Hi! We are the Smiths! Maybe that sounds made up, but it’s true. Like our name, we’re generic in many ways. I’m Kerry. My husband, Cole, and I have two sons (anonymous for safety reasons) and a dog. We are fairly normal in many ways. At least, we think we’re normal. 🙂 But we face a challenge that many families don’t encounter: autism. Our oldest son has high-functioning autism. We noticed sensory issues and delayed development when he was an infant and enrolled him in early-intervention programs at 18 months. By age three, he had an official diagnosis.
We researched and found every possible program for which he qualified. Fortunately, we moved to Boise, Idaho, where special-needs preschools and elementary school support resources were phenomenal. There were community resources too. Until we moved back to Utah when he was 12, our son received countless hours of one-on-one assistance and instruction at school and home. He has always been high functioning and didn’t need constant assistance, but he did need help in key areas.
In many ways, he now functions at a very normal level, and people are often surprised to learn that he is on the spectrum. We feel this is a tribute to an overall team effort to help him. We could not have done it alone, and we continue to need help as we guide him through his middle school years. It’s getting harder to find support now that he is older and we have moved back to Utah, but we are finding it.
Autism Does Not Define Us
Our family lives by this mantra: Autism does not define us! We have always taught our son that autism can be an explanation but not an excuse. He can explain to someone that he has autism if he’s struggling with a task and needs help. But it’s never an excuse to just quit or do shoddy work. Now that he’s a teen, the “shoddy work” isn’t necessarily due to autism. 🙂
Our specific goal is to share practical advice that goes “beyond autism.” Sometimes we’ll find information that’s autism specific. Other times, after reading one of our posts, you might think, “This applies to children who don’t have autism, too.” And you’d be right. The point? We can learn from each other, and answers are everywhere. Someone’s personal struggle with cerebral palsy, for instance, might inspire you to try harder. Or you might adapt one of their coping skills.
This is a little bit of our story, and we will share more here on the blog. But we certainly do not have all of the answers nor do we pretend to. We are not experts in the field. My husband and I both have degrees in nonrelated fields: English and supply chain management. We do not share this blog under any false pretenses. We have no credentials for dispensing authoritative advice. Our main strength is that we, as a family, are dedicated to one another. We also have practical skills and a knack for sharing them. We hope to share a variety of skills that will help those with autism in relationships and all aspects of life. Most of all, we hope to create a space where “experts” can share what has worked for them or seems to work for a majority. Throughout our journey, some of the most helpful experts have been other parents, especially the moms. We certainly welcome your input and invite guest posts.
Please note: We know there are some of you who either have autism or care for someone who does who would disagree with what we might share. You have every right to feel the way you do. Your experience is yours. What we share may not seem realistic to your situation. It may even seem too optimistic. But we ask that you keep an open mind if you’re truly looking for solutions. Maybe there’s a thing or two we’ve both learned that’s worth sharing. So even if a tip doesn’t seem relevant to your situation, maybe it will spark another idea that’s right for you.
Go Beyond Autism is an online place where all are invited to share what’s worked for them. We respect one another. This is a safe place to share. Negative comments won’t be published. Realities will be shared, but unnecessary negativism won’t be. So, please, join us as we go beyond . . .