1. Congrats on being a MomDot Feature Blogger! Why don’t you start by introducing yourself to our readers!
Hi! My name is Danette, and I’m a mom of three little boys, 7-yr-old identical twins and an almost 3½ -yr-old. They are the light of my life, and I feel blessed to be their mom! Each of them is diagnosed with autism and sensory issues. They have their challenges (who doesn’t?), but they have some cool talents too, and well, they are just pretty amazing little boys! This summer dh and I celebrated our 15th anniversary (we got married young so that doesn’t make me as old as it sounds, lol). He’s a full-time SAHD and has been since our twins were 6 weeks old. It’s a little unconventional, but it’s worked out well for us.
2. How did you arrive on the blogosphere? What got you interested in blogging?
Part of the reason I started blogging was because our family is spread out so I wanted an easy way to update everyone on how the boys are doing. I thought this would also be a fun way to keep a journal of their progress and all the funny things they do and say (who knows, maybe their kids will enjoy reading it someday). Lastly, I hope that by sharing our experiences we can spread awareness about autism and help other families with children diagnosed on the spectrum, even if it is just to let them know they’re not alone.
3. How did you initially feel about the diagnosis of the twins being autistic? and then your 3rd son?
When our twins were diagnosed at age 3, I felt a mixture of relief and worry. We’d been struggling for so long to figure out why they had such a hard time communicating, why they had such nuclear-proportion meltdowns on a daily basis with no clue as to what triggered them, etc. They were preemies and had some issues from birth (no regression), so we had been prepared for some developmental delays, but it seemed there was more going on. When they were diagnosed, I worried about what the future would hold for them, but it was a relief to finally have some answers. I read everything I could about autism and it helped us better understand them and start developing a plan to help them.
Our youngest son was born full-term and healthy, and he developed typically at first. At 15 months, he started saying a few words and pointing. Over the next few months, he stopped saying new words, and then stopped saying the few words he knew. He gradually regressed — stopped pointing, stopped responding to his name, made less eye contact, started tuning us out most of the time. By 22 months we knew he needed to be evaluated, and he was officially diagnosed at age 2. It was exhausting to think of the road I knew we had ahead of us, but on the bright side, by that point we’d seen significant progress with our older boys so we were optimistic about his future.
4. How do you help people be aware of Autism?
I talk openly about it. I make a point to tell people about my sons’ strengths as well as their challenges. Last year, I created an autism awareness video and I tried to make it a positive message. People with autism have so much to offer, they just need a little patience and understanding. My blog is another way that I hope to help spread awareness. I want to do what I can to make the world a more accepting place for my kids and everyone with autism.
5. What would you say is the biggest challenge being a mother, especially one of 3 boys?
One of the biggest challenges for me is just trying to keep up with all their energy!
6. Do you have any tips/advice for a parent that has a child just diagnosed with Autism?
I recently wrote a post intended for newly diagnosed families. I would say the most important thing is to find / build a support network. It can be your family / friends, local autism support group, online autism support group – whatever works for you but it’s so easy to feel isolated when you have a child with autism, that support is really essential.
Read, research, and learn as much as you can. The more knowledge you gain the better position you will be in to help your child. Trust your instincts! We found ourselves having to ignore a lot of advice and get creative to find what worked for our kids.
7. What’s the biggest misconception about a child with Autism? (btw, we recommend THIS post)
There are a lot, I could write a whole post on that (hmm, I think I will!). One of the most frustrating is that children with autism are “just brats” who lack discipline or act “weird.” That attitude is counterproductive, hurtful, and just plain wrong. Also, the notion that autistic individuals can’t develop emotional bonds or show affection is a harmful one. They may show their affection in unique ways (one of my sons used to press his chin against my hand as an affectionate gesture) but they do feel love and they show it in their own way. Another is that people with autism are all alike. The truth is if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism .
8. What is your favorite thing to do for yourself?
Aside from blogging , I love to take pictures and videos, and edit videos to share with others. I also love to curl up with a good book, but I have to space out the books I read because I have a hard time putting them down once I get started! Lately, I enjoy playing Guitar Hero, my husband had to talk me into getting it but once I started playing it’s really fun. It’s the only video game we have that I’m any good at.
9. If you could go on any vacation anywhere in the world where would you
go and what would you do?
I would love to rent a cabin in the mountains somewhere, and spend a few days just relaxing and enjoying nature with dh and the boys.
Thanks so much for being our feature blogger and for sharing your beautiful family with the blogging world. We hope that your blog reaches someone here who just may need your advice.
MomDot Editor Alicia