Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

Ah… Thanksgiving; the day where most Americans will begrudgingly trek to some relative’s house that they really don’t want to be at, stuff themselves just short of exploding, watch football and if we are lucky… take one second out of their jam-packed day of gluttony and selfishness to be thankful for something… anything.

Most Turkey Days, I am ashamed to admit, I could qualify for all of the above. This year though… life is different. The veil of self-pity, selfishness, depression has been lifted… and boy am I THANKFUL!

I am thankful for my family. My folks are still around and my dad seems to be recovering nicely from his broken hip. My marriage has managed to survive another stress-filled year. My kids are happy and healthy. My father-in-law is still raising havoc at the age of 90! Things at work are going well too, I have a career doing something that I LOVE doing and have not felt like I have ever had to go to a “job”.

Usually that would round out the list. But 2011 has been different. The list is a lot longer, and it is time that some people got some praise and thanks.

In no particular order, I would like to take a little extra time to thank the following:

Bianca’s therapists: They are AMAZING. They work so hard for our little girl. They push her, challenge her, get head-butted by her and yet still work with her on a weekly basis and have helped her to become the amazing little girl that she is today. I am certain that if not for their help, Bianca would be nowhere close to where she is today in terms of her development.

Bianca’s teachers past and present: We have been SO fortunate that throughout our whole ordeal, Bianca has been surrounded by teachers that genuinely care about her. They go out of their way to communicate with us, they have Bianca’s best interests at heart, and they have been approachable. Day by day, these teachers do a job that at times must seem thankless, at a salary that is nowhere near what they deserve. If you can hit a ball with a stick you get paid millions, if you can pull ONE WORD out of a child on the spectrum you should be paid 10 times that much.

Bianca’s classmates: I have the good fortune of being allowed to help out for recess one day a week at Bianca’s school. She has 9 classmates each one with his or her own challenges in life. They are nothing short of amazing. Getting to develop a relationship with each one of them has been rewarding beyond words. They fill me with awe and help me to keep in the forefront of my mind that every child at his or her core has the same basic needs… love, time and appreciation.

My online family: Whether you are a fan of my blog, of my video, my tweets… you have helped to heal me over these past 6 months in ways that no therapist could. The sharing of your stories with me, entrusting me with them and helping me to understand that the chaos in my life was not all that unusual given my circumstances has revived me. You have helped remind me who I am at my core, and have helped to improve my understanding of what life with a special needs child is and can become. I know now more than ever that I am not alone, and it is because of what you have done for me, that I try so hard to share and deliver that same message to others.

Autism Speaks: Who would have thought that a phone call from a friend asking if they could walk on behalf of my daughter would lead to a relationship with an organization that I believe so strongly in? I feel honored to be able to call some of the great men and women that are advocating for our kids with all of their heart, and with nothing but the best of intentions, not just acquaintances… but friends. Thank you for presenting me with the Speak Out Award and for believing in my message to end health care discrimination against those on the spectrum and to raise awareness in the disparity of funding for autism research compared to other less prevalent conditions. 29 down, 21 to go. You have energized me, given me comfort that there are organizations out there doing good, decent work on behalf of those with ASD and as young of an organization as Autism Speaks is… I know there are greater things on the horizon.
My amazing superstar Bianca: Had at the end of 2010 somebody would have told me what you would be doing before the end of 2011, I would not only have thought that they were looking at the glass as half-full, I would have thought that they drank all the Kool Aid that was in that glass as well. You are nothing short of spectacular. For every challenge that you may throw our way in a given day, you fill it with 5 times as many smiles, surprises and breakthroughs. You are my hero. You fight each day to come out of your shell, and I swear to you that I will continue to fight to ensure that you are provided with every tool you need to be your best self. I love you. Thank you for being in my life and for giving me perspective. I can’t imagine my life without you… quite frankly, I don’t even try.

Do yourself a favor today and don’t just take a quick second to give thanks. THINK about what you have and give it the time it deserves. Realize how fortunate you are. Give legitimate thanks to the people that deserve it, your God, your luck… whatever it is that you feel is the source for the many good things that are present in your life.

Thank you 2011… I am looking forward to meeting 2012.

If you have not already, please take time to watch my videos, "Fixing" Autism and Autism Awareness with Nichole337 and share them with your friends.

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  1. I watched your video which made me tear up, and read some of your blog posts. It really affected me especially after realizing you say that she was normal until she was about a year old. During early childhood new born babies get vaccinated almost every month, and did you know vaccines and autism is possibly, most likely linked? PLEASE PLEASE, take a look and research some more. Jesse McCarthy, a famous actress is now coming forth and speaking about this. McCarty's son was thankfully and luckily healed, and I pray Bianca will as well. Here is a link to her organization, and an interview from her,8599,1888718,00.html

    And did you know? Children in the United States get vaccinated more than anywhere else in the world. And a strange coincidence, that the rates for autism as well as many other illnesses are the highest than anywhere else in world? Doctors are trying to protect their jobs to earn more money so they won't speak up about this.
    I hope you take into affect this message!

    I'll be praying for you, your family, and Bianca. Best wishes to you

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment and for the kind words.

    Jenny McCarthy is also from Chicago. She was very supportive of my video on Twitter and even took the time to DM me, which was very flattering.

    Unlike Jenny, I am steering my advocacy clear of what may or may not cause Autism Spectrum Disorder. The fact is... I don't know, so there is no use speculating. Yes I have theories, but they are just that. There is too much misinformation out there in the cyber-world. I would rather not add to it. So I choose to write about my experience with the disorder and the struggles that my family has faced trying to work the system that is currently in place for kids on the spectrum.

    That said, regardless of what your opinion is of Jenny McCarthy's views, and I am aware that she is very polarizing, you have to admire her obvious love for her son. In my eyes that makes her more attractive inside and out than any photo-shoot could ever do.

    Thanks again!

  3. Your video is (I would like to use an f-word explective, but have restrained myslef) amazing!!!!

    I felt as if you were speaking for me and my son Jackson, (goosebumps, chills, tears and gut wrenching sobs)

    I posted it on my facebook wall, the feedback and responses and emails I received was unbelievable.

    Thank you for sharing.

    It's comforting to know someone else understands the struggles, heartaches, triumphs and joys a family with ASD goes thru.

    thank you again....