Wednesday, April 2, 2014

World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, 2014

It's hard to believe another year has come and gone since last year's World Autism Awareness Day, and here we are, lighting it up blue for Autism once again!  This past year has brought a lot of wonderful changes in our family's life - all changes for the better for Josh as he continues to thrive as a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The CDC just recently released updated totals for Autism prevalence in the United States: 1 in 68 children has an ASD diagnosis.  What is very alarming is that 1 in 42 boys is on the spectrum.  Scientists still have not found a cause, and obviously, there is no cure.  Some research has also shown that over 2/3 of children with ASD also have comorbid psychiatric disorders.  This too is alarming.

While many States in the US are slowly passing laws to help children on the spectrum receive needed services and be included in regular education classes as appropriate, they have a long way to go in helping to teach understanding and provide training in schools, promote success of these children, or address the ability of these children to be a part of the work force and housing as adults.

So how has Josh been doing?  I am excited to share with you all that God has done for him and us since last April.

  • Josh is in a new school and EXCELLING thanks to an amazing team of teachers and assistants and principal who are backed by an amazing school district who really cares and does not hesitate to do whatever is needed to help a child succeed.  After fighting our old district for years to just do what the PA laws require and getting nowhere, I was left with the choice of either pressing charges in court or getting Josh out of the school. Choosing the latter, we started looking last April for a new home in a better school district going off of the recommendations of Josh's therapists for the best school districts in the area.  God provided us with a house in July in one of the top 2 districts, and we cannot be more pleased with this decision.  The love and concern that Josh's school team has for him nearly drives me to tears (and that's saying a lot) with each interaction with them.  They include us as parents as part of the team as well as Josh's outside therapists.  As a result, Josh is surrounded by a unified team who is working together with all of the same goals to help him be successful.  It's working!  Josh has had his best year yet!!!!
  • As a result of moving, we had to switch counties for Josh's medicaid which meant that his mental health insurance coverage is now with the best agency among those in the surrounding county agencies in providing services for kids with Autism and mental health disorders.  The extra support he receives benefits him as well as our family.
  • Last month, I began using doTERRA essential oils to help Josh with his Autism and other 3 mental health disorders.  The difference we have seen in Josh has been absolutely amazing!  Teachers and therapists have also seen the difference that we have seen.  His psychiatrist was so excited to see him doing better that last week, she decreased his mood stabilizer as a result.  We are praising the Lord for helping us to find this natural way of helping Josh with his struggles and are excited to see how far the use of these oils will take Josh with his medicine regimen.    
  • In November, we celebrated a whole year of keeping Josh out of the psych hospital.  Given his history, this was a huge accomplishment.  We believe this is a result of God's grace as well as His provision of an amazing school and great subsequent team as well as outside therapists.
Josh, who has Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), a moderately functioning ASD, is now a 9 year old boy who loves life, works extremely hard to regulate his behavior, engage in social interactions, and be all that God has created him to be.  He excels academically, is thoroughly enjoying taking piano and voice lessons, and loves nature and working with animals (particularly cats).  Josh recently said this about Autism: "I don't want them [scientists] to find a cure for Autism.  God made me this way, and I don't want to change that! I am thankful for who I am."  I am so glad he has such a wonderful attitude of about the "gift" that God has given him.  I am excited to see what plans God has in store for him and am so proud of him for working so hard fighting his multiple battles day in and day out!
One of my all-time favorite pictures of Josh taken at the beginning of this school year!
The front of our house lit up blue for Autism

Our back light that can be seen from a major road running behind our property

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