I pray that my combination of words and pictures reach you in more ways than I can ever imagine.  The purpose of this blog is to share with you the things that I see and feel, and maybe out of the two of those you are able to take away something that you may not have had before.  It has been a while since the last time I have shared anything with you, and I think that it is better that way.  I only write when I really feel that I can be most effective, and this particular entry deserves that title.



This story begins on a Friday night trip to the UniverSoul Circus, which by the way is amazing and I would highly recommend going if you get the chance.  Amusements such as the circus, which you and I can easily take for granted posses a huge challenge for people on the autism spectrum.  I cannot imagine experiencing such a thing as sensory overload, but my son knows all too well what that feels like.  He is far too young to explain it to me himself, but I see it and there is nothing that I can do about it, and that is what hurts the most.  


By the way...  He did not spell "below" incorrectly.  This is supposed to be "bellow" (look it up)

By the way...  He did not spell "below" incorrectly.  This is supposed to be "bellow" (look it up)

One of the challenges of having a child on the autism spectrum while having two other children is the practice of inclusion.  There is nothing that determines as to whether or not a new adventure will be accepted or rejected, but that question cannot be answered until you are on that bridge.  I mentioned the UniverSoul Circus earlier, and that was one of those challenges.  We believe in giving him the opportunity, and if he likes it then we are good, and if he does not then we have a backup plan.  Well this time he wasn't having it and the circus was not the move for the night.  So after waiting for a little while, I took him to my mother-in-laws and he had a peaceful evening while we were at the circus.

As a parent you really want the best for your child, but we do not always know what is best.  While to me he may be missing out on an opportunity to see the circus, he would much rather spend the time in a quiet place away from noise and commotion, and that is not easy to understand.  I cried all the way to her house because I want my son to enjoy things, and I feel that he may miss out on amazing opportunities, but I now know that feeling that way is partly because of my own selfishness.



Now that we've gotten all of that out of the way, let us move to the positive part of the story.  I know that you all have been wondering (or maybe not), what the heck these letters have to do with the circus, and to tell you honestly, they have nothing to do with it.  This story is about how God can take your doubts and show you the blessings that should take their place.

It is so easy to allow the negative to overshadow the positive, even when the negative is not really negative.  Autism is not a negative thing, but it is very easy to place a unique way of thinking into a category associated with a disability.  While my son may be what many would consider socially awkward, he is quite a genius and while I am biased in a way, it is still very true.  Embracing the awesome and amazing gives hope and encourages growth, and as parents we have to be an example of what that means.




It all started with the word Artistic...

We have a playroom in our house and it is filled with all sorts of fun things.  One of those fun things are big and small foam letters.  Letters are my sons thing and that is what he uses to escape whenever he feels that he needs to do so.  We have learned to embrace and encourage that, which has manifested into something that I feel is quite amazing.  My son started reading and spelling at around 3 years old, and although he will be entering kindergarten this coming year he now reads on a second grade level.  It is so fascinating when your children exceed your expectations, and even more fascinating when those experiences come at the right time.  

Let's take a trip back to the first photo in this story (I will give you a moment to go and come back).  It started out with him beginning to spell the word "Artisic", which at first glance appeared to be "Autistic".  I asked him what he was spelling, and what he said sounded like "Autistic", but ended up actually being "Artistic".  From that point he ended up spelling other words on his own and he was on a roll.  One after the other he started to spell out different words, and these were not your average everyday words.  

I will let you take a look for yourself...





Thank you so much for taking the time to read what I had to say, and I would hope that you leave from here with a little more than you came with.  I would encourage you to share this if you would like, and maybe someone can be blessed by what is written here.  

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"More Than a Picture"

The first sentence is always the most difficult to start, because it truly does set the tone for the story.  I am never good at starting the story, but you have to start somewhere and I decided to start here.  So I am writing this in my dining room while my children are having their bedtime snack, and my house is very loud, but it keeps me motivated.  My experience previewing the upcoming exhibit today at the National Museum of African American History and Culture was motivating, humbling, and amazing and I only wish that you take the opportunity to experience it when it opens on May 5th.  


The "More Than a Picture" exhibit is an amazing collection of photographs taken by some of the most amazing African-American photographers and today I had the pleasure to see an early preview of the exhibit before it opens to the public.  My goal today is not to share with you a bunch of photos of photos, because that would be boring but what I would like to do is share with you a few things that will maybe inspire you to experience it for yourself.  

Robert Whitman captured this photo of a young artist named Prince in 1977 which was a year before the release of his first album outside of Schmitt's music store in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

With all things, there are things that truly stand out amongst others, and that is the person behind that lens.  I love the spirit of a truly gifted photographer, because the way that they see the world resonates through their personality and that is a very admirable trait.  Today I had the opportunity to meet Sharon Farmer, who was the first African-American woman to be hired as a White House Photographer, and the first female to be director of the White House Photography office.  You would not believe her spirit, her energy, and her humility.  There are so many egos in the world of photography in todays age and that positive spirit is always very refreshing.  

I want to leave you with a quote that Ms. Farmer gave us and also a couple of minutes of her speaking to a group of us today.  Please take the time to view the video in it's entirety and share if you wish.  

"The thing about humanity is being a human" - Sharon Farmer

Sharon Farmer

More Than a Picture