"Look At Me"

"Look At Me"
monotype and screenprint

Monday, April 16, 2012

Inspiration and Emotion

Before I get into what I've been doing the past few days, I have to tell you a story.  I met Derek's future self.  Does that make sense?  I'll try to explain.  I saw a father, carrying an 8 year old little boy in his arms yesterday.  The boy had his arms around his dad's neck and he was resting his head on his shoulder.  He didn't look like Derek--he had lighter hair and blue eyes.  But there was something about him...I kept my eye on him (I was at an Autism Walk and the kid liked the bounce house in front of my table, so I got to be a people watcher).  I saw him interact with his dad.  I watched as he jumped in the bounce house and his eyes lit up with joy.  He held his hands the same way and he had the same mannerisms as Derek.  He  also walked/galloped the same.  When he smiled it lit up his face. 

The dad and the son came over and talked to me for a little while.  The boy didn't say much to me, but he did speak to his dad.  I could tell that communication was not easy for him.  Neither was eye contact.  His dad had to prompt him to speak to me.  Oh, but when that beautiful boy spoke to me, and actually looked at me?  It was all I could do not to cry.  It was Derek.  IT WAS DEREK IN 4 YEARS.  It gave me hope, since the boy was talking, but it was also hard to see.  It was obvious that the poor kid was having trouble with the crowd of people and all of the noise.  I wished there was something I could do to help.  The dad told me that his son was in an intensive therapy program and that he hadn't spoken until age 5.  I was amazed how well he was doing.  And I could see, physically SEE the love radiating out of the father's eyes.  People like that give me HOPE.  They are the ones that keep me going, because I know--I KNOW--that they will never give up on their children...

I don't know what else to stay.  I'm an emotional wreck.  The past four days have been a rollercoaster.  I attended the 2012 Nebraska State Autism Conference in Lincoln, NE on April 12-13.  It was phenomenal.  I learned so much in those two days that I cannot POSSIBLY try to recap everything in a blog.  At least without boring people to tears.  I laughed.  I cried.  I wrote down things I needed to do.  And at the end of each day, I crawled into bed DRAINED.  I attended seminars on keeping children safe (WHERE IS MY "AUTISTIC CHILD IN AREA" SIGN, AXTELL?????), bullying, communication, and best of all?  A seminar by a woman who's MOM had Asperger's.  Can you imagine being raised by someone on the spectrum?  Talk about flipping my mindset around.  I like to think of things from different perspectives.  This daughter and her mom have overcome so many obstacles.  It was more than inspiring.  It was unbelievable...
Oh, by the way, the mom was included in Temple Grandin's new book:  Different, Not Less.  Her name is Moppy Hamilton.  She autographed my book for me.  :)  Her story is incredible.

I also met Dr. Koegel, who was on Super Nanny and worked with autistic kids.  They showed this clip at the conference.  I was a mess.  A non-verbal little boy says his very first word on camera:  "Tickle."  Derek's was "Bubble."  I still remember the day.  Memories...I wonder if I'll ever be able to think back to Derek's first years without CRYING.  Everyone else remembers their children as toddlers with smiles and talks about how cute they were.  I bawl. 

Super Nanny Autism Episode

THEN, on Sunday I went to the Autism Meet Optimism Walk for Recovery in Manhatten, KS. 
It was the most organized walk I've ever been to.  (This is where I met the boy and his dad).  They not only had a walk, they had bounce houses, horse rides, a train, races, and all kinds of other events for kids.  I was wishing I could have brought my children, but then I would have been chasing them rather than manning my table. 

To all of you who stopped and talked to me:  THANK YOU for showing interest in the project.  I loved talking to you and hope to hear from you soon. 

Table at the NE State Autism Conference


  1. Keep pushing forward. Your story is amazing. I love reading your blogs.

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