Thursday, July 26, 2012

Autism designs for you

As many of you know, I have a Cafe Press page and I mostly do my characters and fantasy artwork on it. I also do anti-bullying and autism awareness pieces. Well, I've done one anti-bullying piece and now three autism awareness pieces, but there will be more. There will be more especially for the autism pieces.

I'm not doing them to collect donations, they are just for you to enjoy for your own purpose of raising autism awareness. For these designs you can get everything from T-shirts to keychains. From mouse pads, to greeting cards.

As for the T-shirts, I bought one myself of my top hero, King Falcon. It's a well made shirt and best washed and then lightly tumbled dry or air dried (hang it up). Anyway, let me introduce you to my autism art pieces and I hope you'll consider them for your use in autism awareness.  I can also make a design for you to take to a screenprinter yourself for 30 dollars.  Not to worry, you can get some very good design out of me for that. I can also design your tattoo for the same amount.

Autism Heart
Autism Heart:  This is a small piece I made with an older digital program. It doesn't increase in size well, so I only put it on things that work well with small images. This makes a great keychain, and comes in pocket size on T-shirts. While this image isn't on a lot of stuff it works exceptional on Cafe Press's little stuffed animals. Take a look!

Autism Strong
Autism Strong: Available on a few more items than the first heart, this piece sends a clear message that we can be strong. You can even get this on a keychain or waterbottle. I only selected a few shirts, so if you want a style and don't see it, let me know and I'll make changes so you can get it!

Autism Heart and Key
Autism Heart and Key: This object comes on the most stuff yet as it's got the best resolution of any autism piece I've made yet too! You have to browse this one to believe it! You can even get this one for your electronics like ipads and ipods, whatever you've got! Nook and Kindle sleeves too! It's a simple design so it works on nearly everything.

If you want to see all the pictures available here is the link for the store front of Galaxy Zento on Cafe Press.

I hope you enjoy your tour and will consider my designs for your awareness efforts. Thanks for all your support!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Handling phobias and fear in autism

Giant Cicada Killer wasp: Harmless to humans
This morning I checked my messages to find a question from Jill on Autism and Phobias that read:

I also came across your posting after googling autism phobias. My son recently developed a debilitating fear of bees and dragonflies. I'd be interested to hear what you were able to do to help your child deal with his flying bug phobia. Right now we are not able to spend time outside. As soon as he sees a flying insect he starts screaming uncontrollably. Thank you for sharing your experience with this!

Well, Jill, this post is for your and anyone else wondering that same question.

The ultimate answer to a phobia is intensive therapy, but there are steps to take before going that route.

The first steps I like to take, and they seem to help, is education. My 10 year old son is also afraid of just about any flying insect that he can see. He worries that they all are bees or specifically the Mahogany wasps we have in this area. 

I think the first thing that gets them is that these are speeding objects that are hard to identify and can't be controlled. This sets off a sensory and startle reaction. Once that happens it's a chain reaction the rest of the way and hard to reverse. He will need a great deal of reassurance and comforting. Reassurance that these insects aren't looking for him. And that's where education of these things comes in.

Green Dragonfly: Harmless to humans
There are children's level books on just about every bug you can think of at any library. Get your hands on some and let your child know you would like to teach him with some pictures about the bugs in your own backyard or at the park. If there's resistance, get him to agree that pictures can't hurt and then start teaching him about them. 

Next step, check Toys R Us for bug toys that he can handle and touch. He may balk but show him that it's just rubber and not real. With things like dragonflies it's safer than with things you don't want him to touch, like spiders. 

Make it a game. See how many bugs he can identify as they fly around and tell you about them.

Through is all, it will take time, constant reassurance, patience, support and a loving attitude. With enough of that, he can start to grow out of his fears. 

Similar steps can be used for fear of sounds, like thunder. Teach about it, make it a game, and use lots of hugging and supporting. And he will want to retreat, the first odd number of times, it will be hard to get him to do it. You must not give up. Our kids take a very long time to make changes. If in doubt and absolutely unsure, consult a specialist.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Setting an example for our autism youth

My desk area for Galaxy Zento
You might remember, a couple blog posts back, where I wrote to you all about my Galaxy Zento project and what you could do to help with the setting of that example. Well, you worked wonders, my friends and tripled the number of people I was reaching. That's not a million people or anything, but it was a record and I'm grateful. The record? 676 people reached. That's more than 5x the number of LIKES on the page. Thank you!

So today I want to share more about my experience growing up and my son's experience in comparison with autism. I want my experiences to give hope to families struggling with understanding their kids and hope to kids who aren't sure where their lives are going.

This is NOT to say that I have the final answers to anything in autism. It's not meant to give false hopes to anyone. But if you have no hope to draw on at all, where does that leave you?

When I was growing up I was considered to be one effed up kid and that's just the language that got used. During the divorce of my parents I vanished into a fantasy world tried to get others to believe that I had bionics like the Six Million Dollar Man. Today, my son is trying very hard to convince us that he's a star in outer space with super powers. The fantasy is still there.

My son and I collect together
I developed rituals before I was ten of doing things in even numbers. I had to turn lightswitches off or on twice, zip zippers twice, turn objects twice and so on. I felt severely compelled to do this and I don't remember thinking there would be anything but bad luck if I didn't.  I developed a stim of clearing my throat, just like my son does today. I had other stims too and sensory issues. I liked the feeling of some fabrics under my fingernails and cool surfaces were calming to me.

I developed trouble in school early. In my last article I explained that my son has gone through a spot of bad behavior, stealing back his DS when grounded and sneaking out of the house at night through a window with a six foot drop. Well. When I was 8 or 9, I was told to stay after school. I knew I would be in trouble at home if I were late and I told the teacher my father needed to be called. She said it was my problem. I asked to go to the bathroom. She let me and I snuck out of school and ran home. I destroyed letters I was supposed to deliver to my father from the teachers before that (only two days before) and had to stay after again. This time she said I was NOT going to the bathroom. However she left the room,  summoned by the principal and I was gone.

When the phone call came, I got the most horrifying belt beating you can imagine and sentenced to my bed for thirty days. I was to come home, do my homework on my bed, eat dinner on my bed and I could only leave my bed to go to school or the bathroom. I could have one stuffed toy. My father let me out of that punishment after a week. He didn't think I could handle the whole thing, but I never, ever did that again. I won't punish my son like that, but he is in a lot of trouble right now. The difference is I have a team of people to work with him and explain things and teach him. All the while he still gets disciplined. The point is, I had my behavior rough spots too. I had my ticks, my stims, and all the things I see in him today.

By the time I reached 6th grade, I had very few friends (there were 3 of us) and two of us were bully magnets. Before I went to Jr High (a total freaking nightmare) I was playing with kids 5 years younger than me. Just like my son prefers to play with kids either way younger or almost adults (sound familiar?). I didn't understand kids my age at all. It was a concern but not addressed very well, so continued. Those were the times. Now I'm hoping to keep him from being bullied like I was.

A painting I did for autism
Despite my life and all I went through, despite not having support for autism as kid; despite running away from home at 14; despite my random life that I will be sharing here soon; despite the fact that my medical health has gained deteriorating factors, I am still doing things. I still became a parent of four kids, I still have a part in their lives, I still held jobs, and now I'm still striving to do something, anything. I want kids with autism (who are unsure of their lives) and kids with bipolar or who are being bullied, to know that they can do something too. That is what Galaxy Zento stands as an example of.

You can do this too. You can take the accomplishments of your life and show them to your kids. Show them that it's not over until it's over and life has possibilities for them. Show them other people who do amazing things despite disability. It's not about being gainfully employed either, it's just about doing something that you can be good at. And that's a great start!

So thank you for sharing Galaxy Zento. I hope more of you will continue to "like" and follow the page. And when the first novel (The Chessmen) gets published, you'll hear about it first. Thank you!