. And I can fight denied insurance claims to get coverage for my child. Yes, I am Xena - and I am armed for battle...

I am Betsy Ross. I am part of History by my contribution to the Autism Awareness Quilt -- many pieces of fabric representing many states, stitched together, that will collectively symbolize Freedom. Freedom from the lack of information about Autism, Freedom from not knowing what causes Autism, and Freedom from the lack of funding and research to treat, overcome, and live with - Autism. Like Betsy's piece of fabric, my piece of fabric will someday sit in a museum, for others to see my 12.5 x 12.5 inch memorial of a battle well fought. Whether my child is "cured" in my lifetime does not matter, in the end what will matter to me and to my child, is that I never surrendered.

I am the Bionic Woman. I have X-Ray vision - I can see through the mask of autism on my child's face, and see the beauty in his soul and the intelligence in his eyes --- when others can't. I have super-hearing - I can look at my child when he smiles at me, and hear his voice say, "I Love You Mommy," --- even though he can't talk. Yes, I am thankful to be Bionic.

I am Mary. A not so well known mother of an Autistic child who was brought here to touch the souls of those around him, in a way that will forever change them. And it started with me. By teaching me things I would never have known, by bringing me friendships I never would have had, and by opening my eyes as to what really matters in life. Things like keeping the Faith, never losing Hope, and knowing a Love that that words cannot express. Yes, I too am blessed by a special child, just like Mary.

I am Superwoman. I am able to leap over tall loads of laundry in a single bound, and run faster than a speeding bullet, to chase my child as he dashes out the front door and heads for the busy street. Oh yes, without a doubt, I am Superwoman.I am Moses. I am doing my part in leading other parents and society to more awareness, knowledge, and resources, and most of all - Faith. Like Moses did, I too, will sometimes meet with resistance from those who don't believe. And like Moses, God will give me the small Miracles here and there, needed to accomplish my mission.

I am Stretch Armstrong - a mom that can be stretched beyond belief - and still somehow return to normal. I can stretch limited funds to cover every treatment and therapy that insurance won't. I can stretch my patience as I explain my child's biomedical issues with yet another uneducated doctor. I can stretch what time I have, and share it with my husband, mychildren, my church, and still have some leftover to help others. Yes, my name is Stretch. And I have the stretch-marks to prove it!

I am Rosa Parks. I refuse to move or waver in what I believe is right for my child --simply because my view is the minority, not the majority. I refuse to believe "What can one mother do?" But instead, I will write, call, and rally to the government, and do whatever it takes to bring equality for my child.

I am Hercules. The Greek god known for strength and courage. The heavy loads I must carry would make others crumble to the ground. The weight of Sorrow, Fear at uncertainty of the future, Injustice at having no answers, and from Tears of despair, would alone possibly be too much, --- even for Hercules. But then the Joy, Laughter, Smiles, and Tears of pride, - at my child's accomplishments, - balance the load to make it easy to bear.

I am touched by an Angel. An Angel who is often described as living in a world of his own. And it's true. He lives in a world of innocence and purity. A world without hatred or deceit. A world where everyone is beautiful and where no-one is ugly. A world where there is always enough time. A world where he goes to bed with no worries of tomorrow and wakes up with no regrets of the past. Yes, I most certainly am touched by an Angel, and I sometimes think that his world is better....

I am a mom of a special needs child, all the above, and so much more. Somedays I will want to be none of the above - and just be a typical mom with a typical child, doing typical things. On those days I will know it's o.k. to be angry, and to cry, and to lean on my friends for support. Because after all, ---the most important thing I am, ..... is human.****And on this special day, and every other day I need to, I will read this as a reminder, of just who it is, ~ I am......

c. May 2000 By Michelle Guppy - for those "Special" mom's

Social cues: Some advice.

My 14 yr old w/ autism "monologues". Thru every movie, meal, errand... He also involves any bystander, luckily many of the strangers he approaches just smile and nod. As for the social cues, when mine do something not widely accepted by society in general; I explain what they did, ask them what they did, I then repeat what they did and tell them why they shouldn't do it...(i.e. it makes others feel bad, funny, weird etc.) ,ask them why they shouldn't do it, repeat it back to them. Most people learn in threes. It takes ALOT of patience, and if your child has difficulty with impulse control it may well take forever. However, don't give up. You will be surprised at what does register with the child. Also if you "google" feelings ( sad, mad, scared, wary, happy...etc.. and click on images you can make flash cards and occasionally go over what the appropriate reaction is to each look. Once again do it in shifts of three. This is easily done while you are driving the kids to school....there is no pressure on the kids as they flip thru...there are no wrong answers.

An important thought to remember:

Women and girls see eye contact as a way to connect...Men and boys view it as an act of aggression. Therefore touchy topics are best handled while driving or cooking side by side.