Part III of the Autism Awareness Giveaway Blog Series
GIVEAWAY - details about the giveaway is at the end of this blog post.
Do you know someone with autism? Unless it's a close friend or family member with autism, you would probably answer with "no". And you might be wrong, although you don't know it!
Because many people have autism and yet they live normal, wonderful, incredible lives.
I LOVE stories of people with autism who have faced challenges, and yet have managed to not only have a great life, but they've THRIVED at life. It encourages me.
Here is a confession about a recent guilty pleasure: I watch American Idol!!
Some may laugh but let me tell you, I'm normally not an American Idol devotee. I couldn't tell you about any of the winners except for maybe Carrie Underwood, because I like country music so I know about her and oh yeah, Kellie Pickler. Anyway, this year is different because I'm connected to a number of Autism websites like Autism Speaks, The Autism Society of America, and the Autism Support Network. Around the beginning of the year, these sites started buzzing like crazy about a guy named James Durbin, a young man with autism, who was on the new season of American Idol. My curiosity was peaked! I started watching to see who this guy was and what his talent consisted of. Granted, he's considered a metal rocker and those who know me, know that I am NOT a metal rocker person! However, this young guy is fascinating. As of today, he's in the American Idol top 11, and I love him. I watch him perform with a smile in my heart, and I even signed up to be his Twitter follower!
Why am I a fan of his? Because he has Asperger's Syndrome. If you read Series I of this Autism Awareness blog, I briefly mentioned Asperger's. Aspies, as they jokingly refer to themselves sometimes, are high-functioning autistics. They can run the normal gamut of autistic persons; with any variety of skills and challenges. Typically, they can focus intently on one or two restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. They may be clumsier than most, have limited ability to interact appropriately with peers, and may also have communication delays. I say "may" because every person diagnosed with Asperger's is unique. I recently read the book 'House Rules' by Jodie Picoult, which was a fantastic book, in my opinion. It is a murder mystery that is partly told from the point of view of the brilliant Aspergers oldest son. It offers tantalizing insight into how the Asperger mind functions. If you are looking for a good book, check this one out.
Anyway, back to James Durbin...this interesting young man gives me hope. Not only does he have Asperger's, but he also has Tourette's! But other than some obvious facial tics, the average American Idol fan would have no idea. He seems 'normal'. He has a fiancee and a son. He's been in theater performances and bands. And I'm cheering for him to be the next American Idol, or at least, to get a record contract from all of the publicity. Because he is a very real shining light to those of us raising children with autism. He gives all of us hope. Hope that our kids will be OK, will grow up successfully and find something that they enjoy doing and can thrive at, and that most people who meet them really won't know that they have an invisible 'autism' label over their heads.
Through the Autism Speaks website, I came into contact with another inspiring person named Megan Christian. Here are her words:
My name is Megan Christian and I am a twenty-six year old young woman with autism. It's been quite a long journey; when I was younger people told Mom that I wouldn't be able to read or get a high school diploma. I was able to achieve a high school diploma and in May of 2009 I got my Associate's degree from Mesa in Psychology. I plan on transferring to San Diego State University to obtain my Bachelor's degree and eventually, get my Master's degree in Special Education. I plan on becoming a Special Education teacher, teaching children with autism and other disabilities.
So let me end this Series by just saying this: if you don't think you know anyone with autism, maybe you are wrong! It may be the kid at the library, who is talking just a bit too loudly, diligently searching for a book using the Dewey Decimal System. It may be the toddler at the grocery store with his mom, who is happily reciting the entire dialogue, word for word, from his favorite Pixar movie. It could be your physician who you love to pieces although you can't explain why...you just like how she is so completely thorough with her questions and details that you feel like she truly cares about you as a person. Autistic people might be a little quirky or obsessive about some things, but they are awesome.
You should get to know a few, if you aren't blessed to already!
The giveaway is open to anyone and basically, the more entries you have the better your chances of winning a prize! You can view the FANTASTIC prizes in the prize vault here.
How to get entries:
1) Register here. You only have to do this ONCE so if you already have, skip to #2.
2) After reading this blog post, comment below. You can say anything about this blog post, how you felt reading it, something it made you think of, something you learned, etc. Comment once specifically about this post and be sure to leave your name!!
3) Post a link to this blog post on your FB and comment back here that you did.
4) Tweet this and comment back here that you did.
5) Mention this on your own blog and comment back here, with a link to your blog post.
6) If you didn't read the first Autism Awareness blogs, you can do so and follow the instructions at the end for even more entry opportunities! There is Series I and Series II.
Be sure and watch for the next Autism Awareness / Giveaway blog and more chances to win!
Thank you for your interest in spreading education about autism.