Monthly Archives: August 2014

See You At The Walk!

Our Guest Blogger this month is Yvonne Vieira, Parent/Committee Member – Hearts and Hands Walk for Autism & Family Fun Day.

I was honored to have been asked by CAR to be a guest blogger this month.  It’s been more than a decade since I first turned to CAR for help after hearing that devastating autism diagnosis.  It did feel devastating back then.  Now it just feels overwhelming from time to time.  And as if one diagnosis wasn’t stress inducing enough, we would learn that our oldest was also on the spectrum a couple years later.  Funny how we didn’t pick up on it when he was such a handful those first several years.  

We first turned to CAR for information and education shortly after the diagnosis’.  Talking to people who have ‘been there’ brought comfort and a sense that we too could get through this.  Next we turned to CAR for the many programs they provide for children on the spectrum.  My boys have been able to attend movies, yoga classes, social groups, and family activities that are handled in a sensory friendly manner.  Our kids on the spectrum are just like any other kid, they just want to have fun.  The thing is that what is fun for a typical child, may be totally overwhelming to a child on the spectrum.  CAR gets that and plans their activities with that in mind.

After many years of turning to CAR for their support, I decided it was time to show my support by volunteering for their Hearts & Hands Walk for Autism and Family Fun Day.  Some of the promotional pictures still used today were taken by me.  I loved interacting with the families on walk day.  Everyone has such a great time because it is a great event.  In it’s 11th year now we are still proud to provide an event filled with free games, refreshments, activities, and entertainment.  It is truly a family FUN day from start to finish.  By the way, you don’t want to miss the raffle table.  The prizes always have family fun in mind with gift certificates to places like museums, zoos, bowling, climbing, rollerskating, indoor trampoline parks, and so much more.  Shopping and restaurant gift certificates too! 

The thing I’ve learned, especially over the last several years, is that in order for CAR to be able to continue to provide the many free services and programs and fun things all our families have come to enjoy they need our help.  The Hearts & Hands Walk is CAR’s primary fundraiser and it’s success will dictate whether or not they will be able to keep doing what they do best which is helping families who have children on the Spectrum

CAR has truly been a presence on my family’s journey and they have yet to help so many others.  Please consider forming a team and joining us on walk day this year or by making a donation to show your support for CAR and all the wonderful ways they make a difference in the lives of those with autism.

Thank you for your time and support.  I hope to meet many of you on walk day.  See you at the farm!

The Adventures of a Super Sib…Now where did I put my cape?

Why is that as soon as a child receives a diagnosis their brothers and sisters suddenly become siblings? Why does that relationship become scientific instead of natural? Sure, my relationship with my twin sister is different from my relationship with my older 2 sisters, but just because Julie has Autism doesn’t make her any less my sister, or any more a sibling.facebook_1408022731682
I have had many families ask me what it’s like growing up with a sister with Autism. I am never sure how to answer this question. I don’t know what it’s like growing up without a sister with Autism. Life with Julie has certainly had it’s ups and downs, but so has growing up with Jennifer and Alyssa. Julie has definitely brought opportunities and life lessons into my world that I may have otherwise not taken advantage of. My whole family has been deeply entrenched in Special Olympics ever since Julie strapped on a pair of roller skates and turned our front yard into a roller rink at the age of 6. Coaching and participating in Special Olympics has brought me a joy and a sense of responsibility that I am not sure I would have even considered if Julie were not in my life. I am more accepting of differences and challenges and a fierce advocate for those who cannot defend themselves. Would I be a different person if Julie hadn’t taught me these things? I am glad I will never know.
Not that life with Julie has been all positive. It’s frustrating. Very frustrating. My biggest challenge with Julie has always been our communication barrier. I cannot count the amount of times I have wanted to be able crawl into her brain for just a few minutes to find out what she is thinking. Like why does she insist on wearing a jacket when it is 90 degrees outside? Mostly it is frustrating when she is upset and we have no idea why. That has to be worst part about Autism in my experience. As a sister you want to support and help your family and you can’t always do that when your sister cannot tell you what is wrong.
And of course there is added worry that I don’t necessarily have for my other sisters: Is she living the best life she can? Who will take care of her when my Mom is gone? Is she happy? There is a piece of that relationship that becomes more parental than sisterly. But who hasn’t gone Mom mode on a brother or sister at some point in their life?
We don’t have that typical relationship that sisters have but we have certainly found our place with each other. We commiserate at the gym together, we fight over the iPad, we spend girls’ nights out together and Sunday family dinners. We don’t have heart to heart conversations about our weddings and what we wanted to be when we grew up. However, we do have an unspoken bond and I will take the whispered random “I love you” while we are going for a walk over the wardrobe arguments any day. When it comes down to it, life with a sister with Autism is the only life I know. And I am pretty sure I am a better person for it.