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Posts Tagged ‘CARD’

By Shannon Penrod

You’ve probably heard of  six degrees of separation, the idea that supposes that we are all only six people away from anyone on earth.  I prefer the expression of being only “three phone calls away from the president”.  This is great party conversation, “Which one of your friends would you call first if you needed to get to the president in only three phone calls?”  It’s one of those riddles that can keep you up late at night.  Who would you call?  It’s a fun little brain teaser and for most of us not something we need to actually attempt.  But the other day in what can only be described as an “I love Lucy moment of clarity” I had an idea, an idea that refuses to go away.   I find myself in the unique position of needing to figure out who my three phone calls are – but not to the President, to the  First Lady!

I am a Mom, more poignantly I am an “Autism Mom”.  I am one of the millions of Moms around the globe who wakes up every morning and immediately steps on to the front lines of the war against Autism.  I am one of the lucky Moms, because in my home we are winning the battle.  I say that with pride, jubilation and guilt because I know that there are Mom’s all over this wonderful country who haven’t had access to our miracle.  Even worse,  there are people all over the world who don’t know what is possible when it comes to treating Autism.  They don’t even know what to ask for. 

Those of us who have seen the return of our children, who have seen the progress that is nothing short of miraculous, know that a change must come.  We know that schools are desperate for information that can change the face of Autism.  We know that it’s possible to rescue our children, we just need the right person to see it and believe it with us.  I believe that person is Michelle Obama.

So I had my “Lucy” moment and thought – “Invite the First Lady to see what’s possible!”  And I instantly knew where I want to take her. The Center for Autism and Related Disorders is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year.  As part of a celebration of 20 years of research and recovery there will be a gala event in Los Angeles on September 25th.  It is now my personal goal to get Michelle Obama to willingly attend this event so she can see first hand what is possible when we give our children with Autism what they need.  Of course the President is welcome as well, but I believe that a woman with a fire in her belly is capable of anything and that is who I believe Michelle Obama to be.

Now I only have one problem!  Who are my three phone calls?  I never thought I would have to do this for real!  I definitely need some help.  If you know someone who knows someone…be one of my phone calls and help me to persuade the First Lady to attend this important event!

I frequently think of how polio was viewed in my mother’s childhood  versus today.  I hope that someday we can look back at Autism and think of it as something that a different generation had to cope with.  Wouldn’t that be remarkable? 

Shannon Penrod is the host of the weekly radio show Everyday Autism Miracles on www.toginet.com  Free podcasts of the show can be downloaded on the show page www.toginet.com/shows/everydayautismmiracles or on iTunes

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By Shannon Penrod

Today was the fourth anniversary of my child officially being diagnosed with Autism.  People frequently ask me why I compulsively capitalize the word “autism”; I don’t believe in underestimating the enemy, trust me – Autism deserves a capital A.  Four years,  it doesn’t seem possible.  In some ways it seems like yesterday, in other ways that grey day in January 2006 seems at least 100 years ago.  It was a watershed day, a day when things came into sharp focus and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had a new mission.  I would rather have a mission than be in limbo any day of the week.

I remember driving away from the Drs. office.  A lovely elderly developemental pediatrician had spent hours with my child, testing him and taking lenghty notes, then she abruptly stood up and announced she was done.  She started to leave the room, I stopped her and asked her if there was a diagnosis. ” Autism.” she said.  Trust me on the capital letter. Then in an effort to soften the blow she told me to be grateful, 50 years earlier she assured me that my beautiful baby boy would be institutionalized for life.  She assured me there was hope, but made me promise that I would not do ABA therapy with my son.  She promised me it would turn him into a robot.  I was horrified.  I promised (A promise I broke, thankfully) and I went out to the car with my husband and my happy little boy who no longer talked or answered when you called his name.  I told my husband it was time to go public and tell our freinds and family.  We had suspected Autism for a while, but we said nothing.  Now I needed to circle the wagons.  We were in for the fight of our lives and I knew it.

I called my mother first.  When I told her she burst into tears saying, “No, not our baby!  Not Jem!”  It was the perfect thing to say because it was exactly what I wanted to say and couldn’t.  Because she was saying it I was free to feel the real answer. I calmly told her that Jem was the exact same child he had been the day before, but now we knew what to do to help him.  I said it and then I realized it was the truth. 

In four years we have come a long way.  Thank GOD for ABA therapy!  Thank GOD that Peter and Crystal Sheppard came into our lives and showed us the miracle of ABA in their home. (By the way they are also FABULOUS Realtors here in Santa Clarita. If you need a Realtor I personally HIGHLY reccommend them!)  Thank GOD for CARD (The Center for Autism and Related Disorders) and for Peter Farag (our personal Autism Whisperer) and thank GOD for the never ending army of therapists who have helped to bring our child back to us.

Jem is excelling in a typical lst grade class.  He is a social butterfly and has more friends than I can keep track of.  He demonstrates empathy, asks meaningful questions and plans to be a rocket scientist!  He lies to keep out of trouble, thinks Spongebob is hilarious and asks me even a year later if Jett Travolta’s sister is okay after his untimely death.  Does that sound like a robot to you?  Not me!

In the last four years we have met a wide variety of Doctors, Teachers, Social Workers and friends whose expectations for our son didn’t jive with ours.  We politely ignored them and chose repeatedly to surround ourselves with people and professionals who were willing to see what was possible.  Four years later, I’m really grateful we did.

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