Autism Danville life

Training Wheels….Lost!

<<<UPDATE>>> Video at the bottom of this post!!!

One of the greatest things about being a parent is seeing the growth of your child.  I’m not talking about height, I mean the milestones.  His first word or step.  His first words after he lost his speech due to autism.  His first day of school and Day 3 of Lose the Training Wheels.  Why will July 13, 2011 be a milestone day for the Souza family?  That marks the day that Truce rode on a two wheel bike for the first time.

If you don’t know about Lose the Training Wheels, it’s a wonderful program created by Dr. Richard Klein, a retired University of Illinois engineering professor, and his wife Marjorie.  Truce has been to the camp 2 times before.  While most of the other children are able to get up on two wheels, Truce has fallen just a bit short.  That all ended yesterday.

I came to the Arena to see how he was doing.  This year more than any he’s finally got enough speed to keep a bike going.  Truce has a condition called hypotonia.  That means his muscles wear out quicker because of his low muscle tone.  So pedaling for over an hour usually spends him.  In the “off-season” Truce has been riding his aunt’s 3-wheel bike very fast around the driveway to build up his leg strength.

After I saw that all was well, I headed back to the office.  Right when I got back there, Jennifer texted me “2 wheels”.  Of course I called her instantly as everyone was still cheering for him in the background.  I told her the call me back via FaceTime (thank you Apple).  I was able to see him ride, jump off the bike and come running to his mom screaming with joy!  He was so excited and proud of himself, along with everyone there.

I couldn’t get the smile off my face for the rest of the day.  As I type this a day later, I’m still smiling.  To think that this camp almost didn’t happen because we didn’t have enough kids.  I have made it my mission that if this goes again next year I will personally recruit families to participate.  Every family should experience the joy of having your kid ride a bike.  Better than that, seeing the face of your child doing it.

I have to thank Pete & Pat for making the camp happen.  Also, all the volunteers that support the riders at the camp.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do!

Autism TED Talks

TED Talk on Learning disorders

I have ran into several people this past week and I seem to be talking a lot about TED Talks.  I have posted several to my website over the past few years.  I would encourage everyone to carve out a half-day, get a big cup of coffee and explore There are so many amazing topics that a half-day will not be nearly enough, but it should get you started.

Here is another one that I found fascinating.  I hope you enjoy.


Simple Autism Facts

Logo_WAAD.jpgToday, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day. Rather than make a grand story about autism, I thought I would give you the simple facts to make you more aware. Everyday is World Autism Awareness Day in our house.

Autism Facts:

  • A Child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes
  • 1 out of 150 children have autism
  • Boys are 4 times more likely to be afflicted than girls
  • More children have autism than: diabetes, cancer, Downs, and AIDS Combined
  • These is no test for autism and no cure.
  • 1 million people in the U.S. have autism

Early detection is the key.  If you are a parent, grand-parent, friend, teacher or caregiver, know these early Red Flags:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months or thereafter
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age

My last bit of advice for new parents: Do your research on immunizations. Is it a cause? Is it a trigger?  I have read both sides until I’m blue in the face.  Just do your research and know the facts.

The more people understand, the easier it will be on everyone.  As we take time today to raise awareness, do me a favor:  Learn something about autism and share it with your family.  Knowledge is power.

Autism Big Picture

Why, dad?

why.jpg Why? A question that has been asked for centuries by scientist, philosophers and musicians. But it most often asked by children. If you have a child, you know this question and more than likely you HATE this question. Why do birds have wings? Why is the sky blue? Why do farts smell? Why, why, why?

Truce is not a big fan of the “Why?” question. Through all the advances in communications that Truce has made over the past 3 years, why, eludes him. For him, the whole concept of cause and effect is hard to grasp. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that I am in the other room and I hear a loud crash come from the kitchen. I run in there to see Truce standing above a pile of broken dishes. He will look up and me and say, “What happened?” Yes, he will ask what I should be asking. He’s not asking to be a smart-mouth (like I probably would at his age) he just knows that will be the question I will ask. He’s beating me to the punch.

Truce has come so far. Anyone who knows him will attest to that. Explaining something that happened is the next bridge that I would love for him to cross. The other day at school he was acting up and I asked why. He said, “I sad.” I asked why was he sad. Did someone hurt him, make fun of him, or was he frustrated? Why were you sad, I asked again. He looked at me and I could tell the wheels were turning, but he didn’t have an answer.

Later, I told Jennifer that I wish he could explain things to me. To tell me, why. Like every other wish that I have had for him to this point, he will get it. Of that, I have no doubt. So, for those of you with little ones, think twice before you roll your eyes or sigh the next time they start to go on about why something happened. Just listen to it with a smile and know that you are blessed.


VH1 Classic Rocks Autism


VH1 Classic is promoting a campaign called: VH1 Classic Rocks Autism. A lot of artists are getting involved. I’m always glad to see awareness raised about autism and it’s great to have a different group supporting the cause.

One of the offerings on the website are autism t-shirts. While it’s not you classic “puzzle piece”, a portion of the sales to go to support The Autism Society of America. They run $25, but that’s the same price your paid for your Ratt concert shirt. In my never ending battle to have everyone learn a little more about autism, here is your daily dose. So, take a minute and check out VH1 Classic’s Website. Skip buying a pizza this month and get you a bad-ass Rock Autism t-shirt. It’s what all the cool kids are wearing.