Saturday, 27 September 2014

Has Autism or Is Autistic?

Does Ryan have Autism, or is Ryan Autistic? That is the question.  Having Autism suggests an illness, something that can be medicated or even cured. Having Autism indicates an illness or condition that has occurred during Ryan’s life or something he has caught.

A friend has depression. She wasn’t born with it. It is something that has occurred and she takes medication to help manage her condition.  Dadi Skilts has Type 1 Diabetes. He wasn’t born with it; it is a condition that developed when he was 30 and he takes medication to manage his condition.

Now I would not say my friend is depressive, but I would say Dadi Skilts is diabetic and I would say and do say Ryan is Autistic.  I absolutely believe Ryan was born Autistic, it is not something that developed after he was born, which is why I choose to say Ryan is Autistic.  It is part of him, part of his ‘make-up’, part of who he is just as his brown hair or blue eyes, or being right or left handed. 

The reason I say Dadi Skilts is Diabetic is because it has changed his make-up. It can’t be cured; it is now part of who he is. Those that have type 2 diabetes are different though because it can generally be cured with very careful management of diet and/or tablets.

Another question: Does one suffer from autism? Ryan finds life exceptionally difficult to cope with, he has certainly suffered from discrimination, bullying and abuse; but don’t we all suffer at some point in our lives?  I have Hypermobility syndrome. I have suffered and do suffer greatly from pain, injury and the abuse, bullying and disbelief that it is even a real problem/condition.  My friend I am sure would agree that she suffers from her depression. It can be truly debilitating and she has suffered dreadfully from stigma and ignorance of the condition.

From Ryan: Either sentence would work for me. It doesn’t bother me at all which either one is used to describe me. Do I suffer though? No. It is not a suffering. I don’t generally tell people about my Autism, because they don’t need to know, but if they want to know I will tell them. I didn’t know my friend was Jewish until we took him to McDonalds and he said he couldn’t eat pork. 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Cashing in on Autism

The aim of our blog from Ryan & I has always been to offer an insight into living with Aspergers and to help just 1 person on their own journey by offering support, guidance and advice. I have been, not quite bombarded, but certainly encouraged strongly to place adverts within my blog to make money from people reading our story and it got me thinking. Should we cash in on Autism?

Now I will be the first to admit that money is tight. It always is and I am sure every single person reading my blog will relate, however setting up our blog was never intended as a way to make some extra cash, however much I sometimes may be tempted.  We want to share our story and pay it forward. I am a big believer in karma.

However I am certainly not against money making ideas especially those that fundraise for charities. The National Autistic Society’s excellent marketing idea of jumping on the Loom Band’wagon’ is genius and I have happily ordered my fundraising pack to make some bracelets in NAS colours to ‘cash in’ and raise much needed funds for an extremely worthy cause.

I have also purchased items from websites that raise awareness of Autism by buying necklaces of the awareness ribbon and tshirts. This money does go into the pocket of the person running the online shop but this not a bad thing in my opinion as they are helping to raise awareness of the differbility. 

I do feel sometimes though that we (I include myself) can focus too much on the AUTISM and momentarily forget about the wider picture. I am guilty of obsessing over the diagnosis the ‘label’, but it does annoy me sometimes when this is not put into context. It also annoys me when the Autism is used as an excuse or is cashed in on to get sympathy or used as a way to get something.

I fully understand how difficult it is for a child with Autism that has sensory issues or finds it difficult to understand situations such as queuing in a shop, school canteen or a line at a fairground ride. Is it fair then that Autistic children can go straight to the front of the queue to save on the anxiety of waiting? Would it not be fairer to teach that child the lesson of needing to wait and explaining why? There is more work involved in this approach and in the short term more anxiety but long term all children can learn the important life lessons, can’t they?

A quick Google search on Autism just returned over 70 million hits, no wonder people are confused.  12 years ago when I began my journey there wasn’t this myriad of information available. I was literally left alone to flounder and only by shear bloody determination on my own part have I managed over the years to find snippets of help and information. I am in the process of setting up a website to try and collate all these years of research and discovery into one easily accessible place, but am I just adding to the already possibly overloaded cache of material available? 

The aim of this post is supposed to be thought provoking and goading with the questions and statements to open up a discussion. The more these subjects are openly discussed and talked about the more taboos/myths/misconceptions/ignorance we can eradicate and more positive awareness is created. Do you agree? 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Blog Name

With our new logo now chosen by the lovely Ryan and during the running of our competition it got me thinking about the name of our blog and why we called it such an obscure name that has nothing obvious to do with Autism at first glance. I don’t need to give you three guesses on who chose the name. I can’t remember the exact date that Ryan first mentioned Pandas and Bellybuttons to me, but about 12 to 18 months ago he woke up one morning and said to me “Hey mum, did you know there is a Panda in my Bellybutton.” I laughed and said that would make a great title for a book and he told me about a dream he had where there was a Panda living in his Bellybutton.  

He had said before that he wanted to write a book about his Autism so I suggested he use that title and the rest is a wonderful history of 41 posts to date and almost 2000 views from across the globe. I have dabbled with a couple of blogs previously but this has become a true labour of love. I have always been one to wear my heart on my sleeve, the complete opposite of Ryan, hence me doing most of the story telling. I love the name of our blog, I know it doesn’t conjure up Autism as a first thought but it certainly reflects Ryan’s beautiful different perspective on life.

To me the name signifies how special Pandas are, how rare and protected they are. A conservation reliant and endangered species just like my beautiful boy.  The bellybutton is also significant to life itself the umbilical cord that connects mother to baby.  Philosophical I know but what-ever the name means to each individual it is here to stay.  

This was the entry we had for our logo competition that came 2nd.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Bellybutton logo

Congratulations to the winner of our logo competition. Ryan had quite a job chosing his favourite one. I really liked several but kept my options to myself. I must say though I am really chuffed with the one that Ryan has picked.

It will be used on our new website (when I get round to finalising the layout and content). I will also use it on social media and as my avatar on apps etc.

I think it would make quite a cool tattoo as well. What do you think? Should I?