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It's Time to Have a Serious Talk About the Realities of Autism

It seems that autism has become a hot topic as of late.

There are sides and you MUST choose which side you're on.

People argue and are offended easily.

It seems that no matter who you are and what you do, your attempts to do what's right when autism is concerned will be met with criticism from at least one person.

As much as I've wanted to avoid this, it's time to have a serious talk about the realities of autism.

It's time to have a serious talk about the realities of autism

Over the last six months I have experienced first hand the criticism that has come as I've shared my views about autism.

I guess in some ways I should be excited about this.  There was a time when no one understood autism.

Now the diagnosis is commonplace.  

Every "expert" has an opinion on the "right" way to do things. 

Every caregiver of a child with autism has found what works for them and doesn't hesitate to share that knowledge with others.

For the first time so many who were diagnosed as children are sharing their experiences as adults.  With those first hand accounts has come so much information.

Then there are those who are now aware of what autism is and are seeking out diagnoses as adults.

With all that's going on in regards to autism, I find it time to define exactly where our family stands on these issues and how we will be moving forward with discussions on the blog.

Autistic or a Person with Autism

Four people in our home have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  

My husband, who was diagnosed as an adult, prefers to be called a person with autism on the rare occasion that the topic of his diagnosis comes up in conversation.  If the topic doesn't come up, he prefers Jason, as he is not just a diagnosis, but so much more.

My three children, Dinomite, Bulldozer, and Sunshine prefer to be called autistic.  They choose when they'd like to bring up the diagnosis in conversation, unless a situation requires it. If a situation requires the mention of it, I always ask them first if it's okay to share. 

Jason, Dinomite, Bulldozer and Sunshine are the ones who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I respect their varying language preferences when I am with them.

In my writing I use both language forms out of respect for each member of my family.  These language uses will continue to be used interchangeably.  

If I am around someone else with the diagnosis, I will always ask their preference.

Our family's opinion is that how you address a person diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder should always be based on what the person with the diagnosis prefers.  

When in doubt ask!

Every person is different.

Neurodiverse or Special Needs

Neurodiverse is yet another term used by the autistic community.  

Neurodiversity is defined by as:

"The variation and differences in neurological structure and function that exist among human beings, especially when viewed as being normal and natural rather than pathological; recognizing autism as an example of neurodiversity."

Our family supports and promotes the use of this terminology when referring to the autistic community, however no one in our home prefers being called neurodiverse over being called autistic or one with autism.

My children are proud of their autism and see no reason to call it anything else but what it is.

My husband feels the word neurodiverse is just too long.

We don't use this term in our home and probably won't use it very much when writing either.

Special needs is a popular term in our world today but seems to rub those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder the wrong way.  They often feel that it is a negative term.

When I am referring to all four or my children or family in general I use the term special needs. Between the six of us we have multiple diagnoses that do not just fall into the category of neurodiversity or autism.

This term in no way is meant to be derogatory.  The only reason I use the term special needs it is that I can't think of another reference that encompasses all of the diagnoses our family has.  And there are a lot of diagnoses.

With that said, I feel that everyone has something.  We just don't know that because people are afraid to talk about it.

I believe we all have special needs.  

This is what makes us all unique and original.

There is no shame in needing accommodations to be the best we can possibly be.  

Everybody's brains and bodies work differently.  

Individual accommodations should be the norm, not the exception.

Special needs is not a bad word in our home because everyone has them and is proud of them.

Special needs will continue to be my go to term as I speak and write about our family experiences. This will also be true when speaking about a child with multiple diagnoses.

Autism Awareness or Autism Acceptance

Long gone are the days when the majority of the population doesn't know what autism is.  Most people know someone who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The unfortunate thing is that autism receives far more negative attention than positive.

That's where things need to change.

Accepting autism isn't enough, especially when it means that certain organizations promote finding a cure and fixing what they think is broken, with no respect for the individual diagnosed.

Talking about the diagnostic criteria of autism and wearing blue one month a year doesn't do anything for the autistic person looking for a friend or a job to support their family.

Before you do choose to wear blue or promote the puzzle piece symbol, please look into what these things mean and how the autistic community views them.

Autism Awareness has long been an expired term and is considered offensive by the autistic community.  

They want to be accepted.

They want to feel loved.

They want to be celebrated for how amazing and wonderful they are because of their diagnosis, not despite it.

This is also how our family feels.

When our boys were diagnosed years ago, my husband spoke so profoundly,

"Instead of making them work for the world, let's make the world work for them."

This has been our family motto for years now and I feel it encompasses the acceptance and celebration that autism deserves.

We do not wear blue or celebrate autism awareness.

We do not celebrate organizations that look for a cure.  

We do not support the puzzle piece symbol.

We will wear #redinstead or any other color or pattern to support our love and acceptance of autism.

We will enjoy celebrating neurodiversity and autism acceptance.

We will show off how amazingly awesome and unique the autistic people in our life are by bragging about their accomplishments, passions, and brilliance.

Both positive and negative experiences regarding our family's opinions and experiences will be shared on the blog.


ABA stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis.  It is a behavioral therapy used to change undesired behaviors of those with autism.  When a young child is first diagnosed it is not uncommon for a doctor to recommend this therapy for up to 40 hours a week.

When Jason and I were first introduced to the world of autism (when our boys were diagnosed) we sought out any and all helpful resources that could help us understand our boys and help them be the best that they could be.

Dinomite and Bulldozer received occupational therapy.  Bulldozer also received speech and physical therapy.

Jason and I took parenting courses offered by the hospital where our children were diagnosed.  Through these courses we learned several types of behavioral techniques one of which was ABA.

Our boys attended a private special needs preschool.  Dinomite was in an inclusive classroom.  Bulldozer was placed in the autism classroom.  The school recommended that we meet with an ABA specialist at home to help Bulldozer.

At that point, I already had my own opinions about ABA. It was my least favorite behavioral approach. I couldn't get over treating my child like a dog.  

But we met with the woman because it was recommended and we wanted to do ALL we could to help our kiddos.

It only took two meetings to realize this was NOT for us.  We disagreed with the method entirely and felt it harmful to our children.

With that said, I want to make it perfectly clear that we do believe in analyzing behaviors.  We've found that analyzing and understanding our children's behaviors helps so much in helping them be the best they can be.

When we better understand our children's responses to the world around them we can help them feel safe and provide the sensory input they need.  Once we can do those two things we can help them learn how to communicate their needs and then meet them.

It's the approach to changing the behaviors that we heavily disagree with when it comes to ABA.  Some autistic adults who have gone through ABA therapy call it downright abusive.

One of my biggest pet peeves about ABA is that it in my opinion, it in no way helps an autistic child mature to an independent adult.  

A child needs to find their own internal motivation to become the best they can be.  They need to learn that they are loved and okay just the way they are, with no need to change themselves to be accepted. By following the child's lead we can help them become successful and independent.

ABA tends to be the opposite approach.

Now fast forward a few years to Sunshine.  One of the recommended therapies for Sunshine after her psych ward inpatient stay last summer was home based ABA therapy.  It only took two meetings before I asked the therapist not to return.  

However, at her day program, Sunshine is placed in an autism ABA focused classroom.  The principal felt that this classroom would be the best fit for her as opposed to other classrooms where children only had behavioral issues due to trauma and mental illness.  We supported this decision.

There are times when there is no perfect solution and you must choose what's best in the moment for everyone involved.

We are very thankful that Sunshine has fantastic teachers who listen and communicate with us about behaviors and approaches they use in class.  They never stick to one behavioral approach for too long so that has helped us feel more comfortable with the arrangement.

Sunshine's teachers have learned that she is very inconsistent from day to day in her functioning and the ABA approach does not always work.  

At home, Sunshine knows we do not use an ABA approach.

Our in-home mental health therapist was very supportive of this decision as she spent several hours in our home each week observing and working with Sunshine for several months last year.  

So, am I for ABA?  No.  Does our family utilize the service? Yes.  

ABA focused programs are those receiving funding right now.  Sunshine's day program is one of those programs.  

It is extremely unfortunate that more sensory based programs are unable to receive desperately needed funding, as this type of setting would be our preferred scenario.

But when faced with the choice between an autism ABA focused program or a residential treatment facility due to aggressive and unsafe behaviors, we chose the option that allowed Sunshine to be at home with her family for as long as possible.

Autism: Positive or Negative

As you can see, our views about autism are not always black and white.  We have our personal opinions and advocate for them as best we can.

When our children were diagnosed, I grieved.  The grief came from a negative conotation with the word autism that I had been taught.  I had a lack of understanding of how amazing my world would become because of autism.

I felt despair and sorrow about my children's behaviors before and right after diagnosis.  My husband and I did not know how to help them and were overwhelmed by all of the advice from therapists and professionals.

It wasn't until I let go of what "should" be happening and what I "should" be doing that I found joy and happiness.

Autism is not bad.

Our family loves and supports the autistic community and have no desire to change anyone.

One of my sisters works at a hospital evaluating children and adults in mental health emergencies, advocating for their rights.  

My other sister is a special education teacher and trained in ABA.  Before that she spent years as a one-to-one aid.  

Sunshine's grandmother is a speech pathologist and works in a day program just like the one Sunshine attends helping autistic children communicate in as many ways as they can.

My autistic husband and I are happily married and are raising four special needs children, three of whom have autism.  

During the school year we teach other children who are neurodiverse.

Yes, life with autism is hard sometimes.

But life is also hard without autism sometimes.  

Everyone has their own personal challenges.  

I'm not autistic and I struggle with some things far more than my husband does.  

Perspective is everything.

So many of my husband's "quirks" are reasons I fell in love with him and why I still love him.  He is magnificient.

I can't imagine life with a neurotypical child.  I wouldn't know what to do with myself.  It would be so boring and absent of so much joy and learning.  

My autistic children are amazing and teach me so many new things each and every day.

So please know I will stand up for and advocate for the autistic community any time the ocassion arises.  

Their strengths and weaknesses may be different than those who are neurotypical, but we all have strengths and weaknesses.

I certainly wouldn't appreciate so much effort and focus being spent to correct things others think are wrong with me, as has happend with those who have autism.

Let's change or focus to positive!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the resources below.
I Think My Husband Has Autism Sensory resources for children who need to chew Preparing for an appointment with a developmental pediatrician

It's Time to Have A Serious Talk About the Realities of Autism

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Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack in Action with Free Bonus Printable

Chemistry continues to be the most popular science subject in the house!  The more resources my husband and I create, the more our children want.

Today I'm super excited to share with you our Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack in action.  

And because the kiddos keep asking for more, this post also includes a free bonus printable!

When paired together the Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack and the free bonus printable are unbelievable.

Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack in Action with Free Bonus Printable

Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack

The Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack includes 29 pages of wonderful resources to help you teach chemistry concepts to your students.  It includes two parts: chemistry vocabulary and dangerous chemical symbols and descriptions.

Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack

The Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack is included in the Montessori-inspired Chemistry Bundle.

Montessori-inspired Chemistry Bundle

Montessori-inspired Chemistry Bundle

The Montessori-inspired Chemistry Bundle is 303 pages of chemistry resources designed for children in Montessori preschool and elementary classrooms.

It includes five parts:
  • Montessori-inspired Chemistry for Preschoolers Printable Pack
  • Montessori-inspired Atoms Printable Pack
  • Montessori-inspired Molecules Printable Pack
  • Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack
  • Montessori-inspired Periodic Table of Elements Printable Pack
This bundle is something not to be missed!  At regular price, all of the resources in this bundle will cost you $60.  But for a very limited time you can receive them for only $14.99!

That's 75% OFF.  

But don't wait!  This is a one time deal that will never come again.

Now let's dive into the Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack!  I just love seeing it in action.

Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack in Action

Dangerous Chemical Symbols Nomenclature Cards
Dangerous Chemicals Nomenclature Cards

When it come to teaching children about household and classroom chemicals, this activity is the perfect introduction.  It teaches children new vocabulary paired with symbols that they can identify in a variety of life situations to help them stay healthy and safe.

I love that this activity is perfect for preschoolers and can be varied to meet the needs of elementary students as well.

Dangerous Chemical Symbol Memory Game
Dangerous Chemical Symbols Memory Game

When it comes to learning new concepts and vocabulary, Bulldozer loves memory games.  You can see him and Sunshine playing a memory game with the dangerous chemical symbols.  They had such great conversations about the symbols as they played their game.

Dangerous Chemical Symbols and Descriptions Match Up
Dangerous Chemical Symbols and Description Match Up

For older kiddos, like Dinomite who crave more information, matching up dangerous chemical symbols with description cards is where it's at.  Whether a child does this alone or uses the cards as a memory game, the information is still the same.

Introduction to Chemistry Vocabulary Picture and Description Match Up
Introduction to Chemistry Vocabulary Picture and Description Match Up

The Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack includes a TON of chemistry vocabulary nomenclature and description cards.  So many in fact that we divided them up into two different sets for use.

Dinomite can be seen here using the first set that goes along nicely with the Montessori-inspired Periodic Table of Elements Printable Pack.  It includes words such as proton, neutron, and so much more!

Introduction to Chemistry Vocabulary Picture and Description Match Up
Introduction to Chemistry Vocabulary Picture and Description Match Up

Bulldozer and Princess are enjoying these same cards as a memory game.  I just love their faces in this picture.  They're thoroughly enjoying the learning process.

More Chemistry Vocabulary Match Up Style
More Chemistry Vocabulary Match Up Style

The second set of chemistry vocabulary cards is a bit more complex and definitely designed for elementary students.  These cards are a great introduction to so many chemistry concepts that go beyond learning about atoms, molecules, and the periodic table of elements.

Dinomite loves using these words in conversation whenever he can.  He thinks he's pretty cool, which I love!

Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Bonus Freebie

Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Bonus Freebie

My husband Jason and I are delighted to share with you a fabulous bonus freebie to go along with the Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack!

It includes two different activities:

  • Dangerous Chemical Template
  • Dangerous Chemical Sorting Cards

Drawing Dangerous Chemical Warnings
Drawing Dangerous Chemical Warnings-Bonus Freebie

We have an artist in our classroom this year which has inspired me to create more drawing activities for my students.  Here students use the dangerous chemical nomenclature cards as a control while they draw their own dangerous chemical signs and label them.

Dangerous Chemical Sorting Activity
Dangerous Chemical Sorting Activity-Bonus Freebie

It's one thing to understand what a dangerous chemical symbol is but another to understand how it applies to your own life.

I can't say enough about these amazing sorting cards my husband created. They are absolutely amazing.  My kiddos agree.

If you'd like to enjoy the Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Bonus Freebie as well, please follow the directions below.

Directions on How to Obtain Subscriber Only Freebies

1. Click on the Subscriber's link at the bottom of this post.

2. Subscribe to our free newsletter.

3. Open the thank you message you receive after subscribing. (Be sure to check your spam folder, as sometimes it ends up there.)

4. You will be sent a confirmation e-mail. Be sure to click the link to confirm your subscription.

5. Once confirmed you will receive a "Thank You" Message.

6. The link to our Subscriber Only Freebies page as well as password to access it is in the "Thank You" message.

7. Click on link and type in password.

8. Find the printable pack you are looking for listed in alphabetical order, click on it, and viola!

We hope you enjoy your free printable.

Note: If you are already a newsletter subscriber, open your most recent newsletter. At the bottom you will find a link to the Subscriber Only Freebies page, along with the password in case you forgot it.

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 Don't forget if you'd like to enjoy our Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack to be sure to purchase the Montessori-inspired Chemistry Bundle!

Purchase the Montessori-inspired Chemistry Bundle here!

Montessori-inspired Intro to Chemistry Printable Pack in Action with Bonus Freebie

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