A Letter to My Family & Friends

While visiting with family and friends can be a happy time, it can also be very, very hard for me. I have autism; this is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how my brain functions. I am not “bad;” I am not misbehaving. I am not intentionally trying to get away with something. I am communicating in the best way I know how. Words may not come easy for me; listening to everyone talk is like being in a foreign country with no interpreter to help me with the language. So I may “talk” through my actions instead.

I smile or laugh when I am happy. I may also smile and laugh when I am nervous, because my emotions are hard for me to understand and control. I may yell when I am happy, and I may yell and cry when I am upset. I may also scratch or pinch, not always only when I’m mad, because this is how I let people know I want them to back off, or how I say “I don’t like that!” I throw things because I like to watch them drop, and I like to watch other people pick them up. Since I have trouble knowing what you’re saying, I watch your face, and when your face turns red or your eyes squint when you’re angry, that is interesting to me, because your face changed. I may not know “angry;” I know that things I look at can change in shape or color or size or direction, and that is interesting when sight may be my best sense.

Telling me to “stop” or “don’t” doesn’t help. I already know what NOT to do; tell me what TO do instead. “Feet stay on the floor” is better than “stop climbing.” “Hands stay to yourself” is better than “don’t hit.” “Quiet voice” tells me what to do; “you’re too loud” doesn’t. Even if I can talk in sentences, I may lose the ability to understand speech as my anxiety increases. Just like everybody else, the more nervous I get, the harder it is for me to find the words.

I may have trouble with everything happening around me. I hear everything; I see everything; I smell everything; I feel everything. I may not filter out what is unnecessary, because I may not know what exactly is necessary. So everything comes in at the same level of importance. When there is a lot to see or hear or smell or feel, I may get overwhelmed. It is too much, and the only way I can let you know is by my actions. When I am overwhelmed, I am only trying to protect myself from more input. I may run away and hide, or hum or scream to drown out the individual voices, or rock to soothe myself, or hit or bite because “too much” is painful and I just want it to stop. Talking and touching will just keep sending input into my already over-loaded senses; I need to stop the input and get calm. Finding a place to get away from all the input will help me calm down. Then I can regroup, and come back out when I’m ready.

To help me adjust to all the changes in the holiday season, watch me. See how I react to my environment. See what makes me wince or pull away, and what draws me closer. See my actions as words, and answer what I’m “saying.” Slow down the input you’re giving me; give me time to process all the new sights and sounds and smells and textures. Give me a space to be by myself, to regroup, to calm. Help me figure out what’s happening by using fewer words and more gestures. Understand that I’m really, really trying….this world is a big, fast-moving, word-filled place that confuses and scares me. Help me figure it out. And thank you for understanding that I don’t mean to do things the wrong way; I’m just doing things the best way I can under the circumstances.

ASMC Bowling Camp

Let's bowl!
 
ASMC is setting up the pins for another season of our annual bowling camp!

For parent registration, please click here: http://member.autismmclean.org/Sports/Bowling.php.

Contact Krissy Dodson with questions.

About the program:

This camp is open to any kid who wants to be there. As long as they want to play, they are welcome to join us.

Our mission statement is simple: provide our kids the same experience as any other kid who plays a sport. This means, of course, uniforms, practice, frustration, achievement, daydreaming, running, sharing, communicating, bonding, teamwork, turn taking, following directions and friendship.

Parents can help coach (which really means play and share the experience)

We look forward to seeing you there, and watching our kids succeed!

Where: 
Pheasant Lanes, 804 N. Hershey Road, Bloomington, IL, 61704
Date/Time: 
Saturday, December 7, 2013 - 1:00am
Saturday, December 14, 2013 - 1:00am
Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 1:00am
Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 1:00am
Saturday, January 4, 2014 - 1:00am
Saturday, January 11, 2014 - 1:00am
Saturday, January 18, 2014 - 1:00am
Saturday, January 25, 2014 - 1:00am
Saturday, February 1, 2014 - 1:00am
Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 1:00am
Cost: 
All children will bowl for free. If parents would like to bowl on a team with their kid(s), they will need to register and pay $30 for the 10 week season.

ASMC Parent Support Cafe

The Cafe provides ongoing support, trainings and discussions on the many areas of autism that families are challenged with. Come join other family members to share your knowledge and problem solve. This month's topic: Puberty.

Childcare provided by ISU's SSID at Skill Sprouts. Trainings and discussion will be facilitated by Illinois Autism Training and Technical Assistance Project.

RSVP to Jacquie at 309-824-4555 so as to ensure proper coverage.

Please see the attached flyer for more information.

Where: 
706 Oglesby Ave., Normal, IL, 61761, in the conference room between TAP and Skill Sprouts
Date/Time: 
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm

ASMC Holiday Party and Annual Meeting/Appreciation Reception

The ASMC Holiday Party and Annual Meeting/Appreciate Dinner will be held at the Children’s Discovery Museum on Sunday, December 1st from 5:30p -7:30p.

Pizza and beverages will be provided - Please bring a side dish or dessert to share. A jolly, old elf may stop by to listen to Christmas wishes.

Please RSVP at http://autismmclean.org/2013-holiday-party.

The annual meeting/appreciation reception will take place while the children are playing and being supervised by our friends at SSID. The new ASMC Board of Directors will be announced.

Recognition of individuals/organizations who make a difference in the lives of people living with autism. Go to http://autismmclean.org/2013-annual-appreciation-awards to nominate an individual or organization for an award of appreciation.

Where: 
Children's Discovery Museum, 101 E Beaufort St, Normal, IL, 61761
Date/Time: 
Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm

SSID's Annual Halloween Dance

Boo! You’re invited to… SSIDs annual Halloween Dance. Who is SSID? Students Supporting Individuals with Disabilities is a registered student organization at Illinois State University that focuses on providing volunteer opportunities for students to volunteer with individuals with disabilities.

Join us for an afternoon of music, dancing, snacks, and crafts! There will be a contest for best costume, so please feel free to dress up!

All ages, disabilities and siblings are welcome!

If you have any questions, or to RSVP, please email Marlee Goldsworthy at mcgolds@ilstu.edu.

Where: 
Circus Room in the Bone Student Center, 100 N University St, Normal, IL, 61761
Date/Time: 
Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm

ASMC Parent Support Cafe

The Cafe provides ongoing support, trainings and discussions on the many areas of autism that families are challenged with. Come join other family members to share your knowledge and problem solve. This month's topic: Visuals.

Childcare provided by ISU's SSID at Skill Sprouts. Trainings and discussion will be facilitated by Illinois Autism Training and Technical Assistance Project.

RSVP to Jacquie at 309-824-4555 so as to ensure proper coverage.

Please see the attached flyer for more information.

Where: 
706 Oglesby Ave., Normal, IL, 61761, in the conference room between TAP and Skill Sprouts
Date/Time: 
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm

A Day in the Park with SSID!

SSID is hosting a day in the park with the families from the Autism Society. 

Who is SSID? Students Supporting Individuals with Disabilities is a student organization at Illinois State University that provides volunteer opportunities for students to work with individuals with disabilities in the community.

We will be meeting by the Miller Park playground near the zoo to play games and have snacks. Parents are welcome to drop off their kids or stay. All ages and siblings are welcome.

Please email Marlee Goldsworthy at mcgolds@ilstu.edu to RSVP by September 22nd, or with any additional questions.

We hope to see you there!

 

Where: 
Miller Park Zoo, 1020 S Morris Ave, Bloomington, IL 61701
Date/Time: 
Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm

ASMC Football Camp

Are you ready for flag football?

ASMC is ready for another season of our annual football camp! The idea of organized sports seemed impossible, but at least we had catch, right? Special kids don’t have the same opportunities as “normal” kids. That’s just the way it is, right?

What kid doesn’t like to play tag, to run, be chased and play? I know our kids do. With our flag football camp, our kids will get the chance to play!

For registration, t-shirts, and more, please click here: https://member.autismmclean.org/Sports/Football.php.

Contact the ASMC Sports Director with any questions, comments, or concerns.

About the program:

This camp is open to any kid who wants to be there. As long as they want to play, they are welcome to join us.

Our mission statement is simple: provide our kids the same experience as any other kid who plays a sport. This means, of course, uniforms, practice, frustration, achievement, daydreaming, running, sharing, communicating, bonding, teamwork, turn taking, following directions and friendship.

Parents can help coach (which really means play and share the experience)

We look forward to seeing you there, and watching our kids succeed!

Where: 
Eugene Field Vocational Training Center, 412 E. Cypress, Normal, IL, 61761
Date/Time: 
Monday, September 23, 2013 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Monday, September 30, 2013 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Monday, October 7, 2013 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Monday, October 14, 2013 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Monday, October 21, 2013 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Monday, October 28, 2013 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Cost: 
Registration fee: $10
Registration + t-shirt: $15

Marcfirst Family Camp

Marcfirst will hold its very first camp Saturday, September 21 through Sunday, September 22. Camp will be held at East Bay Camp at Lake Bloomington. Family Camp Weekend is designed for middle school age children with an intellectual or developmental disability. Camp is for families – this includes parents, siblings or other individuals that form the students’ support system.

Camp is designed to provide entertainment, relaxation and exciting new activities for all children in the family and respite for the parents. Food, lodging, and activities are included in the price for camp. If you are interested in a weekend designed with fun activities, meeting new people or getting better acquainted with friends you already know contact Emily at Marcfirst 309-451-8888 ext. 265 or emilykull@marcfirst.org.

Where: 
East Bay Camp, 24248 Ron Smith Memorial Hwy, Hudson, IL, 61748
Date/Time: 
Saturday, September 21, 2013 (All day) to Sunday, September 22, 2013 (All day)

Starplex Cinemas Presents Movies for Children With Special Needs

The Starplex hosts a sensory friendly movie monthly for children who might be overstimulated attending a typical movie experience. Starplex turns the lights up and the sound down so the movie is more enjoyable for children that can not handle or do not enjoy all that stimulation. Children are free to walk around and vocalize during the movie.

Special screenings will happen the 2nd Saturday of each month.

One free child admission with adult ticket purchase. Seating is limited - first come, first serve.

Please check out the Starplex site for more information.

Where: 
Starplex Cinemas, 201 McKnight St, Normal, IL 61761
Date/Time: 
Saturday, September 14, 2013 - 10:00am
Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 10:00am
Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 10:00am
Saturday, December 14, 2013 - 10:00am
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