Okay. Let’s do that.

So about a week ago, I noticed I was entering Sadness on the Grief Cycle. I had no idea how much this would affect all the different aspects of my life. Before I could write 10,000 words a day. I could barely wait a day before blogging again. I was sewing and painting. I never wanted to sit down and read a book because I had too much stuff to do. I was getting settled into my exercise routine to prepare for the upcoming 5K for Autism Speaks.

Now…now I am so ridiculously unmotivated it is frightening. The lingering sadness I am experiencing is coloring everything I do. Even brushing my teeth seems futile. They are just going to be dirty the next time I eat something. Sigh.

Sometimes it is my mood, but more often it is just the lens through which I see everything. I am still happy about a lot of things. Tyler is doing really well in school so far. We just ordered our Team Ty-Ty t-shirts. The Walk Now for Autism Speaks is only a little more than a month away. I am doing a Vendor Show in three weeks which will hopefully raise more money for the Walk and help me sell some of my horde of made baby items.

But everything seems a little less colorful…a little washed out.

Especially my creativity. I open a New Post screen on my computer and just stare at the blank box. Nothing comes. I will sew for a few minutes and then just wander away from the sewing machine.

I look at my Walk Now for Autism Speaks Walk Fund, which isn’t growing anymore, and instead of brainstorming new ideas, I just get discouraged and close the app. And it is stupid that I am discouraged because I have exceeded my goal for the year and I am really proud of myself and the people who have supported me. But then I think about all the families struggling with non-verbal children and bullying (the parents get bullied too) and it just makes me sad.

The ONLY reason I even know I am on this repeating grief cycle is because I have read books on autism and families dealing with it. How many other parents are out there that are going through what I am going through right now, but they don’t understand why? You know, when I am talking about autism awareness and trying to raise support for it, I am not only picturing beautiful, gifted children who need our help. I am picturing the mothers as well. The ones who are confused, angry, sad, and broken. The ones going through what I have had to go through and am still going through. I can look into the eyes of a mother of an autistic child and see many things that I wish I could take away. There is pride, love, and fierceness, but there is also brokenness, betrayal felt, and exhaustion.

How can we keep the good things of this experience but remove the bad? Tyler is AMAZING. He is loving and kind and honest. Having Tyler as my son is a blessing and I love every part of him. Even his autism. I would have been devastated if my parents had tried to force me to be right-handed. I have no intention of curing or “fixing” Tyler’s autism. He is unique and we need his perspective and contributions. But raising him to function in our world should not be a traumatizing event. So he needs to do things differently or needs extra help. Okay. Let’s do that. I shouldn’t have to fight for it. I shouldn’t have to bleed for it. I shouldn’t have to be broken in the process.

I wish mothers lived in a world where their child, whoever they are, are accepted as who they are. Do they need time with a professional therapist to learn to talk? Okay. Let’s do that. Do they need to have a place they can go to when things overload? Okay. Let’s do that. Do they need to get a service dog to keep them from wandering off and hurting themselves? Okay. Let’s do that.

Why isn’t that the answer more often. Okay. Let’s do that. We need a Let’s do that World.

I need to get out of my sadness funk. Of course, that will just land me in another category. Sadness can be good. I usually use the time I am stuck here to put things into perspective. I build up some inner reserves and just let myself be still for awhile. Life doesn’t slow down though and right now Sadness is not working in my favor.

So time to move on to another Grief category. Okay. Let’s do that.

For more on the Grief Cycle categories and other information I have picked up along my journey, check out my book.

From my heart,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum 8/30/2013

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Short and Raw and then Something New

Lining Up Cars

I see them every day

The cars all lined up

Red with red

Blue with blue

I hear no car sounds

No wheels moving along

They are lined up

As if life is parked

Not moving

Just lined up

Locked up

Within the boundaries of order

Within the boundaries of color

Within the boundaries of autism

 

Lining Up Cars

I see them every day

The cars all lined up

Red with red

Blue with blue

The canvas my son sees

He uses cars to paint

His fingers are his brushes

So perfect, he lines them

He sees what I do not

I see cars

He sees more

Outside the boundaries of names

Outside the boundaries of accepted

Outside the boundaries of my limitations

This is a sneak peek of a poem in the book I am currently writing.  The poems are meant to be read side-by-side, but I couldn’t get that to view correctly on my phone app.  I have a previous ebook on Barnes and Noble called Tyler’s Train: A Mother’s Journey to Improve the Lives of Autistic Children.  It is a shorter book that has some things that have helped me get to where I was when I started the journey of advocating for autism.  It has some insights and tools that I have used that have helped me a lot with Tyler and it also has a lot about being a mother discovering that her child has autism.

My new book is more about figuring out life.  My introduction is currently:

When you put a frog in boiling water, she will jump out.  When you place her in room temperature water and slowly heat it, she will never jump out.

We are ready for the boiling moments in life.  When something drastically changes and we cannot help but notice and react.

What we are seldom ready for are the moments when we look around and realize we have been in boiling water for a long time, but everything changed so slowly, so subtlety, that we were in trouble long before we ever realized it.

Everything around us makes us believe that we have to not only succeed, but blast through success with pose, generosity of spirit, the ability to make time appear out of nowhere, good health, and beautiful table settings.

So when these magical personality traits don’t manifest themselves, we pretend.  We fake it till we make it, right?

Then one day you wake up and realize that you might need to be taking your situation a little more seriously.  You realize your life’s tray is so full that something is going to fall and crash to the ground.  And then you realize that the something just might be you.

You are a frog in boiling water.  Welcome, my friend!

I had that moment.  I have a marriage, two young sons (one with autism), a demanding job, not a young body, and plenty of personality issues myself.  My days alternate between getting a ridiculously huge amount of stuff done and getting nothing done.  I could not tell you the last time I said, “Wow, I had a good day today.”

So I decided I needed to do some purging.  But I couldn’t figure out what to purge.  I had already been responding to the small increases in temperature in my life by letting go of things I couldn’t handle anymore.

I started to blog.  It is hard for me to get my thoughts out of my head and blogging helps me to process all of my stuck thoughts.  Through my blog I started to slowly discover that what I needed to purge was myself.  I needed to unlearn a lot of bad habits that involved how I thought about and responded to life.

We cannot all live in peaceful homes in beautiful places.  We cannot all spend our days tinkering with the hobbies we daydream about.  But I can learn to see the beauty in my life.  The life that I live, and the life that only I can live.  I am tired of dreaming of tomorrow.  I want to live today.

But how?

I would love to hear any ideas of what might be good to include in the book.  Anything that is left unanswered for you so far about people raising special needs children.  I would also love to have you check out my first novel.  I wrote it to help others through my own life lessons.  It is short and a bit raw, but at the time I was a bit short and raw too.  I think it is a good fit for someone leaving a dark place for a better place.

From my heart,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum 8/12/2013

 

Battle Royale: Autism vs Migraine

Today started out wonderfully. Tyler and I went to the Post Office, Walmart, and the fish store.

He was more needy than normal and actually wanted me to pick him up quite a bit. But the good thing about that is that it was because he was interacting with his environment and wanting to be involved. He wanted up so that he could see what was happening during checkouts. This is good. This is what I was hoping to see in him.

We still were on Tyler’s Train. That is what I call it when you go out with Tyler. He ends up dictating the flow of the outing. When you have a child with autism, you learn that your child has certain rules about how things are “supposed” to happen. That is the world he can understand and thrive in.

It is important to always push those limits to expand his ability to function, but sometimes you give your 4-year-old a break and hop on the train with no reservations.

Tyler helped me push the cart at Walmart. He had gotten it in his head that he needed new toothpaste so we picked some up. Also got a new yellow Angry Bird toothbrush and a new Angry Bird toy set. Can you tell what Tyler likes?

The big surprise of the day was when I realized I had told Tyler we were going to the fish store. As we were leaving Walmart, I asked him if he was excited about seeing the birds and fish and mice at the pet store. He looked so hurt. “You said fish store. Not pet store.”

The “fish store” is a fish-only store 20 minutes away. The look on Tyler’s face made my decision. I had, in fact, said fish store.

We got back home and played with the new Angry Bird toy. Tyler had interacted with me the entire trip and let me talk him into several things he wasn’t sure about. He interacted with all the environments.

The best part of the day was when he saw something on the kitchen counter and asked, “What is that?” That is his sixth time to ask a question. Ever.

We took a nap and I woke up feeling like death left out in the sun. I spent the rest of the day losing a battle with a migraine that was phenomenally painful and disabling. I was laying on the floor with an ice pack hoping that the fan would shut the hell up because there is no reason why a ceiling fan should be so loud as to make me want to throw up.

There seems to me no reason why a working mother raising two boys, one with autism, should have the additional tribulations of migraines and a bad back. Hello Injustice, nice to meet you!

But you know what? Despite the fact that I had the worst migraine of my life, the progress Tyler showed me today makes this one of the best days of my life and the best day in a long time.

To see my little boy want to know more about his environment. To see him interacting with me. To see him totally engaged with what we were doing. I would pay the price of a migraine and so much more.

It is crazy the things a parent of an autistic child will never take for granted. Small victories to most are monumental to us. Some of those victories stick but many will be lost and have to be won again and again. But each time a victory is won, our hearts soar and our sacrifices and personal struggles melt away.

In that moment, we see the light of hope, the colors of love, the beauty of perspective, and the face of peace.

I want to win victories. Not just for my family but for everyone. For autistic individuals and the world they interact with. That is why I am doing a Walk Now for Autism Speaks event this October. For children like Tyler, for the families, and for the world. If you are willing and able, please click on the link to make a contribution towards winning victories.
http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum

From my heart,
Rachel

New Angry Bird Toy Set

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My planted fish tank with four new platys that Tyler helped pick out

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Spaghetti with Sticks: Mind Over Mommy

I do not like vegetables. I don’t like to take foods that I would normally enjoy as a separate entity and put them into things. I love pecans and I love banana bread. I don’t want to eat banana bread with pecans in it. Once I develop an idea of what a cheeseburger should be, I don’t like to change it up. Cheeseburgers should have bun, meat, cheese, pickles, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, and mustard. Can I eat a cheeseburger any other way? Yes, but I am not going to enjoy it. I still remember sitting at the kitchen table after dinner and watching the microwave timer. My mom had set it for twenty minutes. I could get up and leave any time I wanted, but I had to eat my peas first. I never ate the peas first. I will add broccoli stems and peppers to my stir fry, but when I look down at the end of the meal the veggies are all sitting in the bottom of the bowl.

I am assuming that when most people don’t want to try a new food or eat healthy, it is because they don’t think it will taste good or because they know it won’t taste good.

Imagine if someone came over to cook you dinner. You are anxiously awaiting your plate at the table. When the food is brought to you, it is spaghetti with bits of sticks instead of meatballs. We are talking picked-up-from-your-yard sticks. The things that fall from trees. You would think, “This isn’t food. I can’t eat this.” Eating it might make you nauseous. It would be unpleasant. Your mind would be reeling from the idea that you are putting non-food into your mouth and swallowing it. Most people wouldn’t be able to do it.

That is exactly the same mind process I go through when trying to eat a meatball. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I can put a bell pepper on my fork and have my own mind fight me so hard because it thinks I am putting non-food into my mouth. So hard that I can’t do it. I love the taste of bell peppers. I like it when things are cooked with bell peppers. I have tried hundreds of times to eat bell peppers. I might get a couple of bites in, but I will then compulsively remove any trace of bell pepper from every remaining bite. It isn’t food to me.

As a result, I have a very limited diet. I have always considered this a huge failing on my part. I have only recently been digging deeper and understanding my food issues and why I have them. One of the reasons is my son.

My son, Tyler, has autism. He also has very definite ideas about food. He loved all baby food, except for peas, until he was about 1 year old. Then he stopped eating fruits, meats, and veggies. He will only eat crunchy starch items, yogurt (occasionally), fruit snacks, and bananas (rarely). He will also eat ice cream, popsicles, and candy…but he will not eat cake. I know for him it is mainly a texture issue. I would present him with an item that wasn’t on his approved list and he would look aghast. Aghast as in, why are you offering non-food for me to eat. I might as well had been asking him to eat stick spaghetti.

So basically, when I am actually able to get him to try a new food – this includes smelling, touching, licking, placing in mouth, or actually chewing and swallowing…I am asking him to rebel against his mind and put complete faith in me. I am asking him to put his trust in me over everything in him that is telling him that is not safe or good to eat.

Eating is one of our most fundamental, driving needs. Being hungry will make you obsessed. Fond memories of food stay with you for years. Food poisoning can keep you from ever eating that food again.

So am I asking Tyler to overcome a little trepidation about whether a food might or might not taste good, or am I asking him to cast aside his most basic instincts? And do my food issues add evidence to the growing questions in my mind about my own status on the autism spectrum?

Autism and GI Issues

Another problem a lot of autistic children have are GI issues. This is going to be another big factor in Tyler’s diet. If he eats something that makes him sick to his stomach, he probably isn’t going to know how to tell me that. But he also probably isn’t going to want to eat that item again if it made him sick enough. So he will be instinctively limiting his own diet when he gets sick. It is also hard to tell if he has any food allergies because he is either constipated or has diarrhea. Did the milk make him sick or is it just because it is a Wednesday? There is a lot of buzz about this right now, so I have included a link below that provides some good information about the most common GI issues within the autistic community and some possible remedies.

A Good Eating Day

Picture: A good eating day!
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From my heart,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum 7/22/2013

A Little Glimpse of What Having Autism Means, Part 1

I think one of the hardest parts of a parent’s journey to help their child is being told that their child has autism, being handed some printouts, and then being shown the door.  You go out and get some books, but the books are about nonverbal children and your child talks.  Or they are about low-functioning autism and your child has high-functioning autism.  Or you hear examples about what to do when your child cannot handle loud places, but your child has trouble with colorful places.  And this is from someone who is living with and raising someone with autism.  How much more difficult is it for someone who doesn’t have autism in their life everyday?  How are they supposed to understand what autism spectrum disorder is?

I usually talk about what autism means for my life and Tyler’s life on more of a life-lesson basis (mainly my life lessons).  I think educational posts about autism should be something that I do, but if you are like me, you go to the educational sources to gather information, your brain starts to get overloaded very quickly, the information stops being helpful, and becomes confusing instead.  So I thought I would come up with my own visual cues that, when posted individually, hopefully would be an easy and informative way to learn more about autism.  The image is hard to read while embedded in the post, but if you click on it, the image will appear alone and is very readable.

Not all the examples in the image will apply to every autistic person, but they hopefully will give you an idea of the differences between how an autistic person thinks and how you might think.  They call it autism spectrum disorder, but really this is just about a group of people who see, feel, hear, taste, and touch the world in a different way.

A brightly burning candle is harder to look at, but it shines further into the darkness…into the part of our existence we normally would never be able to see.

Autism Wheel 1

From my heart,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum 7/19/2013

Put the Bitter Pill Down or Step Away from the Microphone

I am a woman.  I am a mother.  I am a mother of an autistic son.  I advocate for of autism awareness.  I have plenty of opportunities every day to fall into the trap of bitterness.

This is a trap that no one is immune to.  Why can’t I raise more funds for autism awareness?  Why don’t people care about autistic children more?  Why isn’t the government doing more?  Why aren’t insurance companies doing more?

For the very same reason that causes autistic children to be so valuable.  Diversity.  If everyone cared about the same thing, then no autistic child in the world would ever want…but the hungry ones would.  The sick ones would.  The dying ones would.  One of the reasons this world is beautiful and diverse is because we all care about, support, and contribute to different things.

If I allowed my own perspective to become bitter, I would filter everything through this negative interpretation.  My friends are not struggling to pay bills, raise their kids, keep their marriage together, and contributing to what life has made a priority to them – oh no, they are simply uncaring and lazy.  This is a BAD perspective.  Bitterness is a very dangerous trap…possibly one of the most dangerous traps you can fall into.

The moment you stop being able to see what is important in other people’s lives, you lose the authority and right to ask people to see what is important in your life.  Instead of a contributor, you become a burden.  You are no longer giving of yourself to autism awareness, you are simply trying to take from other people for autism awareness.

If I ask people to open their hearts to something I am saying, I have to be willing to do the same for them.

If this world had unlimited resources, it would make sense to be completely outraged and bitter if your cause is going unnoticed.  Right now, the United States government is being very slow to recognize autism in our society.  I could fixate on this and see only what is not being done.  But what is being done?  A lot of money is going to other causes…to combat poverty, illness, violence.  Right now, the voice of autism awareness is not doing its job.  We are not making our cause visual, concise, and strong.  So it is hard to listen to us.  Part of this is because the autism spectrum is so varied and the members of its unique perspective have trouble speaking for themselves.  Instead of focusing on being bitter, I need to focus on learning how to do my job better and I need to understand that there are a lot of other mothers and advocates in Washington, D.C. right now who are asking for help with cancer, blindness, poverty, abuse, and a lot of other serious issues.  I would rather the government fix its spending problem than have it commit more than it can afford to every cause that asks.  My son would be better off in a stable economy than a broken one…even if that means shouldering more weight myself.  Carrying a 100 lb load for 2 miles is much better than carrying a 50 lb load for 200 miles.

If you are bitter, you lose your authority and your power.

What happens to the person who only spouts bitterness?  No one listens.  This person becomes the one that people stop inviting to dinners.  Their Facebook posts are quickly scrolled past.  No one really cares about their perspective anymore.

It is impossible to motivate people with bitterness.  Bitterness tastes disgusting, it is hopeless, and it never offers a solution.  People don’t want to put money, time, or effort into something if they don’t believe they will see a result.  That means solid goals, game plans, and a positive belief that change is on the way.  If you are too busy focusing on what is missing from autism awareness, you cannot offer people the good of autism awareness.  The image you cast is dark and negative and ugly.  If you really believed that autism awareness is worthy of people’s sacrifice, you have to show them your dream that is bright and positive and beautiful.

Unless you have contributed to every cause that the people in your life care about, put the bitter pill down, baby – you haven’t earned it.

Remember that Facebook post about contributing to a cause that you didn’t respond to?  The one you didn’t even Like or Share?  Remember that man who came to your door asking for a donation?  Remember that letter you got asking for support?  Remember that car wash or dog wash that you didn’t go to?  You might remember a few.  But you certainly don’t remember all of them.  People simply cannot respond to every cause or need.  Most of these causes and needs slip right past our radar because they are not on our radar.  You will care about what has been put into your life.  That is what gives your cause power.  You don’t drain yourself dry and overextend yourself because you will stay true to what is important to you.

If people didn’t suffer, if they didn’t have to crawl down into the trenches and live out the hard stuff, then they wouldn’t advocate.  You won’t sacrifice for something you can’t sympathize with.  I had to go through what I did to realize how important autism awareness is.  This is how advocacy begins.  This is where it is the most powerful.

But you must remember that other people have lived through cancer.  Other people have had a loved one commit suicide.  Family members have been killed by a drunk driver.  I could continue this list until eternity.  Maybe a friend can’t give to autism awareness because they are doing the exact same thing I am doing, but because their child has cancer.  Would you really want to live in a world where your child had everything, but other children went without?

If you are bitter, you have lost your ability to grow.

Only accepting your perspective means you are no longer seeing anyone else’s.  If you cannot see outside of yourself, you cannot grow.  You cannot reach new heights, or see new wonders, or hear new songs.  Advocating is one of the most powerful teaching tools.  It teaches you perseverance, humility, patience, creativity, and understanding.  If you are no longer learning these things because you are stuck on the negativity of bitterness, please put the microphone down and quit harming the cause.  Other people are having to work harder to undo your ugliness.

Choose another emotion, any emotion.

Get angry.  Yell.  Break something.  Get sad.  Cry.  A lot.  Get happy.  Go crazy hyper.  Laugh at nothing.  This is autism awareness…do not take advantage of your ability to express your emotion.  But get it out and get it done with.

There are people counting on you, make sure their faith is well placed.  Be a positive, strong role model for your cause.  Make your son proud that he has you fighting for him.

Right now I am focusing all of my fundraising into my Arkansas 5K Walk Now for Autism Speaks.  The main website for Autism Speaks is http://www.autismspeaks.org.  They have a focused mission statement that I feel encompasses all the key aspects for autism research, awareness, and support.  If you would like to give to Autism Speaks, I would be honored to be your conduit.  My Walk Fund page is http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum.

I hope my blog has been helpful.  If you have a cause you are advocating for, please insert your cause name any place where I used autism awareness.  I know most of the advancements made for causes like mine have been born in the heart of a family member and have been grown in communities around the world.  Thank you to every advocate who has come before me and who will follow after.  I am honored, and  yet unworthy, to be among you.

From my heart,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum 7/15/2013

Totally going retro here.  This is Tyler as a newborn.  Yes, I know, he is absolutely adorable.

Totally going retro here. This is Tyler as a newborn. Yes, I know, he is absolutely adorable.

In the Midst of my Weakness, A Bright Light

Yesterday was a bad day for me.  I was exhausted to begin with, so I was feeling everything more and with a much more negative attitude.  Things have just been snowballing.  Tyler has been having more issues with his emotions.  Potty-training is at a dead stand-still.  Ash is in the midst of his terrible Terrible Twos.  Work is work!

I also always assumed, as I have been fundraising for my Arkansas 5K Walk Now for Autism Speaks, that all non-positive responses would fall into one of three categories:

1) No

2) No response

3) Yes, but then no donation

I respect and expect all three of these responses.  I am buying the gas for my car on a credit card right now because my husband was on disability for two months following shoulder surgery.  We have no money right now.  We will have no money for several months while we play catch up from only bringing in one paycheck for two months.  So I am totally aware of the reality of money and how much people have of it.  The only response I get bummed about is #3.  I respect #1 and #2 more because I get my hopes up with #3 and then they get brought back down again.

Yesterday I discovered a #4 and it was NOT pretty.  It started out as a #1 and then continued on into the land of, “Who do you think you are?”  The thing is, I really respect this person and I really respect the honesty that this person holds to and the reasons why she was saying no.  The format that it arrived in was not enjoyable, however.

I also read in the news yesterday that autism insurance coverage for military families is going to have a major setback in terms of maximum dollars allowed to be spent on services for autistic children.  This following the victory of having coverage expanded.  Unfortunately, have coverage expanded won’t be very helpful if you max out your benefit dollars less than half way through the year.

So I cried on the way home from work.  I cried when I got home.  I cried when I started doing laundry and packing for our trip to Nashville to see the folks.  I was texting my mom and talking to my husband.  They were both very encouraging and were reminding me that I set my goals too high (in a very loving and positive way).

Honestly, though – I am exhausted.  Very much so last night.  I have been dealing with a lot of emotional baggage since we first starting noticing serious developmental delays in Tyler.  The past two years have been ROUGH.  They are still rough.  They will continue to be rough.  As a result, my own body and health have seriously declined.  I have gained a lot of weight.  I show symptoms of depression and chronic fatique syndrome.  About six years ago, they found a growth in my thyroid and I had to have half of it removed, so I am on thyroid supplements for the rest of my life.  I went back to the doctor a couple of months ago and discovered just how bad my weight gain had gotten in a relatively short period of time.  I also got the same response I always get when I go to the doctor, “I don’t know why you are sick, why your body hurts all of the time, and why you are gaining weight.”  I think that maybe, if you have been reading my blog, that you and I both know why.  He did however, because of the weight gain and fatique, decide to bump up my thyroid medication.  I am also on Nutrisystem now to try to deal with some of this weight gain.

The result: I am eating about 180 calories a meal while simultaneously being hyped up on extra thyroid hormone.  I have no energy coming in and  I am burning energy like a mad person.  I can’t sleep at night.  I woke up two nights ago at 4 AM and decided to paint.  The consequence: I was a crying, discouraged, exhausted mess last night.  Just because I can’t sleep doesn’t mean my body doesn’t desperately need it.  If I don’t figure out my energy-in/energy-out situation very soon, I am risking a serious crash.  Last night was a wake-up call for me.

So I was dealing with all of this last night and it was not pretty.  As my husband and I were sorting clothes for the next load of laundry, we hear Tyler in the other room with Ash.

History: Tyler has always been a big Angry Bird fan.  He loves to play that and Bad Piggies.  He also becomes easily frustrated with the game.  He doesn’t just want to win the level.  He plays it and plays it until he has found the optimum series of moves and this becomes his standard (Don’t know where he could have gotten this little trait from…).  So we have always been very encouraging of the idea that it is okay to not get it right away.  “Its okay, Ty-ty.  That is a hard level.  Just try again.”  Ash has recently gotten into Angry Bird himself.  At first, it was just to watch the little video clips the game offers, but he has been dabbling in the actual game for a week or two.

So our little Tyler, our son who has had to undergo surgery and countless speech therapy sessions to help him learn how to talk, has been coaching Ash.  “Its okay, Ash.  Try again.”  “Ash, go higher.  You can do it.”

Last night, it was, “Ash, you did it!  You did it!”

Our 4-year-old son was so excited that his little brother had beaten a level in Angry Birds.

This morning as we were getting in the car, Ash decided he wanted his Angry Bird stuffed toy since Tyler had one of his.  I told him I had already packed it for our trip and he would get it tonight.  Ash, of course, did not like this idea.  Tyler reached out and gave Ash his Angry Bird toy.

These are the moments that can take my broken body and my despairing heart and give me new life.  These are the moments that make being a mother worth every pain, hardship, and sacrifice a thousand times over.

Tyler is not the child who throws a fit at the zoo and has to be carried out.  He is not the child that always has to wear socks.  These are just his burdens.  His obstacles that he has to fight against for the rest of his life.  The things he has to overcome in order to live in our world.  It is not his world, but it is the world he has been born into.

Tyler is the child who wants to see his brother succeed.  He is  the child who laughs at my silliness.  He is the child who would rather go without than see his brother go without.

These are the children I am trying to help.  The ones that can have all of this goodness become locked inside of them because their own body is rebelling against them.  Tyler’s own body will always be his biggest obstacle.  But when he overcomes it, he will soar higher and truer than any bird.  He will see things and understand things that no one else ever will.

What these children can bring to our world, our communities, our schools is outside of our scope of reality.  Their world, their reality, is a different one.  I want to see what they see.  I want to smell what they smell.  I want to touch the way they touch.

I want these children in our world.  I want to see them thrive and succeed.  I want my world to learn and improve because they brought in goodness and innovation and beauty from a place I would never have been able to visit without them.

And I want to be able to say thank you.  I want to be able to show them that we love them.  I want to be able to prove to them that all children, all people, are worthy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Please help me release the goodness and innovation and beauty in these children.  Help me raise funds for research, awareness, and support to help these children face and conquer their obstacles.  Every one of us knows what it feels like to really need a hand to reach out and grab ours in our dark hours.  If you have ever reached out and found that hand waiting for you, please consider being that hand for someone today.

My Arkansas 5K Walk Now for Autism Speaks Walk Fund is http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum, and I would be honored to be your conduit for a contribution to Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks also accepts donations directly at http://www.autismspeaks.org.  They have a store in their website you can look through.

Another good store is https://theautismsite.greatergood.com/store/aut/site.  Right now they have Sock Monkey Ornaments on sale that are super cute.  Each item tells you how much will go to towards helping individuals with autism.

You can also register for http://theautismsite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/aut/home?ThirdPartyClicks=ERU_071213_AUT_m.  You can sign up for daily email reminders for easy access each day.  Going to this site and clicking the red button will generate funds to help autistic children and it costs NOTHING.  You can do it once a month, once a week, once a day.

Thank you!

From the heart of a proud mother of two beautiful boys,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum 7/12/2013

Short, and simple...and VERY TRUE!!! (Found on Pinterest)

Short, and simple…and VERY TRUE!!!                (Found on Pinterest)