Autism Will Touch Your Life

So often we avoid talking about the tough stuff. When someone is going through a difficult or emotional time, many people respond by backing away. They fear offending the person or getting it wrong or not having all the best advice or ability to “fix” the situation. I am guilty of this, even with my closest friends and family.

When it comes to autism, I want to talk about it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that autism now affects 1 in 36 children in the US. Including this handsome little man right here.

What this means is that you are GOING TO cross paths with someone autistic. OFTEN even. They may be in your own family or circle of friends, at your children’s school, the neighborhood playground, or the grocery store…

Autism will touch your life.

Some ideas to support autistic individuals and their families…

✨Lead by example. Your children see the way you are around people who are different.

✨Talk with your kids about autism and beautiful differences.

✨Always presume competence.✨ Nonspeaking does not mean a person cannot communicate, understand you, or that they don’t have feelings. (Or want to play with you! They may really want to, and just not know exactly how to initiate play.)

✨ If a person is not making eye contact, or moving their body in a unique way, do not assume that they are not listening. In fact, that might be HOW they are able to focus on what you are saying. (So don’t talk about them like they’re not there.)

My blue-eyed boy is always listening, watching, learning. He’s taking in every little inch of this big old world. And though he may not say, he wants (and deserves!) to be included. 🖤

Thank you for being here and learning from this boy with us. YOU are helping spread kindness, inclusion, connection, understanding, patience, and so much love.

It isn’t enough to know that autistic people exist.

As we enter World Autism Month, I am excited to share more about my boy with you. He is the reason our little shop, Little Rebels with a Cause exists, and he is a constant reminder that every single person I encounter is so much more than meets the eye, and maybe he will remind you, too.

We share his challenges, progress, joy and everything in between because it isn’t enough for people to just know that autistic people exist.  We want the world to understand the vastness of this spectrum/sphere, including the behaviors, abilities, needs, challenges, and beauty in every single person who is autistic.  

We want people to learn about and celebrate differences.  When someone looks, sounds, smells, and behaves differently than you, how wonderful of an opportunity you have to learn from them!

When you meet someone like my boy, whose brain may work differently than yours, it may take some time and patience to understand the paradox that is his life. How someone as wild and free as the wind can also feel as caged as a bird; with words, thoughts, and feelings often trapped inside of him.

How he needs predictability and order like his sandwich cut a certain way, the same clothes daily, and to constantly see his schedule, but this same boy loves speed, spinning, and falling just to the edge of out of control.  I think all of this is how he feels safe but also feels ALIVE.  

I spent a lot of time trying to untangle all the contradictions inside of this sweet boy, like it had to be one way or another. It doesn’t. He is not something to be untangled or fixed, just understood, supported, and included.  

This blue-eyed boy finds JOY everywhere, and the best part is, he helps others see it too. I hope you get the chance to know him, or someone as uniquely wonderful.

You Can Help Me Teach Them

“People are staring at him because they think he is weird.”

My seven-year-old daughter has always loved and accepted her big brother, who is nine years old and autistic, exactly for who he is: a fun, loving, and unique human who just happens to move through this world a little differently than most.

We had the kind of evening where her brother garnered himself a lot of attention from onlookers. There’s something about a new place, increased demands, sensory overload, and feeling misunderstood that will cause his “indoor voice” to disappear real fast, and dysregulation to set in.

No one get’s to choose where and when this will happen, whether it be on aisle seven at the grocery store or a crowded lobby at sister’s dance class studio.

“They don’t think he is weird,” I assured her. “They just haven’t seen a lot of people act or speak the way he does before, so they are curious.”

Sometimes I think my skin is thick. That I’ve got this advocating and acceptance thing down. And that the stares don’t bother me. But if I am honest, that is not all the way true. I remind myself that the stares do not bother him one bit, and that is what matters.

And sometimes, conversations with a sweet seven-year-old sting a little, deep in my mama heart. The words and feelings echo and linger. Like the time she asked if her brother would have autism forever, or if he loved her.

And sometimes the stares are just a simple and exhausting reminder that we have so much work to do, to increase autism awareness and acceptance in this world. To make it easier for our son, and so many others, to navigate their way through it and be met with grace and patience along the way.

“It’s because he has autism, but no one knows what autism is. That’s why they think he’s weird,” she said.

“That’s why we teach them about autism, sweetie. You can help me teach them.”

Let’s Get {Re}Acquainted!

I’m Lauren, the owner/operator/coordinator-of-chaos over here at Wilson’s Climb & Little Rebels with a Cause. I started this blog & clothing brand with our curious nine-year-old son in mind. He was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old and has always been my constant reminder that EVERYONE is going through so much more than what meets the eye.

I would do anything for this boy to be understood. For him to be met with kindness, patience, grace, and encouragement as he moves through this world a little differently than most.

The more awareness & acceptance of differences there are in this world, the easier it may be for our boy, and so many others, to navigate through it. We believe EVERYbody deserves to be loved, included, & accepted.

Meet my guy!

Wilson is a salty boy. He would choose potato chips over sweets any day. He LOVES all things pirates, trains, music, & art.  He’s taught us that marching to the beat of your very own drum is the way it should be.

My background was in magazines & advertising before making the jump back into restaurant/retail and eventually launching Little Rebels with a Cause. Besides the favors I call in constantly from friends & family (art, modeling, hauling boxes, to name a few), LR is still a one-woman show. I am looking forward to finding ways for teens & adults with disabilities to gain work experience here down the road.

I do a real, legit small-business-happy-dance in our small Oregon shop when we receive your orders, especially thinking about the conversations that will follow these tees around.

This little shop is making waves of change, awareness, & inclusion because of YOU! I am so thankful for you all and your belief in our small biz with a big mission.

I am constantly dreaming up designs that will start conversations & help us advocate for ourselves and others, and sourcing the softest, highest-quality garments that the whole family will feel good in. Check back often as the new arrivals continue to roll in!

Simple Inclusion. It Matters.

For the first time, Wilson is participating in Show-and-Tell at school today. I told him to pick just one toy to bring to school and show his friends and assured him it would go right back home where it belongs after school. His wonderful teachers had us write up some information about the toy to help Wilson answer potential questions that classmates will ask about it.

This is inclusion. The kind that is so simple but pings me in the deepest part of my mama heart.

These are the kinds of things that Wilson hasn’t always participated in. With limited verbal communication, he often has a hard time understanding what is being asked of him. I could pick an item for him and send it with him to celebrate/share/join in the fun but unless there is support/facilitation from teachers, it would likely just remain in his backpack all day.

Spontaneous questions are hard for him to answer, so the thoughtfulness in getting the information about his toy to help support him in that conversation with classmates is so beautiful.

He has grown so much.  He understood exactly what was being asked and marched up to his toy closet.

He chose his Mickey Mouse Jack in the box.

For his ninth birthday, our amazing friends scored a Mickey Mouse Jack in the Box, knowing how much our guy loves Mickey and is enamored with Jack in the Boxes of any variety.

I am writing this for everyone.

I often remind myself why I am here, sharing this boy’s story. I wonder who is listening.

I know parents who have struggled to find new Barney toys for their twelve-year-old, or a Paw Patrol shirt for their teen. As caregivers, I think we all find that point where the whole “age-appropriate toy” thing flies out the window, no longer stings, and we just want the thing that will make our kids HAPPY. You are not alone no matter where you are in this journey.

For the teachers, friends, and family who meet and celebrate our kids right where they are… thank you, it really means everything.

Sometimes the simplest things (kindness + inclusion) are actually really, really big things in someone else’s world.

I share this boy’s journey because I want everyone to see the challenges, all the hard work, and the reminder that everyone is fighting a battle you cannot see.  But I also want you to see ALL. THE. JOY. It’s everywhere. It’s not missing or lacking or sad because it is sometimes found in different ways or places or things.

Different. Not less.

Also pictured: Auntie gave him a new pirate costume and ship for Christmas and YO-HO MATEY you better believe we had a fabulous Christmas with Captain Wilson.

Nothing Comes without Hard Work.

Nothing comes to this boy without hard work.

Wilson is nine years old and autistic, and procedures like this used to rock. our. world. Anxiety, communication breakdowns, new environments, sensory processing overload coupled with every-other-unknown that would come our way.

So, when Wilson’s doctor ordered a routine EKG for him, I felt all of the above come flooding back.

He got to work. He practiced with his teachers and therapists, all the way down to putting the stickers on and laying still until the doctor says they can be removed.

He watched videos and social stories to help him know what to expect.

We continued to work on waiting and flexibility with his schedule across various environments.

He was ready, and he did amazing.

Whenever I have my doubts/fears, this kid shows the way. I’m so proud of him.

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Thank you for being so kind to our boy today. Wilson is nine years old and autistic, and these kinds of activities are not always possible for him, as crowded malls and long lines often lead to anxiety and sensory overload.

But today he spotted you on our favorite small family farm and patiently waited for his turn to see you up close.

He didn’t know how to answer when you asked what he would like for Christmas.  Those kinds of questions are hard for him to find the words for. But as his mom, I can tell you it is this. These moments. You’re pure magic to him. 

He doesn’t know about the latest games and toys for kids his age. He has never asked us for something like that. But he knows the magic of Christmas. And he celebrates it every day, beginning in October.

You listened as he scripted about his favorite holiday books and characters, and asked more questions that went unanswered.

He continued to stand in awe when his turn for a visit was over. He quietly watched you from afar, taking in your every move. You should know that he doesn’t usually do this. He’s always moving, spinning, jumping, and dancing onto the next thing.

I want you to know that your kindness & patience matters. 

Not just to him.

But to a mom and dad who have waited a long time for these moments, too. 

You probably already know all of this, but I think sometimes others forget. That the simple, little things might be really, very big things in someone else’s world.

Thank you,

Love Wilson’s mom 

Be Kind & Include this Halloween

I will admit I did a lot of judging on Halloween before I had kids of my own. Kids that appeared to be “too old” for trick-or-treating, kids that came across as rude because they didn’t say “trick-or-treat” or “thank you” and kids that seemed to not even bother putting a costume on…

Wilson changed all of that.  This kid has taught me so much about doing things in his own time. I’ve also had a front row seat to see how hard he has worked to do any one of those things mentioned above, let alone all at once.  

This Halloween, remember that many kids communicate and process their environment in unique ways. If someone looks “too old” for trick-or-treating, they could be developmentally delayed. Think about our guy, Wilson. He is nine years old and autistic, and this might his first year to be able to wear a costume AND say “trick-or-treat”. Should that be short-lived just because he grows bigger? 

Some might not be able to say “trick-or-treat” or wear a costume but trust me, they deserve the candy.

They may not say “thank you” but I promise, they feel it.

Please be patient, kind, & inclusive.

This boy loves Halloween. He adores pumpkins and would wheelbarrow the whole patch home if we let him. He plays with his pumpkins, acts out songs or scenes, and checks on them before bed.

He wears all kinds of costumes throughout the year, most often Olaf from Frozen or pirate gear.

Though he has never wanted to put a costume on for Halloween night.

He likely hasn’t understood the point of it, nor enjoyed the pressure of the situation where we are telling him it’s time to wear a costume.  

Again, he finds SO MUCH JOY in this holiday. For him, it isn’t about the candy. In fact, he’d be more interested in what is going on in your living room versus what you have in the Halloween bowl out front.

He might take a piece of candy, but he’ll have no intention of eating it. His sensory processing and motor planning difficulties keep him on a strict diet right down to preferred brands of cheese and bread.

Through listening to his favorite Halloween stories and shows, he knows now that this is what you do. You take the candy, and you put it in the beloved pumpkin pale. So, he just might try it this year.

Either way, he will be so HAPPY to be pointing out spiders, skeletons, witches, ghosts and most of all, PUMPKINS!!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!!

We practiced a little trick-or-treating at a friends house, Wilson did great!

This is NINE✨

He loves music by the Beatles and watching Teletubbies & Toy Story.

He shouts “choo choo!” whenever he sees a train and quacks at ducks and creates beautiful pieces of art.

He dresses like a pirate & craves movement.

He is curious, adventurous, and has eaten the same sandwich every day for years.

He is gentle and tender.

He is courage and resilience.

He is simple and complicated.

He forgives. 

He never gives up.

He is fierce and fragile.

His joy is magnetic.

He cannot be summed up in a cute little box labeled “AUTISM”. Nope.  Trying to summarize him is more like trying to catch and examine the wind.

He is magic.

Love this One of a Kind kid of mine.

Some photos from the day…

Listen With Me

I want so much for this boy, above all, to just be understood.

I don’t care if he finds his voice through a device, or a drawing, I just want him to be heard.

A boy who was built differently than most.

Whose words get lost while intention and thoughts remain.

One who fights daily to just be calm in his body and peaceful in his mind.

His favorite color is red, though he’s never once told me this. I just know.

I also know that he’ll tolerate wearing blue, but only on some days.

Sometimes the world is too much for a boy who feels everything.

So, we’ll have to change the world.

He listens, even when he doesn’t respond.

He knows, even though he may not say.

I want his laugh to be shared and his efforts to be acknowledged.

This boy who jumps and jumps to share the pure joy radiating through his body.

I want people to see that.

The jumping and the joy.

The resilience.

The blue shoes.

Being his mom means listening to a million things that are not said. Or trying to.

I am trying to listen.

Please, try to listen with me.