Category Archives: Uncategorized

Vaccines. I know. I said I’d never write about this.

The following post is likely going to majorly drop my numbers but I’ve stayed away from this topic for years and I can’t stay away from it anymore.

You’ve probably already guessed what it’s about.

Vaccines.

I cannot control the decisions you make about your life and about the lives of your children, I’m aware of that. But it’s something that needs to be discussed. Too many children are missing out on important, life saving, vaccinations. It’s not okay. I will of course be focusing on the Autism and vaccine correlation as its my area of interest. This is becoming an issue in my province. Kids are getting the measles. This is a huge issue.

People have allowed themselves to be absolutely brainwashed by the Jenny McCarthy movement. This is something that I honestly can’t even comprehend. How is the Autism Vaccine issue even a thing still?

ALL STUDIES THAT INITIALLY ‘PROVED’ THAT VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM HAVE BEEN DISPROVED AND WERE FAKE AND THEY WERE THROWN AWAY.

Why is this still an issue when every single piece of research related to this has been disproved? Why in gods name are we risking the lives of children? What the fuck kind of message are we sending to people with Autism and their families?

That’s what really grinds my gears. Aside from the obvious huge health issue that’s associated with not vaccinating, the message anti-vaxxers are sending to our community is hurtful and distasteful. Let’s say for a minute that vaccines do cause Autism (which they don’t. We know that. This is hypothetical). You would really rather your child die than consider the possibility of them having an Autism Spectrum Disorder?! Even worse, we KNOW that vaccines do not cause Autism yet we’re still not vaccinating kids just on the off chance that they might still be able to ‘catch’ Autism from it. That’s disgusting. The message that is being sent to our community is that a child dead from the measles (or some other preventable with vaccines disease) is better than a child with Autism. That’s beyond hurtful.

Now, I see both sides of it. Don’t get me wrong pro-vaxxers, I’m still one of you. But I am able to see and understand why some parents still hold onto the vaccine theory. An Autism diagnosis can be hard to hear and you want to blame it on something. To those parents: Autism is not your fault. Autism has no cause. You didn’t give it to your child. You did the right thing by vaccinating them. Your child with Autism is a little different, sure. But your child is beautiful and smart and amazing and perfect in his or her own way. Please, please, please remember these things and vaccinate your other kids and urge others to vaccinate theirs. There are lives at risk.

People keep talking about the ‘Autism Epidemic’. I won’t get started on that because if I do, this post will never end. But I will say one quick thing about it. Autism is not a disease. There cannot be an ‘Autism Epidemic’. Autism will never be a disease. There will never be an ‘Autism Epidemic’. But there absolutely can be a measles epidemic. It’s happening now. And that’s a hell of a lot scarier than Autism.

Please. Vaccinate your children.

Autism Speaks? Part Two.

As many of you know, I try to stay away from the more controversial topics in the Special Needs world on this blog. But, the Autism Speaks controversy is one that really frustrates me and one that I need to talk about. 

Just over a year ago, I wrote one of my most popular posts: “Autism Speaks?”, this was just after Autism Speaks (US) released a video calling out Government Officials about making a better plan for the Autism Community. In theory, a great idea. A necessary idea. But, the way Autism Speaks approached it was appalling. I won’t get into all of that again but, feel free to read the original post. 

On November 11th, 2013 Suzanne Wright, one of the founders of Autism Speaks, released a statement. A statement that has had most of the Autism community in an uproar. For some very good reasons. Suzanne demeans Autism families. She essentially says that a life with a child with Autism is not really a life. 

 

“These families are not living.”

 

She actually says that. Referring to families of children with Autism, she says that. Who does that? The statement is hurtful and demeaning. As I’ve mentioned so many times before, Autism Speaks is taking the Autism Acceptance movement and pushing it ten steps back. People in the typical community see statements like this one and it scares them. Especially when it is released by THE biggest and most influential Autism organization in North America. People begin to pity the Autism community. Parents fear an Autism diagnosis. Integration is becoming more difficult. Autism Speaks should be protecting individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, not making others scared of them. That’s ludicrous. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they are calling for an “Action Plan”. I understand that they want more support from the Government. We need more support from the Government. Yes, Autism families need more funding. Absolutely. But, degrading families and people with Autism in the process is not the way to go. It’s hurtful. This statement has been a final straw for many Autism Speaks supporters. There has been an outcry about the way they support for years. People have tried and tried again to help them understand the hurt they are causing but, it doesn’t seem to stick. 

There are parts of Autism Speaks that I really do enjoy. At least here in Canada. Since I am/have been involved with Autism Speaks, I will say that the local events I’ve attended have been great. They been accepting and adaptable and all-around great. Our local chapter is awesome. But, I have a hard time associating with an organization that so loudly demeans those with Autism. It’s not right. 

We need to focus on acceptance. We will get nowhere if we don’t move forward. As opposed to taking money and spending on finding a “cure”, provide families who can’t afford support and therapies, with support and therapies. Research further into those therapies like IBI and ABA that we know work. Try and find new ones. Put less focus on scaring the hell out of others and more focus on helping the families in our close-knit community who need it. 

See the ability.

Here’s a collection of my favourite blog posts about this:

http://www.blogher.com/yes-autism-speaks-sucks-what-now

http://reinventingmommy.blogspot.ca/2013/11/this-is-not-our-autism.html

http://www.mostlytruestuff.com/2013/11/autism-speaks-speak-son.html

http://specialneedsoc.com/2013/11/13/why-i-wont-be-at-the-autism-speaks-walk-this-saturday/

Mr. John Elder Robison recently resigned from his roles at Autism Speaks.. read about that here:

http://jerobison.blogspot.ca/2013/11/i-resign-my-roles-at-autism-speaks.html 

 

Thank You!!

I just wanted to take a little bit of time to send out a HUGE thank-you to all of you who are a part of this absolutely amazing community. I know that my blog/Facebook page is from a bit of a different perspective than most and I am so honoured by how easily accepted I was into this community.

The community and friends that I’ve made over this past year through the blog and Facebook page are connections that I could not be more thankful to have made. I greatly appreciate all of the support and advice that you all have given me, it has helped me immensely in creating the best programs I can for the people I support. I take everything you guys say into serious consideration and use all of your suggestions. Thank you. 

In exciting Facebook page news, we hit 310 personal page ‘likes’ tonight! Plus about 200 other page ‘likes’! That is pretty fun! Thanks to everyone who thinks that I have something worth sharing! I appreciate it! 

I can very proudly state that the Special Needs communities I am involved in (both online and my local community) are the best communities out there! Thank you so much for all of your support! 

Special Hockey Practice in the morning so that’s all I am going to say for tonight! 

If you haven’t checked out the Facebook page yet, go give it a look and join in on the conversation!

https://www.facebook.com/storiesfromthesandbox

The end of September…

So, the first month of post-camp time is over. Phew. I have been quite busy with school, respite and Special Olympics. We’ve had some exciting things happen in our Special Olympics Community that I’m going to share with you today. But first, I’d like to acknowledge a few things something that happened during the month of September. I tried to steer clear of talking about this on the blog/facebook page because it is both heart-breaking and very controversial and it’s a conversations I’d much rather have in real-life. 

Issy Stapleton. Since I’m fairly positive that almost everyone in the Special Needs Community has heard a heck of a lot about this story I’m not going to go through and explain it. For those of you who don’t, here’s a link to an article: http://www.autismspeaks.org/news/news-item/autism-speaks-responds-issy-stapleton-tragedy

Now, I’m really not going to weigh in on this situation. I don’t want to get into it. I just thought that it was important to acknowledge that this is a real tragedy. A real tragedy that really happened. I want to ensure that people continue to keep Issy and the Stapleton family in their thoughts. This is a situation that is extremely difficult on the entire family. And that is all I have to say on that.

I also just wanted to do a quick thank-you to everyone who shared the information about Cody, the boy in my town who went missing. He has been located and he is safe. 🙂

Now some fun information about my local Special Olympics program (https://www.facebook.com/GuelphSpecialOlympics)!! This SUPER exciting thing happened where Guelph will be hosting the 2016 Spring Games Provincials!! Woo! We have such a great community here and we are so excited to be hosting these games! They are going to be a lot of fun. Last week we had our annual Sports Banquet. All of our local teams gather together to celebrate the last season with dinner, awards and a dance. The Sports Banquet this year was super fun. Being the Head Coach of our adapt aquatics program I had the honour of presenting the Sportsmanship Award (Congrats, James). All of our athletes were very deserving of their awards and a great time was had by all! The dance was definitely a highlight for most. One of our athletes also doubles as a DJ so he did the dance. 

Image

My “brother” Ryan, graciously accepting his award.

As many of you, I have completely re-done our Adapt Aquatics program. We’ve implemented it three times now and it is going really well. I have a great group of coaches and volunteers, an amazing group of athletes and some super parents and caregivers. This has really helped with a smooth transition into the new program for all of our athletes. We have a really fun season ahead of us! Go Phantoms. 

Paying it forward in honour of Gavin Leong

Gavin’s story is one that I’ve been following through his mom’s blog for sometime now. Although I didn’t know Gavin personally, I learned a lot about him and his family and the kid that he was becoming through the blog. I was completely heartbroken to read a few days ago that Little Gavin was admitted to the hospital and things were looking quite grim. Sadly, Gavin officially passed away a couple of hours ago. His organs are being donated to help other people in need. Gavin was a superstar and made a huge impact on so many people’s lives. Gavin’s mom has requested that people pay-it forward in Gavin’s honour. Do something nice for another person in honour of Gavin, here’s what Kate wrote about it on her facebook page:

Ed and I will be announcing our choices for “in lieu of flowers” donations to honor Gavin in a few days, but today is my birthday and this is all about me. I’ve come up with a special, totally FREE way to honor my sweet son who could inspire the most profound emotion without ever saying a word. I’m asking you to help someone… document it with words and or a photo… and place it on the Chasing Rainbows Facebook Page. Then be sure to check the page often to get inspired by the outpouring of love. Here are some great ideas for you… Find a special needs classroom in your community. These are usually low funded and always looking for donations. Perhaps you have toys your kids don’t play with anymore that could be used in the classroom or during therapy. Random crayons that are laying around. I know we always needed rug gripper to place under Gavin’s behind when he sat – that’s a good need. Do you know a special needs Mom in your neighborhood? Church? School? Tell her you’d like to make dinner for her family. What night would work? Then tell her the only requirement is they have to give a “cheers toast” to Gavin during dinner. Help someone struggling to unload groceries into their car in the rain. Donate clothes to a women’s shelter. Check with your local children’s hospital for volunteer opportunities – even if it’s just for two hours of your life. Save all of your magazines and bring a big stash to your local hospital. You have no idea how helpful that is to parents who spend days, weeks or months (as I did when Gavin was a baby) sitting in their child’s hospital room. These are just some ideas… be creative! And think of Gavin when you do it. Share his story with the person you are blessing. Tell them that Gavin Leong changed the world with little acts of courage, determination and a sweet smile… without ever saying a word. And then ask them to pay it forward to honor his legacy. This would be the best birthday gift you could give me. There is no time frame – you could post something today or a year from now or five years from now. Thank you for helping me to honor my amazing little boy. And feel free to share this anywhere you want! 

xoxo, kate.
Chasing Rainbows

Please keep Gavin’s mom and dad and little brother, Brian in your thoughts tonight. Pay-it forward for Gavin’s legacy.

Rest in Peace, kiddo. ♥ 

Read about Kate and Ed’s day here (and read more about their story): http://www.kateleong.com/2013/04/gavin-david-leong.html#.UWtsf79hdAQ 

Check out their Facebook page here: Chasing Rainbows 

Walk Now for Autism Speaks- Waterloo 2013

Hey Party People! 

I will again be participating in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks this year. But this year in a more local area; Waterloo! woo! 

If anybody is in the area and would like to join our team or would like to donate to our team, please feel free!! It’s going to be another really good time raising Autism awareness!!

http://events.autismspeaks.ca/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=6839

that’s the link to our team’s page! 

A new Special Olympics swim program!

Hope everyone is having a super day!

I’m looking for some advice today.

Since the broken leg, I’ve had a lot of spare time plus I’ve been able to go to my Special Olympics Swim Team (Go Fergus Phantoms!). Since I have all of this extra time, I’ve decided to make some changes to our adapt program. The adapt end is for our non (traditional) competitive swimmers. Those who are still learning to swim or still working on swimming independently. 

I’m looking for ideas for activities to do with my athletes in the pool. If you were sending your child or person you support to this program, what would you want to see? If you’re an athlete; what kind of activities would you want to do? If you’ve coached; what did you do? any main skills you focused on?

Any ideas would be awesome! 

Please pass this along to anyone you think would have some input and check us out on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stories-from-the-Sandbox/252057948257316

Have an awesome rest of your day! 🙂