My Son’s Name Is Not Autism

I’m the proud momma of two boys. Two tiny miniature versions of myself and my husband. One looks just like my husband and the other is a tiny male version of me.
My eldest is my clone. He’s four years old now, which still sometimes amazes me. When I look at him sometimes I’m totally amazed at exactly how much it is like looking in a mirror. He has the same round face, light brown eyes, square mouth, and silly grin as me. He’s stubborn, sensitive, super smart, silly, and strong—some of which he gets from his daddy, but the majority of it is from yet again, his mama.
He loves to read books, watch Youtube videos featuring monster trucks, eat pizza, sing songs, anything math related, go to his grandma’s house, play with his new baby brother, and ride on the 4-wheeler with his dad.
My son is also on the autism spectrum.
Although this is a big part of who he is, it does not define him in his entirety.
~~~~~~
We live in a world in which people are automatically labeled: old, young, ugly, obese, anorexic, addict, alcoholic, anxious, nerd, crazy, snotty, schizo, poor, rich, sick, depressed, bipolar, etc. We often forget that underneath the label there is a person. And that yes, we may truly be some of those things, but they do not designate who we are as a whole.
I was reminded of this recently at an event I attended with my husband.
I was showing another woman pictures of my two boys, whom she’s never met before. I first showed her pictures of my youngest son, as we were talking about how he doesn’t sleep through the night yet (he’s a baby). Then, I swiped my phone to pics of my older son because in typical mom fashion, I never show photos of one without showing off photos of the other. The woman looked at the photo and said, “He’s autistic right?” She must have heard this through our husbands at some point.
I stopped, looked out the window of the cars passing by, and replied, “Yes. This is my Liam.”
She proceeded to say how cute he was and soon the topic was on to something else besides children.
It doesn’t bother me that she asked if he’s on the spectrum. It doesn’t bother me that he’s on the spectrum. What bothers me is that the first thing out of her mouth was if he had autism. As if it were his name.
My son’s name is not autism. It’s Liam.
This was not the first time I’ve encountered someone like that. Most people generally mean well or are just curious or uneducated about what being on the spectrum really means.
Now, I’ve been an autism advocate ever since my son was first diagnosed. I don’t mind taking the opportunity to explain things to those not as knowledgeable of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) as I am. I’m a proud autism mom, and I know deep in my heart and soul that having autism is a gigantic part of what makes my son who he is. I get it. I truly, honestly do. And I love my son for who he is.
Every single part of him.
Yet, I don’t want autism to define who he is to others. Especially, those that don’t know him at all.
I don’t want him judged before they get to know him simply because they know he has autism. I don’t want him to be passed up or left out because of it. I hate it when people make assumptions or speculations on what he can or cannot do based on his diagnosis.
But most of all, I hate that he is often labeled as autistic before he is even called by his name.
Liam.
His name is Liam.
He’s an amazing little boy, that has autism.
So, please, next time you talk to a person that is on the spectrum or the parent of someone on the spectrum try to remember that they have a name. Having autism is as much a part of them as the color of their eyes, their age, or their favorite color, but it is not their name.

This article was originally published on Her View From Home

istiaque-emon-45763-unsplash

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Travel With Your Best Friend

New piece is up on Project Hot Mess 🙂

katy-belcher-387797-unsplash

“My best friend and I have known each other since she was five and I was seven years old. We’re both in our 30’s now, so we’ve been friends a long time. When other friendships in my life have come and gone, we’ve stuck by each other.
She knows me, what I like, what I don’t like, my personality and what I’m comfortable with, and I know the same things about her. When you have that level of comfort with your travel companion, it makes it easier to plan trips and activities you know the other will enjoy.”

Read the rest here…

5 Truths About The Ties Between Sisters

 

genessa-panainte-451025-unsplash.jpg

There are some holidays on the calendar nobody would even think to know about. For example, did you know that February 8th is National Kite Flying Day? Or that November 17th is National Take a Hike Day? Some of these are pretty silly. But, then there is August 6th, National Sister’s Day. It is the one day of the year when anyone that has a sister in their life can celebrate them in whatever way they choose.
The relationship between sisters is one of the most precious and also the most difficult one that exists within the dynamic of the modern family. Sisterhood is something I’ve always been intrigued by. I’ve watched others with their sisters and compared their relationships with that of my own sister– the ins and outs of the relationships, the closeness or lack thereof, and how the bond can change over the years.
For many of us, the relationship between us and our sisters has helped to shape the people we are today. The prime role they play in our development is hard to fully put into words. But, here are some reasons why the relationship between sisters is so special and significant:
1. They are your closest match on the face of the earth. You come from the same stock. It doesn’t matter if you have the same mom and dad, if one is adopted, one entered the family through marriage, or if you are twins. You are two (or more) sisters from the same family. You are both part of the same crazy, loving, chaotic, silly family. In most cases, you grew up together. You have watched the other, fought with the other, and encouraged the other. The younger has striven to be like the older, and perhaps the older like the younger in some cases. Even in your differences you can celebrate the fact that you have so much in common simply because you were given the title of “sister” to one another.
2. Sisters teach each other the rules of a healthy competition. For many, one of the downfalls of sisterhood is the built in stigma of the lifelong comparisons that come with being one of two (or more) girls in the same family. From the time the second is born, you are automatically in competition with one another, whether you know it or not. Which one is better at school? Which one is better at sports? Which one is prettier? If the older achieves something great, the younger is expected to do the same. On the flip side, if the younger outshines the older at anything, a reverse jealousy is created. The competition is inherent. It exists in almost every sisterly relationship. But, it teaches us what it means to be a friendly competitor and who better to compete with than someone you are so close to?
3. Sisters teach each other what a friendship really should look like. Like the built in competition, having a sister usually means you have a built in friend for life. Yes, you may fight with her more than your other friends. You may not always like each other, and there may be more stealing of clothes, poking fun of, and pulling of hair than in your other friendships. But, at the heart of it all, who will stand up for you like your sister? When you need someone to talk with about issues within your family, no one understands the ins and outs of it like her. She will defend you, stand by you, love you, and comfort you like no other.
4. She is the yin to your yang. Occasionally, you will meet a pair of sisters that are so much alike that one wonders where the personality of one ends and the other begins. Other sisters are so different from one another that one is left wondering if they are even from the same family. No matter the differences or similarities, the two often balance each other out. They make an even, well-rounded pair. One might be the loudmouth of the family, where the other is so shy and timid that half of the extended family is curious if she even speaks. When you grow up in such close quarters as someone, you learn from and about each other over the course of your childhood. Therefore, you are very much in tune with one another. When one is feeling weak, the other rises up to be strong. Or when one is sad, the other is the pep talker of the family. It’s almost second nature.
5. She will be in your life longer than most others. This one is tough because in some cases it’s not always true. Some lose their sisters way before they are ready to, some are not very close, and some never get to see their sister. But, in most cases one of the longest relationships we will ever have in our lifetime, is the one we have with our siblings. They are the ones that are with you from the start and often times to the end. If you are lucky enough to see 85 with your sister by your side, the two (or more) of you will have lived through some tumultuous, happy, sad, thriving, horrible and quiet times together. You will see each phase of life together and from that your bond with either strengthen or weaken. Perhaps you will go through phases where you don’t speak, or phases where your life will depend on the other.
The ebb and flow of every sisterly relationship is so unique to each family. My own sister and I were childhood best friends, and then as we aged we became mortal enemies as many siblings do, and now we are best friends again. My sister knows me very well and I know her just the same. We are very much alike in many ways, and so very different in others. We’ve been each other’s supporters, each other’s critics, each other’s partners in crime, and each other’s rivals. We’ve had fights that have lasted months and months where all we had was each other. She’s my best friend, my maid-of-honor, my son’s godmother, my health adviser (she’s a nurse), and at other times a royal pain in my butt.
The relationship we share is one that is complicated, sweet, honest, emotional, funny, and hard all rolled into one. She’s the one person that I have this bond with, and the one person I’d fight to keep it with. When I’ve walked away from friendships for less, I would never turn my back on her. I know she wouldn’t do it to me either.
Sisterhood binds us together and it is one of the strongest ties there is.

Originally published on Her View From Home

5 Important Things I Would Tell My Teenage Self

My first piece is up on Project Hot Mess

james-garcia-76433-unsplash

“I do often miss that teenage girl that I still see traces of in the mirror though. She’s there underneath the emerging crow’s feet, the tired eyes, and greying hair. I see her in the pictures hanging in my hall entryway. She has a big smile on her face while standing side by side with her best friend at her high school graduation, and in another picture with her grandma at her prom. She also shows up sometimes when I occasionally get carded at the local liquor store buying wine.
I wish I could reach through the hands of time and tell the 15, 16, 17 year old version of me a few things. I would give her advice that would ease her mind and help to get her through some of those dark patches that come hand in hand with being a teenager…”

Read the rest here