Friday, October 28, 2011

Twice Bitten, Never Shy

It's been quite the road I've traveled since learning my daughter was autistic.  The ride started off mechanical and slow like the lurching trek up the steep side of a roller coaster.  Back then, memories of Rain Man scared me into not wanting to ride, but somehow I was already strapped down in the seat, so I had no choice.

The coaster car 'tick-tick-ticked' while inching it's way to the apex and don't we always dread that death defying, spine twisting, drop just over the very top that makes us let out a blood-curdling scream?  Likewise, I was also sure that autism would wrench my organs right out of my body, if not my emotions right out of my mind; but after taking the plunge, I found out that the ride wasn't as horrifying as I imagined.

In fact, it's been quite the opposite. My journey with autism has been more like an exhilirating, scenic drive, with blooms of new experiences dotting curvy roads. I've seen storms brew and then smiled as I watched them disappear in the rearview mirror.  Sure, there's been bumpy roads and lots of times I needed a map, but mostly my excursion has been filled with inspirational beauty to behold with all of my senses.  It has given me focus, direction, purpose, understanding, compassion and most importanly, the greatest relationship with my daughter.

I have spent more than 7 years providing all of my daughter's therapy and homeschooling.  I was told she had a low IQ, she'd never fit in, never write, never speak, never read; basically that she'd never be anything but a pile of skin destined for an institution.  I threw that intel in the garbage and went my own route.

Today, you'll find my daughter immersed in a book, surfing her favorite websites, riding her scooter, playing at the park, playing pretend, busily earning her allowance, or a myriad of activities that all kids do. As for her low IQ??  Pfft! and Yeah right! is all I have to say about that.  Like most kids who can read at the age of 2 ( like my daughter) and are straight A students ( like my daughter), I'm quite certain her IQ is just fine, thank you. 

She can also speak and write.  Today, she actively seeks out friends and is very social.  She loves art, plays pretend, can navigate computers and the internet. She wants to be a dentist when she grows up. Her father and I intend to do whatever we can to help her achieve that goal; therefore, we homeschool.  The lecture for institutions (public school)  is for a different blog.

My investment?  Time. Yep, all of it. No over-priced therapists, no intrusive government social programs, no fancy diets, not 3 million dollars (the suggested retail price of raising an autistic child), and not one minute wasted looking for a cure.  We don't need a cure, there's nothing wrong with her; she's autistic, not sick.  My investment has been my time.  She needed time to develop at her own pace, and she needed for that to be okay. She needed someone to work with her day in and day out, someone to validate her behaviors, her sensory issues, and understand them; not stamp them out because they were an inconvenience and not 'normal'.   She needed someone to love her, and respect her for the person she was and is, behaviors and all.  She needed someone to point out all that was right about her, not what was wrong. That person is Mommy.  If not Mommy, then who?

One of the best part of my 'travels' has been the faithful readers who stroll by for fresh ideas and inspiration, so I thank you for visiting!  I hope you'll keep coming back because as my children age, I see I am approaching a new era of  Tips you can take, tweak, or toss!  It looks as though I will be fortunate enough to write not only about 'tweens, ( Ashi will soon be 8), but also I'll be looking back to the toddler and preschool years again as it seems my son, ( age 2) is also on the spectrum.

The first time I rode this roller coaster, I was brave, sucked it up, and went for it.  Now here I am, once again, ready to climb aboard. Scared?  No. I'm twice bitten, but never shy.  I'm excited to be standing in this line and I feel like I bought my own ticket this time.  I can even buckle my own self  in. I'm on the edge of my seat, ready for the adventure, eager to revisit the scenery because it's so familiar. You know, I just might even throw my hands in the air!  Wheeee!

Annie Eskeldson is the author of the Ashi's Gift Series, children's books about autism that also nurture the parent.  The newest release, Ashi's Birthday and Other Dreaded Days will be out around Thankgiving 2011.  You can find out more at Ashi's Gift Website


  1. Annie – you are amazing. Like most on the autism spectrum, Ashi has wonderful gifts and talents and it took your encouragement and acceptance to bring them out at such a young age. My son will be graduating high school this year, but if I had it to do over, I would have homeschooled. I was also told that my son would probably never talk and would probably not be able to attend a regular school and once again, the doctors were very wrong. I went through a parent training course and then we hired someone to come to our house one afternoon and teach us how to use picture charts, schedules, etc. and the results were evident within days. Unconditional love combined with techniques is a winning combination.

  2. sschell73 Added: 29 Oct, 2011 10:08 am

    How amazing a tranformation.

  3. Hi Annie, welcome to the club as we have realised our third child is also on the spectrum albeit very mild. That makes 3!
    When I realised that I thought to myself, I should feel sad, but actually I feel like you, excited. It's going to be an awesome ride, so strap in, buckle up and sit back. Let the ride begin!!

  4. LOVE your attitude Lizbet!!! Fresh and airy - congrats to you and your kids :)

  5. Thanks so much for that awesome comment Marti!
    Congratulations on all of your successes as well.

  6. She is so blessed to have such an invested mother. Imagine where she would be without this kind of loving intervention!

  7. aww~~ sweet - and you too, Alba! You know all about it! Just being a voice for all the mommies out there giving it our all!

  8. MysonJACKSON Added: 02 Nov, 2011 2:03 pm

    "She can also speak and write. Today, she actively seeks out friends and is very social. She loves art, plays pretend, can navigate computers and the internet. She wants to be a dentist when she grows up. Her father and I intend to do whatever we can to help her achieve that goal; therefore, we homeschool."

    So inspirational. So encouraging. Thanks Annie...what a great post. delete

    CarlWilliams Added: 01 Nov, 2011 3:48 pm

    "In fact, it's been quite the opposite. My journey with autism has been more like an exhilirating, scenic drive, with blooms of new experiences dotting curvy roads. I've seen storms brew and then smiled as I watched them disappear in the rearview mirror."

    This is so encouraging, thanks Annie. delete

    jcannaster Added: 31 Oct, 2011 6:17 pm

    Just saw the pictures of your daughters...she is so cute! Adorable

  9. melreindhart Added: 10 Nov, 2011 6:08 pm

    Love your blog! delete

    EARLJR Added: 09 Nov, 2011 2:30 pm

    Love the blog and will look into your books released. Thanks for being there for our community... delete

    MissSarah Added: 08 Nov, 2011 3:15 pm

    Annie, this is beautiful. Thank you for posting this. Reminds me of the unconditional love my mom had towards me while growing up on the spectrum... delete

    noelbella Added: 07 Nov, 2011 4:55 pm

    Amazing, great bond you two have... delete

  10. .melbourne Added: 11 Nov, 2011 6:05 pm

    awww, love this post! delete

  11. Now this is in actual fact cooperative. It’s very openhanded of you to share this with us.
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