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It isn't important until it happens to you.

It is human nature to not appreciate or try to understand something until it affects you or someone close to you. It is understandable that with so many things vying for your attention, those that do not directly apply to you will not be the first to catch your eye. So it is with me and autism. My 9 yd old son, Rhys, was recently diagnosed and while a school friend has an autistic son and often posts about him, it is only now that it is different for me.

Unlike previous generations, thanks to the mighty Google-machine, research can be done while sat on the sofa watching sports and while not all information online is completely accurate or even makes sense, with enough cross referencing and opinions from respected websites and people, you can begin to draw your own opinions and conclusions. Even without being focused on it, I knew that Jenny McCarthy, famous for once being a Playboy model and dating Jim Carrey, claimed that her son ‘got’ autism from getting vaccinations and that changing his diet ‘cured him’. Having a basic high school education, I had quickly drawn my own conclusions about what miss McCarthy was saying and disregarded it just as quickly.

It is pretty common to look for others with the same condition when something like this happens, and I am nothing if not pretty common. Again, letting my fingers do the walking I soon came up with a pretty impressive list of such famous people with autism as actress Daryl Hannah, singer Courtney Love (perhaps not the best example I could find), director Tim Burton (Have you seen his movies?). Satoshi Tajiri created Pokemon although I am not sure if this is a good thing or not. Adam Young of Owl City is Autistic. I don’t know what kind of music Owl City makes but I am pretty sure it isn’t my kind. Dan Akroyd, fellow Canadian and musician, actor, funny man, Blues Brother and anything else you can think of. There seems to also be quite a few mass murderers but let’s gloss over that quickly.

In hindsight, it is believed that the following people also had some sort of autism. Vincent Van Gogh, Painter, Emily Dickenson, Poet, Isaac Newton, Physicist, Mozart, Composer, Hans Christian Anderson, Author, Mark Twain, Author, Richard Strauss, Composer, Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor, Albert Einstein, Physicist, Nikola Tesla, Scientist, Inventor, Electrical Engineer, Futurist, Jane Austen, Author, George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, Henry Ford, Industrialist. Never before has so many commas been used to describe so many geniuses! Of course in hindsight, watching Grown Ups should have been avoided.

So autism doesn’t so much define someone as become part of who they are and often helps them succeed and with the right support there should be nothing that is unattainable for someone with it. OK. That’s good.

But enough about my little freak (Dad, I am not crazy! I have autism!) of nature (just kidding) and back to the main plot. Today’s generation has access to information and the ability to learn and become an expert in nearly anything. Skunk Baxter, a guitarist with the Doobie Brothers, didn’t drink or party when touring so he read instead, and in doing so became one of the worlds top experts in missile defense. I kid you not, so whoever said that playing in a band wasn’t rocket science…….. There should be no obstacle to learning whatever you need to learn about a subject such as mental health. I am not going to become an expert as I have far too many distractions in my life but I am going to try and learn all I can in order to help my big lovable monkey have the happiest life possible.

I guess the moral of this story is to not wait until something becomes personal before getting involved. While no one can be expected to know everything about everything, if we all find something linked to us, no matter how tenuous the link, and learnt about it, who knows what we might achieve!

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Nathan Leeds

Nathan is originally from Cardiff, Wales, and was imported to Canada as a internet mail order groom in 1998 and has managed to avoid deportation ever since. Even though sometimes mis-interpreted, possibly to retaining a Welsh accent, he continues to try his best to make a difference to the community he has grown to love.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, August 24th, 2013 at 7:07 pm and is filed under Ausome, Mental Health, Opinions with an Accent. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

The freak comment has nothing to do with autism or anything like that. Rhys is a kid who knows more about the Titanic, James Bond and cars than most adults and I find that freakish, the same way his brother keeps singing Coldplay songs while playing Minecraft or how I always seem to wake up early no matter what. It is never meant to be an insult, and I am sorry if anyone thought it was. Glad I didn’t mention that one of the nicknames of his brother is Doofus!

The freak comment has nothing to do with autism or anything like that. Rhys is a kid who knows more about the Titanic, James Bond and cars than most adults and I find that freakish, the same way his brother keeps singing Coldplay songs while playing Minecraft or how I always seem to wake up early no matter what. It is never meant to be an insult, and I am sorry if anyone thought it was. Glad I didn’t mention that one of the nicknames of his brother is Doofus!

I have to admit I cringed when I read Nathan’s reference to his child as a freak of nature…and that you consider it a term of endearment.

Julie Leeds says:

We have hopefully taught our kids to look past the words that are being spoken and look to the person speaking them and hopefully be able to take from that the meaning.

I guess I don’t get too caught up in the syntax.
Each person has to determine which words are harsh and which words are hurtful to them person.

I have been considered a freak or freakish my whole life.
I have never fit in or at least I never actually felt like I did.

I guess I am hoping that if our kids hear us jokingly call them silly names they will learn not to react as if the world is ending if they hear those same words being spoken by someone else (and chances are they will)

My kids are growing up in the real world, where not everyone is nice, and I don’t want to be the kind of parent that has the type of kids who feels perfect and special and therefore entitled.

It sucks that Rhys is going to have to work a bit harder at some things, I will be there to encourage him, and praise him but I will also be there to let him know when he has done wrong, and when he needs to examine his actions.

Maybe Nathan could have chosen a different word…but if you look at the intent and sentiment behind it I do hope you can tell that no matter what either of us might be feeling about our kids or the words that roll off our tongues, the one thing you can count on — is that we are feeling love.

I call both of my granddaughter’s Boo….and I don’t mean they are like Nathan. LOL The kids know what you mean and trust me, those two kids know they are loved by A LOT of people!

And by those two kids, I’m talking about Rhys and Dylan as well as Kamryn and Maggie!!!

I have to admit I cringed when I read Nathan’s reference to his child as a freak of nature…and that you consider it a term of endearment.

I have to admit I cringed when I read Nathan’s reference to his child as a freak of nature…and that you consider it a term of endearment.

Julie Leeds says:

People deal with things in different ways.|

Nathan chooses to write about what is going on with us in hopes it will help other people who might be worrying how friends, family and all of society will react when– or if –they have to face the reality they have a family member who is facing a struggle like this.

I am sorry you don’t like this, but you know Rhys is different. Both Nathan and I use silly names with the boys… I call them the children of the corn…(a term from a horror film) and other such names and I honestly don’t believe the boys are bothered one bit because they know these are terms of endearment and we tell them enough times in a day that we love them that they would never doubt that for a minute.

Julie Leeds says:

People deal with things in different ways.|

Nathan chooses to write about what is going on with us in hopes it will help other people who might be worrying how friends, family and all of society will react when– or if –they have to face the reality they have a family member who is facing a struggle like this.

I am sorry you don’t like this, but you know Rhys is different. Both Nathan and I use silly names with the boys… I call them the children of the corn…(a term from a horror film) and other such names and I honestly don’t believe the boys are bothered one bit because they know these are terms of endearment and we tell them enough times in a day that we love them that they would never doubt that for a minute.

Julie Leeds says:

People deal with things in different ways.|

Nathan chooses to write about what is going on with us in hopes it will help other people who might be worrying how friends, family and all of society will react when– or if –they have to face the reality they have a family member who is facing a struggle like this.

I am sorry you don’t like this, but you know Rhys is different. Both Nathan and I use silly names with the boys… I call them the children of the corn…(a term from a horror film) and other such names and I honestly don’t believe the boys are bothered one bit because they know these are terms of endearment and we tell them enough times in a day that we love them that they would never doubt that for a minute.

i wouldnt call anybody a freak(joke or not/

i wouldnt call anybody a freak(joke or not/

i wouldnt call anybody a freak(joke or not/

i dont like this, and i wouldnt call anybody call anybody a freak( joke or not).

i dont like this, and i wouldnt call anybody call anybody a freak( joke or not).

i dont like this, and i wouldnt call anybody call anybody a freak( joke or not).

Julie Leeds says:

We have hopefully taught our kids to look past the words that are being spoken and look to the person speaking them and hopefully be able to take from that the meaning.

I guess I don’t get too caught up in the syntax.
Each person has to determine which words are harsh and which words are hurtful to them person.

I have been considered a freak or freakish my whole life.
I have never fit in or at least I never actually felt like I did.

I guess I am hoping that if our kids hear us jokingly call them silly names they will learn not to react as if the world is ending if they hear those same words being spoken by someone else (and chances are they will)

My kids are growing up in the real world, where not everyone is nice, and I don’t want to be the kind of parent that has the type of kids who feels perfect and special and therefore entitled.

It sucks that Rhys is going to have to work a bit harder at some things, I will be there to encourage him, and praise him but I will also be there to let him know when he has done wrong, and when he needs to examine his actions.

Maybe Nathan could have chosen a different word…but if you look at the intent and sentiment behind it I do hope you can tell that no matter what either of us might be feeling about our kids or the words that roll off our tongues, the one thing you can count on — is that we are feeling love.

I call both of my granddaughter’s Boo….and I don’t mean they are like Nathan. LOL The kids know what you mean and trust me, those two kids know they are loved by A LOT of people!

And by those two kids, I’m talking about Rhys and Dylan as well as Kamryn and Maggie!!!




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