Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spinning My Story : Why I Do What I Do


I've been writing this blog post in my heart for months. My heart & I, we've went back & forth about it, wondering if it was the right thing to do. Not knowing if these words were meant to be spoken in a public forum just yet, not knowing how my extended family would react if they happened upon this post. Knowing still, that I am not alone in this. Not by far. This story has graced so many families in one way or another & the number of these families just keeps getting larger.

Long time readers of Kind Over Matter have seen the slow transformation here. While still focused heavily on being mindful of Kindness, it's not just about leaving Kind Cards in random places anymore, it's not your typical DIY handmade craft blog. It's a project to spread love in all forms. It gives you gentle business advice, it opens your heart, it makes you smile, nudges you to dig deep. It's a community that I am super proud of. It has always been a place that shares feel good & heart-tugging projects, awesome entrepreneurs rocking lives, your truths -- it was never about my family & I, but just recently I started sharing bits of myself here. The truth is, that's sort of dropped off... because I was struggling with my own truth.

The number one reason why I hesitated to write this here, when I was in the thick of it, is because I didn't or couldn't ask my son for his blessing, for it to be alright to share his story with you. He is made of his father & I, so I know, in my heart of hearts, that he would want me to, if it meant that it could somehow help one person, even & especially if that person was me. I've done a lot of heart work to get to this place. I feel good about sharing this now.

I don't have all the answers, not even close. All I know is that my family & I are on this journey of... unlocking my son's mind. Typing that line & my bottom lip begins to tremble & the words on the screen become blurry through tears. My mama heart has been through a tremendous amount since we "figured this out" last fall. It was the closest thing to grieving that I have ever experienced.

I'm pretty certain most of you have experienced something similar. Your whole world is NO for days, NO clouds everything. It was falling from the sky, hitting windshields like pinheads, covering my thoughts, it was a muddy mess of NO, of hopelessness.

A few days after we had the first consult with our amazing team of teachers & therapists I went grocery shopping. It was the first time I had been out alone since. I got two miles from home & completely lost it. Alone with my grief, banging the steering wheel, crying, screaming Whyyyy... & Nooooo... the sounds coming out of me were primal, they were raw & real, sobbing like I never have, it was me working through the NO. Me not wanting it to be what it was. It was me grieving the questions, the What Ifs, the Whys, the Hows & Whens. I pulled over, worked through it a bit & then went on with my day-- because I had to, for me, for my boys, Kurt, my family, my friends, you.

This happens sometimes still, certainly not to that degree but it will creep up on me... sometimes when I am alone, not busy, making dinner, showering, when we are making tough decisions about my son's future or while questioning those decisions. It happens. It's human. If it didn't happen I'd be a little worried. I feel vulnerable writing this because thank all that is holy... I didn't lose a child. I felt guilty for feeling this way because so many parents have-- & owning that grief, with that in mind, was also really hard for me.

What keeps me from falling back into the grief, into the NO, for longer than I need to, ultimately... is Zenin.


Zenin...

He is one big ball of YES. He embodies YES like no one I've ever seen. Just imagine the word YES on a 3 & 1/2 year old body running & jumping through the day with the purest zeal. Smart, giddy, opinionated, knows all his shapes, numbers, letters, colors, throws tantrums, is a whiz on our iPad, cuddles, hugs, kisses, gets sad, has a photographic memory, gets scared, excited, spins, spells words, laughs. He loves strawberries & pancakes & Blues Clues. He struggles with communicating his needs, him & I have never had a conversation full of wonder & innocence but there's this bond of knowing between us. That mama-child tie, intuitive, loving & sure-- deep in the heart felt -- for that I am grateful beyond words. He is so, so bright & brave, the bravest human being I've ever loved deeply -- an absolute light in my life & everyone that he comes into contact with.

He also has Autism.

But I want to make it clear that that's not who he is.

He has Autism like I am near-sighted, like she's clumsy, like he is depressed.

He also is the driving force behind Kind Over Matter.

I do what I do because of him. I know that someday he's going to be made fun of, looked at as different, shunned in some way because of this, it's inevitable- kids can be ruthless. It can happen no matter if you "have" something or not.

I share your stories here because kindness, acceptance & compassion need to be a fierce dynamic in more people's lives. I share your stories because there is a concept that sticks to my rib cage, that I try to live every day & have been for years, a mantra:

I don’t know what you’re going through.” --- click it.

I live that here online too. I know that judgment & comparison is prevalent in the blogosphere, I'm guilty of it sometimes, but when it rears its ugly head I just whisper that.

I don’t know what you’re going through.
I don’t know what you’re going through.
I don’t know what you’re going through.


Zenin will know he's awesome, that's my job as a parent. My dream is help more people realize that they too, are awesome. No matter your circumstances, you can shine. We can help all of our children shine.

You can dream so big that the sky opens up for you-- & that NO, that resistance, can ease if you let it. If you work through it slowly, your heart will heal.

Mine is on the mend, I've been hemming it with light, love & bliss. I do what I do because you can too. I do what I do because it heals me. I do what I do because I love my life & have accepted the hand I've been dealt.

He is teaching me about love, kindness & compassion in a way that no guru ever could. He is so perfect just the way he is.

This journey is going to be long & difficult for us, especially for him.

But with our hearts in the right place, full of love & faith, we're gonna be okay- I know this now. I live & breathe this.


Thank you for being here, you all do more for me than you will ever know. I love you-- & so does he.


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116 comments:

Laura Summers said...

Amanda,
This is a beautiful post and one that I'm sure resonates with a lot of your followers.  I don't know what you're going through, but I do know that there is a special love between a mother and her son.  A bond that will rock you to your core when your child is hurting, one that will test the boundaries of things you ever thought yourself capable of doing, and a testament to the heart that forever walks around on the 'outside' of your body once you have children.  You are inspirational.  Speaking your truth inspires others to do so and the kindness movement you've created will be your son's legacy.  Go forward Mama...and remember my wish.  Much love, Laura

Fabeku Fatunmise said...

Pure beauty.

Thank you.

And those photos? Precious.

Dyamond Robinson said...

Amanda, Thank you.
I love you so so so much. 
You are wonderful. Your family is wonderful. Your son is a gift from the Divine. I am so proud of you. 

Sophie Nicholls said...

Amanda, thank you.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your truth with us.

Much love to you all.

Jenn Gibson said...

I'm so proud of you, Amanda, I know how hard and tender it was for you to write these words. Z is beautiful, strong, amazing, and he will always know this because you will always make sure he remembers it, whether it's a good day or a not-so good day.  When I look at Z I see joy and laughter and happiness and that's because of you and K.

With love and respect.

Mindy said...

I can imagine what you are going through... the battle of the grief vs. the kick-ass mama warrior, the fierce love that underscores it all, the questioning and searching for answers, the relief and the dread of one little label, that one day things work and the next day they don't, the moments of feeling broken and like you can't take another step, the ebb and flow of healing like the sun breaking through the clouds, the days when you don't know if running towards something beautiful is just a way of running away from something incredibly hard, and the days when you can simply rest in faith that you are meant to be his mother... i don't know what you're going through but i imagine it's pretty similar to what i know - and i know you need the arms of others around you who do understand.  love and light to you my brave friend. i'm here for you.

Beverly said...

beautiful words and such a beautiful family you have. thanks for sharing! It will get better. I have been living 9 years of a blessed life with my sweet son. He has made me a better person and I love him to the moon! many blessing to you and your family xoxo Beverly http://a-happy-journey.blogspot.com

Lance said...

Amanda,
Your words are touching and real and filled with love.  And that is a deeply beautiful gift...

Thank you for sharing your story...your son's story...your family's story...and for touching lives with the goodness you bring into this world.  I always feel that here, and today especially that holds even more meaning.

Much love....always,
Lance

Angi Loveland said...

Really really proud and grateful for you. I also recently published something that had me shaking before I hit send.... totally diff subject matter and I would have emailed it to you buy could not find address..... NOT trying to self promote on your blog, but share with you :-) http://angiloveland.blogspot.com/2011/06/out-of-crazy-closet.html

Kind Over Matter said...

Thank you Laura, & I will, your words are tucked deep in my heart.  I know these words, we know them, it's our reality, it's unstoppable & beautiful.  You referenced one of my favorite quotes, it's so true, isn't it?

Sending so much love to you.
A

Kind Over Matter said...

Thank you Fabeku, your love shines through the screen & I'm so grateful for it.
Big Love, always,
A

Kind Over Matter said...

Dyamond, thank you.  I love you so much too.  I am so happy we have connected.  You inspire me so.  I am proud of me, so hard to write -- but a huge weight has been lifted.   xoxoxo,
A

Kind Over Matter said...

Thank you for reading, for being here beautiful, & I feel that love,
A

Kind Over Matter said...

You've known it from the very beginning & I am so grateful for you, for being there for me, in that tough time -- even though it was super hard for me to talk about.  Thank you for your patience & friendship. <3

Thank you for your words here, & seeing Zenin's light- always, mucho love & respect,
A

Kind Over Matter said...

You pinned it Mindy, you pinned it.  I just want to hug you, hard.

Thank you for sharing what you know, it's what I know & for seeing me, I see you love, friend, mama, Mindy,
A

Everlastingdesigns said...

Our son, like yours, was diagnosed with HF autism at the same age 3 1/2 years old. It was the most relief I had felt in months - to finally put a name to the horrible, heart-wrenching tantrums and the little boy oddities we had been seeing. The puzzles of confusion fell into place. The reasons were right there all along..Finally, we were on a mission rather than a self-imploding path to nowhere.

Autism is a journey to be taken one tiny step at a time. There is no destination. Rather, a road to discovering who your son is and what wonderful things he is capable of. He will need you along that road to be his advocate, his guide, his voice - until he finds his own. And he will.

Be love and namaste

Kind Over Matter said...

Sending you so much love Beverly, our sons are so brave & so full of light.  I am so lucky to be his mama.  Thank you for reaching out, looking forward to diving into your blog, your life & love a little deeper. xoxox,
A

Kind Over Matter said...

Thank you Lance, that means so much to me.  I feel lighter--- writing & then sharing has definitely been a big part of the healing.

Thank you for your kind words & for being here, love,
A

alexis yael said...

My son is 5 and I remember that first year after our diagnosis (and the year before, when there were so many "what ifs") so well. It prompted a huge change in our life (my husband got a new job so we could move to a place with more/ better services) and ultimately, that change has been absolutely for the better. That was almost two years ago now, but I remember certain parts of it like it was yesterday. It was a really hard time to live through, but there was always, always, so much love in my wee family. It made it worthwhile to feel through those hard feelings (and get through the really tough days, you know what I am talking about!) and be honest and loving and committed.

And especially, I share your commitment to making the world more kind and loving (and reducing the bullying of all our kids)! That's one huge reason I've been drawn to this site!

So much love to you and to your family.

Kind Over Matter said...

Thank you, a big part of my sharing is to connect with people that are further along on their journey, to learn from them.  I've realized over the last 6 months to take one day at a time is the only way, no expectations, just fierce love. 

Thank you for   "And he will" --- this I know but it's hard to see some days... the hope in that is tremendous.

Sending love, lotsa of it, namaste.

Amy McRae said...

(((Amanda))) You. are. amazing. I don't know what you're going through (I'm seeing it from a sibling's point of view), but I think you are doing so awesome, feeling those feelings, and letting them make you stronger! I know about tantrums and frustrations, and still it's clear that Zenin is a very happy child to say the least! We are training ourselves to consciously let Kyle lead the way with his YESes, and it feels so good! <3 Love to you, sweet mama!

Kind Over Matter said...

Beautiful you, that took so much courage, so much.  I am sending you so much love & light right now... you are on the path you're supposed to be on, sharing will help, connecting with others will help.  Thank you for being here love, you inspire me,
A

Deb Taylor said...

Amanda,
I applaud you. Not only for being the strong, scared, loving, doubting, seeking, stellar, brave parent that you are, but for sharing this story with us here. I am certain the ripple effect will be huge and important. And it is exactly what KOM has done for me and thousands more folks. On so many levels. Thank you for pushing "PUBLISH" We are all here together to benefit, learn, support, understand and hold each other in the huge arms of acceptance and love. These photos are adorable that reveal the bright light in Zenins spirit! What an amazing name. ~love and light~,  Deb

Kind Over Matter said...

Alexis, thank you so much for your sharing your story here & connecting, we both have love on our side & it will make all the difference in our sons' & our lives... & the world.

Hugging you, loving you, deep respect,
A

Kind Over Matter said...

Amy, I remember connecting with you about Kyle a bit when I was "in the thick of it" - it made things a little easier at that time.  I love that you are letting him lead the way with his YESes, a big YES to that.  He's gorgeous & so are you for loving him endlessly.
Sending love & more of it,
Amanda

Melissa T. said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes.  Thank you so much for sharing that.

Cat said...

Amanda, 
I've been reading your blog for months now and it's been a wonderful inspiration while I've been recovering slowly from a spine injury. I want to thank you for sharing this with us and I hope that from its sharing you will receive an out-pouring of love back into your life. 
Now that my body is capable of getting out and about again, I've decided to to volunteer my time at a summer camp for children with Autism at the Geneva Centre for Autism in Toronto. 
I want to thank you for sharing your story because it has given me a little slice of insight into what the journey might be like for families: thank you. I don't know what you're going through, but I know that this post is going to help me understand a little better, and so help me offer better compassion, kindness and support for the wonderful families I'll be meeting this summer. 
Cat

Raven said...

Oh, Amanda- dear friend, your openness and honesty are so wonderful and so much of what makes this a great site.  While I don't know exactly what it's like for you, I have a good inkling of how hard it really is, as my best friend's daughter is autistic.  I've seen my friend on those days when it seems like things will never change and it's all so hard, but I've also seen the big days of celebration when her daughter learns something new that was difficult.  When they first diagnosed her, she didn't even respond to her name.  But now, she can tell you what she wants with words and I am blown away by her progress.  Thank you for sharing your story, for women like my friend, who need to know they are not alone in this.  And I hope you can feel the circles of love that are enveloping you as well.  I'm sending you loads of hugs and love to you & the whole family.     

christina said...

You are so strong and beautiful. Thank you for making the world a better place for all of us, and thank you for sharing these beautiful words with us. Sending you much love. xo

Darrah Parker said...

Thank you for being beautiful, brave you and for sharing yours story. I am sure you helped someone today (as you do every day.) xoxo

Hannah Marcotti said...

I've recently fallen in love with this space you have created, and I truly believe the depth in which you shared this piece of your story will bring so much beauty and truth. xo

Amy said...

I am really glad you do what you do Amanda.  Thank you.  

realmcovet said...

wow. i've had this blog added to my blogroll for sometime now because i absolutely love the message of positivity & unconditional love that is promoted here. i follow you on twitter too & have sort of kept up with you on there as far as you being pregnant & then having a son. i came here because i noticed a new post & i have to tell you, IT GETS BETTER. i promise you that. i have 3 kids, & the oldest is autistic. he's 15 years old now & he has taught me the beauty of living each moment to its fullest. i know Zenin is doing the same for you & will continue to do so throughout the remainder of your life. there will be struggles & battles, but everything you will learn will all be worth the pain. i promise you that. there is such a huge support network out there for autism, once you learn the ins & outs of it all, & more than anything, just know that you are his greatest advocate right now & never stop teaching him the importance of being his own advocate when he is ready. i wish you well in your journey.

Lindsey said...

I have worked with children and young adults with disabilities for almost four years now (I say "work" for lack of a better word - I get paid to do what I love, something I'd do no matter what), some children who were wards of the state, apprehended from abusive parents, some with the most wonderful parents anyone could ever ask for, and everything in between.  In my experience (which, I acknowledge, is limited!), kindness and understanding makes all the difference. It's hard, but in the end, it's all worth it.  Sending positive vibes your way.  Good luck! :-)

Laurel Bleadon-Maffei said...

Dear Amanda - bless your heart on your journey as mama to your precious boy. His light shines through the pictures.  He is a sweet boy who experiences the world differently than most and in that, he has much to teach us. You are intuitive, loving and profoundly connected to each other and you will continue learning, shifting and adapting just as you have been. I know you know this - but it's OK to have those moments of grieving or shaking your fist at the universe. You are not alone. In your wisdom, you've created this beautiful blog where the world can converge people who will love and support you. Just think of all the love juice coming your way right now... Thank you for sharing about Zenin with us. You give us a gift in doing so.

deb from p.s. bohemian said...

awesome post - awesome mom - awesome kid. seriously.
i know  a certain young man who was diagnosed with Asperger's, ADHD, and OCD who is 20 and attending college and beautiful and wonderful - hold your positive visions mama - they hold power!

Lori said...

Amanda, I am crying here.  I could go into sobbing if I let myself.  I don't even have children of my own but your story is so authentic and real that it touched something deep inside me.  Your waiting until it felt right then sharing with all of your heart is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read on a blog.  I am deeply grateful for all that you do in this community.  I am deeply grateful for you.

Lori said...

Oh, and that last picture of Zenin?  How can you STAND it?!!  He's adorable beyond words.

choosingbeauty said...

Oh, Amanda. It is perfect. So full of love and truth and courage - just like you and just like Super Zenin. And those big little eyes - windows to the soul for sure. You know I am here for you and love you in every moment of joy and anger and fear. 

I went to the Minnesota Twins game on Sunday - Father's Day, not knowing the ball team was hosting an Autism Awareness Day. A little boy in a wheelchair sang the national anthem with such feeling - it lasted forever, it was wonderfully off-key and he pumped his fists in the air when it was over. I couldn't stop sobbing in the stands. It's those moments that just catch you, right? As you always say, sending BIG love to you today. 

Stephanie Gagos said...

this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your truth with us, for gracing us with this truth and the beautiful meaning that has come from it.
Stephanie

Lisa said...

I am left speechless.  All I can do is share that my heart is simultaneously heavy and enlightened and a smile graces my face through the falling tears.  Beautiful.

Jenn Delage said...

I understand. My son got diagnosed on his 3rd birthday. He's 10 now. Before you even said the word autism, I knew. I know your feelings and the need to unlock his mind. He's young, Amanda. He'll do it in his own time. And that boy will be able to express his thoughts and feelings eventually. My son loves music and prances around everywhere. This is how we know he is happy. Your son is happy with the bubbles. It's a total journey; I know it well. Do not let the diagnosis get you down. It's just a label. Your son is still your son and that's what God gave you. Use it. It's a blessing, Amanda. Autism has allowed me to be more patient but also has allowed me to be a child again - to dance and swing my arms with my son. It's not 'autism', it's 'awetism'. Let your son rock your world. You will find new treasures in him daily. This I promise. Love to you.

Julie Daley said...

There are no words to add. Only love.

Mehmet Nariçi said...

Beautifully written blog, stories paylaşınca life more beautiful. Also gives you the feeling of people.

Tina Tierson said...

Sending great big bushel baskets full of love to you and your beautiful family.  There are gifts in everything, I promise! 

Talyn said...

I choked up reading this and am sending you a HUGE hug Amanda! You and your husband are such amazing parents and Zenin chose you two for a reason! He will have such a rich, fulfilled life because of you and will always know to choose love over fear. This picture of him is amazing, I can feel his spirit :)
love and light
Talyn

Patti said...

Your son is beautiful.  (You are too.)

Toni said...

Beautiful Post, thank you so much for sharing it.

Emily said...

He is precious, Amanda, and you are brave for sharing your story.  You do wonderful things here, daily, and I know that your beautiful family (and many others) benefit from your kindness.

Marji Matyi Laplante said...

We all share, at different degrees, at different times, for different reasons, your story. We all feel these emotions, and love or dismiss ourselves for them at times....we  all are connected by these very same things through this mysterious thing called "autism". There is, I believe, a reason why we are the ones with our children, whether through birth, or in my case, adoption....and the reasons are so very clear when I read your eloquent word: because we will love stronger and harder, we will understand deeper and wiser, we are the warriors parents! We are hand picked by God, or the universe, or by some divine intervention. We share the s\"sameness" as much as every child of ours is so very different....they are, and we are...the same. Blessings and love to us all~

Theresa said...

This is precious and beautiful and so brave.  My little nephew Tommy has autism.  He is super cute and funny and so smart.  That is who he is.  He is not defined by autism.  Thank you for sharing your story and bringing joy to everyone who visits and learns from "Kind Over Matter." 

Marjory Mejia said...

Your child is a gift to this world. Such love.
Blessings.

Alexis Yael said...

Love really will change the world. It has to!

(And our kids will keep growing and changing in their own time, too! If you'd asked me last summer if I thought my mid would EVER be out of diapers, I'd have said "I hope so!" but I had no idea how it would happen! And it just did. He does *everything* in his own way, at his own time. And that's a great lesson.)

Hugging you back, Amanda!

Lynne said...

Thank you for the ordinary courage of sharing your story, and your beautiful son.  And he is blessed to have you as his mom.  Much love to you as you continue to nurture his light and life, as he does yours.  

Janet Killips said...

That must have been hard for you to share, but it is a testimony to the community here that you can feel you can share it.  No parent wants to hear that their child is different, especially when society spins the difference as a negative.  But it doesn't have to be a negative.  You are doing what you can to help him and that is the best part. Gradually more understanding into autism is occurring and autistic people are starting to become known for things other than their autism.  There is hope, but mostly there is love, and humanity.

Life is hard; it often sucks royally, and nobody gets out of it alive.  Humour, kindness, love and support are all important to help ourselves and others to persevere, grow and contribute back.   You have the right to your emotions and to how you deal with them.  You also are needed as the mother of a special little boy.  I know you will do the best you can to help him be the best he can, and in the end that is all we can ask of a parent.

No I don't have the answers.  I have just fought the battles I needed to fight to get to where I am today.  Tomorrow will be another battle, or another dragon to slay.  Take today's joys and allow yourself to feel them.  And don't ever put yourself down because your child isn't like another.  They never are even without that diagnosis!  You are awesome as you are and so is he!

Janet

Wendy, Chicago said...

Thank you for sharing your spirit, and all that she feels. I honor all that you do to keep the positivity traveling in this circle that we are all in.

Lettie said...

Have just finished reading this for the 4th time...I have much to share and will write you soon. Know that you are loved by many. Lettie

Sylvia Hall said...

Amanda, I had to take a step back, sigh and think about your words.  They're so powerful.  You are so brave my friend. From our first interaction many months ago I knew you were made of gold. You exude that. Zenin is blessed. Blessed to have a Momma made of kindness, with a community of empowered women standing behind her. Thank you, for sharing your heart and your story. I will share this because I know this, your words, will make a difference and give a couple of my friends, who also have children with autism strength and have faith. 

Reineduchocolat said...

Your post is so touching and inspiring. Your son is beautiful beyond words, like his mother. He is special and I love your photos of him. My brother adopted an infant child 16 years ago. He was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 3. With special aides in the classroom, computers to help him communicate from early on, etc, love, understanding, patience and perseverance, he is learning to drive and is an honor student in a public high school. While all cases are different, I can see that he is so lucky to have you for a mom and I am very certain he will have the best care and guidance so that he will shine his brightest. I am glad you wrote this post. Sometimes just putting it out there is cathartic and a great relief. Take heart.

Livelaughlove90 said...

thank you so much for sharing! your son is so beautiful and in spite of his disability he WILL lead an extraordinary and wonderful life. he is blessed to have you for a mom! 

Tracy said...

Hello, Amanda! A couple months ago I discovered this beautiful, encouraging, empowering place you've created. This is the first time I've left a comment though. I wanted to thank you for all that you share here. And especially for sharing your own story with us. You lift us all the time. May we lift you now, while you need it.  Ride the rollercoast, there will be many blessings along the way, but you probably know that already... many, many blessings... :o)

Suzanne O'Mullan said...

Also - look up Kathie Snow:  she coined the term Possibilities in lieu of Disabilities... she is a very positive person and raised her son with things like this.  You will love her stuff.  She has lots of free articles for you to peruze prior to buying her book (in which I read, re-read, again and again).  (I have no connection to her in any way - financial, etc.)

Monikalovelyme said...

Dear Amanda, I am very touched by your words. Thank you for sharing and for your lovely blog which I like very much. You are a great mum.  And you bring joy to all of us. Love, Monika

Tracey Selingo said...

Amanda-One thing is for sure, Zenin is the luckiest boy in the world. Lucky to land in your arms, to be guided by your peace, to know your love, to bask in the strength only, ONLY, you and Kurt can provide.

I live life knowing everything happens for a reason and the older I get the more truth and patience I find with that expectation. There may not be one mother alive who can read your post without crying, but there's also not one who can read it without knowing, deeply & honestly, that you won't just survive you will thrive.

You're doing that already. You're doing. that. already.

CmS said...

My husband thinks that it's possible that Autism is an evolutionary step up, that the traits we "normal" people see in it as difficult, different or wrong are simply misunderstood because they are different from us. He thinks these different ways of processing and dealing are going to prove to be a better way to succeed as humans. He thinks the autistic's ability to focus so completely and shut out everything else, to power down emotions for awhile and power up thinking and problem-solving will prove to be a great advantage to humankind.
Whether or not this is true, I believe the way we look at autism, or any so-called defect, can change the way we and the whole world deal with it, and allow us to accept it. If we look at all the positive then we see it more as a super power than a problem.
I am a Highly Sensitive person. Most of my life I've struggled with overwhelming feelings and thoughts of not belonging, labels like shy, overly dramatic and too sensitive. But lately I'm realizing that these are amazing and awesome traits that I can harness and use for good. And when I see these traits in my daughter I am joyful for her because I know she will have a life filled to overflowing with joy and compassion. And I will have the ability to help her deal with all this in the best way.
You were given a son who is not ordinary. And hurray for that! Embrace his uniqueness and foster those super powers of his!

Kylie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story here. I've always appreciated what you do, and when I found your blog, I felt a bit like I was finding a community of kindred spirits who cared about building people up instead of tearing them down. I'm even more touched, now, to understand more deeply what the force is that drives you to do this work. Hugs to you and your wonnnderful family.

Jenn Gibson said...

You know Z has my heart wrapped up, he always has. ♥

Lottiepearl said...

I've always said that during a pregnancy - we become so exited about all the things we want to teach our children, but it is our children that teach us the most about life and how to live it and who we truly are. We grow from our experiences and from those we learn how strong we are and the amount of love that is within us and above all else the more love we give the more love we get in return. We continue to choose the light and that is what gets us through the difficult and painful things in our life. 

Marnie Hunsucker said...

This writing makes me feel understood and less alone.  It inspires me to keep trusting in my gut, that I know my son - my quirky son and he's fine - just the way he is.  Thank you for that.

Suzanne O'Mullan said...

wow - reading these comments - when my 1st son was dx'd 15 years ago - autism was 1 in 10,000.  Today it is 1 in 110 (per the cdc [Centers for Disease Control].  Not published yet 1 in every 92 as of current.... wondering how - how could it be so fast rising?  Truly epidemic proportions.... blown away by the amount of parents that are commenting.... just sayin...

Ritama said...

He's absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for telling us about Zenin. Beautiful story.

Olivia Downs-Lang said...

You gave so much of your heart to this post, Amanda. You have a darling family! Zenin is lucky to have all the love, compassion, hope and kindness that his family and friends will provide for him. Stay strong, Mama! {hugs}

Merideth said...

I am incredibly touched by your story. I am the parent of young children and your feelings reflect my hopes and fears for them both. Your photos of your son are absolutely amazing. His joy is so visible. 
Zenin is one lucky kid to have you by his side as he blazes the trail through his incredible life. Thank you for your openness and vulnerability. I'm feeling blessed to have stumbled upon your post - it's what I really needed to read today. 

Lisa said...

What a lucky boy to have parents that will love him through whatever comes his way.  He will be a superstar no matter what!  Thanks for sharing your real life and please know that it is such a blessing to hear of a sweet little boy that has so much potential ahead of him...because he IS loved! :)  

Mercedes said...

love is a neverending lesson of surrender, vulnerability, patience and ferocity.  your mama heart knows exactly who zenin is, and who you are as a family heart.  love, protect, nurture.  celebrate what that grounded knowledge of family self can bring you.  laugh, dance, sing, love. 

that's all it's really about anyway. 

much love to you all. 

mercedes

Eydie said...

Amanda,

I'm new to your blog, and so admire what you have created.It is  such a beautiful, safe and honest space.Your son is very fortunate to have such a wonderful mama.He is beautiful and so loving ...  Thank you for sharing your story.much love and light to you and your beautiful family.xoxo

Yolanda Brand said...

Amanda, it is such a blessing to have you and your son in this world. Much love to you both.

Lthslvr7 said...

I don't know what you're going through. But THANK YOU for having the heart and finding the strength to share your journey, your grief, your peace. You are correct when you say that compassion needs to be expressed by more people more often. It's sad that it's not. People, lately, have made me very sad. But to read what you are going through, only makes my experiences minor and helps me to find different things to focus on in life other than the negativity of other people. I found your site through a high school friend of mine. I guess God puts lessons in our lives when He knows we'll be able to grasp and move forward with them. We don't EVER believe it as we go through it, but then we find people like you to share YOUR story and then we find our belief and our faith again...THANK YOU again...and it's a great thing to be reading your story.... Keep Your Faith and know there ARE STILL some of out here in the world that do feel the compassion still.....

Deborah Draughon said...

Amanda, thank you for this beautiful site!  The name of your site alone speaks volumes.  Your love for Zenin and your gift of writing shines through in Kind Over Matter and I am so grateful and blessed that you share this with us.  Blessings to you and your loved ones. 

Mommy C said...

This is a beautiful post. I love that you spell out that he HAS autism - Autism is not WHO he is. I am a school psychologist, and I often hear the word "autistic." I hate that word. It tries to sum up who a person is as a disorder. They are "people with autism" - and people with a lot of other strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and feelings. Thank you for helping spread the word!
Crystal
http://SoooBig.WordPress.com

Mariyn Ewing said...

About 13 years ago I had a boy in my first grade class with autism. What I read in your piece was love and acceptance of your son. That acceptance is going to make a world of difference for him. I'm sad to share that my student really didn't receive that from his family, but we worked hard (the paras & I) to help him learn to communicate. I just wish others would have done the same for him because we thought he was smart and treated him accordingly. Best wishes for continued success! ♥♫

Lisa Marie Brodsky said...

Amanda, I just stumbled upon your blog off of a link from Ann Voskamp's blog. Oh Amanda, I have so much I wish I could share with you. I wish I could cry on your shoulder and be friends with you and have you give me advice on how to love a child so purely, the way you love Zenin. I have 3 stepkids, to make a long story short. Husband and I have differing opinions on whether a stepmom can love a stepchild as MUCH AS A biological mom. I don't think they can. He does. I find myself resenting these kids sometimes. I also finding myself falling in love with these kids. It's been nearly 3 years now. Lately, I've been going through my own painful life storms (about me) and have disconnected from these three kids. I've been afraid to be vulnerable in front of them. Afraid to love them. I've been so angry that Husband and I can't have our own child (due to vasectomy that can't be reversed and too much $$ to)...but reading your story - it made me want to gather my stepchildren in my arms, to LET GO of my own self-absorption and BE THE MOM they need me to be. Labels be gone. I want to teach them about all the POSSIBLITY and KINDNESS the world holds for them. Your story  made me see that I have not been being the kind of mother/stepmother/mother figure I need to be. Thank you. BLESS YOU. I will be eagerly reading and following your blog from now on.

Justine said...

Amanda,
Can I just say that you are amazing! You have left me lost for words and deeply touched by your story and incredible blog. You certainly are touching the world with kindness, inspiration, gentleness and love. Thank you a million times over.

Jill Jankowski said...

Hi There!  I just stumbled upon your site last night and I keep coming back to it.  Now I know why....I just read your story and mine is quite the familiar one however my son is now 8.  It is a definite journey that only makes you stronger and more loving.  I believe our children (all children) are here for a reason. My son is my biggest and greatest teacher and always will be.  As I am sure your son is too....
I was curious if you had any ideas for a kindness tree to start in a school?  My son who has autism is in a wonderful school and I think they would go for it.  I just need to have a more defined plan with ideas for the kids to perform random acts of kindness.  Do you have any ideas????
Thank you for doing what you do!
Jill

Brenda P said...

What a doll your son is!  Keep moving forward.  You make a difference.

Janet said...

Beautiful. Touching.
Thanks for helping to open our eyes to others' struggles.

Amy Welker-Kephart said...

awe amanda he is sooo precious! You were always a strong (and happy! lol) woman, i know that you can withstand anything that gets in your way! we miss you guys! <3

Bernardo Mendez said...

All I can say my dearest and sweetest friend is that Zenin is so lucky to have you in his life. The power of love in you (and I'm sure your husband too) consistently fill up his mind and most importantly his heart with all the tools he needs to live an incredibly full life. Thank you for your courage, determination, vulnerability and most of all for shining your immense light in this world. With tremendous, love, admiration and respect -Bernardo

Mesa Mendoza said...

I can't imagine what this must be like for you. I applaud you for being able to handle this and I'm sure you're a perfect wonderful mother, I just stumbled on your blog and I plan to become a regular reader. You have a beautiful son and what you're doing in general is absolutely beautiful.

Cindy said...

How awesome that you have created this blog, sharing your story is a wonderful way to share and spread sunshine.   Blessings and peace be with you and your family...  

Supermandy said...

Your son is beautiful... and you made me cry.  He is so amazingly lucky to have you! 

NikkiGroom said...

Your son is gorgeous -- and your words moved me to tears. Thank you for sharing with us.

Love and light ~

Nikki xoxo

Heather Blankenship said...

What an amazing and touching story!  I teach special education and have a high number of students on the autism spectrum.  They are my favorite kids to work with because they challenge me, make me grow as a teacher and person, and love me in such a unique but meaningful way!  I am many times one of the first people who have uttered the words Autism spectrum to a parent, which never gets easier. 
As a parent, I have gone through the same thing, only with a neurologist who didn't even really evaluate my child but threw a label on her.  I am always very careful when talking to a parent about any disability, and especially Autism. 
So many of those parents have truly become some of my best friends in the world just through the years I have the opportunity to spend with them and their child!  I love what I do, and there is NOTHING I would rather do!
Thank you for opening up and sharing such raw emotions and feelings!  You are making such an amazing difference for so many and I will be passing this along to some of my parents!

Katie McClain said...

Amanda- Thank you for sharing yourself. Your boy is so beautiful and what you are doing is beautiful, too.

Marjie Kemper said...

Sending you a hug.  Z is lucky you are his mom!

Wholeheartedart said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and soul, your child and your challenges.  And for having this site.  Just getting your emails in my box has been a reminder.  It's hard to be kind sometimes, when we are overwhelmed.  I just mentioned you and your site in my blog... thanks for the inspiration.  You and yours are in my prayers.  whole-heartedart.blogspot.com

Desiree said...

Such a beautiful and heartfelt post. You have such bravery and honesty in you that I know you will instill the same thing in your family. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is encouraging and inspiring. Thank you for being an encouragement and supportive of all we do. Blessings to you and your beautiful family.
Desiree @carsandribbons.blogspot.com

Loren Morris said...

You made me tear up, not because of your story but because of the strength and love I felt behind your words. I stumbled on here a few mins ago and feel blessed to have be touched by your life just now. I'm looking forward to being part of this community and your message of kindness. 

Jessica SchroederBostwick said...

Amanda, 
I came across your site by accident, all I can say is thank you.  You are simply an inspiration to us all.    
That there are people like you in this world, people that may have a somewhat more difficult journey than others, to focus on sharing joy and kindness and reminding others that KINDNESS matters.  Caring about other people matters.
I simply don't have the words.  You restore my faith in humanity.  Thank you.

Linda Davidson said...

Your son is adorable and you are all on a journey together. It is not an easy journey and kindness does help. I remember the feelings you are describing when I learned that my daughter was deaf. My daughter is deaf and she hears with a cochlear implant. Thanks to wonderful therapists she has great speech and language and loves to sing along to her ipod.  I can honestly say this was something I thought I would never see.  I hope that your journey leads you to wonderful therapists. My best friend's son has autism and was diagnosed at 2. With a lot of love, good ABA therapy, I can tell you that my friends son is an amazing young man. He attends a mainstream high school, developed a love for music and is a talented percussionist that attends the Manhattan School of Music. He also volunteers at the fire department and is on the honor roll. He is different, and being different it ok. If you want to send me your email address I can put you in touch with my friend.  Get as much good therapy as you can get, your son is young and his potential is great. He is already ahead of the game to have such a loving family.

Heatherlynndavis13 said...

Thank you for sharing yoru story.  I am teary and feel my heart open.

Heather Tenney said...

This post was forever ago, but I'm just now discovering it because of the Build a blog you love course. My own son has Aspergers, and I totally know that heart wrenching moment you are talking of. For me it came at a conference I was at, totally unrelated to my son, and I found myself spending the weekend wailing--even when I thought I was all better, back came the pain.

Yet six years later I have so much more perspective, and like you, I've always taught my son how amazing he is. This year I think he began to believe it too. He is 11 and entering that phase of life that can be oh-so-cruel. But thankfully he is surrounded by a community of people--kids included--who find him and his quirks oddly cool. Thanks to one Sheldon Cooper on tv, Aspies are cute and quirky. My son also has one of the most generous hearts I know, second only to his younger sister's, who seeks for justice and love for everyone she meets, partly because of what she's seen her brother battle through.

Liz said...

What a beautiful way to share your story and experience. I am glad I stumbled across your blog and was taken by the girl with the headphones pic. 

Beth said...

You wrote that you feel bad for grieving for your child when you haven't lost a child.  I HAVE lost a child -- our first, she died in November -- and I just wanted to say . . . you have the right to grieve, to feel grief.  To feel sad.  If the grief is there, feel it.  Just because others "have it worse" doesn't mean your grief isn't real.  The comparing serves nothing. 

True, I have lost a child, and it's the most horrible, painful, bewildering, insane, appalling thing that I've ever experience, and my life is steeped in grief -- and there are people who have it worse, far worse, than I.  Who have lost multiple children, all their children, who watch their children starve to death, and so on.  But just because someone "has it worse" than me doesn't mean my grief isn't real and honestly painful and valid . . . and it doesn't mean yours isn't real and valid, too.  So feel that grief, and let it heal you.  It's healthy. 

Okay, getting off my soapbox now.  :)  I think you're doing a great job. 

Wendy Burton said...

Thank you for caring. Thank you for sharing.
Love and angel blessings.

Jennifer Ebeling said...

Totally understand your grief. Our two boys were diagnosed April 2, 2007. We were blown away. The next year, OUR April 2nd, became National Autism day. We were robbed of the chance of EVER forgetting an anniversary - thanks to the media.

Everything we do for our boys is about helping them to lead as normal and happy lives as they can with as many chances for a good future as we can give them. We wouldn't do it any other way, but it does get tiring and it does sometimes feel fruitless. Could I have prayed any more for them over the past five years? I think not.

Most days we are just loving them and helping them them - running to therapy, classes, carefully orchestrated social opportunities, etc. I will get caught up in the appointments that we make to mitigate the impact of autism. But every now and then, a little cry escapes and I have my moment of grief and I'll tell my husband how I wish they didn't have it.

Jill said...

I just found your site (through something I saw on Pinterest), I've only just touched the surface and love it already. I've recently been trying to think more positive and look for the good in my life and more importantly what good I can bring to others, I think it's rather perfect that I showed up here unintentionally. Oh, and that last photo of Zenin...what a cutie!! :)

Mollyurban13 said...

God has blessed you. This was beautiful to read. You and your darling family are a of strength in love. Simply beautiful. xx

Torisunshine60 said...

Hi Amanda, your website and words have been a blessing to me since finding you..don't even remember how that happened.
I spent my day at work in a juvenile treatment center yesterday meditating on what turn of events had brought me there and how I was slowly embracing my new work with kids in a treatment center. I have a couple of boys in my unit who are on the "spectrum"..but we share mealtime with the autism unit and I find myself drawn to these boys.
Drawn in the way that I need to lose my logical mind sometimes and just be and just listen and watch and be what another person needs me to be at that moment. 
I spent so much of my mothering time (32 years and counting) doing my best to control what I could until I was blessed with a kid who was not to be controlled in any way I was used to. He's been in treatment over the past three years for his own disorders that I won't steal away from your story to discuss..but know that I am in touch with that..what the hell moment of grief...this isn't what I signed up for..blah blah.
I am leaning toward spending the second half of my life (so to speak) letting myself be taught by the kids on the fringe. My art is informed by letting myself open up to the unknown. I feel like Dr. Suess meets Jackson Pollack some days and I love it.
Keep up this work here and at home. 
much peace and love, Tori Andrus

Lauriemagic said...

I don't know what you are going through. But, I can understand  because I have a child on the spectrum. I have learned so much from my kids. I call my oldest "My Guiding star", My second I call "My Angel" and my third is "My Dearheart". There is so much support and so much more info available these days. Loved reading your blog. 

Jennie said...

I was captivated by your beautiful story and am thankful for the community of kindness and compassion you have created here. You inspire me as a new mother. Thank you.

MCatherine said...

ƸӜƷ♥♥♥

Stephanie F said...

What a beautiful expression of your love for your child. He's a beautiful being and it's obvious from your loving words and photos that he is making such a difference in the world. We need more people like him. And like you. xoxo

Melinda DiOrio said...

A wonderful blog you have here Amanda. I'm happy I stumbled upon it. And it's very brave of you to share your story. It seems like you have a very happy and very loved son, he's extremely lucky! Best wishes to you and your family. Look forward to reading more here!

Liz said...

Amanda, this was so beautiful. Your heart is so pure, just like your son's. He is blessed to have you as a mama and I know you feel blessed to have him as he continues to teach you about all the miracles of life. So much love to you and your beautiful family!

Kyla said...

Thank you so much, this site is great. really helps pick me up as i deal with depression and anxiety. i have printed out the positive sayings so i can stick them around my room to try to help myself remember im worth it. thanks!

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