Let’s Talk About Autism; It’s Time to Speak Up

BY: - 25 Sep '13 | Parenting

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FacingAutism

Angel’s autism diagnosis thrust me into a world that was foreign to me. A world that was full of unknowns. As a community, we have no problem telling others when we have conditions like diabetes, arthritis, or even hypertension. In fact, we shout these diagnoses from the rooftops. However, some families decide to keep their child’s autism diagnosis a secret.

I am a firm believer that open communication can lead to early autism diagnoses for our children. When we are not open, this can result in our children being evaluated for autism at a later age. When we are not open, we end up being in the dark about services and resources that can help our children progress. Angel was diagnosed with autism when he was four-years old. When we arrived on the autism scene, other children had been getting services and help from as early as 18-months old.

To my fellow parents with children on the autism spectrum, we cannot raise our children in a vacuum. Autism is not a dirty secret. It is a reality. The more we know and share about autism, the more empowered we can become as a community. This empowerment can give us the courage to spread awareness to our friends and family. When our friends and family are aware, then there is an increased chance that they can provide support and be compassionate.

When I shared the news of Angel’s autism diagnosis with others, I heard it all. Some people told me to “Leave it at the altar. Don’t worry. It will be okay.” Although these words came from a good place, they did little to help me cope with this life-changing reality.

So how can you offer support to someone who is raising a child with autism or another developmental disability? Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Show sensitivity when discussing people with special needs. The “short bus” jokes and calling people retarded can be hurtful. People with special needs are not and should not be a punch line.
  2. Support a cause that benefits people with autism.
  3. Show compassion and empathy when a child with autism or any special-needs child has a meltdown. A meltdown is not a tantrum. There is a difference.
  4. Offer to help by giving your time and/or emotional support to a parent of a child with special needs.
  5. Please do not minimize our feelings about our child’s diagnosis.
  6. Respect the way we choose to raise our child.
  7. Teach your children to be kind to people with disabilities.

BMWK – What would you add to my list? Are developmental disabilities openly discussed in your community?

Check back weekly for additional articles from Kpana Kpoto as she shares her experiences and what she learns as she raises her son that has been diagnosed with Autism.

About the author

Kpana Kpoto wrote 38 articles on this blog.

Kpana Kpoto, also known as Miz Kp, is a special needs advocate and blogger. She provides resources and support for autism parents through her blog, Sailing Autistic Seas and her support group, Bronx Parents Autism Support Circle. Kpana lives in New York City with her husband and only child, six-year old "Angel" who is conquering autism one milestone at a time.

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36 WordPress comments on “Let’s Talk About Autism; It’s Time to Speak Up

  1. Whitney

    Gracia, I went through all of those emotions, even the ones where your family insists that nothing is wring with your child. We’ve come a long way, and at 17 we are starting the transition phase and preparing for college. It has been an awesome, challenging journey and my daughter has established her place in this world. She has been in three different musicals, she didn’t audition this year, singing in the Gospel choir at school and is very active. Despite all that, she is still awkward in her relationships but works hard at being a typical teenaged girl. Proud of my baby.

  2. Kpana Kpoto

    Congrats to your daughter, Whitney. It is always good to also hear from parents of older children on the spectrum. My son just turned six this year. All the best to you and your daughter as she prepares to transition into college.

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10 Tips to Get Your Kid to Eat Healthy Foods

BY: - 26 Sep '13 | Parenting

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TNMFamilyDinnerHealthy

Recently, I was asked by a friend how we get our kids to eat so healthy? As simple as it may sound, we honestly just didn’t give them much of a choice. When my husband and I decided to create a healthier lifestyle for ourselves, it ultimately meant that our children would be doing the same. Although I’m not vegan, I’ve learned a lot about healthy food choices once my husband decided to take on that lifestyle. By simply changing the foods we eat, we’ve lost over fifty pounds collectively over the last year and a half.

Our kids rarely eat fast food. But they love eating things like oatmeal, kale, salad, broccoli, rice and beans, chickpeas, tomatoes and various types of fruit. In short, they eat what we eat. So if you’re trying to make some healthy changes with your kids, here are a few simple tips to get you started:

Don't Give Them a Choice and Be Creative

Picture 1 of 5

Don’t give them a choice. This may sound a little harsh for some, but this became critical especially after my husband changed his diet. Initially, I would cook a separate meal for him, and something else for the kids and I. But that just took up time that I didn’t have. So we all had to learn to adjust to new eating habits. Unless I decide to add chicken or fish to our plates, then we are all eating the same exact thing. No more being a short order cook.

Be creative. If your kids never liked vegetables before, then you may need to be creative in your preparation and approach. There’s a great cookbook called Deceptively Delicious that we started out with. All of the recipes include “hidden” vegetables in them so that, most times, the kids don’t even realize they’re eating the good stuff. With our last born, we started pureeing all of her veggies and mixing them into her daily meals as soon as she could eat solids. To this day, there’s not a veggie we’ve made her that she won’t eat.

About the author

Christine St. Vil wrote 153 articles on this blog.

Christine St.Vil is co-author of the Whose Shoes Are Your Wearing: 12 Steps to Uncovering the Woman You Really Want to Be. A happy wife to an amazing hubby of 8 years, and homeschooling mother of three, she teaches moms how to FLY (First Love Yourself). She uses her corporate background to work with women who are ready to start a new business, accelerate their career growth & design a life they love. She's on a mission to help moms to battle the mom guilt epidemic, so they can begin to put themselves first on their never-ending list of priorities.

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