Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Brakes

I drop off Alyssa at school one morning and drive just a block further to a stop sign, guarded by 3 police cars.  Wow, us parents, who drop off our kids at school each day, must be out of control…. We don’t need one or two police officers, we need three!  Where’s the SWAT team?  I can hear the Sergeants’ order come barking over the loud speaker, “Here comes the drop off crowd, BRACE YOURSELF and take ‘em down!”  I laugh to myself.

After my fun mind banter, I think I will challenge myself and pay attention the entire way home to see if I break the law, disobey the signs and lack acknowledgment for what’s right.  Will I have any violation?  Yep.  Actually, I am dismayed.  Man oh man… I rolled up to a stop sign slowly, then, continued to roll through, until I remembered I was in a personal “challenge”.  I abruptly stopped; my first, best, driving, ever!!!  I will also admit to speeding (by just a little).  Speeding by just a little doesn’t seem as “bad”, right?  Well, sure, unless I get caught by a police officer or worse, cause an accident.  What’s wrong with me?  Don’t answer that, please.  Really, what’s the issue here, this should be simple stuff?

How well do we police ourselves?  You read a label at the grocery store which tells you there are nitrates, nitrites and BHT in the product, do you buy it?  I had to go to my fridge before admitting…. Yes.  AGAIN.  Yuck, this is no good!  Yet, I pat myself on the back when I notice Alyssa’s foods are good and healthy; whereas, my foods are exceptions to the rule of healthy eating.  I know the difference between good and bad food options, yet don’t make the best choices because I reason, it tastes good or maybe it’s not “that” bad, AND, let’s not forget, it costs less.  How confusing.

Then, I start to think about how we treat one another.  I fear, the truth here, we make similar mistakes.  We make exceptions to the rules, we speed through our conversations and we don’t use stop signs, instead, we act on haste, stress, frustration, more than we act on love and doing what is right. 

Now, I find myself thinking about Alyssa.  Oh yes, I will admit, I think about her constantly.  She is my…. everything.  I love her to pieces.  One thing I love about children, in general, is their simplistic innocence.  Innocence seems to be something we have less of as we get older.  Our children are watching us.  What are they learning?  Are we teaching our kids to be more like we are, less innocent, making exceptions for what is right through the use of justification?  STOP!!  This is where I think I am capable of using good brakes.  I want Alyssa to be herself.  She is like nobody else. 

I look at our experiences over the past few years.  Autism is very interesting.  These kids surely have beautiful grace, and innocence, I can tell you that!  Can they learn?  Oh my gosh – YES!!!  As an adult, we see their label, the autism one, and think, they aren’t listening, they aren’t paying attention.  Maybe, we forget because we are so adult and always think we have it all figured out.  Let me tell you about the humbling experience I have been given.  I am humbled everyday by the remarkable things Alyssa does and says.  I have to remember, she is learning our habits and she wants to do what we are showing her.  She is conforming on our request, in the classroom and at home.  

I wonder, could we be a society without all the signs and rules?  No, probably not.  However, if we put ourselves into a place of understanding we are setting an example for someone else, would that help?  I think so.  I think my daughter is watching, therefore, I will try to make the right choice.  Maybe our children should start policing us better.  The older we get, we say, we are losing our mind and/or memory and that being said, we should get some extra help each day from our ambitious little ones. 

Thank you for reading and have a great week.  Angie

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I watch this program where an ice climber is on the side of a mountain.  I think, that guy is nuts!!  I realize, it’s the middle of the program.  What I have missed, his climbing partner lies at the bottom of the mountain, dead.  How awful, frightening and sad.  As he narrates the experience, he begins to unfold what kept him going.  He was in trouble, he had to make a choice; try to get out of this situation or join his friend.  He pushes himself, he perseveres. 

A rafter is heading down the Grand Canyon.  He gets flipped off of his raft.  He pulls himself to safety, as his raft meanders on.  He is all alone.  Stuck.  He has to make a choice; try to get out of this situation or give up.  He persists with determination. 

What does it take to survive these unbelievable experiences?  From what the men shared, it takes a decision, the decision you are not going to give up. 

Over the past 7 years, I feel like I have been hanging on the side of a cliff and raft-less in the rapids.  How am I going to survive this mission, this Autism?  At some point, when you are hanging on by a thread, you have to decide to make a move, change what you are doing, and you have to choose to survive the anguish, the pain, the frustration and the challenge.  I make this choice, but the difficulty does not go away.  I embrace love, Alyssa’s love, as my tool to make things different and I make the choice…  I can’t give up, I won’t allow myself to!  I persevere!  I must!  I persist determinedly, steadily, despite the problems and/or difficulties.  

Extremist’s go beyond the limits to see beauty.  I feel as though I am on an extreme hike.  It started out hours, then a couple days, then many days, and turned into years.   This hike is beginning to express a picture.  I am now able to see the beauty all around me.  I make it to the top of the mountain and the landscape view is breathtaking.  My Alyssa is breathtaking!  She is everything and so much more.  I never dreamt the view could be this beautiful.  There is so much to see and endless limits to what I can learn. 

Autism…. this is a fight I cannot lose, it’s not a choice and I won’t give up.  I will push myself beyond every limit and then give more.  Eventually, I hope to come out of this one.  I want to succeed.  I want to exclaim, “I did it!!”  I will rejoice in this experience and offer up my fight to give hope to others.  I will gain the experience.  And, I will live inside the beauty.  I will survive.

Thank you for reading and have a great week!  Angie

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


In September 2008, I found CARE, the Center for Autism Research and Education, located in Phoenix, AZ. (Link to CARE)  I made an appointment the very day I learned of them.  We drove from Durango to Phoenix, a 7–8 hour drive.  I was excited by all of the possibilities.  I have to admit, I went to CARE on a mission to have my daughter “cured” of Autism.  Knowing other family’s whose children made significant “recovery” from this type of therapy by taking supplements and receiving bio-medical treatment, I was sure this was the answer for Alyssa.  I guess you could say…. I came to CARE with very high expectations.  Yes, me, expectations strike again.  Truthfully, I was desperate for someone to take my little girls Autism away, so she wouldn’t have to have this awful syndrome.  Those high expectations were taking us off this planet, off to the moon, where anything can be accomplished, or in other words, to CARE.  My mission, my quest, would be CARE’s mission and quest.  Little did they know!!   Oh silly, silly me!!

This isn’t just any doctor’s office.  CARE is this amazing place where families come to try to make a difference for their kids.  You can feel the hope from the moment you walk through the door.  At CARE, first thing first, the Doctor wanted to meet with us and do blood work on Alyssa to help get to know her, so to speak, and develop a road map for her future, her treatment plan.

Meeting with the doctor was an eye opening experience.  She took one look at my angel and said, “Your daughter is not well”.  If I could only tell you how many times doctors said, “It’s a mystery why she has ongoing fevers”.  And then, I walk into this office, where right away, the doctor could see, Alyssa’s apparent lack of health.  Looking at Alyssa, she had dark circles under her eyes; she was very thin and hadn’t put on weight in what seemed like forever, not to mention, she was as pale as could be.  I looked at Alyssa everyday and had even succumbed to the “mystery fevers concept”.  I became blind to all the obvious, distracted by the label of Autism.  The doctor was SO right.  Alyssa did not look well.  Worse yet, I was on a mission to fix Autism, overlooking her lack of health. 

Through the blood work results, CARE was able to identify what supplements Alyssa needed and we came up with a treatment plan.  I was nervous, excited and with all my expectations, I was figuring, it should only take a few treatments and we would be past all this Autism stuff.  Wrong.  I laugh to myself now because I realize how silly I can be about things, especially when expectations seem to hinder me from reality.  We have now had approximately 68 treatments and drove to and from Phoenix 34 times.  Alyssa continues to make progress and she is getting better and better.  Maybe not overnight, but accumulatively better. 

There was a turning point in Alyssa’s treatments, where you could see her transforming and getting healthy.  I would attribute a great deal of success to a couple particular supplements, IGG, an immune system booster, and Agape, a super awesome multi-vitamin.  Agape is great because it is made up of most of the supplements Alyssa needs in one quick teaspoon.  IGG and Agape have proven to be great supplements and have kept her well, even during flu season.  Amazing!!!
After all this time, could we be approaching our turn?  Will we start to see a recovery or cure?  This is what I know, Alyssa has changed substantially.  We aren’t done yet, we’re just better than ever.   Maybe her health had to improve before we would see other results?  Just this last trip, the day after treatment, Alyssa said, “I don’t want that, I don’t like it” and I replied with a giggle, “well, okay then”.  Later, she sang a verse from a kid’s song, “All aboard the choo choo train, all aboard the choo choo train”.  Honestly, I didn’t know she knew that song.  She is making progress and we see it.  I just have to say, just like anything that is good, it takes a long time, a gracious amount of effort and persevering consistency!  

Alyssa's health improving is such a blessing.  I would be the first to say, her health being jeopardized, impacted her Autism substantially, by making every symptom so much more dramatic.  I also want to tell you, I have a new understanding, a new meaning, of the word “care”.  It's no longer an acronym for a medical practice to me, instead a word to describe a family!!  This is a family I am grateful to be a part of and grateful to have Alyssa cared for by.  We are so fortunate.

Thank you for reading.  Have a great week!  Angie

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring Break

We are on spring break this week and have traveled to Arizona to take Alyssa to The Center for Autism Research and Education CARE. Next, we are visiting family and friends.

We will return at the end of the week and I will resume writing next Wednesday.

Thank You for reading, have a great week.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fancy Shoes

From the outside perspective, I want to wear your shoes, jump over my fence and roll in your grass, drive your car, wear your perfume, play in your closet and feel what it feels like to be you.  I want to escape my world for a day, feel like a queen, walk the red carpet, have your waistline and douse myself in the lifestyle you have.  Whoa, whoa, wait a second… your shoes are much like mine, they are dirty, scuffed and worn.  They have deep lines and cracks.  They are not so fancy, as I thought they were.  I get to your backyard and winter has made your grass look just as bad as the grass I have.  We are so much alike.  But, you say to me, “I don’t know how you do it”.  It makes me feel like your situation is much easier than mine.  It makes me think, your shoes fit much nicer than my own.  I laugh, I realize, I don’t want to wear your shoes after all, you might even have stinky feet, HA.

I have been accused of being one of those people where everything looks perfect.  Fancy shoes?  Not exactly!  I can assure you, what you see on the outside is more a reflection of tidiness, than cleanliness or perfection.  I have been told my house always looks clean; Thank God for drawers to shove all the clutter into.  My closets, cabinets and drawers are a mess.  From the outside looking in, you could be lead to think “she has it all together”. Yet, on the inside, it’s a fright.

Years ago, we went to dinner at this very nice restaurant.  We went early, since Alyssa was joining us.  Soon after being seated, an older couple was seated directly next to us.  Oh for the expressions on their face.  They grumbled under their breath.  “This clearly was NOT an establishment for children”, you could see them say, through their darting looks, hurled our way.  I got out the snack pack and started Alyssa’s dining experience.  Ravioli’s, yum!  She was delightful and happy.  She sat quietly, smiling, eating and looking around.  By the time her ravioli’s were finished, our food came and her second course began.  The evening was perfect.  At the end of the meal, the older couple came over to us.  They said they owed us an apology.  They were sure, from the moment they were seated next to us, their evening was going to be ruined.  They were only able to see the outside appearance at first.  By spending some time near us, they were able to experience something different, a well-mannered child enjoying her time in the community.  Thank you, Alyssa! 

Easier to judge, than to be judged, right?  As Alyssa got older, her behaviors were not as well-mannered in the restaurant or community setting.  I remember someone saying to me, “your child is out of control”.  Silly people, it’s not my child who is out of control, it’s me.  I cannot control this.  Autism is an entirely different world.  If you were a Mime, how good would you be at “miming”?  What would your expressions and behaviors make people think of you?  Alyssa is trapped in herself.  Unable to express, the way we do.  Unable to say, “I want to eat pizza”.  Instead, she points, she pushes, she pulls, and she may even throw what you call “a tantrum”.  When you look at her, try to see, the shoes she wears are army boots and she is in a battle called Autism.  These boots are too tight on her feet, they are too heavy to carry, uncomfortable, maybe even, unattractive.  I believe she may need a foot massage.  Sadly, this will not fix her behavior; her behavior is a reflection of what she cannot express.  Alyssa was given army boots, to help her with her battle and to protect her from all the bullets that may fly her way.  She is a person, much like you, but she is different and it’s apparent.  We could all do so much better by finding a place in our hearts for differences, making room to cast a smile, giving one another the feeling of hope and encouragement, a smile that says, “It will all be okay”.  When you see a person not acting the way you do, take a second to think to yourself, they just might be wearing army boots and struggling with a battle of their own. 

We all have difficulty, hardship, blessings, good, bad and even, ugly.  I want to reach out to you.  I would like to share what I have been blessed with, share my hope, which feels like my strength.  I want to leave my judgment behind.  I would like to reach out and make you an offer….  If you are wearing army boots, give them to me, I will help you carry them.  I will do my best to help you know, it’s all going to be okay.  You are welcome to my shoes; you can have them, in fact.  I feel, I am entering a different place in my life and it may be time, for me, to start walking barefoot! 

All my love and thanks to those who have helped carry me through!!!  You are the world to me!!! 

Thank you for reading!  Have a great week.  Angie