Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Autism Awareness Pin

My oldest son is Autistic. He was diagnosed at the age of 2 1/2 years old. Over the years we have participated in fund raising walks. The first one we ever attended was in Phoenix. We drove 2 hours to attend. In years following we donated but didn't do the drive up to do the walk. Three years ago Tucson held their first Autism walk. Most cities have their own chapter of the Autism Society of America. They are a great resource. Not only do they have monthly meetings. They have an on line chat group where anyone can ask questions about anything pertaining to Autism. Ours even has a resource library where people can check out books that have helpful information in them. Last year we needed to have our son reevaluated by a Child Psychologist in order to continue receiving services from DDD. Our local chapter has a Child Psychologist that works in their building. The school psychologist is certified but not licensed so we needed a licensed psychologist for DDD. Unfortunately neither our insurance or DDD would pay for the evaluation. Our local chapter covered part of the cost of the evaluation. The walk that they host every year raises money that they use to fund grants (like the one they gave us) and to cover the cost of their facility. I didn't ask them to cover it and quite frankly I didn't feel comfortable filling out the form they gave me to be considered for the grant. I will say that we greatly appreciate what they did for us.

When we attend the walks, I notice that most people have come up with their own T-shirts, pins and signs that say something about why they are walking. I was thinking about making up some T-shirts but decided that they probably would only be worn for that event. I wanted something that was made up of puzzle pieces. Since that is the symbol widely used for Autism. Each child is a piece to the puzzle. They are all different. What works for one child does not always work for another. I wanted to tie it to my son in some way. I wanted to show that we love and support him. I came up with these pins. The "D" is the first initial of my son's name.
I made these pins by rolling out Fimo Clay to about 1/4" thick. I used two different puzzle pieces (from one of our puzzles) as templates. I cut around the puzzle pieces using a craft knife. The tricky part is pulling up the puzzle piece with out distorting the shape. I found that if I pulled up the rolled out clay before cutting out the shapes, it was a little easier. I used blue clay because that is his favorite color.

I smoothed out the edges and then put them in the toaster oven at the lowest setting for about 10 minutes. After they cooled down I used alphabet stickers and heart stickers to make my message. The pin in the center is for my son. It says "I'm Loved".

I then glued pins to the backs and let them dry. I used E-6000 glue. You can find it in craft stores. It is industrial strength. When using it you must work in a well ventilated area. This glue works on EVERYTHING. It takes a full 24 hours to fully dry. I let it dry for a few hours, till it was dry to the touch.

I pinned them onto a paper bag with handles. This way the pins won't get stuck to the paper when I spray them with clear coat. They stand up from the bag a bit. It also allows me to easily spray all the pins at once. I just held the bag with one hand and sprayed with the other. That way I didn't have any over spray on the ground or any other surface. Also the bag absorbed the over spray nicely. These were quick and easy to make. We can pin them to our shirts, hats, backpacks or what ever we want.

We are lucky. My son has responded well to early intervention. He has had amazing people working with him over they years. I have been given valuable information on interventions that have all been beneficial. Our families have been loving and supportive through all of this. I think that some times it is hard for families to understand Autism when they don't live with it. There are many families out there that don't support the branches of their families that have Autistic individuals like ours has. We also have great friends. Without our family and friends and all those amazing people helping and supporting us over the years, we wouldn't be doing as well as we are today. It truly takes a village to raise a child. We are lucky.

It hasn't been an easy road. If I could make just one wish, it would be for more awareness. Often times when I was out with my son, especially when he was little and non-verbal, I would get stared at when ever he had a melt down. I could feel that I was being judged. I could hear what people were saying. One person went even so far as to say "It is too bad we can't spank children anymore." My child wasn't bad, he was over whelmed by the sights, sounds and smells all around him. He was over stimulated. While I always tried to do my shopping quickly, it wasn't always possible to drop everything and leave the store. So the next time you see a child having a meltdown in the store, please consider that it isn't because they are spoiled and have bad parents. Consider that the child may be overwhelmed and unable to communicate it any other way. The fact of the matter is, we can't stop shopping when ever a melt down occurs. If my son was ever going to learn how to cope with stores, I needed to continue to take him out into the community. I needed to teach him how to control himself. Now we can go shopping with out the meltdowns. Some day when he needs to do his own shopping he will be able to do so and not get overwhelmed. I would wish for more compassion. I would wish that others be more accepting of those that are a little different than themselves. My son is more than a label. He is funny, loving, kind, creative and intelligent. He has feelings like everybody else. I have to say that I wouldn't change one thing about him. I wish that social situations weren't so hard for him but he is doing amazingly well and makes progress everyday.

1 in 150 children have Autism and 3/4 of them are boys. I had a 1 in 10 chance of having another Autistic child. Our youngest is, thankfully, not Autistic. Most children with Autism aren't diagnosed till the age of 3. One sign of Autism is lack of eye contact. Another sign is lack of using words to communicate. They may talk but use words only to state what they are seeing. They maybe be senitive to textures, sights, sounds and smells that can overwhelm them, including their clothing. They are very litteral and take words at face value and have trouble with words that have double meaning. These are just a few of the issues Autistic individuals face.


We love someone with Autism. We also love Wubsy.

This is Rebecca, breaking into Katrina's post. I have a little something to post for this as well. Our family all tries to make it to walk the Autism walk together. Katrina made up these cute pins for all of us to wear. Then, she also had the idea of us all taking these pins home and turning them into magnets for our refrigerators. I did just as she suggested and love them.
The pins were nice because they are a nice large size. Each of us had one that pertained to us (Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, Mom, etc) as to our relationship to Katrina's Son. I loved that!

Here they are with the magnets already glued on the backs. I used a very strong glue, as well as really strong magnets. I hate having magnets that can't even hold through a piece of paper!
You can kind of see how these pins used to have a pinning mechanism that we removed in place of the magnet.

Here they are on one of my new magnet board in my craft room. But truthfully I keep them on my refrigerator where we can all see them more often. My kids all know what they say and why we have them!


Anonymous said...

The statistics for Autism are insane! As the mother of a little boy, it's very disturbing. As a scientist, it's upsetting that we can't unlock it and learn more about the cause and solution. There are so many contradicting studies. I work for a non-profit organization called Project Lifesaver and we offer equipment to help locate at risk people for wandering. The first client was the son of our Comptroller and he is Autistic. Your pins are a great idea, will you be selling them?

RootsAndWingsCo said...

Wow! I made those 3 years ago for the First Annual Piece the Puzzle Walk here in Tucson.


Lucky Mom said...

Super cool post. I love what you said about D. I also love what you said about other parents. People need to step back and not be so critical of others. Acceptance of our differences and education is what we need. I also love your fimo pins. Cute. You could do them for a variety of events. :)

Mique (as in Mickey) said...

I hope it's ok that I used your images on my personal blog (I have 30days too). I did a post today on awareness.
My son is 9 and was diagnosed at 2. I think you'll see from my post that I echo all of what you wrote. It's been a long road.
Thanks for the cute ideas!!

Kat said...

Hi Katrina, I'm a Katrina too with a 3 year old Autistic son. I love your pins - and your story is inspiring to me as we are only just beginning our journey.

Rumiko said...

I am a mother of an ADHD boy....
Thanks for the post about Autism.
Love from Italy


Cici said...

Very sincerely and attentively sharing.
I am very touched to read this sharing. The small and dedicated pins you shared in this article are considerate and full of parental love. There is a custom pins maker, which can provide you with a variety of designs and styles suitable for different kids. If other children also need such custom pins, you can choose them to customize.

custom awareness pins

umair said...

green pediatrics behavioral excels in providing compassionate care for children with autism, ensuring a nurturing environment tailored to each child's unique needs.