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Not only is today World Autism Awareness Day, but April is National Autism Awareness Month and it feels very different to me this year.
This year, we know that our son has Asperger’s Syndrome. For many years, I suspected that my son was on the spectrum. Almost a year ago, we found the one medical professional that really got to the bottom of everything that was going on. She listened, watched, observed at school, and tested our kiddo. She knew that this was a topic that upset me. You see, for many years we had people say yes and no over and over again. It wasn’t necessarily that the diagnosis of autism bothered me, it was the how. As an educator I am told not to judge people too quickly. Yet, several times, so-called professionals would meet my child and diagnose him within ten minutes. They didn’t talk, play, or interact with him during that time. They were talking with me and made the call on nothing else.
This year, I am an autism advocate and warrior. I am on a mission to make my son’s life better and to help others to understand him. He may be an Aspie, but it is not who he is. Thanks to an amazing autism community in the Capital Region and beyond we have found resources that have been beyond helpful, met fantastic friends, and educated ourselves and others.
The truth is we know NHL best and we are the ones that are going to battle to get him what he needs to be as successful as he can. His autism diagnosis has not been a bad thing, it helped us to finally have answers. It has allowed us to better understand our son and also TechyDad. You see NHL’s diagnosis actually opened his eyes to what he had been living and dealing with his entire life.
Yes, the geek that I fell in love with and married almost 12 years ago is also an Aspie. It explains a lot and has helped our family. TechyDad has been able to explain to NHL things that he has done in his life to learn how to relate in certain stressful social situations.
My biggest wish for all those living with Autism in their lives is to find acceptance. Too many people judge, point fingers, and blame. Rather than do this, talk to families and friends you may know who have members on the spectrum and get educated. Do not look at the media for answers because they often sensationalize too much and are not always honest about things. If you find yourself with an autism diagnosis for your child, it can be overwhelming. I had time as we sought answers to learn to accept things. Still, it was hard to know where to turn first. My advice is to quickly look for support groups in your area. Find other parents and families that you can work with and who can help you learn the system. Knowledge is power and so is being part of a very supportive community.
If you take one other thing away from this post please remember that autism is a neurological and not psychological. People with autism are wired differently, not worse.
Disclosure: The World Autism Awareness Day logo came from Autism Speaks and other materials can be found on their website. The Autism Awareness ribbon icon above was created by Melesse and comes from Wikimedia Commons.
Imagine walking into an art exhibit that not only is visually appealing, but will also help to feed families within your area. This is the reality of the 3rd Annual Capital Region Canstruction at the New York State Museum. Canstruction is a design competition that has been taking place all over the country. In the Capital Region, local architects, engineers, contractors, and students participate in this event where the goal is to create imaginative art that is simply made of canned goods.
The exhibit will be on the 4th Floor of the New York State Museum (free) from March 28 to April 11. Once the exhibit is closed, all of the food will be donated to the Food Pantries of for the Capital District. If you decide to go, please bring some cans with you. Part of the fun is voting for your favorite structure. Each display has a bin in front of it where you can donate a can as a vote. The one with the most donations will win the Community Choice Award.
Let me take you on a tour of the festivities. When you enter the New York State Museum, a display is within the lobby area. It was made by Tech Valley High students and faculty members and contains 3,814 cans. As you will see, each display has a board explaining the inspiration, who designed it, and what cans are included. This display was the Community Choice Award winner last year.
When we went upstairs, we circled around the exhibit. I spent some time sending out Instagram photos, while the boys and TechyDad looked around. Our first stop was In Our Dreams which was made by Price Chopper. This had 4,000 cans of soup, 200 bottle of white grape juice, 48 cans of chunk light tuna, and 48 cans of albacore tuna. At first glance, we missed that the brain actually lit up. This was a very fun addition to the structure. Thanks to the extra feature, it won JSL’s vote for favorite and a can was placed in the donation bin.
From here you could quickly see the focus of the next display. Look carefully for the peace sign. Yes, this display was called CAN You Imagine World Peace? and was made from 5,778 cans of tuna.
One of the most colorful displays was next. Lucky LepreCANS – Catch them if you CAN had 7,500 cans. At the bottom of the rainbow and pot of gold is an outline of New York State made with cans. I’ll let you in on a secret – this was almost my favorite.
From here, we walked back around to the other side of the 4th floor to check out The Volumizer. This won the “Best Meal” honor and when you look carefully you will probably understand why.
Next up are some fun little fellows that you will likely recognize from Despicable Me fame. The Minions are part of the Minion-Mize HUNGER that had 5,450 cans including tuna, macaroni and cheese, instant bouillon, black pepper, cherry gelatin, chocolate pudding, Slim Jims, and roasted coffee. This was also the structure that captured NHL’s vote for favorite.
Across the way from the Minions was another very famous critter. Yes, Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar was the focus of The Very Hungry CANerpillar. This colorful creature, who stole my heart, was made up of 5,770 cans. As a teacher, the nod to literature and creativity on so many levels won my vote as favorite.
Heading back around the corner, we dove into some 8-Bit Mario game nostalgia. The game stats for SOUPER MARIO BROS. was very impressive. It included the following cans: 924 chicken broth, 777 tomato sauce, 414 corn, 380 tuna, 211 black beans, 144 green beans, 20 wax beans, and 110 boxes of spaghetti. I almost think the skillfully hidden question mark for a power up may have been what made it TechyDad’s favorite.
As we followed the yellow brick road along the exhibit area, we came to We’re not in CANsas anymore… which won for structural integrity. This fun recreation of Oz is made up of over 3,000 cans of tuna, green beans, dices tomatoes, pink salmon, jello, split peas, and sardines.
The last of the structures that we saw won for the best use of labels. When you see this, it is not hard to understand why. Can You Imagine an End to Hunger? features the face of Albert Einstein. When you stand back it blends beautifully together to look like the picture. Also note his famous formula underneath – I missed that when there.
We really did enjoy our visit to the 2013 Capital Region Canstruction exhibit. I know that the boys learned a lot, had fun, and so did we. We look forward to going again next year. Oh and be sure to look at #Canstruction on Instagram and Twitter because the events all over are fun to check out.
Over the summer, something wonderful went into place for all students in New York State. The Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), which was technically signed into law in September of 2010, took effect on July 1, 2012. With bullying a horrible problem all over the world, New York is now requiring all schools to be on the same page. Every school has to follow the same procedures for reporting incident and concerns made by students, parents, and teachers. Many districts have places on their websites where people can find the coordinator for DASA within their building and at a district level. In addition to this, they are noting what the new policy is and how it will be followed.
Quick facts about DASA:
- Mandates that all schools in New York create anti-bullying programs for students and staff
- Institute codes of conduct to prevent harassment
- Report all bullying incidents that happen on school property to the state.
New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function. – From the DASA website
During a segment from 2011 on WNYT, Elaine Houston and Dr. Peter DeWitt (school principal) discuss what this newly implemented legislation will mean for schools, educational professionals, and students.
My hope for this law is that it will empower victims to stand up for their rights. It will make them aware of the fact that it is not acceptable for them to be harassed and bullied and let them know who they can safely report incidents to. In addition to this, I do hope that more people that witness bullying will stand up for change and assist the victims that truly do need their support.
If you are in New York, what do you think about DASA and how are your schools implementing this new policy? If you are not in New York, what is being done by you?
Previous posts about bullying and links to TechyDad’s series about the topic are below:
- Battling Bullies
- More Than a Number on a Scale – National Bullying Prevention Month
- My Bullied History – TechyDad
Is there someone in your life that needs a hug, or maybe you do? January 21 is National Hugging Day™ and the perfect time to surprise someone that needs a good hug. Of course, everyday should and could be a day for a hug and I think I am a firm believer of this. I mean just look at this photo of my boys getting along and hugging each other, it could be contagious:
Now, thanks to my bloggy friend Holly from Tropic Home and Family, I am going to Pay it Forward with someone else that I would like to give a hug to. I wish I lived closer to my friend Shannan (From Cribs to Car Key). She is such a strong woman, fantastic mother, and great person. She never judges, always listens, knows how to make me laugh, and dishes out great advice. Here we are together after we conquered the African Trek at Walt Disney World (thus the crazy hair).
Shannan has been there through a lot of drama in my life and helped me to keep a level head. She probably doesn’t realize how much she means in my life, but I am putting it out there for her to officially know. Thank you Shannan for always being a DM, PM, phone call, Tweet, text, or Skype call away. I know I will never be able to express what you mean to me, but you are like a virtual sister to me who I can complain to and gab about Disney with. Now we just have to figure out a way to get our states closer and meet up in person soon.
A huge thank you to Holly for sharing this idea – love it. It was also great to finally meet you and your family in December. FYI, she gives out a great hug as well.
My question this week is inspired by Holly:
If you could give a hug to anyone right now (near or far), who would it be and why? If you would like to participate in Holly’s Pay it Forward project, click on the button below (those two cuties are Holly’s boys).
Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the linky there if you are participating.
Today is the day that many of us have been waiting for for well over a year. The day that we get our chance to vote for the candidate that we want to run our country.
I know who I am voting for, but I am not going to tell you who to vote for. I just want to make sure that every American has the ability to get to a polling place to exercise their right to vote. If you have children, take them with you. This is a great educational experience for them. You are also showing your children that you are taking the right to vote seriously.
No matter what the outcome of the elections, I am just glad to have a short time with no items in my mailbox, no robo-callers, and no annoying political commercials.
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