Friday, January 7, 2011

It's Not Just About Autism

In light of some recent news articles and televised interviews with some leading autism community members and their detractors, I felt like I needed to explain a little, and perhaps shed some light on "how" I have come to the conclusions I have.

For me, my life changed the day he received his 18 month shots He seemed to be right on track developmentally and then within hours I saw a change. In the months that followed, he continued in that downward spiral, losing language and skills.

After years of therapies, he is doing great, but one of the results of his diagnosis is that I have become a "Vaccine Safety Advocate".

People probably think that as someone who considers themselves a "Vaccine Safety Advocate", that I was always that way, that I am a Super-Hippie who encourages grass-eating and a razor-free life.

I used to shake my head at  Hippie's who were so anti-establishment they didn't care that mercury was no longer used in vaccines, which a basic search of the CDC website will inform you of that "fact". "Stop freaking people out just so you can add another feather to your holistic life-style" were the thoughts in my head when I would talk to friends who were scared of vaccinating. I didn't know then that the Vaccine safety movement was about so much MORE than mercury.

When Samuel regressed, I read everything I could get my hands on. I was even willing to put all the blame on myself, that I somehow "broke" him by bad parenting. But the more I have read, the more I believe that in Samuel's situation, his vaccinations were a tipping point in his becoming autistic.

I am not Anti-Vaccine. I do, however, believe that parents should be better informed about what is IN them. Did you know that aluminum is a listed ingredient? And that Alzheimers (which is linked to aluminum) is on the rise? It's not just about autism-it's about the health of children in general. It's about a parent's right to choose how they want to raise their children. And IF you choose to fully vaccinate your child according to the CDC's schedule, that is YOUR right and I support it.

If I could go back to the day, 4 years ago, when I decided to check out this autism/vax link before my child's shots, I would do one thing differently. I would have done more than read only the CDC's FAQ's. Maybe then, in that extra 15 minutes of reading, I would have come across this website and read about different studies that bring to light the real risks of those little vials we inject into our children.

It's about more than JUST autism. The debate is about more than JUST mercury. It's a bigger debate about what goes into the things our bodies consume, and we do our children a disservice by allowing news organizations and pharmaceutical companies to continue to use straw-man tactics to clutter up the message that most parents, like myself, want to communicate.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Son and the Neighborhood

I don't think the worst thing that could happen to me is having a child with special needs. I think the worst thing would be to raise a child who is cruel to people with special needs." ~ Matthew Mickelson Butman

Just to get this out of the way-my oldest son (the Wii Monster) has been diagnosed with Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. What does all this look like? Well, to me and my family, he is a sparkling child, a real firecracker. He is *usually* sweet to his sister and cousins, and is always concerned with the safety of babies. He cries easily, hugs quickly, and thinks that Sonic the Hedgehog is second only to the Mario Brothers. He his smart as a whip, but loses his homework. All in all, a delightful kid.

We have been blessed to be surrounded by family and friends that are MORE than supportive. I really don't think its possible to have a more loving environment for him. 

But then he grew up a little. And started Kindergarten. And got neighbors his age. And mommy started getting worried. How would he do in an uninsulated environment. Should I tell the new friends or their parents about his diagnosis and explain THAT is why he is crying over "nothing"? 

I haven't even told him about his diagnosis. Should I start there? Is he too young?

And then we got to play with our neighbors, and with just a little input ("he is still only 5, he is still learning how to ride his scooter, etc")  we established a relationship with a few neighbor boys. Did I have to help out...yeah, a little bit. But those boys and girls were kind. And helpful. And patient. And I didn't even tell them that their new friend had "special needs". They accepted him like he is.

For the most part, the Wii Monster left his worried mommy behind in the driveway while he was racing his new friends on their scooters.

Just as any 5 year old should.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

“Secondhand Jesus” Musings and Review

 I read a book today (yes, a whole book. In one day. What can I say? It was immensely more interesting than laundry) and it was an intense eye-opening experience. The book is called “Secondhand Jesus” by Glenn Packiam and you can find the book "Secondhand Jesus" here :) I downloaded it to my "computer Kindle"-instant gratification!
The premise appealed to me-that modern day American Christians were content in knowing the rumors of God, without making direct contact. And in that, we lived a cliffs note style christian walk. He uses the story of the Ark of the Covenants’ theft and return as the theological groundwork for his book.
I KNOW for a fact how easy a trap that is to fall into. With amazing revelations around every corner being spoon-fed through the internet, church service, CD’s and even books (no, the irony doesn’t escape me) we live off of rumors and presuppositions, without embracing the knowledge OF God that comes directly FROM relationship.
God was my Jerry Maguire, my ambassador of quan, and my prayers were spiritually cloaked versions of asking Him to “show me the money‘. Not necessarily literal money-just comfort, success, good friends, and enjoyably smooth road, an unmitigated path to the peak of my game.”
I have lived that. That desire for a smooth road-and because of my sacrifices, I thought I “deserved” them. I felt like I have been a good person and banked a lot of brownie points with God, that while I was willing to look at all my flaws and shortcomings, I believed that I had earned at least a slightly easier road than someone who rebelled against God at every turn.
And then, Glenn knocked some serious holes in my own theories about how this whole walk-with-God thing is supposed to work. In the midst of trials, we often cry out for the “presence of God“ to walk with us and deliver us from whatever has risen up and messed up our pretty, smooth road. He says “God’s presence on the scene is not the end of the story, the time to breathe a sigh of relief because God has arrived. God’s presence on the scene is only the beginning of a journey. After all, life with God is not just about God’s arrival but also about our approach. The message of the misadventures of the ark of the covenant is simply this: We need more than God’s presence; we need to learn how to see Him and respond to Him, how to engage Him in firsthand contact.”Ouch. Let that sink in for a bit….
WE have to learn how to respond and ENGAGE. I know, I know, some people reading this will say “ I know how to engage-I raise my hands in worship and cry when I feel the spirit”. But don’t you think that the word “engage” goes deeper than that? I see it as embracing all of my, not just my worship experience. When something goes wrong, I know HOW to reach Him. When things are going well, that I don’t forget my communication to Him. That the connection is based on more than how I feel when overtaken by the Spirit. It allows me to see Him in the mundane-which for me is the most difficult. God’s presence is just step one, our response is what takes us beyond the experience into life-changing relationship.
There was another passage that particularly impacted me. It‘s something that I personally have felt-that sometimes we get so distracted by the “why‘s“ of a thing, that we don‘t put enough focus on what to do about it. “I am not here to say that trouble or loss comes from God. Personally, I don’t believe that. Furthermore, whether trouble comes because of your sin, someone else’s sin, or Adam’s sin is irrelevant to our discussion. Trouble, regardless of its source, is a fact of life in a fallen world. Jesus said it plainly to His disciples: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).”
This is my favorite part of that section…” Parsing the source of our trouble is not the main thing because fixing it is not the main thing. If it were, Jesus would have gone on to tell His disciples the four reasons bad things happen to good people and how they could neatly avoid those situations. He could have identified the roots of trouble and taught them the mantras for making it go away.” I get tired of people trying to sell me on the idea that they have discovered those “reasons” and have developed a formula to help rid my life of those pesky troubles. Maybe, just maybe, those troubles are supposed to be there. I don’t know. But whether they are, or they aren’t, doesn’t change that they are there.
Knowing that the author of this book is an Associate Pastor of one of the largest mega-churches in the United States made me appreciate even more so this last thought…“We have allowed our quest for immortality symbols to coexist with our Christianity, resulting in a faith that is foreign to the one Christ came to initiate. Christ came speaking the language of His culture, fully intent on undermining it. We come speaking the language of our own culture with the secret hope of being loved by it.”
God, forgive me when I speak a filtered, unrecognizable gospel in the intent to gain popularity, instead of from a heart to make YOU known to others. Do I fail? Yes. All the time. It’s so much easier to be liked, to be popular, than to speak truth. Are those things mutually exclusive? No, not always, but oftentimes they are. But we can’t stop at speaking truth, it must also be LIVED or those very lies that are uncovered find a place in our own lives, turning us into hypocrites. Saying one thing but doing another. Very basic definition but painfully true.
I can highly recommend you make this book a part of your reading queue. I really only pulled quotes from the first half, you need to read the rest and let it open your eyes to the “rumors” of Jesus, and get in place where you are experiencing the undiluted presence of God.

Reading My Way Through 2011

I love to read. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say, I “used” to love to read. One husband and 2 kids later, I feel like I have forgotten the joys of books.
They never have to be recharged.
They don’t have to be put on mute.
You can carry it anywhere.
But I find that the busier life gets, the less I read, Which seems to make my brain more cluttered. Reading a book will cut through the noise in my head and bring my thoughts to clarity.
So, I decided to blog my way through reading this year. I want to journal my experience with each book and process it’s life-changing (or not) affect in my life.
I am excited about my first book: SECONDHAND JESUS. Here is an Amazon link . I know the author from ORU, where I went to college. We didn’t “know” each other like good buddies or anything, but I “knew” him from acquaintance. Anyway, I am so very, very excited to read it

“You Can’t Put Lipstick on a Pig”

There are few things more offensive/hurtful to a woman than for someone to attack their physical appearance. In the last presidential election, unfortunately it seemed like par for the course-that a womans appearance carried more importance than her beliefs, education and even voting record.
What kind of messed up world is this? Since when does your “hotness” (or not-ness) have any bearing on your ability to make good decisions for the people of this country?
I can hear you ladies saying under your breath “those awful men and their judging of us”. Um, pot, meet kettle. Don’t even try to brush this off as a men-only problem. The cover of a magazine was devoted to Michelle Obama’s ARMS for goodness sakes, and we still paid money for it. I don’t think many men were purchasing Vanity Fair that month.
I guess I don’t understand why it’s “unseemly” to have polls on who is hotter, Harry Reid or Pres Obama, yet Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama are compared and critiqued about their clothing, their boobs, their arms, and their hair. When did politics become so much like a casting office at a Hollywood move set?
Politics is ugly. It’s messy. It stinks to high heaven and forces it’s members to swallow all kinds of garbage. In essence, it’s a pigsty.
So pick your lipstick people-we are all wearing a lovely shade of “guilty”.

Great Words of Wisdom

A Decalogue of Canons for observation in practical life:
1. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have it.
4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain have cost us the evils which never have happened.
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
(letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, 1825)
- Thomas Jefferson

“Tis folly to be wise”

Reading through some comments on an article on, my heart is hurting from what I have read. The story had to do with Autism awareness. The story was lovely was such an uplifting read.
Until I get to the comments.
The comments ranged from mildly ignorant to plain offensive and even attacking parents who take their autistic children out of the home. Here was a gem: ” ‘But it’s still difficult to explain to others, Shumaker said, when Matthew comments at the supermarket that a person standing in front of them at the check-out line is too fat to buy ice cream. ‘
Maybe Matthew needs to not be at the grocery store, the problem in the situation shouldn’t be on the fat person who just wants to get his or her ice cream in peace. There is no sane reason to expect societal norms to radically shift because someone claims that their child is unable to behave properly and then forces that behavior on other people. Whether or not the behavior is caused by a physical condition is irrelevant, it’s merely rude to demand the world at large adjust to you.
Ok, I will keep my child home forever because when my child is an adult, YOU will deliver food to his front door and pay his bills for him or maybe hire him? Ohhhhhh you won’t? Then shut the #*(&$ up!
Another lovely sentiment: Any challenged person deserves consideration; but actions which are or are not acceptable to the community must also be considered. Autism is not a license to commit bizarre violent behavior.
No where did ANYONE say that violent behavior was ok.  I guess this opinion is permissible since you qualified and justified it by saying “challenged” people deserve consideration. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Ok, the next time my child wants to sit and stare “bizarrely” at a spinning wheel, I will explain to him that a disability is no excuse to be bizarre.
Do you think I could tell that to someone with cerebral palsy? No?
I guess the burning crosses are now safely hidden behind your avatars. Take your hood off if you are going to make comments like that.

Piece of Advice #1 “Write what you know”

Advice is given freely, whether requested or not.  Have a baby and you will be inundated with comments and “advice”. I myself have dished out more than a few nuggets. Some advice is great-some is ignorant-most is an effort to transfer one persons experience to a fellow human with the intent to improve their journey in this life.
I decided to start a blog for several reasons. Hopefully to make you laugh, maybe tear up occasionally. Maybe together we can figure out some things that don’t make much sense. I have always heard, “write what you know” but that seems like a sure-fire way to end up at the same place you started out at.
What I know is interesting, but what I DON’T know is so much more interesting. For example,  I know my husband loves me. I don’t know why. I know the grass grows faster when the lawnmower is broken, I don’t know why. I know my oldest son has Autism. I don’t know why.  If I only wrote what I know, it would be a pretty short blog.
As they say, “You don’t know what you don’t know”