Category Archives: Advocate

Birthdays


Happy Birthday to the best guy ever.  Autism does not define you my son. What I see in you is amazing love that others can not even come close to realizing in their own lives. You have no understanding of lusting for money or materialism.  You may live in a world made of your own design,  but it is better in many ways to the cruel world the rest of us live in.

I hope and pray for you and want what is always best for you. You have family all over the country and they have missed out on getting to know you.  I am grateful to the family you have in your friends. 

You are 24 years old. You have a dad and mom who will love you for as long as we are here on earth with you .  I know you love God and He will always have you until you meet Him in person . 

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New Steps

My son Luke is preparing for his first day of work on his new job.  Last week , I was asked by a new site devoted to stories about how the disability autism impacts a family. Feel free to go to this link and read my work published on another site. Elizabeth also has a disabled son living in the Seattle area:

http://elizabethgriffin.com/category/your-stories/


Thankful to Chuck for the job for Luke! 

Settlements

img_3495In 2013, several environmental groups sued BNSF Railway for polluting waterways in Washington State.  I was watching this case closely and wondered if the elections would have an impact.  I am quite certain it did.

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Closer to the Truth

Seattle ‘s first buildings are noted in the pioneer square area. it is common to see folks sleeping on the streets.


Is——
walking away the best answer to life’swoes? Sometimes it would seem to be. Yesterday while strolling in downtown Seattle taking my son out for his birthday, I saw homeless people. 

This building’s name sake Schwabacher would be shocked by the sad poor that house themselves near their building. The family was known for their benevolence.

 

Who walked away from them? Or did they walk away themselves?  We may be closer to the truth than you think. 

The streets of Seattle are fun, but do have reminders of where mercy and grace are fervently needed. I think of my very dear son who could be on the streets because he can not take care of himself. 


Many folks are only a paycheck away from being out on their luck. We also tend to walk away or shut out what we do not want to see or hear. Friends and even   family- have you done this? Have you forgotten mercy? Have you been only wrapped up in your own causes?  To turn a blind eye is folly. 

The Smith Tower was once the tallest. It is now a point of reference for those who wake up on the streets near it.


The illusion of knowledge or what we think to be right is just our arrogance playing tricks on our brain.I believe arrogance is no excuse and is evil. 

 
 

 . 

After walking through Pioneer Square and where the underground tour takes place, we  headed to the Seattle Aquarium. The environmental causes tackled by this place is incredible.  I spent time with a volunteer in the aquarium who challenged my thinking of the underwater creatures we were enjoying on display.

Sea creatures give us insights wr never thought possible. studies have found that some have florescent ability.The scientific potential in the study of cancer can be enormous.

the deeper in the water these creatures go, they lose their brilliant colors.


Next we headed off to see the Seattle Mariners play the Los Angeles Angels.  It was quite a day of excitement for Luke. His face was all smiles .

Actually my eyes were enjoying these views too!well for other reasons.



Luke is a member of King Felix and his court. Felix is a great pitcher we love here in Seattle.


As I close on this post, may we be reminded about our most vulnerable citizens. They need you. They need all of us. Be a part of the answer. Not a part of the problem. 

Risking It All For Our Children

Luke is a handsome young man looking to find a job. Luke is severely disabled with Autism.

Luke is a handsome young man looking to find a job. Luke is severely disabled with Autism.

BASIC FACT: According to the UN, only 2% of
individuals with disabilities are able to
access basic services in their communities,
including education, work, healthcare, and
basic necessities.
Now let me introduce you to my son:
Luke has Autism. He is 20 years old and has only 9 months left in the public school system. Luke is a very loving young man who needs ongoing assistance to function in the world and to communicate. This year the school is attempting to place Luke in a job. Job internship placements are extremely difficult and in some cases lacking. Participation in job exploration in Luke’s past have included working in the library, gardening, recycling, and cleaning tasks. These specially designed activities for Luke are successful only with strong support including a job coach.

Luke has Autism. He is the most precious young man a mother could ask for and yes he needs special help everyday and will need it for the rest of his life. Today I hosted a meeting with a group of individuals all working as a team to assist in Luke transitioning from the school world to the real world. What does a meeting like this look like? As the host, my part is to make sure everyone is on board planning for Luke’s future. Perhaps this may mean developing a personalized work training plan. It also means teaching Luke acceptable worker traits.

Luke's Team of Experts include his teacher, a vocational expert, a job coach, and a visionary who wants to chart out a plan for Luke for all of us to follow.

Luke’s Team of Experts include his teacher, a vocational expert, a job coach, and a visionary who wants to chart out a plan for Luke for all of us to follow.


Luke has Autism. He will always need 24 hours supervision as Luke can be violent and unpredictable at times. Yet, he is the most precious young man and son a mother could ever ask for and he is worth risking it all for to see him be successful. As his mother, it is important to build relationships with Adult Service Partners as I did today hosting a meeting to facilitate Luke’s adventure into the real world. It is my hope the school will work hard to show Luke a visual representation of work experiences. This means a parent must be a strong advocate.
Luke relaxing between jobs at home which include emptying the dishwasher!

Luke relaxing between jobs at home which include emptying the dishwasher!


Luke has Autism. What does success look like for Luke you might ask? First of all it means working with many agencies and coordinating meetings to ensure Luke has success in his future. Today was a day for doing just that. I had folks from Luke’s team meet at my house to discuss possible employment opportunities for Luke. Some of the jobs we brainstormed about included working in a warehouse, or possibly working to clean at a winery. I loved the idea of Luke working in a winery!

Luke has Autism. Who hires someone like Luke? This is a good question. There are not many employers who do. Finding accepting and workable business owners who are willing to go the extra mile to hire someone like my son can be a challenge. For you see Luke can probably only work one hour maybe twice a week. The good news is that Luke wants to work. He talks about it and is excited about it, but he is also nervous and stressed about it in his own way. He realizes his school days are coming to a close rapidly.

Luke has Autism. Luke is worth risking it all for and being there to see him succeed no matter what that success looks like. For now Luke is cleaning school buses, packing lunches, and recycling and carrying out the trash for the school district. It is our hope these jobs at school will translate to gainful employment by the end of the year.

Luke --my goofy son.  He is looking for a job.  Are you hiring?

Luke –my goofy son. He is looking for a job. Are you hiring?

Luke has Autism. He will be the best employee you can ever imagine. It is my hope his future boss will have a great imagination and see what I see. I see success for Luke. This vision is what I hope Luke’s future boss will see and that they see Luke as a great investment. Wouldn’t it be great if all folks with disabilities would be given more opportunities to step into the workforce. This mother knows her son will be a great employee. Why not? He has been an awesome son for 20 years.

10 Tips On Giving Advice

This is yor friendly blogger holding up a SEAHAWK FLAG I had signatured by the players several years ago when the IRAQ WAR first broke out.  We  sent it to the troops we were sponsoring to encourage them.  Helping others is always important!

This is yor friendly blogger holding up a SEAHAWK FLAG I had signatured by the players several years ago when the IRAQ WAR first broke out. We sent it to the troops we were sponsoring to encourage them. Helping others is always important!

When you are qualified to give advice is it prudent to do this outside of your work time? Today was a perfect example of someone asking me for help. As a retired Registered Nurse I have been asked numerous times from family members, neighbors, friends, or just someone in a store that saw me in a nursing uniform for instructions on a certain medical subject. The questions asked of me have been simple to really quite complicated.
This morning a friend called me after accidently sticking herself in the thumb with an epipen. An epipen is an emergency treatment injection for life threatening allergic conditions a person may be having. This medicine actually belonged to her husband for his medical problems. This particular drug if given is administered in the thigh not the thumb where she accidently gave it to herself. I offered her advice rather quickly because of the type of situation she was in, but the problem is that she lives close to 3000 miles away from me! You can feel flattered someone trusts you enough to call you, however, was it prudent to give advice to her? My answer to the question is quite simple- IT DEPENDS!
Here are my top 10 advise giving tips. This is in no particular order and it does not mean this is the only advice out there. Many folks know alot more about almost everything than I do, but after this incident, it occurred to me that giving advice is not what it is all cracked up to be. So again my disclaimer is that this is just some helpful advice on giving advice and not necessarily for only medical types as myself:
1. Be very sincere. It may have taken alot for someone to approach you. AKA-do not roll your eyes….like you are being bothered.
2. Make sure that you understand from them that they are indeed asking for your advice. Clarify with the person especially in nonemergency situations.
3. Do not get judgmental at all. No one needs a lecture. If you can offer a book on the subject then do that or a link from the internet.
4. Allow the person to explain their situation clearly if they can and what exactly their question is.
5. Make it clear that your “advice” is not the only answer especially if there are many different approaches to the question that is being asked of you.
6. Be kind to the person. Do not make fun of someone for asking your opinion.
7. Make sure the person understands your advice and that you ask them to explore in their mind if what you are saying coincides with what they are thinking.
8. Do not act like you are 100% correct unless you know you are 100% correct.
9. Remember most times folks know what is best to do in their situation and they just need you as a friend to confirm their suspicions for their circumstances.
10.Before you end your time with that person, make sure they have a plan of action in their mind.

I am sure many of you are wondering what happened to my friend that stuck herself with the epipen needle. Since I knew she was speaking easily, I made sure she was breathing all right and asked her how long ago she had done this to herself. I said she needed to go have her husband take her to urgent care for assistance especially since she was experiencing some increased heart rate and my friend does have high blood pressure and a history of breathing problems at times. I also mentioned that she should get a tetanus shot. Sticking yourself with a needle or any kind of cut means it is time to update your immunization if need be. My primary concern is to do no harm so encouraging her to seek medical attention was paramount in my mind.

Redefining Mental Illness

When I was growing up, mental illness was shunned.  We did not talk about it in my household.  The first time I really heard much about mentally ill people was from my two aunts. They were nurses in a mental hospital for chronic patients in Kentucky.  As a young girl of 16, I was immediately drawn into the strangeness of this new world.  I went up to visit my aunts when they were working and I was able to actually walk the halls with the patients.  I was not scared, but what impressed me most about these sick folks was how they mostly kept to themselves. They talked to themselves and did not seem to notice the world around them.  One man did come up to me saying some jibberish that had to do with eatting Ronald Reagan’s liver for lunch and I said, “I hope it tasted good.”  I did not know what to say and as many of you know I do have a strange sense of humor.

When I became a Registered Nurse, I left the crazy world my aunts loved to concentrate most of my nursing in critical care or post operative surgery.  I thought this kind of nursing was a much safer world for me.  I guess I was fooled. However, the world of Mental Health never left my personal life.  In 1993, I welcomed  a beautiful baby boy named Luke.  He would be diagnosed with PDD-NOS or Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.  Later this was just noted as Autism.  My world as I knew it was shaken to its core.

You see a panel of experts in 1994 had completed a new revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that would be used by the medical community to identify and diagnose children like mine with Autism.  They say 20% of the population has some form of mental illness.  I think it is higher, but what do I know.

This year a revised version of the DSM ( ONLY fifth revision since its creation in 1952) came out. Many folks in the medical community are up in arms about it.  Change is not easy.   My concern is more that we do not let the new DSM take away the much needed health care  for individuals who need it to function in everyday life.  Globally this book will be used to diagnose, but in America this book is hugely significant to the ordinary person because if a person is not diagnosed, one does not get the dollars from their health insurance.  This concerns me.  I think time will tell how all this plays out especially with Obamacare taking root in the next year or so. In general I applaud the mental health community for updating the book.  It needed to be done.

I also want to mention that I fear for the over diagnosing of individuals with mental illness.  A word of advice:  Do not take a pill for every whim and especially do not put a child on a pill to mask symptoms until you really understand what is going on.  Patience is needed .  Do not be in a rush.  Where the heck you going anyway?  It has taken many years of finding the right medication for Luke.  He is on two main meds right now and is functioning fairly well on them.  He is monitored very closely by doctors we have found in our community we trust in Seattle.

Luke and Linus enjoying some much needed rest time.

Luke and Linus enjoying some much needed rest time.