Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Good Morning America, Autism, Mormons and Just Plain Mean People

We knew that putting ourselves out there for the world to see today would have its good and bad points. That's OK, we're tough, we DO have SIX Autistic children we deal with EVERY day. We can handle 'just plain mean people' that have no idea as to what they are talking about and feel they must offer us advice.

When you've gone though the heart-wrenching discoveries, over two years, of finding out that one by one each child has some level of Autism. Then trying to find out what exactly Autism is. Is there someone... anyone that we can turn to, who has some answers. Trying to keep a job when you have to help you wife who has fibromyalgia and NEEDS at least two naps a day, then getting calls from school that your kids are having yet another meltdown in class. Then start to get some help from the state only to have one of those workers report a conversation. Those comments of frustration get your children removed from your home by the state. Doing EVERYTHING the judge says to get the children back. Two weeks without your children feeling like 2 years. Coming to realize that the state being involved in your life will actually get services and much quicker then usual. Then after 11 months to finally be free from the judicial system and feel human again.

Walk in our shoes for a week and most of you would have either lost your mind, be getting a divorce or maybe worse. We have 3 main reasons to get the word out about our family.

1) increase the awareness and understanding of Autism.

2) from our example (we know we're not perfect) that it can give hope to other parents struggling with their marriage and children.

3) jump start our efforts to create our AutismBites Foundation. The goal is to help put funds directly into parents hands for whatever, without a lot of red tape and hoops to jump through.

There have been many assumptions about who and what we are that have been posted in the comments of the GMA website, I'd like to address some of those. Some are just plain ignorant and stupid, I'll skip those considering the source.

"After the first few clearly had delays, wouldn't one assume the best decision for the family would be to stop reproducing?" "Six! What were they thinking?" "You've had 3 children with developmental problems and yet you KEEP HAVING BABIES. BRILLANT!"

--- ALL the children were born BEFORE we found out about the Autism. Besides that we prayed to know how many children to have. Until Mary, number six, our answer was we were not a complete family. GOD knew that these special children needed parents that would care for them. We were the ones he's trusted, not to people like these who would have aborted or abandoned them. They are our blessings from GOD.

"I don't feel sorry for the parents, I feel sorry for the children whose parents are idiots. Gambling on having normal children happens every day. Making more when you know what will happen is nothing more than Munchosen (its spelled Munchausen, spell checkers work wonders!) syndrome...I hope these parents get neutered." --- OK, that was mean. Uh, let's see... what can I say? I hope you get a lobotomy, soon!

"My argument is that yes this family has a problem that they don't care if they burden the world with their self inflicted problem." --- We DO care, see the 3 reasons above.

"PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT AGE YOUR KIDS WERE WHEN YOU STARTED NOTICING SIGNS OF AUTISM IN EACH CHILD." --- Bobby (8th grade)-halfway through 5th grade the teacher called us in for a conference, suspected mild Aspergers, his diagnoses-Oct 2006. Emma (9) and Nephi (8)-kindergarten and 1st grade, just really rambunctious, their diagnoses-Oct 2006. Sarah (6) pre-school teachers felt she was Autistic at 3 1/2, diagnoses-Nov 2006. Ammon (4) after sister Sarah's pre-school teacher's observations we were concerned as he acted a lot like Sarah, got an appointment, diagnoses-May 2006. Mary (3) thought she was the only one that didn't have it, PDD-NOS diagnoses-Dec 2006.

"Even professional educators didn't didn't catch the oldest child's autism until he was 11 years old. If there was a family that was prone to childhood diabetes and they didn't realize it until their oldest was 11, you wouldn't be exhibiting your stupidity by blaming the parents who are working at a tougher job than you'll ever face with more compassion and intelligence than you'll ever have. The morons here are the ones who can't get past their own prejudiced opinions." --- Very well said!!

"The earth's population is a big factor in today's environmental crisis. These are ignorant, irresponsible adults who have created a problem for themselves and all of us." --- What a bunch of liberal crapola, where is all the compassion for the underprivileged you spew.

"Early intervention is key for an autistic child to meet their full potential. Many can live independently as adults if they receive treatment. We as a society will pay one way or another. I would rather pay through tax dollars for early intervention therapies and treatments so they have a chance to grow up and live independently, instead of long-term adult living care also paid by tax dollars." --- Another, VERY well said!

"Don't let them be "typecast" into total isolation in schools" --- Sarah goes to an Autism school in the morning and regular kindergarten in the afternoons. We'll mainstream them as much as possible as long as they are getting an education they need and not just supervision.

"I can tell you that it was a big reason for why I am not as judgemental and more accepting of those not as perfect as some of apparently think you are, especially about something of which you know nothing." --- Ditto!

"my first question is what were the parents eating, their diets? are they loaded with hydrogenated oils, processe(d) foods? are they living near a toxic dump?" --- We grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN, going to the state fair and having cheese curds and things on a stick.

"I'm sorry but I don't see anywhere in the article that the family is wanting you to feel sorry for them. They said they are blessed. Which means they are happy. So quit with all the judgemental comments. It's just displaying what a pathetic, mean and jealous people you are." --- Call this one another DITTO!

"I think they should both be sterilized." --- After number six Robin's tubes were tied. This was still BEFORE we knew any had Autism.

"If they were a normal family, outside of Utah, they would only have one or two autistic children." "... they're from Utah. They had to keep having children to please the mormon church." "Raise your hand if you knew they were Utah mormons by the second sentence of the article. They had to keep having children to please their church."
--- John is from California, Robin is from Minnesota. The first 4 children were born in Minnesota (blows that prejudice theory out of the water), the last two were born in Utah (a great place to raise a family, you guys stay out). MANY, MANY 'mormon' families have a couple of kids, they are not 'in trouble' and feel the 'displeasure' from our church. We are encouraged, but not commanded to have children. It is for each couple to seek their Heaven Father's guidance as to what their family is to be. We did and six was what we have, the Autism challenge came later.

Well, I could go on and on but this gets across our main points. Someone else said we are seeking help, donations, look at us, poor me, blah, blah, blah (so nice to have my own blog and say what I want!). When the People magazine article came out people emailed us asking how to send something. My sister-in-law/webmaster suggested that we put up a 'PayPal' donation box. There is a choice for either our family or the AutismBites Foundation we are starting. One thing I had hoped they would not put on the editing floor was when I said, "We're not begging for help here or seeking money. If we can be some portion of inspiration to other Autistic parents, great.

If you don't like our t-shirts that help deal with the public, fine don't buy one. Don't like our website (still a work in progress) or us, go away.

Life is choices, choose to like us and come back to this blog and participate with us in our journey on this earth. If you are mean spirited and your life stinks and you want others to feel as miserable as you... don't come back. Bother someone else. Life is too short to stress over things you cannot change or disagree with.

But, to you who have discovered our family and take encouragement or hope from our experiences... come back often. Comment often and let us see if we can all make this world a better place.

Dad

Thanks for your comments and support: parkersmommy007, lilspos2, loveeq2u, JoeliMcC, clbwebb, moose809, KRHSCN, floweringangel, michaelr02, ChristineCade, charity23us, eowyn_of_ithilien, Debra S, nancyroop, mapicepla, HappyTeacher05, Lanie Rae, lindalaytonsmith, HazelEyesLookinAtYou, bobandmoni, kada22105, WebNewsReader, momofautisticchildren23, sassymama1973, if I missed you we love you too!

148 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Kirton Family,

I am so touched by your story. I have a really unique take on what might help autistic kids communicate...I would love to share this with you, but not on a public blog. Is there anyway to email you privately? Thank you. Lynn

Anonymous said...

I say good for you! you seem like a loving family who CAN handle what God gave you. Though I do have 4 children, none with autism, I say its hard raising kids no matter what problems they seem to have! And its sooooo nice to see a family loving and taking care of their kids and not ones who abuse them, or worse. So, keep up the awesome work!!!!!! God bless!

Mary said...

I am a single mom. I have one typical daughter and one daughter with autism. I know what it's like to wish for some assistance, some clue as to how to make things a little better for your children. Hang in there! Bless you!

Burt said...

To the wackos who criticize you for having children - jump in the lake! My son has some autistic tendencies, as do I (even though he was adopted). It seems like autism is increasing, and there are so many possible factors, that there is a very good chance that if you have children, you, or they, will be directly touched by this challenge.

I struggled with many of these issues growing up, when schools did not really recognize it, and it was only at the age of 42 - 6 years ago- that testing showed I had problems in this area. Despite that, I have an above average IQ, work every day, am active in the community and am able to take care of my family. My life has value and meaning equal to that of any other person.

There are still some things that trip me up, but I deal with them . Having a great wife helps. Age and experience have also helped me to deal with some aspects.

I went back to school in Oct 2005 and graduated with a degree in animation a few months ago. I am happily working as a digital artist and I've even pitched my first children's television show (and am working with two fellow artists on three we will pitch in the next few weeks).

As for my son we work with him, the school psychologists, coaches and teachers to reinforce the trouble areas as best we can. We encourage his strengths - a factor that can't be overlooked- as there are specific areas where his abilities are very much higher than other kids his age.

Who knows, maybe autism isn't even a disorder. Maybe it is an evolutionary adaptation. At a time when the world faces many challenges, and we are swamped with information, it seems interesting that individuals whose brains have sacrificed some empathizing ability in favor of powerful systematizing - that may be especially adept at solving these unique problems, are on the increase. Look at history, is their a surge of creativity and inventiveness during or immediately following periods of great peril or tension? Food for thought anyway.

All the best with your family. Do the best you can to strengthen the weak points but don't let any lacks be the main thrust of how you direct your children - let reinforcing their STRENGTHS be your main focus and eventually they'll bloom.

In the meantime, ignore the trolls ...

Anonymous said...

I have three children. My middle child is 8 and has autism. I was not aware it was "autism" until he was 4 and kicked out of 3 preschools. I immediately went back to school so that I can be in the education system because I was so afraid that my son would get lost in the system. I now teach 5th grade and see symptoms from many different students. It has made me a better parent, an advocate, and a better teacher in helping with behavioral interventions so that my son and others with autism can function in the classroom socially and in the real world.

Mom26children said...

Hi John and Robin,
I tried to warn you...it gets crazy. Not just on the GMA comment board either. They comment all over the web.
Just type in your family or mine...brutal types.
I find it better to ignore them.
I am being reamed over on the Autism Speaks forum...by some woman who thinks I don't deserve to live...let alone comment.

It will blow over, most people just feel they must comment.
Do not let them get the best of you...it is easy to let them bring you down.
Jeanette

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher of moderate and severe special education students. Along with other disorders, I deal with children on all levels of the autism spectrum disorder on a daily basis, as well as their families. At times I struggle with the ever popular comment, "God gives these children to special parents, He knows what He is doing.", and then there are times when I see families that validate that phrase. It was only a six minute video that I saw, but I saw the cliche phrase being proven. God bless both of you for what you do everyday, what you believe in and what you fight for. I can only have a small inkling of what you endure each and every day. When my day is done, I send my students home. I pray that all of their homes are filled with as much love and compassion as yours. I am also occasionally granted what we call in the educational world a "mental health day", where I can stay home and have a day away from my students. If I could, I would gladly give you my days.
As for you Mom, as a mother myself I know the guilt that we are plagued with throughout our lives as we are handed our beautiful children. If guilt is something you harbor, please know that there are those of us that respect your position. I am sure the time away from your children was horribly agonizing, but what you went through was unavoidable and no fault of yours...or your children's.
A family, a marriage, a life are all things so hard to hold together for anyone. They are constantly bogged down with the most trivial, everyday "normal" stresses. Seeing that you've kept your marriage alive under the daily stresses you endure is very commendable.
It is so difficult to ignore ugly comments from people who just don't understand and are so hasty to judge, but do try. Just say a little prayer that God opens their eyes and teaches them compassion.
I'm sorry to have rambled, but I wanted you both to know how moved and impressed I am about the life you lead. I'm not sure if this will relate to any of your daily struggles, but this quote has become one of my favorites in my daily life at home and with my students. "Remember, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the love you feel for your children and wife are truly beautiful. God has certainly chosen well!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto your blog by accident, and I'm really glad I did. I work at a special education school where 80% of the population are on the spectrum, and I've always wondered how the parents deal and feel about their situations. This really sheds some light for me. Also, I was reading some of the comments that people posted, and people sure can be mean and stupid. I think you guys are great people, and I will be thinking of you and praying for your family always for the wonderful and trying times you have ahead.

Niki said...

New to the blog. I just viewed the segment about your wonderful family through yahoo news. Thank you for getting the word out. My 6 y.o. is autistic and we struggle every day with him. We now having the doctors telling us he is NOT autistic and has the "nos" diagnosis. bunch of bull if you ask me. I'm so frustrated. At least AZ recognizes his autism, for now. :(

Zephaniah31617 said...

I was wondering if you vaccinated your kids and, either way, if you think there is a correlation between vaccinations and autism. I'll be praying for you family, agree that your kiddos are a blessing from the Lord and I pray that He will strength, provide and bless you as you care for your kids!

yayagoon said...

wow i really cant beleive people were so mean. i was so touched by your story. I work with speical needs children everyday.. and have worked with autistic children...working with one child was hard! i cant even imagine how hard it is to raise 6. kudos to you and your wife!

Amy E said...

Found your story this evening through Yahoo. Listened to the ABC broadcast and read part of your website and your blog entries. You made me cry. You see my eldest son turned 19 on Feb 3rd. He was diagnosed with ADHD at 5, but I didn't believe it, I KNEW something else was going on, but no one would listen, not doctors, educators, etc. Finally, at the age of 17, he was found to have Asberger's. I felt so much better! I finally KNEW what was going on, and felt then I could deal with it.

I would say my son is very high functioning. He was in special ed in high school, and now attends a local community college. This semester he has one online class that I help him with, and one class one night a week that he attends by himself (which makes me a nervous wreck), but I am trying to give him room to mature (mentally he is around 11 years old).

He is learning to drive a car now, though hasn't got much past moving the car from the back of the house to the front, but it's progress.

Well, I just wanted to share with you, thank you for your courage in letting your story be told. I will be praying for you! God Bless!

pegleg said...

My husbands cousin has a couple of clinics one in WI and one in UK. His name is Glen Sallows, he and his clinic WEAP use special techniques to achieve success with children. (Glen O. Sallows, Ph.D.

Dr. Sallows is a Clinical Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He is the President and co-founder of the Wisconsin Early Autism Project.

Best Wishes
P Sallows
pegleg_91355@yahoo.com

Laane said...

Hi!

I'm sitting here, at the other side of the world, thinking what to say.

I'm a mom of 6 too.
The oldest 4 have autism spectrum disorder (asperger, classic autism etc.). The youngest 2? Maybe one of them.

I have dealt with the same stupid reactions. Even from family.
And from the schools.

I take one day at a time.
I do what I can. That's it.
You're so right about the money stuggle.
Sometimes I feel guilty that I can't give them what richer people can.

But I think it's more important to give them love, teach them self confidence as far as possible.
You do so too.

I hope your foundation will be a huge success.

You know yourself that it's needed.
We do too. It's always struggling with space when there are only 3 bedrooms.

Well, I don't think I need to say more.

I agree with Burt. I too think that autism is a next step in evolution. When I see the troubles of the world economy I feel we need to get back to smaller communities, better ways of using energy, other ways of dealing with each other. These young people are just perfect for small communities.
They don't need people with lots of decorations, wonderful clothes and toodoo. They just need plain loving people to be at their best.

Hugs

Andrea said...

Your story touches me deeply. I, myself have 2 children on the spectrum.

I have said that people with autism are my favorite people on the planet...and they truly are. Having 2 children on the spectrum (my son who was moderate-severe at 3, but is now almost 8 and high functioning, and my daughter who is pdd-nos...but undergoing reassesment for aspergers) is exciting and different and wonderful...but its also exhausting. having 6 on the spectrum must be all of those things times 3 compared to my house.

God bless you in what you are achieving with all of them.

Kelly Yates-Rice said...

Dear Kirton Family,

I just saw your Good Morning America piece on the internet and I felt compelled to contact you.

I have a three year old son with autism. I also have a blog, I host an internet radio show and I am writing a book to help families and to raise awareness for all.

I know how difficult my days are and I can't imaging multiplying my struggles by six!

I haven't read your blog yet but I will this evening. If you can find the time, please visit my blog: www.kellyyatesrice.blogspot.com I would also like to extend an invitation to be my guests on my radio show.

Thank you for sharing your lives with us.

Kelly Yates-Rice

Lovely Lady said...

I struggled with whether or not to leave this on the GMA blog or yours but I figured the point I would be making was to the people whose minds and hearts are closed to such words. So instead I will say this, Think Happy. I appreciate your desire to get the word out there, to seek answers and most importantly to get help so that you can improve the quality of your childrens lives. To do any of those three things you need financial assistance and that doesn't mean your begging for a free handout. It's the way it is and people who haven't come across this type of struggle don't understand the cost, the lack of knowledge and therefore the lack of help out there. We need to know more, to help more. I don't have an autisic child but with the rates rising, anyone could be the next autistic parent.....and I guarantee a lot of the "mean people" writing will come across this with someone they know or children that might come into their family. It's an epidemic that needs immediate action and the strength you exhibit is so valuable for this type of campaign. Not only to deal with the emotional and physical struggles handed to you in life but with what braving the public will also hit you with. So thanks....for doing your part. Not as an autisitic parent but as a parent and a human being. Thanks for loving your children enough to seek the answers, the help.

Anonymous said...

Never fear, the people who make rude or uncalled for comments are the same ones who can't handle their own "normal" children. My son (now almost 28) was diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities and ADHD when he was 6 1/2, that was in 1986; if he was diagnosed in the last 10 years he would have been diagnosed with Asbergers Syndrome (mild to moderat). He went thru so much as a child due to rude children and adults that he still has anxiety problems and refuses to use some public facilities. But we never gave up on him and he is a fairly well functioning adult (he still suffers some side effects) He still fixates on things sometimes but can function in the "real" world most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Dad!!! I have one son, MHF, and the challenges we've faced with services, meetings, time off, etc. is enough to drive me mad. I cannot beleive you guys are doing what you do with six of these extraordinary little people.

I am so proud of you for putting it out there, and saying things that need to be said. These children are not a "waste or a burden". And I pity anyone whoever gets in the face of an autistic parents and says that.

Like you say, don't come back if you don't like it.

Way to go!!!!!!!!! Keep up the great work. Thoughts are with you all.

Anonymous said...

John & Robin,

I have a 16 yearold son with Aspergers. He was diagnosised with ADD in 1st grade, started meds in 3rd, diagnosised with OCD in 4th and Aspergers in 6th. It does take patients, I knows it's not easy. The best thing I found was ways to use his special needs to to achieve what he needed to but not necessary in a conviential way. My son is now doing well even with his diagnosis. He even reresented our area as a student ambassador in Europe for 20 days this past summer.

Best wishes for you and the family.

Angel S.

Anonymous said...

John & Robin,

I have a 16 yearold son with Aspergers. He was diagnosised with ADD in 1st grade, started meds in 3rd, diagnosised with OCD in 4th and Aspergers in 6th. It does take patients, I knows it's not easy. The best thing I found was ways to use his special needs to to achieve what he needed to but not necessary in a conviential way. My son is now doing well even with his diagnosis. He even reresented our area as a student ambassador in Europe for 20 days this past summer.

Best wishes for you and the family.

Angel S.

jenfisch said...

We have 2 sons with Autism and we plan to have more children. Noone knows what it is like to have these kids until they have one. I give you a lot of credit for all you are doing. You are an amazing family! You love your kids, you want what is best for them. Do you have Early Intervention? I pray that you could get ABA for your 3 youngest, it has been amazimg for our youngest. Prayers and hugs to you. Take care!

Anonymous said...

don't be discouraged. people all over this nation are lifting up a prayer for your family. and what can we do about all these mean people who just cannot understand how much you love your little ones... how sad for their children, that had they had any disability/disorder, their parents would have regretted their birth. your children are blessed and so are you and your wife--God found you to be the perfect parents for them. Others couldn't have done the exceptional job that you guys are doing...
-julie from san diego-

Shen-Shen said...

I'm wishing you guys the best of luck with everything! :]

Anna said...

Well said! I wish people could be more accepting. I am going to ask my community service club sponsor if we can do a fund raiser for autism. I wish you guys the best of luck!

Annie said...

Bravo. I will be coming back.

Anonymous said...

I think your goal of being an inspiration to other families of children with autism is met. Thank you for letting the world into your home and giving us a peek into what it is like to work through the joys and challenges that God give us. You are a blessing and inspiration to all.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe all the negative comments people feel so compelled to give. Whatever happened to "if you don't have something nice to say...say nothing at all"

Nicole F said...

I just wanted to say "God Bless You", but I also wanted to say is that Autism is given out like candy now days. I have done tons of research on autism...and what I came to notice is that anybody and everybody has "signs" of autism! No matter what the signs are if you have it or if you dont have it...it makes you "autistic" . Well, I am sure that children do have this horrible "thing" but, I feel as if there are many many children out there who dont even have autism but are being labled under it.

And to all those who consider autism as some kind of burden on the world... you just need to experience one day in those childrens shoes. No child ever asked to come into this world and be autistic! And no parent ever planned having autistic children!!


God Bless and Good Luck!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you for having to read those mean, stupid comments. I think you have a wonderful family, and your 6 children are blessed to have you for parents! All children should be so blessed to have committed, unselfish, loving parents who are up to the responsibility of raising their children and making them their priority. I will pray that God continues to bless you with all the strength, grace, and health you need to continue each day.

Cathy

Barton 6 said...

Heavenly Father sent you these children because he knew you could handle it, I just know it. You and your wife are in my prayers. I am the mother of 4. My oldest son is currently in partial inpatient treatment while we search for a diagnosis. Right now they think it is bipolar disorder but are not ruling out autism. We too are from Utah but my husband is a soldier in the United States Army. We are lucky that as a military family our insurance covers 100% of any psychiatric care or rehabilitation services. I can not imagine the frustration of knowing your child needs such services and not being able to get them. My heart goes out to all of you. I heard your wife talking of the day she reacher her breaking point and I wished I could do something for her. My husband is often gone, my family is far away, and my son is often so challenging that I find myself alone and crying myself to sleep. I only have 1 challenging child and feel that way so I can not imagine 6! What wonderful people you both are. I noticed you have a place set up to make donations to an Autism organization. I wish you would set something up so we could make donations to your family. I know every little bit helps. :-)

Pure and Sensible said...

God bless your family!!! I was so disgusted and heart broken for you at some of the comments you posted that you received. What is wrong with people? Well.....we know. I wanted to encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. You both are an encouragement to so many. Your story on ABC was such a blessing to me tonight. Yes, there are some parents who may have one or even two with an autistic disorder, but God chose you two to care for these beautiful children...His children. Do NOT give up. God will use your situation to bring good. May you be blessed and blessed for His glory. I am praying for you!

Elizabeth~ One earthy mama said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story, even at teh expense of your feelings. I have 4 nieces and nephews (1 in one family, 3 in another) who all have ASD's.

Your family will be in our prayers. I know we have a loving Father in Heaven who will see you through this. Never doubt that, although I know that is easier said than done.

Thank you for sharing your story with the world. God Bless.

Lynette W. said...

I just saw your story on yahoo and had to post. You see, all five of our Mormon kids are likewise on the spectrum. We were featured on the front page of the local paper and received some of the exact same negative comments "Why did they keep having kids?" Also like you, ours were all here before the first diagnosis. You are very courageous to take a stand and get the word out. You were also very real. I actually watched your story whereas I cannot stand to see one more celebrity talk, write a book, and make even more money to say how their kid overcame autism. What about all of us "real" families that are struggling to make ends meet, let alone try and "combat" the autism in our homes?
Some of the great things we have found to work with our kids is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, neurologic music therapy, and facilitated communication. Our twins, who we thought would always be pretty non-verbal, were typing things like "Please tell Mom I'm sorry I'm not such a good boy sometimes." and "I know my body is defective. I want a new one." Thank Heavenly Father for the plan of salvation and the opportunity to teach these wonderful spirits that the limitations they have right now will only be for a short time.
Thank you for the story, good luck!

Zachary said...

Great blog...thanks for sharing your story!

Kris B. said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for this blog....Having friends who say OH I understand what you are going through when in reality they don't. There children are quote on quote normal mine has Aspergers and loves to rock, shred, and repeat one word or phrase all day long. Its nice to hear someone speak out about Autism that really and truly does understand the life with an Autistic child. Thank you again I look forward to the journey.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kirton family for sharing your story. I am a special education teacher for children with multiple disabilities and I am proud of everyone of my students. Many people and schools in our society have discarded our children because they do not understand them or lack knowledge about disabilities. I hope that your family's story will bring knowledge and love of all children to their hearts.

Mom2AandL said...

I just finished watching the clip of you on GMA and had to come read your blog. You have my heartfelt support and those who choose to make mean or ignorant comments can go jump in the lake.

I have 2 sons. My older son (6 yo) was dx with Type 1 diabetes at 15 months old and you would not BELIEVE some of the rude and terrible things that have been said to us as we go about his day to day care. Actually, you probably would believe them, because you've heard versions of them yourselves. One day his blood sugar had plummeted while shopping and he wound up having a screaming fit that morphed into a seizure in the middle of a crowded food court. A crowd gathered to watch and mutter disapprovingly and one older woman took it upon herself to tell me that if I would just DISCIPLINE him the rest of the world wouldn't be subjected to such ear splitting tantrums. I look up at her, while holding my convulsing child and trying to squeeze some glucose gel into his cheek, and screamed "He is DIABETIC and having a SEIZURE you stupid b-tch!" Would you believe that not one person offered to help, the entire crowd scattered like rats from a sinking ship!

A long winded way to say you aren't alone and keep on loving those kids, you are doing great!

Sheila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I was nearly in tears watching this today. I have 3 boys, 1 with autism, 1 with ADHD and 1 who is typical. Seeing those struggles, remind me of some days I have been through. My oldest has PDD-NOS, ADHD, with anxiety issues and wasn't diagnosed until near the end of 3rd grade. No classic signs, just gross motor skill delay. He is now in middle school (6th grade) and is getting 4 A's and 1 B+! I LOVE the shirt! When I get some money and am able to afford one, I will surely get one! I am passing this on to all my Mom web blogs!

A local director here in the Pacific NW is doing a movie on Aspergers and what signs to look for. Here is the link to it www.strawbellyjerryfilms.com/movies/asperger/asptrailer.wmv

Thank you for sharing your story and opening your home. You are truly an amazing family!
~ Crazymom23boiz

United we stand said...

We have three children with autism. We found out when our daughter was 3 years old, our son was 2 years old and our baby boy was 3 months. The world is full of people chomping at the bit to hurt others...especially on the internet where they can spew their poison while hiding anonymously. Please know that we support you. Our family has participated in AGRE (Autism Genetic Research Exchange) in hopes that one day we will have some answers about this complex disorder.

Jo said...

I can't believe that people who consider themselves as 'educated' would write such IGNORANT and rude comments about your family.
If they only knew, really knew what you went through every day, they would feel ashamed of making such comments.
I can't start to imagine how exhausted and frustrated, but complete, you must feel at the end of the day. I am sure your day never ends, really.
"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful".
I guess that the people who wrote those appalling comments feel as though they and their children are "perfect" in every way and that their idea of perfect is the only way the world should be.
I am sorry for them. You have beautiful children. I hope one day you can get the intervention programs for them that you desire.
Best wishes.

Twinville said...

God Bless you and your special family!

I discovered your Blog from the ABC news blurb listed on Yahoo.com.

Your daughter Mary sounds like she also may have echolalia (repeating of other's words).
We have recently noticed our own 4 yr old daughter's palilalia (repeating of her own words) getting worse and worse, usually ending in frustration and crying.

We believe her to have Tourette's, which is already beginning to be a challenge because people automatically assume it's the version that is potrayed on TV and movies (coprolalia~yelling swearing and obscenties), which is actually not as common.

But oftentimes Tourette's involves other conditions, too, such a OCD, ADHD and Autism.

So, as we begin our own journey, we fear the worst, but hope for the best.

And we wish you and your family the best....with much strength and peace.

Anonymous said...

Opps, didn't get all that URL.

Try this one.

www.strawbellyjerryfilms.com/movies/asperger/asptrailer.wmv

or this one

www.strawbellyjerryfilms.com/movies/asperger/asptrailer2.mov

Hope you can view them.
Crazymom23boiz

A Loving Sister In Michigan said...

Dear Kirton Family,

I am 15 years old and I have a 22 year old brother who has a severe case of autism. He means more to me than anyone in this world. Sometimes things get tough, obviously no condition is easy to deal with; But either way, my brother is a blessing to our family. When he was young, he was a lot like Ammon. Things started out rough for my mom and dad with my brother. He would have the tantrums and freak outs. But since he was 2 and was diagnosed, he has attended a specialized school. My brother has gone a long way. He now cracks jokes, grooms himself, holds conversation, and has eye contact. Even though I am young, I understand some of what you and your family must go through every day. I believe that you are truely doing the right thing, no matter what anyone tells you. Ignore people who tell you otherwise, they are just ignorant to the world around them. Stay strong, and I'll keep your family in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to commend you for going public and for the courage it must take to get through every day. My son is 4 and has had a series of developmental issues. It's really heartbreaking to step away from all of the dreams we once had for him.

Thank you for raising awareness and helping others! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I think it is amazing that you and your wife can take cre of 6 autistic children. I work in a public school in Maine with one little boy who has autism and I see the struggle his parents have everyday just to get him dressed and to school. I know what the struggle is like from working one on one with this child. I praise you and will pray for you to continue to take wonderful care of your family! God Bless! -Lisa from Maine

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a 16 year old autistic child (Aspergers).

In kindergarten and first grade he was doing great I thought, then his grades started going down and his behavior seemed different from the other children.

His teachers and everyone kept telling me he was adhd but it didn't sit well. I took him to a child psychologist and she noticeds subtle differences and made the aspergers diagnosis. She said you have to take a closer look to see the differences.

I thank God for her. Since then it has been an uphill battle. I like you, worry about his future.

He is easily swayed, used, and taken advantage of. There are no asperger schools around here in this small country town so I had to resort to putting him in the Special Education 504 program which keeps him in mainstream but with accomodations.

This school had never even heard of Aspergers. Every year I give each of his teachers a 5 page booklet about AS with tips.

I may as well stand in a field and talk to the wind. He has consistantly scored basic to minimal on state tests each year, because he is a poor tester.

I have battled speech therapists, teachers, etc.

Trust me, its not fun raising an autistic child in a small town (pop. approx 1300) in a poor rural area with schools at least 10 years behind the nation and segregated.

I know how hard it is with one, and you all have my greatest respect and prayers.

May God bless you

Jennifer said...

I love your story will defiantly be coming back, im shocked that anyone could have a negative reaction but thats people i guess our neighbors have two autistic children one - the oldest has grown into a beautiful little girl and very active in her role of yw councilor and the other well i find him naked in my backyard most days but i love them so much and couldent imagine any autistic child being someone to have something negative said about them --- btw our neighbors continued on with there children until they were done and they were done at 11 good luck ,and god bless

Anonymous said...

HELLO! I JUST SAW THE VIDEO ABOUT YOUR FAMILY ONLINE, AND I HAVE READ YOUR BLOG! WAY TO GO. I DO NOT AT THIS POINT HAVE ANY ONE IN MY FAMILY WHOM IS AUTISTIC, HOWEVER I KNOW MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE BI- POLAR AND A DEAR FRIEND OF MINE( WHOM I CALL MY AUNT) HAS AN AUTISTIC NEPHEW. HE ADORED ME FOR WHATEVER REASON! ANYWAYS I AM ALSO L.D.S. AND I ONLY HAVE ONE CHILD AT THIS TIME AND ANOTHER ON THE WAY! I CONGRATULATE YOU ON ALL OF YOUR EFFORTS WITH YOUR CHILDREN... SIX IS A LOT! AND IT IS PROBABLY A MILLION TIMES HARDER WITH THEIR SPECIAL NEEDS....PLEASE JUST ALWAYS, ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT HEAVENLY FATHER KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING AND HE KNEW YOU WERE THE RIGHT FAMILY TO TAKE CARE OF THESE AMAZING SPIRITS! MAY HE ALWAYS BLESS YOU AND WATCH OVER YOU! LOVE GLORIA SALTS KENOSHA WISCONSIN!.......AND FOR EVERYONE ELSE I AM A MORMON HOUSEWIFE, AND MY HUSBAND AND I WILL PROBABLY ONLY HAVE OUR TWO CHILDREN DUE TO COMPLICATIONS WITH MY FIRST DELIVERY...AND WE ARE STILL VERY MUCH WELCOME AND SUPPORTED IN OUR CHURCH WARD! SO LEAVE THIS WONDERFUL FAMILY ALONE.... THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING. AND THEY WERE FOLLOWING THEIR HEARTS AND HEAVNLY FATHERS WILL AS WELL AS THEIR OWN. HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say my heart is touched by what you and your family endure each day. I have two kids with a chronic disease, and although different from autism-it is still expensive to treat, effects our life in every possible way, and is emotionally and physcially draining all the same. I pray that God will bless you in your hardships with all you need to care for your six precious children....sending ((hugs))

willette said...

Hey guys....just wanted to let you know that you are AMAZING! i'm awestruck by the video clip. i URGE you to not respond to the comments left on this blog by those less informed...i would just type up a simple sequence of events and leave it at that. your negative responses to these less than intelligent comments left just isn't cool to read. ignore the bad comments. be the better person by not throwing it back at them.

June Houck said...

I have 5 1/2 year old fraternal twin girls...both auties. They have the regressive form of autism. They lost all speech, eye contact, and ability to follow directions immediately after being vaccinated. Both of my girls are slowly recovering skills. I watched part of the on-line story GMA did on your family. I only have two to care for, not 6 (God Bless You!!!) but I remember being angry at God too. This was 3 years ago...between the diagnosis and my initial denial. As they have progressed I feel blessed that God gave these girls to me. I am really enjoying them now. Each year is a little easier. It is easy to be happy now when I think back to how difficult life was 3 years ago with the biting, yelling, and meltdowns. These occur rarely for us now... maybe only 2-3xweek :) We have been on the GFCFSF diet for 2 1/2 years, got rid of all toxic cleansers in our home, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and we use various minerals & supplements and (recently) DMSA suppositories, with the guidance of Dr. Dan Rosignol (who has two auties of his own; he totally gets what we are dealing with).
My prayers are with your family. Those children are blessed to have you two as their parents.

Anonymous said...

Dear Family:

I too was touched by your story. I am so thankful that you spoke up about not having funding to help these children. Thank you.

I have an 11yo w/asperger's. He's doing well but it's a rough period right now. I can only imagine how hard it would be to have 5 others on the spectrum. Wow!

You guys were so brave! Thank you for it!

Sincerely,

chris

Amnesty said...

Your kids are adorable. I'm an ABA therapist in CA and a friend just sent me the link to your site. I LOVE your t-shirts and will definitely pass the link along to the families I work with!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are an incredible family! I am sorry that there are such mean people out there :( Your T-shirts are a REALLY good idea!

Anonymous said...

May The Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

You have touched my heart. May you ahve the patience and time to continue showering your children with love. May you have the time to keep your marriage strong and find some time for each other.

Have you looked into respite programs? In SC we have different programs for special children, to give the parents a break.

Ill be praying for peace for your family, Danielle

TKKnapp said...

I can't even express how I felt when I saw your story - I'm a single mom whose two youngest children (of three) are ASD, and it's been a huge struggle. I had a breakdown last year, and the state removed all three of my children, feeling that I wasn't emotionally able to handle the children's needs - that was in November, and the children still haven't been returned. My younger two were both approved for SSI last month, so that should reduce a little bit of the stress once they come home (part of my struggle was trying to earn enough money to support the four of us when I couldn't find a daycare capable of caring for my children's special needs).

I plan to keep a close eye on your blog and website, and hopefully I'll learn something that will help me help my boys, maybe even something that will help me bring them home, where they need to be (and where *I* need them to be).

Colleen said...

how amazing to come across other parents of children on the spectrum that get it.
Thank you.

Marcia Mickelson said...

I think you're very courageous to put your story out there. I'm sorry for the mean comments people have left. They just don't understand. I applaud your courage and wish you and your children the very best.

neuropoet3 said...

I'm glad you guys are trying to educate this country about the spectrum of autism - you have definitely been given the "means" to do it with. My husband and I have two "differently-abled" boys. I homeschool them because intellectually they are pretty advanced, but they can't handle the sensory stimulus of a traditional classroom. Our oldest is a High Functioning Autistic (he learned to talk too late for the Asperger label - though it's been used on him anyway), and our youngest has Sensory Processing Disorder (he meets all the criteria for an autistic spectrum diagnosis except he looks people in the eye - he just isn't quite as debilitated socially). Both of the boys struggle with OCD - our oldest boy's is much more complicated than our younger boy's. Life with two boys on/ or near the spectrum can be very hard - I can imagine how hard it is with 6 - keep hanging in there! God doesn't give us more than we can handle - even when it seems like He has. I just try to remember - "When I am weak - He is strong."
Peace be with you~
Jenny

Anonymous said...

Wow,I just read your story for the first time today. Wish I could have seen the broadcasts on TV. I have a son with autism who is 11. He was diagnosed at 7 after years of me telling my doctor something was wrong. He is now past the tantrums and the violence that lasted 2 years and is a sweet boy to be around. Hang in there with your little guys. The anti-anxiety drug "Celexa" has been working wonders in autistic and has helped my son a lot. Thanks for sharing your story. I'll be praying for you all:)

cudahy said...

Dear John & Robin,

I offer my story as encouragement...My son was diagnosed with "autistic-like behaviors" in 1985, at age 2. He was text book autistic: Nonverbal, got on all fours to bang his head, no fear of traffic or heights, felt no pain, no eye contact, held a spoon and followed it around all day. The list goes on and on. I swore he was the link between man and animal. At age 2 he went to Easter Seals and at age 3 he started public school, in ED classes. By middle school he was mainstreamed and by high school he was in regular classes, where he graduated validictorian with a 3.98gpa. He now has a degree in sociology and is finishing his last semester of grad-school (public policy). When he was 2 I prayed that some day he could bag groceries. Now he has an Asperger's diagnosis and is an independent, self sufficient adult, ready to tackle the world. Yes, he has some social problems, which he calls "issues". (Who doesn't have issues???) The moral of my story is that it IS possible to start out on one end of the "spectrum" and end up at the other end. Your children are young. The progress you've already seen will multiply exponentially. You have each other and you have a strong support system. Your children will thrive. How could they not???

E said...

I am a father of a 10 year old autistic boy, your 6 and 4 year old are like him. He's gotten better for the most part, though the hitting comes and goes, but it's not as bad as it used to be. As for the reactions from people who don't have a clue... that's the reason why they say what they say. They don't have a clue, we still don't have a clue, but we are better than we were before. It's not easy to deal with and cope, I know. I'm a recent IT grad trying to get my career started and haven't trouble just getting a basic help desk job, so I work in a mailroom for $10.70 an hour. Robert, that's my son's name, mother is in school for nursing and is working in a Tux store for $8.50 an hour. It's hard for sure, but with people behind you, it makes it better than it would be alone.

Recycled Rita said...

Hello Kirton Family!
You are a brave and wonderful couple to speak about what you are going through including telling about mistakes that you may have made and problems that you have incountered. I work with children with autism here in calif. doing behavioral intervention therapy for a school district and I know that I am tired after my workday, You dont get to leave it and go home. Your children are all beautiful and unique and I am so glad that you have that intuition about them also! Keep it up! I know another parent (or many other Parents) will learn from the blog and will feel comforted by your honesty! I am very proud of you and hope the best for you and your children! karen in CA.

Anonymous said...

I love you all, sincerely.
I wish I could come up there and give you all the biggest hug.
What a beautiful family you all are. I am amazed still to this day, at what people will say. Such anger they carry and I am sure it really has nothing to do with you.. I am saddened by some of their responses and yet so glad you got your story out there. I do wish I could help. I will pray for you. I pray for an abundance of good things and events come your way. Robin you keep smilin' that beautiful smile hun.:-D.
Love ya, Mary Trent

Anonymous said...

Oh and John, you just keep on fixin' things....!! Just kidding but not.

Keep Smilin'.
Love ya ,too. Mary trent

Anonymous said...

Hi John & Robin,

What a beautiful family! God does not give us more than we can handle and what he does give us only makes us stronger and better people.

I am so sorry so many people have made rude comments and those folks have no clue what your life is like, none of us do.

I know very very little about autism and have only ever known one child with it and was not close to the family so really never got to see how special he is. I have heard that many autistic people are actually very intelligent. My chosen daughters cousin is autistic. The boy was a young teenager and understood The New York Stock Exchange and thats enough to confuse me. I did see a Life Time TV Network movie recently about twin boys with autism and a single mom, I had tears in my eyes for most of the movie. If you have not seen it, you must see it, it was an awesome movie, but I can't remember the name of it. It was about the one boy running and winning first place in a high school race.

Anyway, good luck to you and your family. You all will be in our prayers and thoughts,

Mary & Robert Welden in Beulah, Michigan USA

Michelle in MO said...

WOW! You guys are amazing! I applaud you for fighting the good fight and standing up for what you believe and that you truly felt God was calling you to have more children. Very well said when you stated that God gave you these children to a family he felt could handle them.

I do want to point you in another direction about the tubal. . .this saddens me to think you've cut off your connection with each other and God. Please check out the following website.

http://www.armyofgod.com/tubal_ligation.html

God Bless you and your family!

Beau McClelland said...

Don't know of much to say, except "I commend you".

I get vilified because I'm autistic and happy about it. But I try not to pay any attention to the haters.

I won't back down, ever. No matter what anyone tells me.

I am going to add this blog to my bookmarks and link to it from mine.

I will be a repeat customer, so to speak. :)

cherrysone said...

I am a parent of 1 autistic child so I could imagine your life with 6. I commend you & your wife for the work you do for your children. I thank you for opening up your home to bring more awareness to this hurtful disorder. My fervent prayer is that stories like yours and many others that experience our struggle will not only bring awareness, but funding as well. If we can fund a war than most definitly we can fund the betterment of our future!

Anonymous said...

I have two children one with autism, one without. My son is fifteen years old and we were lucky to get diagnosis when he was two. We have been battling the legal system to get him everything that he needs. With just one autistic child it's been a huge struggle - lord only knows how you cope with this!

You don't deserve the negative comments you've been getting. People are just plain ignorant.

Keep up the incredible work you've been doing. Nobody quite realises what strain this can put on a marriage. Its' really wonderful to see a Father love his children and stay by their side and a loving Mother that doesn't leave or abandon the children, either. God bless you both, and your wonderful family!

Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

My oldest also has aspergers. I suspected from when he was born that there was something not quite right. He flapped and did not speak until he was nearly 3. His official diagnosis came when he was 4 years old, it was no surprise to me. He was socially inappropriate and was having difficulties in school. What amazed me was his teachers would make comment like why doesn't he take medication. As if...

He is obsessed with trains and art.
He used to color up all the walls until he was about 5.

My second child has extreme behavioral dysfunction and was classified for 3 years as emotionally disturbed (classification was just changed to behavioral)
He destroys nearly everything he can get his hands on. He power drills walls, cuts off electric cords from electric appliances. Lights fires, etc.

And my third is developmentaly delayed about 1 year.

So I can totally sympathize with your family.

There are some days I feel that I feel I am losing my mind.

It really gets overwhelming at times.

I wish you a lot of luck.

Andrea & Eric's Blog said...

The Mormon-bashing and autism-bashing shows only the ignorance and hate of people with nothing of true value in their lives. With all your struggles, you have so much more than they will ever have.

I have three boys, the oldest diagnosed with Autism. I do not know about the other two (ages 6, 3 and 1 currently). I live in Virginia and am also Mormon.

Know that you are an inspiration for people who love their autistic children. Thank you for sharing.

One who picked up the fork said...

I read through all the comments. I know you probably expected some of them. I'm still stunned. People can be so cruel. Then I remember when my boy was four years old and trying to pull off my ears. He was so tired but refuses to sleep while the sun is in the sky. Autistics fits can be soooo, whats the word. Enlightening. We were pregnant at the time, and we knew we would get pregnant yet again. Still, both me and my fiance know what you mean by your family didn't Feel complete. I wonder if some of the commentors were from the families back in the 1800's that would bash a babies head on a rock when judged to be deformed or retarded?
I would applaude you and your family even if you knew about the first case of autism before birth. We send our love!

~Miss Nelson said...

People are so damn rude! I am sorry that you had to read those things and see those ignorant comments. I would suggest that you do not read them again. Your family is love, your life is love, your mission is love. Keep love in your heart and continue to shine bright as a family that can do it big and will do it big. We love you and support you and wish nothing but the best for you. Your story touched my heart from the time I saw it and I wish people would really think about what they say before they say it.

Please do not let that stuff get you down. You do not have to justify your family to anyone.

Nano from Minnetonka MN said...

Gosh, you mean all those yummy cheese curds, pronto pups, and mini donuts caused my beautiful 6 year old to be socially inept? I feel your frustration with those idiots who don't understand the condition or will never be able to experience the miseries and joys of loving a ASD child. Only good thoughts for you all.

Anonymous said...

I think it is great that you are using your experiences to reach out to educate and help others dealing with autism. I have found others out there who are trying to help as well. There is great info out there to educate on the treatment of autism - check out http://autismchangingtomorrow.wordpress.com

TrishKZ said...

I am a Mother of a child with Autism. God Bless you all! After watching your video clip at cbs.com, I will forever carry you in my heart. XXOO

Trish

Brenna1009 said...

I am a mother of 4 children --3 neuro-typical and one with Asperger’s...
And my husband has Asperger’s, and his two brothers, and two of his sisters, and his father, and three uncles, and numerous nephews and cousins.

I have experienced a mere-sliver of what you are experiencing right now --- and I pray for your energy, humor, love, patience, and continued blessings!

You are correct that God chose you to raise these beautiful people and to INTRODUCE the world to the lives (and trials and exhaustion, and gooood things, too!) of people with Autism and Asperger’s.
You were chosen.... and God always chooses well. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for speaking out! Just raising awareness makes a huge difference. My two and a half year old son was diagnosed with autism disorder a few months ago, and I am amazed at the number of people who do not know anything about the disorder. People look at us all the time like, "lady, you need to get your kid under control" if they only knew. I am a 23 year old mother of two, who is alone half the year. (My husband is in the Navy, and deploys on a regular basis) I felt like there wasn't a single person in the world who understood what it was like to face such challenges. Each day is a new day to learn...I learn something new about my son everyday, and I have also learned a lot about myself during this process, and that is that my son is an amazing person, with lots of character and love for life. He just experiences it a little differently than most. He likes to know how everything works, he likes to explore the colors, textures, smells, and tastes of the flowers that "normal" people would just walk right past. So, thank you, thank you, thank you for going public with your story, for creating this website, and putting some knowledge into the minds of people who might need it the most. God Bless!

maribeth121 said...

John and Robin,
I applaud the fact that you are doing everything to educate the public (and rude people) about autism. I'm sorry you are not able to afford the newer, more experimental treatments, but your children are growing with your love, and that's a very important thing. Our 15 and 18-year-old boys both have ADHD, one with central auditory processing disorder, and the other with bipolar. So, I know how it is to find out your child has a disability he will have to cope with his entire life, but to have this times six is just unbelievable. You said that God chose you to be the parents of six autistic children, but I also think that God chose you to better eduate the public about autism and the problems you are up against every day. Keep up the great work, keep your chins up, and good luck. Maribeth

Tonya said...

Keep your chin up and dont let people get to you. I have 5 children and my youngest has auistic tendencies. I just thank you for your story so that others can see that it can also be functioning they dont have to sit in a corner rock and and scream that there are other symptoms. I pray for blessings upon your family and to all the mean people out there. Walk in our shoes. The old saying Do onto others as youd have done to you I wish more parents would have taught that to their children.

Melissa said...

Being the parent of an autistic child (my son the oldest) We have seen and heard a lot of the comments that was given to your site. We was warned that having another child was a risk of he/she having autism also, after trying for a second child we was blessed with a little girl, who is not autistic. Some people family and doctors wanted us to put our son in an institution but we told them that GOD gave him to us for a reason and that he is going to be with us until death. What shocks a lot of people is when we tell them he has been in school since he was 3 years old.

My son (15) is in high school now and gets mainstreamed out to 2 regular classes. What surprised me the most was one of the mainstream teachers didn’t know anything about autism and went to my sons CDC teacher and asked how she could go about in helping him learn in her class. I think if more people learned what autism is about then maybe they would understand. But I doubt that would even help.

It is hard on my daughter(8) when we go out because when people stares she gets mad and has asked some of them if there was a problem. When the people say no she would tell them to stop staring because it makes them look like an ignorant person. When she says that I hear my grandfather’s voice saying, Out of the mouths of babies. So just ignore the one that have no idea what they are talking about, because biggest part of them have never tried to take care of an autistic child, or they have no kids.

Dee said...

Hi! Lots of love and encouragement to you! I take happy pills, too! And that's with only one son with autism. We started our own website,too for similar reasons- google OZMO or autism toys to find us. I love the T-shirts and I just ordered some. Remember that there are always people out there you can't reach or make understand. I guess they are here to teach the rest of us more patience and even more tolerance...! You do have to get some aides to help. Check with case managers? Lots of luck-Dee

Kirstyn said...

I have two autistic children. I really do appreciate you guys putting your story out there and such.
The only thing about this blog that just rubbed me the wrong way is, "we DO have SIX Autistic children we deal with EVERY day". It's not 'dealing' with them. It's raising children. The way you say that it sounds like you require some sort of praise for it. My grandmother had 9 children. Autism or not, 9 children is a handful, too. And they are your children...you *should* be dealing with them everyday, no matter what. That's unconditional love.
The other thing that bothers me are some of the 'holier than thou' comments towards others. "Walk in our shoes for a week and most of you would have either lost your mind, be getting a divorce or maybe worse. We have 3 main reasons to get the word out about our family." You know...many people go through many difficult challenges in life, and make it through. Many people could raise six autistic children. That's all that bothers me, the phrasing and the 'better than you' attitude.

delfamily5 said...

We have an 11 year old with Mild to Moderate Autism and it took years to finally get a diagnosis. First it was simply that he was just too immature for Kindergarten. Then it was PDD-NOS, then Asperger's...and finally the current diagnosis! I am appauled to see how some people are reacting and how they can say such things about your children as if they are not human beings! And what does being LDS have to do with it?! If you watch all those shows on TLC and stuff...those families with 18 plus children aren't LDS. I am LDS and have three children and I have yet to be criticized by the church for not having more. These people out there are ignorant and should really think before they post their comments. We will be praying for your family.

Twilightmomma (Tracy) said...

I just want to encourage you and your family to keep speaking and to just go forward. Ignore the ignorant and know what you are doing is right. You are not a criminal because your children have Autism. My son has PDD-NOS. Your children are blessings from God and you and Robin are doing the best you can and know how. I think that it's wonderful what you are doing getting the word out. There are so many uneducated people out there that open up their mouths and don't know what the heck they are talking about. I also have Fibromyalgia like Robin does so if she wants to get in touch with me for a support network and to gather ideas and what not I would be so glad to be there for her and you and your whole family. I know life isn't easy, there are people out there who will cast stones yet they live in a glass house. Just keep walking tall and know that you are a wonderful family and God loves you all.

lia said...

Hi John and Robin,

I was so touched that I cried reading your blog after watching a video in Yahoo. My husband was looking at me strangely. :-)

It's great to see your strength and your great example of being dedicated parents to these special children of our Heavenly Father. I feel so small being impatient with my kids at times. I'll try harder. :-)

Raising your kids is a challenge but I know that you won't be given those challenges if you can't handle them.

I think you are both Super Parents to be given such Super Special kids.

All the Best!

Kelly L said...

I was recently diagnosed with Asperger's, and having done my research, I've come across so much ignorance on the web, very similar to what you've experienced with the GMA page. It's unbelievable. I agree with what was said by someone else--that NTs can't seem to handle their own children, let alone AS children, and they can be very judgemental about disabilities that aren't affecting their lives. Leaving comments like that online is unfair for so many reasons: mainly because they're just so WRONG, but also because they comment without knowing anything about the situation. How can they expect you to stop having children if they weren't even diagnosed until very recently? You never asked for your life to be this hard, and from what I've seen on the GMA report and your blog, you're not looking for pity! From what I can tell, you're doing an awesome job of busting stereotypes and raising autism awareness. I was so happy to see this get featured on Yahoo! There are so few decent sites about autism out there, especially in females, and it can be frustrating when most of the population is unaware or uninformed. On another note, I'm only 20 and have no children, but I want them in the not-so-distant future. And the possibility of them being autistic would NEVER deter me from having my own, even though I plan to look into adoption as well. ALL of your children have great potential, especially those with HFA or Asperger's. They may always have limitations, but the world is becoming increasingly disability-friendly, and I believe that, given the right tools, they can all become wonderfully successful in their own ways. The anxiety and stress of your lifestyle might become overwhelming, but I hope you know that for every person who criticizes you, there are three others who applaud and support you 100%. They might seem few and far between, but I think you'll find that many people out there are willing to offer their friendship and advice. God bless!

Anonymous said...

[quote] If you don't like our t-shirts that help deal with the public, fine don't buy one. Don't like our website (still a work in progress) or us, go away. [end quote]

Well, while that might be an easy option for people who don't like what you stand for, it's not a very good option for people who are busy trying to truly do what's best for individuals and families dealing with autism.

The acts of some within a group colour the facts about the entire group.

This is why when people who do not take the time to understand with whom they are affiliating themselves, they are oftentimes devastated when they realize they are pawns in the larger group's game.

Just be sure you know who you are figuratively getting into bed with as all autistics could find themselves painted with the same brush as the one you will be painted with some day.

Let that paintbrush be one of inclusion and acceptance for autistics living in the neurotypical world and not one of making "autism a word only found in history books."

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel, I have a seventeen year old son with autistic. He has the same type as your oldest son. He's a wonderful sweet kid and I thank god everyday for giving him to me. I also worried about him everyday. In todays society there are alot of mean people out there who love to take advantage of someone with disability. My son has been enrolled in special education since he was in kindergarden, however he wasn't diagnosed with autism until he was in third grade. At first he was diagnosed with a learning handicap, then in the 2nd grade they told me he was mentally retarded.I was never able to get a straight answer from my son's techer or doctors. Finally, I moved to a better school district and my son was lucky enough to get a wonderful teacher named Ms. Annecherrio in the third grade who toke the time to sit with me and tell me to get him tested for autism. She gave me all the resource that I needed to get him the help he needed in school. I have to say that it is tought trying to raise a child with a disability in this world. You basically have to fight for everything and no one, not a doctor or teacher will tell that there are programs out there that your child qualifies that are free. Parents with children with disabilities haver rights and they're entitle to get what is need for their kids. Another piece of advise if you have a child with a disability get them the SSI benefit from social security. If they deny you - get an attorney and fight to get what your child is intitle to. Good luck!

tommy said...

It's hard to imagine people taking the time to say such awful things like "you should be sterilized," as though our precious children with Autism are a "mistake." Your family is inspiring, especially to those of us who have one or more children on the spectrum. You are precious, and your children are as well. Please keep up the good work! Blessings to you and your family. the Bates family

Jadeinok said...

I can't believe how many morons there are in the world! I'm assuming they can read, but they must be having technical difficulties either with their computers or their brains since they didn't read the part about All of the children having been born BEFORE the diagnosis. I applaud you and your family and I KNOW that your family is an example to others and will continue to be blessed.

Sebcuta said...

I saw a video of your family on yahoo.com .... I commend you for what you have to deal with on a daily basis, however would love to know your secret, I personally feel like I am going to loose my mind, rip my hair out in shatter most days. How in the world did you manage to get such fast DX's of the kids.

Seeking major advice.

Megan said...

I would like to say that I somewhat know how this family feels. It happens often now a days. I am a 23 year old single mom of two autistic boys that are 2and 3 years old. I always wanted kids and thats what I got its gods plan for me to have them. I accept the fact that they are autistic its not the rest of the worlds job to accept it. So for all those people who have something to say to families like this one then keep it to yourself. It only makes us stronger.

qsue2006 said...

About the issue of this family's religion...
There are many different religions, but I think we can all agree on one thing. JUDGING other people is WRONG WRONG WRONG!!! Come on people... You know the saying... "If you can't say anything good... Don't say anything at all!" I hope for the very best for this precious family. They are stronger for their struggles and remain honest and true to God and their "religion". Keep the faith burning strong you blessed people! God is still and always will be a wonder working God! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

We live in a very tainted world. Some people are just TOTAL FREAKS!!! Especially on the web!Don't let the distgusting ignorance of judgemental people in the world get to you! God blessed you with those beautiful children because they needed you and your wife!! This is exactly the way it was meant to be and it will all work out in the end! I commend what you are doing. I never even knew what autism was until I saw Jenny McCarthy (and her amazing story) on Oprah. I think sharing knowledge and support with other parents of Autism can only improve the quality of life for all involved!

Patty House said...

It floors me to see how... well ... stupid people can be. These mean spirited people who emailed you or put comments in your blog...Where are THEY from, ya know? And to go as far as they did, oh my goodness!

Thank you for trying to get the word out like you are. There are so many kids in the world today with Austism and so many people (like me) who have no idea what Autism really is, but how have people in their life (friend of my son) who have it. Maybe through you, I can learn what it is and to understand it.
Thank You!

Michelle said...

Hey all. I am stunned by the hurtful comments that others feel like it's their business to even make. Clearly they are ignorant and should consider truly researching the topic before they start spouting out their hate. It's really a wonderful thing that you are taking care of such a bundle and are doing what you can to educate the world. I am a Special/Elementary teacher and have an interest in students who are different. God places a special love (and patience) into the hearts of a few people in the world. We have all heard and read that God will never give you more than you can handle. God is in control. It doesn't matter what religion you practice, where you live or why you decided to reproduce. It's your life. You shouldn't be asked to explain why you decided to live it. Most people make comments that come straight out their rears. Why would anyone ask you now that you have had 6 (wonderful) children why? It's not their business. You have to take the good with the bad and know that for every harsh word and ignorant comment there are a million who commend you for your hard work and dedication. I think you're amazing. I like the fact that you pubically admit to having a "break down". It lets other families in similar situations know that they aren't the only ones. To the horrible people who commented on you having "burdened" society for having children ~ I hope that you are faced with a situation that causes you to be in need and you are returned the same grace that you offered to this family. To the Kirkton Family ~ may God bless and provide for your family so that you never again worry about finances or means. I pray that you will continue to share your story and struggles in an effort to educate other families in similar situations. I pray, not for a change, but a restoration in your lives. That God will take all the struggles of the past and turn them into highlights of the future. I can't wait to see what lies ahead for you all... :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Kirton Family,

A distant friend of our family's child has autism that I learned about when I was younger, so I've always had an interest in this.

I noticed your younger children seem to have more intense autism and that you moved from another place after some of your children were born.

Did you ever have mold in your house? Maybe dry molds, from older leaks?

How long have you lived there?
Can you tell us anything about your house?

May God bless your family.

Thanks,
Kristina
Fremont, CA

amy said...

Good morning! I read your article in People magazine and just wanted to send out a hug to you and your family. I have a 4 yr old autistic son and know how hard it is. I give you guys so much credit - you are an inspiration! Please do not listen to those "morons" out there that leave stupid comments under anonymous. Please know that there is someone in NJ that understands what you are going through and applauds you and your family.

Best wishes!

Maegan said...

Dear Kirton Family,

My husband and I were very touched by your story. We have 3 children and our youngest, Mason 4 years old, was diagnosed with Autism about 2 1/2 years ago. When I think back to how my husband and I felt after his diagnosis, neither of us knowing much about Autism, we immediately researched symptoms and such. The comments on your family's story have really opened our eyes to how ignorant and cruel people are on this subject. My husband and I think you are all very special and courageous people and we will keep your family in our prayers! God bless!

Maegan

Sunny said...

You sound like wonderful parents. I know you are probably overwhelmed with all the comments and all, but thank you for sharing your story. I don't have experience first hand with autism, but as a mother I feel that you are great examples of the parents we should all work to be - whatever situations we face.

Judith said...

Wow. Can't believe people are so mean-spirited. Thank you for increasing awareness and being honest with the public about your story. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I think what you guys are doing is wonderful!I never even knew really anything about autism until my 2 yr old was diagnosed 1 month ago.You really clarified a lot for me and my family.Keep up the great work and God Bless you all!

Anonymous said...

I think what you guys are doing is wonderful!I never even knew really anything about autism until my 2 yr old was diagnosed 1 month ago.You really clarified a lot for me and my family.Keep up the great work and God Bless you all!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for "putting yourselves out there" to help educate people about autism. I have friends and relatives with undiagnosed ASD and it is awful to see them suffer without knowing why. I also have friends with diagnosed asperger's who have had a lot of relief from the gluten-free/casein-free diet - haven't read enough of your blog to see if you've tried it but I highly recommend based on what I've witnessed!

I hope you can ignore the negative comments - or better yet, have someone else read them and delete them for you so you never have to read them!

Good luck!

katrinasmama said...

I am very moved by your story...thank you for sharing it with the world. My daughter just turned 5 in December and a few days before her birthday, was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.It has been a long hard road just to get someone to give us a diagnosis other than...."So she's just immature" "She's just spoiled" After she was kicked out of her second pre-school last year a teacher actually told me "She's just not normal". She is now in a pre-school 2 days a week that has been wonderful, and patient , and loving, through all her little meltdowns and quirks. She will begin kindergarten in the Fall and I am TERRIFIED. I want to protect her from...well everything. My heart hurts every day thinking about the things she will face. She says she wants to be a vetrinarian when she grows up. I would sell my soul to make that happen for her.
We are currently on the waiting list for a local "wrap around" agency, so I am trying to stay positive that they will be able to help her and to actually help ME to help her.
I have also struggled with the question of more children. I really want another child, but am so scared. What if the new baby has some for of Autism, too? And my daughter can have agressive outbursts....what if she were to hurt the baby?
So many questions, so many fears.I just want to say God bless you and your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Parties by Design said...

Thank you for sharing your story! I have 5 kids none with autism, but have a heart for children who do!I am currently writing a cook book called "Autistic Wellness" this help some kids with diet changes. Please let me know if I can send you a copy.God bless!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kirton Family,

You are an inspiration. I am a single mom and just found out that my son, who is 6 & in kindergarten has Asperger's. I have questioned myself and God as to why? It's overwhelming with one, I couldn't image having six. My son is precious and is a beautiful gift, but at times I feel so inadequate. I commend you for coming out and sharing your family life with the world. People need to be made aware and understand; 1) that we are not bad parents & 2) that are children aren't spoiled or brats. They have their meltdowns and sometimes it's not convenient or in the appropriate place, but people need to keep their comments to themselves. It's not only hurtful to the parent, child that is having a crisis, but also to their siblings. I just wish that people would stop and think maybe something else is wrong. Thank you again for trying to raise awareness about Autism. God Bless!

mlthompson8780 said...

I think that you and your wife as well as your beautiful children are blessed to have each other. Many other couples would have not have the strenght that your family does to handle six autistic children. I have seen your story on the news and have read many articles...each of which is usually folled by some moronic comments. I do hope that with your blog and the help of your foundation that the right treatment for the kids at a young age will happen. Each and everyone of them is special and can be completely self-sufficiant with the right treatment. ( I hate calling it treatment!) I hope that you can find the right facility near you to help each one of them. You all will be in my thoughts.

Cindy said...

My mom told me about your family (I don't watch GMA), as I also have a child with Asperger's. He was diagnosed when he was 11 as well. His diagnosis was missed due to early PTSD from a predator. I understand the shock value that comes from finding out your child has a disability, but I hope you, like me, were glad to finally understand what was wrong so you could get help.

Living with A.S. is not easy. But I have found that as I hold my son to consisten standards, he is capable of performing. Consistency is key for him. He attends public school now, after many years of successful homeschooling, and 1 1/2 years after diagnosis, in the school system, we are seeing improvement in his social abilities. Again, with great help from our son's school, their commitment to help, and a lot of prayers!!

I liked your shirts. I would have loved to have that when he was younger. Do you have one for parents? Or are you going to design one to help bring autism into a more public view. I'd be very interested.

By the way, I understand the frustration of raising autistic children when you yourself are not well. I have lupus and fibromyalgia, and also require much more rest. You will remain in my prayers, and I will check your website regularly to see how you're doing.

Blessings,
Cindy, VA

Anonymous said...

God bless you for speaking out. I believe God only gives you what you can handle. I know this because my first son was born with a rare chromosome disorder. He actually passed away at 5 months old but I would have given up my life for him to still be here problem and all. I now have 4 great healthy kids but if all of them would have had any problems I wouldn,t have changed a thing. The people that judge you for your 6 kids are the people that God doesn,t pick to be special parents. Your children are lucky!!!

Crazy Mom said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story! My hubby and I have 4 children (3 boys, 1 girl) and my oldest was just diagnosed with Asperger's 2 yrs ago at age 11. We have since realized, but are still fighting for an official diagnosis, that our younger boys also have mild Autism and/or Asperger's. What a frustration it has been to find medical and educational help for our children. There are just so few people that really get it... and still fewer that understand that chaos added when more than one child is affected.
Being LDS also, we have been criticized for having "so many" children. We have also found a lack of support at church, which has made things more frustrating.
My own family is still arguing that my younger boys are fine and I need to calm down, but I see how much help my oldest missed I can't "wait and see."
We've also discovered that my dad (father of 6, grandfather of 12) has Asperger's.. not that he has acknowledged it but it's very obvious to us now. He leads a great life as a computer engineer, none of my other siblings are affected, and so far neither are their children. This only makes it harder for them to accept that it's not all in my head.
But when you have a 7 yr old that screams when they are bathed because the water feels like needles, a 13 yr old that doesn't recognize the body language of the bullies at school, and a 10 yr old that begs every morning not to have to go to school "because the noise is burning my brain" something is wrong.
I commend you for all you are doing to raise your kids and I think you're t-shirts are great. I too started a site a year ago (www.cafepress.com/chelbi) with my "Crazy Mom" logo and a whole line of Autism Awareness products. Too few have the knowledge we have, and we must share what we can!
Keep your heads high, God is watching over you.
Michelle
aka Crazy Mom

Anonymous said...

I applaud you for going on the show and getting your story out. I have two sons, 11 yr. old with ADHD and a 9 yr. old with ASD. It is very difficult raising children with special needs, please know that there are many, many parents in similar situations and we all can learn from one another and sympathize with one another. God bless all of you.

Leslie said...

Hi, I read your story in People then decided to try and find you guys on the internet.
I have a 12 year old son with Autism. We have definitely experienced the ups and downs of having a child with a disability. This illness has torn our family apart. I know you are absolutely doing the best that you can. We found out when our son was 2 1/2 that he was autistic and decided not to have any more children after that.
I like the t-shirts, I won't buy one mainly for the fact that I have enough financial struggles of raising my son that I don't feel that I should pay for someone else to stay home when I had to work nights and my husband worked days to make ends meet. It can work, but you have to want it. My husband were extremely poor and on our last leg when we found out our son was autistic. I wish you all of the luck in the world.

SanJoseMom said...

I just read your response. All I can add is "AMEN" to your rebuttals. It is very sad that many people are so ignorant and judgemental. When we've encountered such people, I simply respond with "Thank you for taking the time to listen to what I have to say, whether you agree with it or not; I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have and you're in my prayers".

One other thing I have to add - on the GMA website, they discuss how rare it is to have 6 children with autism. I don't think that's as rare as just having 6 children period. We have 5 children, 4 with ASD's and 1 with ADHD. It was our choice to bring children into the world and after 5 we stopped. I think autism is primarily a genetic disorder, borne out by my own experiences, and I have to say having spoken with other parents and served on committees and gone to events that it seems that most families I've spoken with have at least 2 kids with the disorder, and many of these families only have 2 or 3 kids at most. If these families had more children, they'd probably have a higher incidence of autism in their families as well.

Anyway, hang in there, keep the faith and know as always that you're not alone.

Rita said...

No one has a right to assume they know what's best for your family and to judge your efforts or your intentions in raising awareness. I've found most people making critical comments just don't have a life and likely don't seek a relationship with God. I feel sorry for them for their ignorance.

While there is no one else in your position feeling the immense weight on your shoulders, please know that you are not alone in the support and prayers from others who live with autism, or others who genuinely cry with you as they try to feel what you feel everyday as you both struggle and rejoice in raising your gifts from God. Please know that you will be in my prayers.

My four-year old son has mild autism. The following link has a video that, at this point on our autism journey, I find so beautiful that it is therapy for me when I need to cry:

http://www.whatkindofworlddoyouwant.com/videos/view/id/408214

One person posted a comment to her video that I found inspiring, so I printed it and put it in my son's therapy binder (a binder I open frequently). It's called "Special Moms".

(posted by "phyllis" on 1/31/08 on the following website: http://www.whatkindofworlddoyouwant.com/videos/view/id/408214)

"Special Moms"
"I am the little engine that did. When on my journey in life, my tracks led me to a mountain- a diagnosis of Autism. I looked at it with defeat, thinking there was no way I could climb over it. I then pondered the obstacle before me, and I then said to myself over and over "I think I can, I think I can..." Then I slowly started climbing the mountain saying to myself over and over "I know I can, I know I can..." And then I made it over the ominous diagnosis of Autism and continued my journey.

I am the little engine that did. I am more devoted than Noah's wife. I am cooped up in this "houseboat" for 365 nights a year, constantly taking care of and cleaning up after my "herd of animals." And when the storms of isolation and monotony become most unbearable, I do not jump ship. Instead, I wait for the rainbow that is sure to come.

I am Xena, real life warrior goddess of Autism. With my steel plated armor I can fight anyone who gets in my way of progress for my child. I can fight the stares and ignorance of typpies-those without Autism in their lives-and educate them as to why my child is the way he is and why he does the things he does. I can fight the schools to have them properly educate my child. And I can fight denied insurance claims to get coverage for my child. Yes, I am Xena, and I am armed for battle.

I am Betsy Ross. I am part of History for my contribution to the Autism Awareness Quilt-many pieces of fabric representing many states,stitched together, that will collectively symbolize Freedom. Freedom from the lack of information about Autism, Freedom from not knowing what causes Autism, and Freedom from the lack of funding and research to treat, overcome, and live with Autism. Like Betsy's piece of fabric, my piece of fabric will someday sit in a museum, for others to see my 12.5x12.5 inch memorial of a battle well fought. Whether my child is "cured" in my lifetime does not matter. In the end what will matter to me and to my child is that I never surrendered.

I am the Bionic Woman. I have X-ray vision- I can see through the mask of Autism on my child's face and see the beauty in his soul and the intelligence in his eyes when other's can't. I have super-hearing- I can look at my child when he smiles at me and hear his voice say, "I love you Mommy" even though he can't talk. Yes, I am thankful to be Bionic.

I am Mary, a not so well known mother of an Autistic child who was brought here to touch the souls of those around him, in a way that will forever change them, and it started with me-by teaching me things I would never have known, by bringing me friendships I never would have had, and by opening my eyes as to what really matters in life. Things like keeping Faith, never losing Hope, and knowing a Love that words cannot express. Yes, I too am blessed by a special child, just like Mary.

I am SuperWoman. I am able to leap over tall loads of laudary in a single bound, and run faster than a speeding bullet, to chase my child as he dashes out the front door and heads for the busy street. Oh yes, without a doubt, I am SuperWoman.

I am Moses. I am doing my part in leading other parents and society to more awareness, knowledge, and resources, and most of all- Faith. Like Moses did, I too will sometimes meet resistances from those who don't believe. And like Moses, God will give me the small Miracles here and there needed to accomplish my mission.

I am Stretch Armstrong-a mom that can be stretched beyond belief and still somehow return to normal. I can stretch limited funds to cover every treatment and therapy that insurance won't. I can stretch my patience as I explain my child's biomedical issues with yet another uneducated doctor. I can stretch what time I have , to share it with my husband, my children, my friends, and still have some time leftover to help others. Yes, my name is Stretch. And I have the stretch marks to prove it!

I am Rosa Parks. I refuse to move or waver in what I believe is right for my child simply because my view is the minority, not the majority. I refuse to believe "What can one mother do?" But instead, I write, call, and rally to the government, and do whatever it takes to bring equality for my child.

I am Hercules, the Greek God known for strength and courage. The heavy loads I must carry would make others crumble to the ground. The weight of Sorrow, Fear at uncertainty of the future, Injustice at having no answers, and from Tears of despair, would alone possibly be too much even for Hercules. But then the Joy, Laughter, Smiles, and Tears of Pride at my child's accomplishments balance the load to make it easy to bear.

I am touched by an Angel, an Angel who is often described as living in a world of his own. And it's true; he lives in a world of innocence and purity. A world without hatred or deceit. A world where everyone is beautiful and where no one is ugly. A world where he goes to bed with no worries of tomorrow and wakes up with no regrets of the past. Yes, I most certainly am touched by an Angel, and I sometimes think that his world is better....

I am a mom of a special needs child, all of the above and so much more. Someday I will want to be none of the above- and just be a typical mom with a typical child, doing typical things. On those days I will know it's o.k. to be angry, and to cry, and to lean on my friends for support. Because after all, the most important thing I am....is human. And on this special day, and every other day I need to, I will read this as a reminder, of just who it is I am......"

Just remember that you are human and that little steps forward are cause for great rejoicing. Keep your chin up. You are the only ones who could help your children the way you are!!!

Sincerely,
Rita Chebowski

Anonymous said...

I understand how it happens. My son was diagnosed when he was 6. My daughter, in the gifted program, wasn't diagnosed then. She has never been formally diagnosed, but it is clear that she has Aspergers. She is 13 now. My 3rd child, just a baby at that point, received her diagnosis in Oct 2007.She is 6 now. Three kids: 1 Aspergers, 1 high functioning autism and 1 autistic disorder (jury is out on how high functioning she is...but she is very like her brother). Once we realized, we stopped having children, as well.

Hang in there, some people are incredibly rude and scared of what they don't understand.

T.

Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you my oldest son is 12 he was diagnosed a year and a half ago with PDD-NOS it bites. We struggle Daily to make sure he is getting instruction at his public school and is not just watching the birds out the window. There are no answers for this ,and unless your child has it there is no walking in our shoes. These kids are very special they have a different view on life and it is a unique and special jet sometimes hurtful journey to travel. Thank you for sharing and God bless.

Anonymous said...

A question. Why after breeding two kids with problems did you continue to breed four more?

mayapple51752 said...

I was very moved by your story. Thank you for opening your lives to tell the world about this. We have adopted a little girl. She was almost 2. Now she is 4 1/2 and we are going this month to get a diagnosis of possible AS. Could you explain to me what the letters stand for that you have posted for your 3 year old. I'm new to all of this. Thank you. My prayers are with all of you. Keep drawing Emma! They are wonderful!

sanjosemom said...

Jeanette, John & Robin,

I wish I knew what to say. We've got 5 kids, 4 with ASD's and 1 with ADHD. We've gotten those comments as well and worse besides. People are ignorant and/or need to bolster their own sense of self worth by judging others. Pray for them.

Personally I think autism runs in families and I think our stories (large families with autism) are not as uncommon as the media would have the public believe.

Unfortunately, there are many people who have a lot invested in the idea of an "Autism Epidemic". My husband and I choose to spend our time not looking to blame someone but to serve and love our children the best we can, just as we would if they were "normal" whatever that means. Even if we knew they'd have special needs in advance, we'd still have had them.

Take care all of you and hang in there. I need to go clean up the books that the youngest just pulled off the shelf for the millionth time. Life goes on.

ScrapperSara said...

Wow, Wow, Wow. It is absolutely amazing to me the ignorance of the readers and commenters of this website. I believe that children with Autism are special and are unique gifts from God. It takes a special parent and/or couple to raise these children and, for me, it testifies of your utmost faith, patience and love for others that you would be blessed with these six children.

nancy said...

Hello! I can identify with your struggles, though I think you have it harder with such severe cases of autism as well as aspergers. I am sorry for all you've been through but can see what a loving family you are. I can see why you were late in getting diagnoses. Aspergers was not even much diagnosed until 1992 or so.

We also have 6 kids and 3 have official diagnoses (OCD and spectrums) and 2 sib-clinical.

OCD (fear based rituals), social anxiety, mood disorder, and sensory integration seems to be the connecting factor among all, but the oldest(girl 19)has some degree of perhaps bipolar with her severe OCD and tics, and also some degree of something like lupus(which runs in my family). The middle girl(15-homeschooled) has NVLD and/or aspergers and variably diagnosed as "shizotypal" by a UCLA team, where she was treated for life threatening eating disorder.(We've also been contacted by CPS when she did not go to subsequent residential treatment, while still underweight, to a facility that said they could not accept her!)

She is currently still underweight and sees an orthopedist and endocrinologist. My son sees an OCD therapist and 3 of the kids see a psychaitrist. Our insurance covers alot, but we pay out of pocket for an accessible psychiatist(having given up on the in-network psychiatists). I am so sorry you do not have coverage, my husband's private insurance though his employer helps us. We had to do alot of educating to get the help.

My 3rd daughter has mild OCD and social anxiety but functions fairly well(independent study) though prone to depression and withdrawal. The 4th child (boy 11) has severe OCD(contamination) and severe social anxiety and sensory integration, he is homebound currently. The 5th child (boy 8) is doing very well in school (all the kids have above average testing) but has had transient spells of very distinct OCD, (and some violent temper spells, (effects you can see in our home and possessions) that I hope do not turn into something more chronic, he also has asthma and hayfever, but no social anxiety. The youngest (5 girl) seems to be doing ok so far.

Two of my kids have been hospitalized (specialty units in OCD) with severe symptoms: My 15 y/o (at age 13) for 3 months which involved 6 hour commutes; and my oldest for 2 mo, out of state, recently. She is attending one college course now. My 11 y/o son who is homebound cannot seeem to function away from home and the school puts alot of pressure on me. He cannot write anymore due to his OCD.

The worst part has been feeling blamed as the bad mother b/c we do not have quite clear-cut diagnoses (the OCD comes across most clearly, but the sensory stuff seems a bit aspie to me) or any intelligence problems (except that learning is impeded by anxoety). Mostly the severe anxiety, social discomfort, and moods, for which it seems easy to question the mother as being too lenient or too strict or over protective or controlling or disorganized, whatever. Being high functioning actually can make the kids look more competent that they are, so they do not get the understanding they need, and they can feel like they have failed others' expectations. They do not get on too well with my husband, though he works hard to provide and tries to connect with them. His temper and frustration have gotten the better of him many times. My kids get depressed easily because facing the world seems overwhelming, but they still want to have normal lives and friendships and fun times.

The other hard part has been feeling like the size of our family is up for criticism. Like you, we did not begin getting diagnoses until our 5th child was already born. Our 6th child is a blessing b/c she seems completely normal and happy. (Not to say the others are any less blessings).
I also had a health crisis, I had a heart attack after trying to get my school-phobic son to school one morning, when the school and everybody was putting so much pressure on me for not being strict enough. My son was not rebellious, only having uncontrolled anxiety. I have perfectly normal health (fit, good weight, no smoking or drinking etc) and no heart disease at all. A coronary artery simply ruptured and there is no medical reason, so I think it was extreme ongoing stress(having dealt for prolonged time with my middle dauhter's eating disorder, prior to my son's diagnosis). Being misunderstood or unsupported is worse stress to me, than actually dealing with the problems my kids face. I have to learn to shrug off others opinions. I do have some good friends and family support though. Anyway, just wanted to offer my speculation that genetics must play a big role in all this, and to wish you my best in this journey you have undertaken.
Nancy CA

The Dinger's said...

I am a special education teacher for children with Autism in the Alpine school district. You are so inspiring! We all know the reason you have fabulous children is because Heavenly Father trusts you with his choice children! Keep up the good work and know that you are supported and loved by someone way more powerful than we can ever know!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I was blown away by your story, and the courage you and your wife both display. I work with developmentally adults in a group home setting, so I'm familiar with alot of your challenges. God bles you and your family!
Pat
P.S. Love the tshirt

Michael and Michelle said...

As I've seen here, you get a lot of great support...hopefully enough to offset the horribly mean things people can say. We have a 5 year old with Asperger Syndrome and Sensory Integration Disorder, and my 2 1/2 yr. old will be evaluated in a few weeks for SI Disorder as well. However, we were first diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I'm sure you've done your research, but if you haven't you may want to look into the possible connection between a gluten free diet and "improvements" in autistic children. I said improvements, because it isn't a cure, but we just recently saw an amazing thing in our son when we took him off of dairy as well...an unbelievable change in focus, attitude, aggresiveness, etc. I homeschool him, so I definitely noticed the changes in his school focus. It's not cheap...(is anything anymore?) but it may be enough to help some of your kiddos. As for the people who've trampled on your love of family...they don't know what they are missing. We are proudly expecting our fourth child because God intended it, and even though we know the "risk" is there, we wouldn't change a thing. God Bless all of you. Thank you for putting your lives out there for the world...it does and will make a difference.
Michelle Ouellette
www.rocknh.net

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It's very brave of you for taking that risk and being vulnerable to the public. Sure there will be hate mail and mean people but like you said, stay away. I think true education on autism is coming from the parents who are living it, not the doctor who reads about it in med school. Thank you for more awareness. Keep making yourself heard, I will listen.

KT

Anonymous said...

Isn't it odd how people read your story, watch the interview, maybe even follow your life, just to trip you, spit in your face, and call you names? That is how people in this world are. They watch, they wait, they have no understanding, no sympthy, and worst of all, no remorse.

I have one son. He 10 months old and normal so far. We have no history of autism of any kind, or any learning disabilities. I am blessed, and I know this even more now after reading your story.

I used to work in a residential care facility. It was formerly (MANY years ago) an insane asylum. In the late 90s, it was a transition home for the mentaly disabled. There was one mid-30s man that lived there who had a vague diagnoses, but he had to have been classic autistic. Although I have not worked there in almost 10 years, and my career has nothing to do with the mentally disabled, I remember him fondly. His gentle and loving nature. His innocence. His intelligence, deeply hidden by autism. He truly touched my heart. Like so many of the people that lived there, he was abandoned by his family for not being normal. For not conforming, for not being controllable. His parents are probably just like the people who are bad mouthing you and your children.

I wish you all the best, and may each day be a bit easier.

Anonymous said...

I have only question.

If someone could get your two youngest to speak, would you then follow her methods to toilet train your three children in 21 days or less?

Anonymous said...

I recently read about your family in People magazine and I love how you love your children. My daughter who is high functioning autism was not diagnosed until 8 years old. I believe in your family. I would love my daughter to spend one day with your family. My sister lives in Salt Lake Also. I think your foundation is great and would love to help any way I can. I also have fibro and chronic pain. Support is the best from others especially those who walk in your shoes. My e-mail is sheridandml@yahoo.com. Please feel free to email if you need any help with your foundation or research.

Love to you all.
Darcie L.

Liv said...

After years of infertility, we were finally blessed with a beautiful daughter. She started showing delays after she turned one, and we have been working with her, along with teachers and speech and occupational therapists ever since.
We know she is "different", but we also know that she wouldn't be who she is without her differences. And that little person is the most amazing, loving, wonderful child. Every time other parents feel the need to compare her to their children, point out her delays, used to take a little of our joy away from the miracle we were given. But we have learned that only those who care to know her will understand, and no matter her delays, she is still the greatest miracle, and we will always be proud and blessed to have this wonderful, gifted and special child.
Thanks for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

I am no marriage counselor. But I really do hope and recommend Marriage Counseling. As you may already know children alone drive a huge wedge between spouses. There is a very high percentage in divorces in families with members whom have disablities. Marriage counseling can really help by opening up feelings of distress and allowing the partner to know more about where you stand. I feel the counseling will prevent another relapse of breaking down. I know it may be nearly impossible... but have a date night. It will be your time to be alone and rest. Be strong. Trust in the Lord and God Bless. You are doing a great job!

orientalinfluences said...

I say forget all the nasty stuff others have said about your family... The people that have always changed the world are those that can think differently. You have every right to feel blessed with your children... every genius, or great, influential person in the world is such by their ability to be able to see the world differently, and to take angles other people can't. All six of your children can do this. It doesn't matter if other people can't understand the brilliance behind each action of theirs, some people are just too stupid to see the meaning behind something that's a little bit different. I say that's there problem, not yours.

Julzp86 said...

I just read your story for the first time. As a student studying to become a speech language pathologist and work with children possessing a variety of developmental disabilities, I can only hope that parents will follow your example in being so positive, blessed and active in working toward the success of their children. You, your wife, and your children are an inspiration to us all. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Dear "Dad of 6 Autistic Children":

I applaud your attempts to increase awareness about a disease that most don't know anything about. I also commend you for putting the ignorant, judgemental, imbiciles in their places! No one can even make a comment unless they have walked in your shoes at least to some extent. No one really knows what it's like, except you and your wife who deal with it on a daily basis. Any disease creates tension and trouble. Caring for a needy child,raising kids, and keeping a marriage together, in todays society is a huge commitment that only some of us can handle. Our society has become increasingly focused on "entitlement" forgetting our hearts and souls.
My husband and I have 3 boys. Our eldest became an Insulin Dependent Diabetic at 3 years old.
What a life altering disease. Most people don't know anything about Diabetes, many have and continue to ask "can he grow out of it?" Where have these people been? Parenting a small child, with a form of "disability or disease," and trying to explain to him, why he is "different" is the most painful, most difficult thing a parent must do. Just as one person wrote: It's hard enough parenting in todays society, add a serious medical condition and it becomes even more difficult.
I have been criticized many times. One woman even asked me if I had breast fed him. When I replied no, I couldn't, she replied, Oh! Then you caused it! I thought exactly like you. A moronic, uneducated, and more importantly, a judgemental idiot with little "social education."
When commenting on how difficult life can be, I received another moronic comment. "That I should care more about my son than myself." That was from a family member.
You, as a parent know, that we would trade places with our children any day so that they don't suffer and instead we will.
Our lives changed instantly. Can you imagine the pain you inflict on a 3 year old by testing his blood 3-4 times daily, by way of a prick of a finger to get a drop of blood. Or, how about having to give your child 3-4 needles a day to KEEP HIM ALIVE? We must keep him alive and healthy. Most parents don't deal with a life or death situation. You're now responsible to keep him healthy, or potentially, suffer the many consequences of uncontrolled diabetes, which can range from limb amputation, heart disease, to death.
I would often say, WALK in my shoes for 1 day and I am confident you'll give them back before the first day is over. Life with a needy child is more difficult than anything else. It's your child, and all you want is for your child to not only be healthy, but happy as well. When they're not, you want to take their pain away but you are completely powerless.
My son is now 19. He has never gotten over his having diabetes. He always felt different, kids can be cruel, so classmates would make fun of him. He felt isolated and all alone. It's really sad to watch your child hurt because of the ignorance of others. As much as you try to protect them from "evil" people, you can't, they are really all over,ignorant, judgemental, uneducated, heartless people who only care about perfection and themselves. It's out of our control, but maybe these "special" children are supposed to lead the way to a more understanding, compassionate society.
Due to his condition, he became a very angry boy, a very depressed boy, one that was just angry at the world and to this day, still is.
Many people have said "G-d only gives to those who can handle the pressure." Well, they are right. My son, over the years has been to many therapists, to uncover his anger, but to no avail as he may be unaware of what is actually bothering him.
Like you, my husband, and other 2 sons, have suffered along with our eldest/brother. We feel his pain,yet, we have never and will never give up. Our marriage, thankfully, is intact, which, considering all the problems we faced and continue to face, is nothing short of a miracle. G-d has a reason for challenging individuals, which true to form, has made me and my family compassionate, non-judgemental individuals who love all for what they bring to our world. We must find ways for educating the public, and putting pressure on our governments to cure these diseases,instead of supporting the "pharmaceutical industry" which is making millions at the expense of "OUR" children.This alone can contribute to our children not being productive members of society, instead of special members with special messages and special challenges.
I hurt for you, I understand your pain and frustration, and you have my blessings for "health and happiness for all of you."

Carinne said...

I tried to contact you on your website, but it wasn't working. So, I found this and I figured I'd try to contact you here. I was very drawn to your story. My 2nd child, Alex was born with Autism. We have 5 children - he's the only one with the disorder. We are also LDS and I had a few comments from people who thought we shouldn't have had more so that we could focus more on him. I loved hearing about your children. Sarah and Ammon are more like Alex. I loved hearing about them. So often in the media the stories we hear about Autistic children are always high functioning or have Aspergers. I never felt that those stories connected to me. Alex couldn't talk. He used PECS. He screamed alot. Made a lot of messes. Destroyed his bedroom. I felt for you when they said that you have to put their clothes on backwards and tapes their diapers on them. Alex took his clothes off constantly. If we didn't watch him he'd strip naked and pee everywhere. At night he had to wear sleepers and we'd safety pin them shut so that he couldn't get out of them and tape his diapers. STill, he could get out of them sometimes and then he'd smear poop all over his room, walls, windows etc - you get the idea. I spent many hours in tears scrubbing his room while he laughed in the bathtub after a big mess. You probably noticed that I talk about him in the past tense. This past May he passed away. He loved being outdoors and loved the water. THe spring in particular he wanted to be outside SO bad. HE'd got around the house trying the doors constantly trying to get outside. He'd escaped a few times, but we always found him again quickly. We even got an IonKids wristband for him to try and alert us when he escaped. But, one day he got out and even with the alarm from his wristband we couldn't find him fast enough. After 2 hours of searching a friend found him in a lake.

It was in papers and on the news here and a woman wrote into the newspaper calling us horrible parents and saying that we deserved to have criminal charges brought against us. SO - I understand ignorant people.

There is some relief that life is easier now, but there is ALOT of pain without him. THey are special kids. He was always so cheerful even with his affliction. That says alot about his spirit. We keep saying that we're sad for us, but happy for him. He was 7 1/2.

One thing I wanted to tell you about was something I found out about after he had disappeared. Search adn REscue told me about a program called Project Lifesaver (http://www.projectlifesaver.com/). It's a GPS tracking system for people who tend to wander off - Autistic and Alzhemier patients in particular. As far as I know its free and they can find people in a city within a hour - shorter times depending on the city. But, I'd never heard of it before. Not all cities have them and not many people know about it. I've been trying to spread the word about it. I'd hate for this to happen to others.

My husband and I have been talking too and without our son we feel a little lost and "bored" for lack of a better word. We'd love to try and help volunteer with things in relation to Autism. If you needed help with your foundation, etc sometime maybe there is something we could do. Please feel free to contact us.
Carinne
alaskanmom@gmail.com
PS - Love the t-shirts. THere were so many times I wished I had a sign for him to announce his Autism. I always got alot of stares and comments about his behavior from people thinking he was just a bad kid. Also, the day he disappeared a man saw him by the lake playing, but he thought he was just a kid. The man felt really bad afterward and felt guilty for not stopping him, but Alex looked "normal" and was older and people just assumed he was normal at first glance. You had to watch him for a moment to realize there was something wrong. I've often wondered if he had DOwns of something that was more apparent if he would have been saved. Love the T-Shirts!

Anonymous said...

Until they walk a mile in your shoes they will never understand. Thank god you guys are trying to increase awareness. I have a wonderful little boy with possible autism and we get the looks of hate from people when he melts down in public ie supermarkets etc. and weve had biting issues etc etc...GOOD FOR YOU!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how mean-spirited some people can be towards other human beings! Miserable, mean people who must be so unhappy with their lives that they can only feel better by attacking a family and children who did not CHOOSE to be the way they are. They consciously choose to be mean and judgemental and that is horrible.

I am personally blown away by your story. I don't know if we could have been as strong under the same circumstances. I do believe God sent these 6 angels to you knowing you would take very good care of them!

I hope all your kids grow to live happy, productive lives - heck, I know they will with your love and faith and guidance.

Crazy Mom said...

to Carrine:
I am so sorry to hear about your son. Thank goodness for the knowledge of forever families and that you will get to meet him at his best on the other side.
Family and friends have harassed me for the last year about how vocal I am about Autism. Having 3 boys (13,10,7) with varying degrees of Autism/Asperger's plus a young daughter (4) that copies everything they do, I don't see how I could not be vocal. We only discovered the world of Autism 2 years ago, but have learned so much, and appreciate our children so much more now.
Thank you for including the link to Project LifeSaver, I will be checking on that for my kids. People, even those that should be familiar with us like family and church friends, just don't seem to understand that fear that is constantly there for us as parents. My younger boys believe they have super powers and can out run cars or fly off playground equipment.
It's hard to ignore the comments about how controlling we are and how we need to let them experience the world. I can't do it. I'm very happy inside my home protecting my children from the world.

Ettina said...

What a terrible thing to say that you two should be sterilized! Even if you hadn't finished having kids when you found out they were prone to autism, I don't think there'd be anything wrong with having more kids. I'm an autistic young woman and when I'm ready to have kids - not for quite awhile - I'm hoping to have at least one autistic kid. Since I'm 18 and asexual, I suspect I won't be having kids the usual way, so I was thinking I could try to select an autistic-like sperm donor to increase my chances of an autistic kid. I don't view the birth of people like me and my autistic friends (all over the spectrum) as anything that should be prevented. In our society, raising an autistic child is harder, but we're not 'useless eaters' (a Nazi phrase, by the way). Saying that people prone to having disabled children should not have children is eugenics, and it's wrong.

Bryan said...

As a father of a son with autism, I've heard some of the same things you have. I was asked by someone once that if we knew our son had autism before he was born, why did we choose to have him.

I said back, 1. You can't detect it before birth, and 2. My wife and I would NEVER abort ANY baby.

My son was diagnosed with autism when he was about 3. And I wouldn't trade him for anything. He makes me so proud. He's borderline autistic, and is in Cub Scouts and is a very well mannered and well behaived child.

Don't worry about what those people are saying. Because it's pretty obvious they don't know crap about autism. Cause if they did they wouldn't say such stupidity.

Take care and God Bless.

P.S. LOVE the shirts.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 childen diagnosed with Asperger's and know how devastating this feels, with 6 I cannot imagine, all power to you and my thoughts are with you.
My very best wishes
jan

Melissa said...

Hey,
There are several families on the yahoo group 'parenting _autism' group with five, six or seven kids with autism. Just so you know you're not alone.

I have 2 with aspergers, 1 severely autistic, 1 with social anxiety/mutism, and 1 with adhd. (and then two pretty typical children) Our fourth child was born just as the second was diagnosed. The oldest was diagnosed years later with aspergers. However, we STILL chose to have more children. We're not "burdening the world" with autistics. We're having the children that God is sending to us. It sounds odd to justify having six kids with autism by saying that you guys were done with kids before they were diagnosed. We had three after diagnosis, two of whom are completely typical and one who has aspergers. Hmmmm. There are several interesting observations about causation that I won't share here.

Gretchen said...

Wow! I am shocked at the cruel comments you've received! It seems to me that you are just doing your best (and managing) to cope with an impossible situation and that what you really need is support, not judgement! I also think that even if you were begging for money (which you aren't) that it would be understandable! Obviously you need it! Wish I had some to give you but you will be in my prayers!

"the last two were born in Utah (a great place to raise a family, you guys stay out" LOL! Too funny!