As April, Worldwide Autism Awareness month, approaches I am once again reminded of the progress we have made. As a family, we have made immense progress! I am proud of that fact. But, as a society, we have made very little. That fact can be very difficult for families of individuals with autism. The misconceptions, stereotypes, controversy and misinformation that surrounds autism can be every bit as debilitating as is the autism itself, possibly even more so.
I want to tell all of you about my husband today, the man I married. He is the man in our lives who gives us stability and as much certainty as is possible once autism has claimed your only son; for me, my only child. He’s the kind of man who stands tall and proud, very often a head above the fray. He is a man who deserves, by far, more respect and admiration than he all too often finds. He is also a man very much in touch with his own feelings. A man who sobbed at the foot of his young son’s bed as he lay sleeping, the night he had learned his only heir had autism.
Small town, rural living has its draw backs. The nearest pediatric dentist is 36 miles away. OT, PT, Speech, or any therapy outside of the school setting for that matter is that same 40 minute trek. The nearest LabCorp takes us 4 to 4 ½ hours in good weather, on a good day. The nearest movie theatre is 24 miles.
Stand Up and Be Counted!
My nine year old son, Sam, and I have been hitting the campaign trail once again. For those of you not familiar with us or with our story, Sam has autism. I am his mom, Lin Wessels. We advocate.
It’s one of the things we do, seeking out politicians and asking them the really tough questions. It is one of the ways we feel like we are making a difference. And if not, at least we know we are trying. We are giving it our all. It is something we can do; so we do.
The Presidential Campaign Crusader
It is time I introduce our son, Sam Wessels, the presidential campaign crusader, to the rest of the world. He is nine years old, about to begin the fourth grade and becoming a very fine advocate. I am beyond proud of that boy! HE ROCKS OUR WORLD EVERY SINGLE DAY! Oh, by the way, Sam has autism. He was diagnosed at two.
Mrs. Wessels Talks Autism
by Lin Wessels on Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 5:28pm
8th Grade English "Cause and Effect" Project:
An interview with Mrs. Wessels, Sam's mom, by BT
What does autism mean to you?
It is with mixed emotions that I once again write about autism and autism awareness. I tire of hearing myself tell all I know about autism and fear you may too. I can’t say as though I’d blame you. But please, let me tell you why I do what I do. I know most, if not all, of you are aware that we have a child with autism. He is now eight. We have been on this journey for the past six plus years.
I have a son and a dream. My son is going to be eight this coming Tuesday. My son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 26 months. It still brings tears to eyes, although not necessarily for all of the same reasons as it did some six years ago.
You see, when your child is given a label on the autism spectrum, you are not only led to believe certain something’s, but expected to accept other certain something’s as well. Some of the most common are: autism is rare, autism is hereditary, and there is no treatment. Pretty bleak to say the least.
Have you heard the news? If you have heard the news, did it make a difference? Did it make you stop and think? Were you afraid? Shocked? Or did the news only serve to confuse you even more? Push you even farther away?
I heard it, loud and clear! The very latest data now indicates that one in 91 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. As boys are affected approximately four times more than are girls, one in 58 boys has autism. I heard it, loud and clear!! But one of those boys is mine.
No matter what you believe spiritually, there is just no denying the following very real, very special and very personal account. I write this with no intention of starting a political or a religious debate, but rather to share truth……
Back during the 2008 presidential election, my then five year old son with heavy metal toxicity and subsequent autism, and I worked very, very hard to make autism obligatory to as many of the candidates as was possible for us. We met seven in all; however, I’ll save that chronicle for another blog, another day.