Friday, April 1, 2011

Today is Autism Awareness Day - Light Up the World Blue!

Joey on Homemade Pizza Night
I intended to do two posts today and it still may happen.  I know, I know, I need to update my spending diet and I will do so with great news in another post.  In fact, you may be seeing this picture again when I tell you how pizza night went from $40 a week from Papa John's to making it at home every week and the pics are going to make you drool.

BUT....

Today's news is that April 1st is officially Autism Awareness Day!  Famous buildings around America (and maybe the world; I'm just not that up to speed) will be putting blue lights out in support of Autism Speaks, the organization that works to raise awareness of autism spectrum disorders. I believe the Empire State building is leading the way...I should really get my facts straight before I start to write.

I've posted about my brilliant son (above) on many occasions here.  He is my youngest and he is incredibly special in so many ways.  He still loves to sneak under the blanket on the couch in the morning and snuggle with me before the school bus comes.  If we happen to catch a Harry Potter marathon, he will stop in his tracks on the way to the kitchen and stand there, rapt, until I say, "Joey, why don't you watch the movie with us?"  More snuggling will ensue.  He also loves Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen.  Thank God they beep out the cursing! 

Joey's "thing" is Mario Brothers on the Wii and the worst punishment in the world is to take his video games away.  Because of the autism, Joey can't really tell us a lie and he will take his punishment like a man when it gets dished out on very rare occasions.  He's almost over-aware of what is right and what is wrong, so he doesn't do it "wrong" very often.  He socializes well and you probably wouldn't know he is autistic until you were well into a conversation with him.  He does better with younger kids than kids his own age, probably because he's a little more on par with them developmentally.  Intellectually, he runs around them in circles though.  And just yesterday, he was telling me about two boys who are his friends in school.  We're definitely making progress!

Joey is my honor roll kid in middle school - is that an oxymoron?  I wasn't aware that kids actually kept trying by sixth grade, since the older two certainly didn't take middle school seriously.  It was a battle with Ben and it's been a battle with Jamie.  The older two are also great kids (I'm just slightly biased), but Joey's my special little guy.  He'd still sit in my lap, but he's gotten too big, and we both laugh at that.  He's still getting the hang of how to interact within a group and you can see the wheels turning as he sees other people laughing at a joke and joins in.  He's not exactly sure what he's laughing at, but he knows he's supposed to be laughing, so he does.  Then, it's hard for him to stop and usually one of his brothers will tell him to cut it out in an annoyed tone.  I'm so glad they don't tiptoe around and "make allowances," not only because he needs to learn it to survive the real world, but because he shouldn't be tiptoed around.  That would be an insult to his intelligence.

I got a call from the autism specialist yesterday from the middle school saying Joey was having a rough day.  They had been on a field trip on Wednesday, all day, outside, and the weather was nothing short of raw.  Joey is very sensitive to the cold, but he held up through the whole trip.  I could have kicked myself for not sending gloves with him, but I really didn't think the weather was going to pretend it was January.  Yesterday, I think it finally got the better of him and he just couldn't hold it together anymore.  Someone got to the cafeteria before him and took the "spinny chair" (I have no idea what the spinny chair is) and a total meltdown ensued.  He ended up under the table in class, crying, and the concerned teacher sent him down to the autism room to cool down for awhile.  He was back to class shortly thereafter, totally recovered.  In fact, four little girls from his class were so worried that they went down to ask about him!  That's my boy!

Life for Joey isn't always easy.  In fact, it probably usually isn't easy.  But he handles it like a trooper and he's such a sweetheart.  Everybody loves Joey, quirks and all.

Light up the world blue with us for Autism Awareness Day today!  You can get blue light bulbs at Home Depot - they have the display right as you walk in the door and they're only $1.65 apiece.  That, to me, is one worthwhile expenditure and definitely fits in the "needs" category.  Hopefully, my camera will be able to capture a picture of our front porch doused in blue light after it gets dark tonight.  I hope to see some of my neighbors doing the same.

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