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‘To Love Un-conditionally’ Our Autism Journey

‘To Love Un-conditionally’ Our Autism Journey
Oby

As a proud loving Mother of two young awesome boys on the Autism Spectrum, my dear friend Yinka approached me to share little nuggets I learned on my journey. 

I. Was. Elated.

So, I decided to share my personal story following the diagnosis stages I went through with my sons. Which I know a lot of other parents  are familiar with as well, on this autism journey.

Stages – From a Parent’s Perspective

Shock 

“Your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Says the Doctor. 

This has come as a shock to you even though you saw the signs, and you knew your child or baby was not quite developing like other kids his age. You literally feel like your world has come to a stand-still, even though it has not. 

Anyhow you want to put it, the words “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” sounds weightier than the actual situation. 

You scramble everywhere and anywhere for a cure. You join numerous blogs that make the situation dire than it is.

  • Denial 

Family and friends tell you your child is “Ok” and “Does not have Autism Spectrum Disorder. He/she is just slow

  • “You know boys are slower” They say… 
  • My cousin was slow, but now He’s great!” They say...
  • You want to believe them. You believe them...

After a couple of weeks, you realize the Developmental Doctor was right!

Your-Child-Misses-Major-Milestones.

  • Acceptance. Get to Work! 

After observing your child for some days/weeks and much research, you accept it.

In this stage:

Breath.

Take a cup of Coffee.

Shut your eyes for a minute.

Then get to work.

  • Research, Research, Research!
  • You will find excellent and great advice everywhere. 
  • You will also find depressive tales and more tales of doom everywhere. 
  • You will also find people who want to take advantage of you (financially), promising a total cure everywhere.

You will need to diligently research to find the right therapist (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst BCBA, Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, and so on).

Get this information from your doctor, and very good blogs.

Please interview them to make sure they’ll be great fits not just for your child, but also for you and your family.

  • Avoid online scammers at all cost who promise solutions and prey on your desperation.
  • Avoid pity-parties at all cost. 
  • Avoid online groups, that make your situation seem so dire and even make you more depressed, at all cost.
  • Mental Health: 

As the caregiver, your mental health is vital.

Take care of it. 

You must be happy in order to impart happiness onto your child. 

This is important! I cannot stress this enough. 

If uncle Johnny makes you feel uncomfortable or unhappy whenever you bring your dear child to visit him, then stay away from Uncle Johnny.

If therapist Jane worsens your situation or does not really care for you or your child, then change therapist.

Have little tolerance for anything that’ll send you off to depression. 

There is hope always! Always!

Escape (even if it’s just for a few minutes) when kids are not with you, or when you have help. Carve out time for yourself.

Look for what makes you happy and take out some time DAILY. For me, I am a hopeless romantic.

I binge on all things romantic from the trilogy book “50 Shades of Grey” to Netflix’s “Love is Blind”. It makes me happy!

  • Support! Support!! Support!!! 

It takes a village! You need the support of family, friends, place of worship, care-givers. 

#YOU-CANNOT-DO-THIS-ALONE!

  • Let your Child Lead You! 

When you see a different behavior, ‘Your-child-is-NOT-WEIRD!

He/she is just different and learns everything about life differently.

Let your child guide you. Follow your child’s lead and discover how he/she learns. When you do this, you’ll see many windows of opportunity to teach your child and bring your child more to your world! It works! 

  • Positive Affirmations:

Because I am a woman of Faith, I believe in speaking words of Biblical Faith daily to my son. Speak words of Affirmation daily to your child. Teach your child to say these words daily.

When my son was much younger, I taught him a simple night prayer and to say the words “I am healed.” Now he says these daily words of affirmation before he starts his day: “I will be taught by the Lord, and great will be my peace and undisturbed composure.” (From Isaiah 54:13).

  • Excel/Flourish:

Once all these are in place, your child will begin to excel!

You will begin to excel.

Your family will begin to excel.

You are happy!

You laugh!

You play!

You rejoice!

Remember to jot down achievements, no matter how small (or big).

I call them “Praise Reports.”

Always remember that God is good, and that NO-ONE is a biological accident.

Your child is a blessing full and LOVE.

Your life and you child’s life have Purpose!

Absolutely! There is meaning to all this! In time you’ll find out. 

I love my BOYS. My life would absolutely be hopeless without them.

They-teach-me-daily.

Our dear Sons are amazing!

They show us the way daily❤️

We Love them dearly! 

I’d like to thank my amazing husband for his awesome endearing Love and full support. He is amazing!❤️

I also like to thank our awesome families for their amazing Love and full support.❤️

Much Love, Oby.

ABOUT HER: Oby holds a Masters in Electrical & Computer Engineering, Bachelors in Electronics Engineering. She worked for many years in the medical device industry with Fortune 500 companies in research & development, as well as leadership roles. She lives in Atlanta, GA and is happily married to Dr. Ekekwe for 16 years. She currently home schools her older son while the younger son attends school.

Yinka & Oby!

“Oby and I have been friends for over 30 years! #FGGC Sagamu Alumnus! A couple of years ago, we started talking more about her son’s autism diagnosis, Oby was very transparent and willing to share her struggles and triumphs, especially after knowing that was my field of specialization and passion. Overtime, she became an active member of my non-profit organization DCN “My Child Thrives” support group. Oby has been a vibrant, assertive and valuable resource to other members on the forum. She is certainly a force to reckon-with! Her witty takes on situations! her abundance of terms of endearment! as she showers group members with hope! ‘Autism diagnosis report certainly has nothing on this sassy lady!

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka!

as I share ‘Not Lucky, I’m Loved’ by Jonathan McReynolds to celebrate – April, ‘National Autism Awareness Month!

 

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How aware are you about ‘AUTISM’?

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Today April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day. Although we know so much more about autism than we did twenty or thirty years ago, it is still very important for all of us to make sure we know some facts and are able to debunk the myths about autism.

As an Applied  Behavioral Analyst with a  deep passion for children with autism, I am joining the rest of the world in wearing blue #LIUB and campaigning for a cause I believe in!

But today is about so much more than tweets and t-shirts. People like my childhood friend, Oyin! My cousin Sammy! and so many others who are on the autism spectrum, live with it every single day — we can’t stop showing our support when the blue lights go out.aut 5

Awareness is the first step to making true progress. With a loud enough megaphone, supported by your voice, we can convince lawmakers to fund more research for innovative treatments and resources for students on the spectrum who need a little extra support to keep up with their peers.

We can keep mapping the human genome to gain greater understanding of the many forms of autism and develop personalized treatments. We can educate more parents about the signs of autism to increase the rate of early diagnosis — and then connect them with the resources they need to help their child lead a happy and healthy life.

Here are 10 good reasons we should care about AUTISM:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.aut 3aut 2A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.

  1. About 700,000 people alone in UK are on the autism spectrum and with their families they make up around 2.8 million people whose lives are affected by autism on a daily basis according to the National Autistic Society. While about 36,500 of every 4 million children born each year in the United States will have autism.
  2. The number of people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has dramatically increased over the last few years. Today it’s estimated that one child in 68 has ASD. This means in a secondary school of 1500 students about 15 of them will be autistic.
  3. Being diagnosed as autistic isn’t a label or something negative – it can mean the difference between growing up in a confusing, scary world and getting all the right support and services. It also gives parents an explanation for difficulties their child is having. Adults can be diagnosed with autism as well.use1
  4. People with autism have a unique take on the world that can be fun, enlightening, entertaining and thought-provoking. They encourage us to see the value of sounds, smells, places and objects that may otherwise pass us by.
  5. Chances are most people will know or be related to someone with autism making it vital that they understand something about what autism is and how they can adapt their world to make it more autism-friendly.
  6. Autism is an invisible disability. That they could have extreme difficulties with sensory processing and social understanding and interaction is not immediately apparent.
  7. Every individual with autism have their own unique version of autism. There are many myths and assumptions, but if you’ve met one person with autism … you’ve met one person with autism.aut 4
  8. That kid in the supermarket having a tantrum might just be a child so overloaded with sights, smells and sounds that the fear and stress has led to a meltdown. Think twice before judging: many parents are fighting battles like these every day and need your understanding and support.
  9. Autistic traits have had a clear benefit to human development, and can affect the emotional well-being of the caretaker – Reach out to a family in need today!
  10. Finally, I would like everyone reading this to show support within their natural environment by volunteering to learn coping strategies – Sunday schools! Camps, or even within your community! And my prayer is that, eventually they will grow up in a world that understands and embraces their difference … shortcomings and all.

***Dedicated to all my 240 adorable Autism community children & families, to the ones we have lost due to late intervention or mis-diagnosis and to all the early intervention/behavioral therapists who have dedicated their lives to serve them. Thank you.

Yours in HOPE as I #LightItUpBlue for Autism Awareness this month!

Yinka.

 

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Echoes of 2015: “Keep On Moving, Don’t Stop”

In one word, how would you describe your encounter with the year 2015?

Beyond any doubt, this is certainly my year of “Go, Get it done now”.  Even as am writing this, my head is thrown back in an exaggerated falling motion, hands and eye lashes flapping joyously with a deep amorous laughter (like an excited toddler) While at the back of my head, I envisioned my favorite Trinidadian musician (Mighty Sparrow) playing my favorite soca version of ‘Dancing Queen” as I grooved to the rhythm and yell out…Yes!!

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American Cancer Society – Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk  Team: Greater Than Cancer. OCTOBER 2015

Are you wondering “what planet is she on exactly, with all these gestures of excitement? Eh, common, ‘it’s not even close to what you’re thinking, honestly… (Lol) “so-get-your-crummy-mind-out-of-the refrigerator and listen to what I’ve got to say! (smiles).

Wow! My heart is completely paraded with these un-explainable kind of feeling you get when you just finished scooping up your last spoon of ice cream, its still melting on your tongue, but because you just don’t want to quickly loose that sugar rush sensation, you drag the dissolving process. You smile as you close your eyes, allowing the powerful luscious sensation to play hide and seek in your mouth. Hmmm.

You mutter to yourself, ‘Wholly Guacamole!! ‘This is s-w-e-e-t! You are licking the escaped creamy patch with your tongue and just hoping everyday would be an-ice-cream day, Yeah, it feels good right? Exactly! That’s the cloud I am on.

So, I bet everyone DID something spectacular and different this 2015? Something crazy but excitingly abstract? Something out of the norm, yet breathtakingly unique? Something unusual but rewarding? Believe me, every one of us DID something peculiar compared to 2014. Whether Commendable, Confusing or Complicated. Something did happened that has shifted our mindset! It’s called the Go, Get it done dictum!

twc front

RCCG LSMC Total Woman Conference – April 2015

For me, I couldn’t have ended 2015 well without thanking God for all the beautiful spaces and platform of opportunities that were created for me! From the initiation and launching of the NGOs to the acceptance into doctoral school!

The powerful ministration at the Total Woman Conference, my wonderful superb sisters-united power team! The eye opener at the much awaited residency program in AZ! The long summer nights at the beach with family! The crab feast at the Inner harbor, the once in a lifetime impact and blessings received from Kenya during the QEG Summit!

sat summ moth pray

Queen Esther Generation Summit in Kenya. JUNE- JULY 2015

The joy of embracing new dreams and walking away from past distractions, standing tall to establish self in career! The “shut-the-front-door” kind of feelings you get when you decide to stand tall, no matter what! The mind-blowing and oh-so-humble experience of connecting with relevant links  in Nigeria, the magnitude of the support system.

OMG! My beautiful team members in Lagos still expanding, making headlines and treading on a just cause for humanity! PRICELESS.  Oh! What a night! @ Etim Inyang Crescent, V/Island with WAZOBIA Naija FM Spectacular midnight host of Love Clinic, Kbabalovedoctor. Awesome!

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WAZOBIA FM Lagos, Love Clinic Host, KBABALOVEDOCTOR. OCT 2015

 

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“My Life after Cancer” Interview with 60 Minutes TV, Lagos. Oct 2015.

Aha! The courageous families in whose

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Autism Awareness In Nigeria – Interview with TREK MAG. in Lagos. Sept 2015

presence, participation and position completed my GO GET IT DONE project in Nigeria. My first humanitarian award team, Thank you! For every support system unintentionally not mentioned. Thank you.Literally, this is for everyone who’s touched my heart in 2015, either paraded it, nursed it, comforted it, cared for it, scribbled on it or skipped it or even attempted to torture it! Thank you.

 

My Greater Than Cancer team in the US! Thank you for your support and your genuine love, for dragging yourselves out to walk with me that very cold Saturday morning in Oct! You guys rock and made a survivor feel so special to be alive. Love you all for real!

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Team: Greater Than Cancer, USA

I am grateful for new friendships defined, old ones restored and damaging ones put aside for remission. For all the projects left hanging but never forgotten, the best is yet to come.

Finally, let’s search our conscience in the remaining hours, ‘what walk awayhas 2015 done for you, lately? What is that beautiful memory you want to frame and adorn with praises? Or what’s that situation that looks like progress in the making but really behind closed doors, brings you to tears? What’s that addiction or craving you are still abhorring? What’s that one word you’ve been dreading to say? ‘Afraid of going into 2016? What’s that one brutal feeling of rejection, emptiness, hopelessness and depression you’d rather bury with 2015? Marital issues? Complicated relationships? Estranged Family members? Mr. Right still hiding? Health problems? Kids acting up? Conception not cooperating? Loved ones departure? ‘Got baggage? Got issues? ‘Got trust problem? ‘Got heart break? ‘Got love to give? Aha! ‘Got Christ? You do? ‘Then you already ‘Got this! 🙂

This is the best time to get up and get it done. Whatever it is that’s holding you back from your aspiration, ‘deal with it now. This is not even about making resolutions. This is more of a period of revelation.

I am hoping someone reading this will tap into that realm too. Set up inward realistic goals, and let your passion for success be your drive for the New Year. ‘Cos, that’s what am doing. Thank y’all for a rewarding 2015!  See you in a ‘Doing IT RIGHT 2016! by God’s grace.

Yours in HOPE as I share “Keep On Moving” by Soul II Soul.

Yinka.

 

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