Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me, What I Have Learned in the Last 12 Months

If everything had worked out the way I wanted, today would be the big day. Not just my 40th Birthday, but the 40 mile run. I'm writing this at 10:30 am so I would be about 4 1/2 hours into it and would probably be about 10-15 miles along my path. But if life has taught me one thing, it rarely goes as planned. On a positive note, I am going to watch the Orioles play the Nationals in DC tonight with my daughter. It will be her first time there and it will be a lot of fun for both of us. I am still dealing with headaches from the concussion but they seem to be slowly improving. I met with a chiropractor last week and that seemed to help and I am meeting with a neurologist tomorrow and have a follow up chiropractor visit as well. So what does all of this have to do with Autism......

When I set out last year, I wanted to get back in shape, raise money to support families dealing with Autism in Maryland and raise Autism awareness. Before the accident,I had lost just over 40 pounds. Today I can say I have lost 22 pounds one year later. Once I can start training again, that will become my primary focus. So far, the campaign has raised just under $11,000.00 which includes an approximate $600 from the Birthday bash on Memorial day weekend. I will be kicking off another social media campaign Monday that should raise another $400 in the next 30 days, so we should be well over the $11k mark by the end of June. I have fallen short of my goals but I have done quite a bit of good. My last blog post was a copy of my presentation at the Pathfinders for Autism Golf Dinner on Monday night. I had numerous people tell me that my story touched them. The ladies at Pathfinders told me the live auction held immediately after my speech raised 3xs the money it had any year before and they think what I said had something to do with it.

If that is true. Then EVERYTHING I went through this year was worth it.

Thanks for reading, Together we can do great Things

Mike S.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Being a Parent of a Child with Autism and What "Pathfinders For Autism" Has Meant to Me."

Last night was pretty special. I had the opportunity to speak in front of about 100 people and talk about being the parent of a child with autism and how the wonderful people at Pathfinders for Autism have impacted my life. As a result of my relationship with Pathfinders I have become friends with Alisa Rock, fellow autism parent, autism blogger and she is a board member for Pathfinders. Last night she suggested that I share a copy of the speech I prepared. While not exactly what I said (I did use some creative license) this captures the spirit of what I shared with the audience.

When Rebecca first asked me to speak today she told me that many of you are longtime supporters and that many of you are not parents of children with autism. To you I am truly grateful. You have given a tremendous amount of your time and money to an organization that means a great deal to me and to people just like me. It is hard to articulate what being the parent of a child with autism is like but my wife and I often say “ if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” Let me be clear… I love my son with all my heart. He looks exactly like my wife and I always imagined he would. Mikey has a mop of blond hair with big sparkling blue eyes and he laughs like an elf from one of those Christmas cartoons we all watched as children. But his Autism is something that we never expected and it wears on me every day… the center for disease control told us recently that 1-88 children will be born with Autism and that for some reason, in the state of Maryland, that number jumps to 1 in 55. ASD or “autism spectrum disorder” is so frustrating, not only for the parents, but for those trying to solve it. The Puzzle piece really is appropriate. No one knows what causes it, but they have some ideas. No one knows how to treat it, but they have some ideas. Some things help some kids but not others. The disruption to your regular life is incalculable. Simple every day routines like shopping or going to the park are now “adventures” at best and can often turn into nightmares. My wife and I have another term we use, divide and Conquer. That’s where we each take a child to accomplish the necessary and typical aspects of our life. Mikey has a big sister and she has a life too and frankly she deserves to live it like a typical child. So we go out of our way to allow her to live it that way. But that means that her brother doesn’t get to attend her basketball games because the noise and the activity would be too much for him and he wont get to attend her concert tomorrow night because he just CANNOT be quiet for the 90 minutes the performance will take.

And that is why I am grateful for Pathfinders for Autism. For in addition to the vast resources they offer on their website I know these ladies work their butts off (usually seven days a week) providing seminars on every topic of need and interest to families like mine. But more importantly, Last summer they created an environment where my family felt safe to have dinner together in public without the scrutiny of others watching us. They allowed us to take our family to a baseball game and to eat ice cream and be together as a family. When you have child with Autism, it is very easy to draw inside and feel alone. because of Pathfinders, I feel a lot less lonely. I’ve made friends through this organization that I am sure will last a lifetime. So again, I ‘ll say thank you to each one of you for being here today and supporting this wonderful organization, I am truly grateful.

Afterwards, I had many people thank me and congratulate me for my presentation including BJ and Polly. That meant more to me than words can describe. Everyone in that room was giving something to make the world better for families dealing with Autism and that really is the point of all of this.....

Thank you for reading, together we can do great things!


BTW I hope to see all of you at Camden Yards on May 27th, still some time to get your tickets, click here