Monday, April 30, 2012

lessons from a long day.

"Important components of faith are patience, long suffering, and enduring to the end. The Apostle Paul recounts the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sara, concluding that 'these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth' (see Hebrews 11:4 13). These faithful Saints knew that this earth life was a journey, not their final destination."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I delight in Commitment.

On my brain since Thursday...commitment.

It just so happened, my Mom sent me 1 BYU magazine while I was on my mission.  This article was in it and I knew there must have been a reason.  This talk changed my perspective in a lot of ways.  I began to learn what whole-souled commitment really was and why it was so critical and important for each of us.  I began to desire it for myself and desire it for those around me. 

And so, please enjoy. 
*I have bolded parts that stood out to me (sans the headings which were already bolded).

By Sarah Ingram Westerberg (MPA ’01)

As we make whole-souled commitments, we draw lines we will not cross. 

When I first came to this land, I quickly learned that a number of everyday words had different meanings here. Biscuits became cookies, petrol became gas, and chips became fries. It was through my work with a group of wonderful student employees in the tutoring program that I was introduced to a new meaning of the word flaky. Previously, I had come across this word only in connection with the qualities of pastry or piecrust. But my student employees used it to describe a fellow student. When I asked for clarification about this use of the word, they explained that flaky meant that someone was unreliable, someone who did not keep

We have all observed flakiness in some form or other, whether it’s when someone gets stood up for a date, when someone takes a different job two weeks after committing to work for a whole semester, or when someone chooses not to keep sacred covenants and takes a path different than the one the Savior would have us choose. Whatever the degree, flakiness is the antithesis of commitment.

Commitment, in its most basic form, is doing what you say you will do. Elder F. Burton Howard said of commitment:
The Church does have many needs, and one of them is for more people who will just do what they have agreed to do. People who will show up for work and stay all day; who will quietly, patiently, and consistently do what they have agreed to do—for as long as it takes—and who will not stop until they have finished. [“Commitment,” Ensign, May 1996, pp. 27–28]

Whether your commitments are in the form of promises, pledges, covenants, callings, contracts, or simply your word of honor, they must be kept. Whether they are commitments that are spiritual, legal, or seemingly trivial and temporal, they must be kept. Karl G. Maeser’s statement about chalk circles demonstrates the importance of keeping our commitments well.  He said: I have been asked what I mean by my word of honor. I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls—ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground—there is a possibility that in some way or another I will escape; but stand me on a floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I would die first! [In Alma P. Burton, Karl G. Maeser: Mormon Educator (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1953), p. 71]

In an increasingly flaky world, it seems that the word commitment has been progressively modified such that, in many contexts, it no longer resembles what it used to mean. More and more I hear people seeking to justify breaking a commitment. They say, “I have to do what is right for me” or “I am just too tired” or, especially, “I am just too busy.” We hear people talk of casual, partial, or half-hearted commitment. But anything less than complete, absolute, or total commitment is as bad as no commitment at all.
Achieving total commitment may seem daunting. I hope these six basic principles will be both useful and inspirational as you strive to keep your commitments in all areas of your life.

Know Your Commitments
A faculty friend of mine recently told me that she had asked her class to list the commitments they had made. She was met with blank stares and silence. The students needed help to articulate the commitments they had made. It is difficult to think about keeping commitments if you aren’t really sure what you have committed to do. She posed the question again and then prompted the students by saying, “OK, let’s start with baptismal covenants.” Then they began to realize that they have many commitments, and many in common.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have committed to take upon us Christ’s name. This should completely change every thought we have and every action we take. We recommit every Sunday, through the ordinance of the sacrament, to always remember Him. As we attend the temple we make additional covenants to do the Lord’s will.

At BYU we commit to keep the Honor Code. Many of us have committed to serve in callings in our various wards and stakes. Other commitments may include attending the weekly devotional in the Marriott Center, being on time for work or class, reading the Book of Mormon daily, or praying morning and night.

Know what commitments you have made and reflect upon them often. Ask the Lord to help you keep them in the forefront of your mind.

Decide Now
We must decide now to keep our commitments. Then, when faced with a temptation or an opportunity to compromise, we will not waver, because the decision was already made.  Great strength comes from commitments that are made well in advance. The Savior was constantly trying to strengthen His disciples, to help them develop commitment patterns, because He knew what trials and challenges they would face after He was gone. At one point He told them, “Settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you” (JST Luke 14:28). The Savior was encouraging His disciples to decide now.

My husband and I are committed to rearing our children in the gospel, and part of that commitment involves holding family home evening. We have already decided that we will have family home evening every Monday night, and so when our 4-year-old, William, inevitably answers the call to come to family home evening with the suggestion, “Let’s play lightsabers instead,” we are not swayed or moved because we already decided to have family home evening.

Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “Have you made the commitment to do anything the Lord asks, and are you disciplined enough to fulfill that commitment, even at a time that may not be particularly opportune or pleasant?” (“The Power of Commitment,” New Era, November 1989, p. 6). Commitment is never to be postponed for convenience or pleasure. It is easier to keep commitments when we decide before we reach the crisis point, before the critical mass of peer pressure occurs.
Follow the Master
The scriptures are replete with examples of ancient prophets and leaders who kept their commitments in the face of great adversity and trials. Nephi built a ship without any prior shipbuilding experience because he had committed to do whatever the Lord asked of him. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies, parents of the 2,000 stripling warriors, kept their commitments, even though it meant that many of them would be killed and that their sons would be sent to battle. The sons of Mosiah were committed to preaching the gospel to the Lamanites, even though it was dangerous work. Joseph resisted the advances of Potiphar’s wife and kept himself morally clean, even though it meant being thrown into prison.

The quintessential example of commitment, however, is our Savior, Jesus Christ. His devotion to His Father was perfect and complete, and He was totally committed to doing the Father’s will in all things. President Howard W. Hunter said: We must keep the commandments of our Lord. If we can pattern our life after the Master, and take His teaching and example as the supreme pattern for our own, we will not find it difficult to be temple worthy, to be consistent and loyal in every walk of life, for we will be committed to a single, sacred standard of conduct and belief. [“The Great Symbol of Our Membership,”Ensign, October 1994, p. 5]

Early in 2002 my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A few days later, my husband was also diagnosed with cancer. These were dark, difficult days for us. It would have been easy to have done as the devil tempted Job to do—to curse God, ignore our commitments to the Lord and to others, and wallow in despair. However, even when our circumstances change, our commitment to the Lord must not change. There is no sliding scale. We cannot get a rain check or opt out from our commitments, even for a time. We must stay on track and be lifted up by Jesus’ example.

Even though our individual circumstances differ, our commitments to the Lord are never situational; they do not change depending on the level of stress or joy we may be experiencing in our lives. Whether it is through defining moments of great trial or during seemingly subtle and quiet moments of reflection, making a commitment is a sacred act, an act that reflects what is divine in us. President Marion G. Romney said, “I . . . believe that the most effective way to get on course and to stay on course is to do as Jesus did: make a total commitment to do the will of His Father” (“Commitment and Dedication,” Ensign, March 1983, p. 5).

Set Realistic Goals and Endure
Once we are committed to following the Master, then a good way to make progress with our commitments is to set realistic goals. My sister volunteers at a family history center and has commented that many people are full of enthusiasm and energy when they come to search for their ancestors but leave disheartened because they are not able to identify all of their forebearers in a single session. Their commitment to redeeming the dead can be relatively short-lived. Setting realistic goals assists in fulfilling commitments and thus in enduring to the end. Whether we write a list of goals or keep them in our mind, we need to set goals that are reasonable and achievable and that will help us to keep our commitments in the long run.

We often hear of people who have “commitment issues,” people who don’t endure. Generally, these issues are in the context of a relationship, but it is an idea with broader application. Do we have spiritual commitment issues? With the Lord, all things are spiritual, thus there are no commitments that can be deemed “simply temporal.” When we keep our commitments, we draw closer to the Lord and come closer to becoming the person we need to be to endure through eternity. What may initially appear to be temporal is, in actuality, a training ground for things eternal. The companion of commitment keeping is enduring to the end. Because we are children of God, our commitments are eternal.

Anticipate Opposition
Keeping our commitments is something we must do daily, no matter what the day might bring. Through both the clouds and the sunshine of life, we must be committed. Many will keep their commitments only until the clouds appear, only until it becomes awkward, painful, expensive, unpopular, inconvenient, unfashionable, or politically incorrect. But we must be steadfast and immovable (see Mosiah 5:15). Elder Marvin J. Ashton said:
A truly committed person does not falter in the face of adversity. Until one is committed, there is a chance to hesitate, to go off in another direction, or to be ineffective. Members within our ranks who are committed to living the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be affected by the rationale of hecklers. [“‘The Word Is Commitment,’” Ensign, November 1983, p. 62]

The adversary uses discouragement to get us to break our commitments. Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland in the 13th century and an ancestor of mine, learned a great lesson after having been defeated in battle. While hiding from his enemies in a cave for several months and being at the lowest, darkest point in his life, he observed a spider trying to spin its web. The spider fell down again and again as it tried to construct the web but persevered and eventually succeeded. Bruce came to the realization that he must try, try again, and he too was eventually successful.

A further type of opposition we may experience is having friends who are lax or casual in their approach to their commitments and who minimize the extent of their obligations. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: [Some] members accept callings but not all of the accompanying responsibilities. . . . While casual members are not unrighteous, they often avoid appearing to be too righteous by seeming less committed than they really are—an ironic form of hypocrisy” (“Settle This in Your Hearts,” Ensign,November 1992,
pp. 65, 66).

The natural man is typically another opponent of commitment keeping, which is why our prophets and apostles speak so often of self-mastery. It takes great strength and discipline to be fully committed to all that is required. The cultural tides in our world run strongly against commitments of any kind.

Reap the Blessings
When we put our whole heart into our commitments and covenants with God, the blessings will extend far beyond our spiritual selves and will strengthen all aspects of our lives.
When my mother was baptized a member of the Church in 1964, she could not drive, and the local branch met in a drafty building across town. She had to take several buses to get to and from church twice each Sunday. One cold, snowy night as she waited to catch the bus home, the missionaries passed by and told her that if she would keep her commitments to the Lord and continue to live the gospel, in the future it would be easier for her to get to church. Several years later, my mother passed her driving test. Soon afterward, the members worked hard to build a meetinghouse about a five-minute drive away from our home. What a marvelous blessing it was for my mother to be able to get to meetings so easily.

President Henry B. Eyring described great learners as people who keep commitments:
Any community functions better when people in it keep their promises to live up to its accepted standards. But for a learner and for a community of learners, that keeping of commitments has special significance. . . .The Latter-day Saints who see themselves in all they do as children of God take naturally to making and keeping commitments. The plan of salvation is marked by covenants. We promise to obey commandments. In return, God promises blessings in this life and for eternity. He is exact in what He requires, and He is perfect in keeping His word. Because He loves us and because the purpose of the plan is to become like Him, He requires exactness of us. And the promises He makes to us always include the power to grow in our capacity to keep covenants. He makes it possible for us to know His rules. When we try with all our hearts to meet His standards, He gives us the companionship of the Holy Ghost. That in turn both increases our power to keep commitments and to discern what is good and true. And that is the power to learn, both in our temporal studies and in the learning we need for eternity. [“A Child of God,” 1997–98 Speeches, pp. 46–47]

My mother was committed to raising her children in the gospel. Just one example of her commitment to this ideal was an activity that happened every morning in our family. In the Ingram family we called it “morning service,” and it involved a hymn, a family prayer, and scripture reading at 7:30 a.m. each day. Regardless of what else might be going on that day, we always had morning service—every single day. I am ever grateful to my mother for her tenacity in keeping her commitment to raise up a righteous posterity even when her children were not always terribly congenial about having to get out of bed for scripture study. Her commitment has made a difference in my life. I know the scriptures better because of morning service. Those blessings extend through future generations and continue to bless my family as I teach my children the gospel by reading the scriptures with them.

Whole-Souled Commitment
Let’s keep the flakiness in the kitchen. Let us be more fully aware of our commitments; decide now to keep them; follow the Master in our approach to our commitments; set realistic goals to help us endure in our commitments; anticipate the opposition that will come; and reap the blessings, both temporal and eternal, that flow to those who faithfully keep commitments.
Commitment to God’s laws is the basis of peace in this life. President Howard W. Hunter said: A successful life, the good life, the righteous Christian life requires something more than a contribution, though every contribution is valuable. Ultimately it requires commitment—whole-souled, deeply held, eternally cherished commitment to the principles we know to be true in the commandments God has given. [“Standing As Witnesses of God,” Ensign, May 1990, p. 62]

“Whole-souled, deeply held, and eternally cherished commitment”—these are words to live by.

Sarah Westerberg is associate dean of students at BYU. This is adapted from a devotional address given on Dec. 2, 2008.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I delight in ways to say good job.

 100 ways to say good job.  Best link I've found in a while.  
I say good job or at least want to/try to about 100 times each day.  Kids and adults both need to hear it.
We all need to hear it sometimes!  Especially when we're going hard things.
So if you, like me need to change it up a little...check THIS out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

loving something vs loving the idea of something

I feel I'm wedged between these two ideas: 
loving something and loving the idea of that same something.  
Put another way, its the contrast between loving (insert here) and loving the idea of (insert same as previous).  

As I get closer to the point where I can make definite decisions about my future (as options open up)...I have been trying to filter through why (exactly) I love the things I love.

And do I really love them?

Or do I just love the idea of them?

I've thought about these things before.  I've even learned some pretty good lessons about distinguishing between the two before.  These lessons have related to everything from majors, to jobs, to boys, to goals and everything in between.

Now as I look to the future, I am becoming increasingly aware of the importance of not only doing the right things for the right reasons.  But doing the things I love because I truly love them, and not just because I love the idea of it.  Ideas are misleading because they are pretenses that may or may not evolve into what you love.  You could learn to love it, or your feelings might never change.

Hopefully this makes some sense.

I realize that most of my thoughts, are really only partially developed thoughts.  Writing about them however, helps my mind to process them more and they slowly grow into more complete thoughts.  Hopefully you are able to witness that progression with me as I write about things over time.

Tomorrow, I'm probably going to write somethings about commitment.  Its another topic I've been thinking a lot about.  I'll share one of my favorite talks about commitment that has changed the way I live my life.  It's a winner for sure.  Until then, a thought to ponder.  How can we develop the ability to more clearly discern if we really love something or whether we just love the idea of it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I delight in allowance.

Today I got some pretty thrilling news.  I passed my last class of grad school AND I had a pretty fantastic job interview with a verbal job offer!  As a result of these two events, I have been thinking about all sorts of new things today that made me really excited.

After a while, I thought, "Wow, all these thoughts are making me so happy!  Why wasn't I thinking about these things before?"  And that's when it occurred to me, I couldn't/didn't allow myself think these things until I 1) Knew my grade was good enough to graduate (because I'm a worrier about all things legit and not so much) and 2) Had a pretty secure job offer.  Now that I have both those things, I have finally allowed myself to think beyond what I have been letting myself think of (the aforementioned 1 and 2).  I have not been thinking about actually working as an SLP (for money with benefits), moving, shopping, traveling, or any of those things that I am now allowing myself to think of since I know in due time its all going to finally come around.  So many good options are out there!  I'm so excited!

Since this "ah-ha" I have been debating whether my' waiting to allow myself to divulge in these thoughts of the future' was a good thing.  Not that I can change it, I think its just how I handle such situations.  However I now hope I am able to face things with a much needed different perspective, especially since real life is ahead, facing me full on.

And so, here's to what is ahead.
Here's to allowing myself to look to the future with hope and not reservation.
Here's to great adventures of all sorts.  There are still a lot of decisions to be made, but that's not the part I'm worried about.  Prayer works.  Trying on decisions is the way I've figured a lot of things in the past and I'm grateful for God's consistency of character in allowing me to recognize Him in the ways I always have.

Life begins at the intersection.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I delight in Sunday.

Today was a really good day.  It is always good when you can start the day feeling you were where you were supposed to be.  And it only got better from there.

Yesterday I ran across some of my "lessons learned" that I wrote down at the end of my mission.  My mission president counseled us to write down the things we learned within the first 3 days of our leaving to go back home.  Our "lessons" were supposed to be little one liners, 'snippets' of truth.  I have shared some lessons from the mission and since then previously on the blog (see label entitled: lessons).  As I read through the list yesterday I thought...oh dear.  There are so many little things that have seemed to go by the wayside over the past 2 years.  Little things I learned, tried to commit myself to always doing, that I somehow seemed to have forgotten.

One of the most powerful things I read yesterday was a lesson taught me by President himself.  He said, "Your spiritual life is only as good as your prayers and scripture study."  Today I have reflected a lot on that.  I am so grateful that in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we believe and know that change is possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Today I am also really grateful for family.
Really grateful for family.
Here are a few pictures from tonights post-dinner fire.
 Favorite Christin quote of the day: "I have legs Sis!"
 A few of the surviving tulips.  So beautiful!
 Rubes and Penny.
 Craig and Rubes.
 My first roasted milkyway of the season.  YUM!
My favorite mountain and my favorite view of it!
My favorite new picture of Ruby and I.  Don't let this "angel puppy" picture mislead you.  Sometimes she is a "naughty puppy" like right she barks incessantly outside. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

A lot has changed in a week...

For starters, the format of blogger has changed.
That's new.

Really, not all that much has changed.  I haven't uploaded any pictures from my recent ventures but I will tomorrow.  Expect updates next week.

Until then, let me just say that I have had a lot of delights lately.  A few include:

  • wendover with the fam
  • a solo trip to st. george
  • celebrating nat's master's graduation
  • a trip to slc with LB
  • a surpisingly helpful clinical team experience with other health professions students
  • indian food
  • hearing heidi swinton speak (author of president monson's biography)
  • lots of leads/interviews on great jobs
  • completion of various applications
  • planting the first flowers of the season
  • time with grandpa
  • jumping on the trampoline
  • fun fun times with the preschoolers
  • sleep in my own bed (i love my own bed, electric blanket and 5 pillows...ah!)

Monday, April 9, 2012

I delight in the happenings as of late.

life has been a lot of fun lately. so let's have a recap:
last week the school district was on spring break so I had two days off, thanks to sickness turned into 3 days off and thanks to a conference turned into 4 days off. on tuesday, nat and i headed to slc to check out city creek, go to the u, the clinic, the u bookstore, temple square, the gateway and the hunger games. not to mention gourmandise and costco pizza. what more could you ask for, seriously? thanks for the great picture collage nat! :) it rightfully sums up a great and needed day!
being outside is finally a pleasant experience. on easter sunday, we enjoyed our first family fire of the year. i was too full from the delicious dinner to participate in eating my first s'more of the year but it felt so nice to be outside, smelling campfire and laughing with my family!

on thursday, i headed south via morgan/park city and a stop at carly's in heber. we had a wonderful time being crafty and catching up. somehow our fun times together seem to evade photographic evidence, however, we treasure the times in our hearts for sure! i'm so grateful "the clifford's" aka our dad's are lifelong friends so we can follow in their footsteps.

after my wonderful time with car, i headed to provo for a sleep at grandpa's on my favorite couch ever+a roasty toasty electric blanket! it's the recipe for sleeping perfection. friday morning, i woke up, went upstairs and grandpa informed me that it was raining. as we looked outside we watched the rain turn to snow and then watched it pile up over breakfast. oh utah and your blasted constantly changing weather. i was so grateful i could sleep at grandpa's so my drive to byu was so short. i spent the day at a conference on the management of childhood apraxia of speech up on byu campus. it felt so good to be back on that campus as more of a 'professional' than a student and to hear about apraxia from edy strand herself. she's a legend in the field and a fantastic presenter. during lunch, i went with 4 of my fellow colleagues to the creamery for lunch and 4 of the clinic supervisors followed suit. it was entertaining if i do say so myself. it was so great to hear about all the exciting times everyone has been having at their externships. i can't believe we'll all be 'moving on' so soon. finally, i dropped mary off at her sister's house which just happened to be on the same street as my great grandma and grandpa mcquivey's house. it looks just the same, only their chairs aren't in the window. i absolutely adore mary's nieces and nephews and had a great time going on a backyard adventure, attending an orchestral event and getting a big farewell wave from everyone at the doorstep! friday night, i enjoyed a quiet night with grandpa. first i enjoyed a dinner of ice cream and raisin toast (it was that, going and picking something up or a microwave dinner--the choice i made was definitely the best!) then we watched wheel of fortune, jeopardy (which as always, i only knew the answer to 3 questions--one of which none of the contestants knew the answer to which made me feel smarter), a complete hour of who wants to be a millionaire (this would be the gameshow i would be most successful on), and finally channel surfing before we gave up and went to bed--at 8:30. boy did that feel good! :)
saturday, it was time for an adventure. after breakfast, grandpa and i went up to BYU campus. it's always fun to go up there with grandpa because he watched the "upper campus" be built and knows what each building started as--for example: the now testing center was a library when he was there. as we walked into the wilkinson center, he told me how ernie was quite the guy...earnest "ernie" wilkinson. yep, he knew ernie. grandpa was also one of 3 students who had cars, so parking was never a problem for him. and tuition, well we can't even go there. the bookstore was as great as ever, got LB's requested hoodie and grandpa got his chocolate covered mixed nuts--can't go to campus without restocking on that supply!

after leaving campus and driving down 9th east, we made a stop at the cemetery. that's when spontaneity kicked in and we headed for payson to find the spot for the payson temple. grandpa doesn't travel too far from home on his own so it was a good chance for him and a fun chance for me to go with him and hear more about the way things used to be. we took the old road and relived the good old days when that old road was the only road! fyi, there is nothing built or dug that we could tell at the temple site. *see the picture above our journey ended with a trip to the new jdawgs by grandpa's house. i took him to the original jdawgs once upon a time and he really liked it. he was observant however that he was "by far the oldest one in the place" however, at 91, i wasn't too surprised.
finally i headed home.

i couldn't get too far without a stop at one of my favorite temples. draper is usually pretty out of the way for me, so since it was more on the way traveling north from provo, i couldn't help but make a stop. living at home with no ogden temple has been...challenging to make it to the temple as often as i would like however, i have learned that whenever possible...take the unexpected today. i now keep a skirt in my trunk with my temple bag. always prepared.

that was a long run down of my adventures but i had to share because it was so fantastic! craig has reminded me a lot lately about the value of a small vacation and the trip to provo was it for me. i'm so excited that he gets to have a vacation when our family heads west in the upcoming days.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

a trustworthy gut

My mom could quote me on a statement I made just a little over a week ago that went something like this: it's interesting that a lot of the people I work with could have gotten help earlier in their neurological event had they acted on their suspicions that all was not right.

I am now quoting myself, on lesser of a severe scale than having a neurological event however, if I had recognized the signs that I myself was sick and had gone to the doctor a week ago, the last 3 weeks of my life could have been a lot more....peaceful.

Now I sit here thinking...why don't I trust my gut more reliably to actually act on what I feel? I've talked previously about never suppressing a generous thought and although I know it is something I should always do, I still question myself at times. And sometimes, I don't even let myself think about it long enough to act on it, dismissing the thought before the possibility of acting on such a thought.

Tonight at institute, we talked about the second coming of Christ. At the end, Brother Clayton asked each of us to identify something we would work to change to be more prepared. Too many things came to mind, but the overriding thought that I think could positively influence a lot of different areas is: to become quick to observe and act accordingly. While I appreciate my mind, it talks my heart out of doing a lot of things.

I'm grateful to be a work in progress. The keywords being work and progress.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I delight in Autism Awareness Day.

Craig and the stop sign
In 2008, I posted the following to a my in honor of Autism Awareness Day:

Just thought I would do my part in educating a few more people in the world about the importance of early detection of Autism. Everyday in pretty much ALL of my classes we talk about the importance of early intervention when it comes to disorders like autism, syndromes like down syndrome, speech and language disorders, hearing impairments, and I could go on and on but let me just say for the record...the early years are the years you can make the biggest difference in a child's life--and that goes for any child disabled or not!

A few things I think everyone should know about Autism:

What is Autism?
Autism (sometimes called “classical autism”) is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. Other ASDs include Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Experts estimate that three to six children out of every 1,000 will have autism. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females.

Common signs of Autism:
Autism varies widely in its severity and symptoms and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is masked by more debilitating handicaps. Doctors rely on a core group of behaviors to alert them to the possibility of a diagnosis of autism. These behaviors are:

-impaired ability to make friends with peers
-impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
-absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
-stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
-restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
-preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
-inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

It is crazy that since I wrote this, the incidence of ASD is now 1:88 which was released just last week by the CDC. And so, now more than ever, we need to be aware of Autism. We need to know how to support these amazing children, adults and their families. This includes supporting them in our classrooms, communities, families and social circles. It means learning about it, talking about it and doing something about it.

My Mom and I recently had the opportunity to attend two seminars which centered on various aspects of Autism: one hosted at the Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City and one at Weber State University. In discussion after both of these seminars, Mom left feeling lost because it didn't seem that anyone talked about the things that she "would have talked about and that things she feels she needs support and direction with." In talking about what these things are, it's the things that anyone would almost automatically leave out of the conversation: the meltdowns, the hard times, the struggles and the ever evolving difficulties. While you work so hard to constantly overcome these things, they seem to have a way of coming back around. The times when Autism gets the best of things and life really isn't just different but its a fight in the trenches. As we continued talking about it, we realized we are just as guilty as the next in omitting the details most of the time. And so, my goal for the upcoming year is to help make Autism more understandable in terms of what it is like in my life, the life of my family, and most importantly what it is like in Craig's life.

Autism awareness begins with those who live with autism.