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DEBTEVELDAHL
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Autism, Micah and Me......

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


"Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences." Autism Speaks

I love Micah. Micah is my 7 year old, grandson. He is Autistic. Years ago, I read a book called "SON RISE". It was a book about a woman whose son was born with Autism and her heroic efforts to keep him out of an institution and to bring him back from the brink .

Back in the day they knew little about Autism. It can be disabling and it's debilitating. It affects millions of children born every day with a condition on the "spectrum". The spectrum is that wide range of conditions that affect the strengths and challenges of these children. It is a method by which Autism is measured. The spectrum includes many different levels. Children can be severely disabled never walking, talking having to be fed and given 24 hour care and anything in between. Some don't learn the basics like potty training. They may need to wear diapers to counteract poor bladder and bowl control - whether potty trained or not. Often other disorders complicate the Autistic challenges, like dyslexia, depression, anxiety, ADHD, GI problems and sleep disorders to name a few. We are almost positive that Micah is dyslexic. He hasn't been diagnosed yet, but we have noticed with his reading and writing that he may transpose letters, such as writing" on" for the read word" no."

I was there, in the room the night that Micah was born. I had found the Sparkpeople less than one month prior to his birth. I was given the great honor of cutting the cord, so Micah and I have been close, since day one. I never thought that this tiny, little baby would become so important in my own growth and development. I never thought that the Sparkpeople would save my life.

I moved in with my daughter. I had been living with my son and helping he and his wife raise their son, Blaine. Blaine was 3. It was time for him to go to preschool and Jeni, a single, working parent needed my help. That is how Micah became my best friend. As he progressed through his first year, we noticed that he wasn't hitting development markers until later than other children had. As he grew it was harder and harder to feed him. He developed choking problems that scared me to death, because of troubles chewing and swallowing properly. He was slow to roll over, walk and talk. Jeni became worried, so when he was 18 months we had him checked and he was diagnosed with Autism. They can't tell in the beginning, with kids as young as Micah, just how high on the Spectrum these kids are. They told Jeni that he may never eat, walk or talk right. It was possible that he wouldn't develop past the toddler stage. She was devastated and that's when it was my job to jump in and provide as much help as I could. I learned about stoicism, determination, dedication and true love in the months/years that followed. I had no experience with the condition. I knew nothing. All I knew was that I had this challenged, little life in my hands all day long , 7 days a week, while Jeni worked two jobs to make ends meet and went to school. It was grueling and the Sparkpeople was my outlet and my companionship We immediately found out where we could take him for therapy. We started him in occupational and speech therapies immediately after his diagnosis. He was so little and already life had given him huge challenges to overcome. He went to therapy three days a week. I had to relearn how to raise kids. I had no idea how to deal with an Autistic child. I walked, walked and walked him as a baby, because he didn't sleep well and fussed all the time. I was at a loss as to how to make him better. When he was two he was still choking and throwing up because of his difficulties chewing and swallowing, he wasn't walking well and he wasn't talking as well as he should. The speech therapy helped him immensely with language. I have watched this child struggle with the vocal, while we tried signing as a way of communicating with him. He would get so frustrated that he would cry and throw fits, often hurting himself in the process. I had to learn how to deal with the tantrums and melt downs, which could happen anytime, anywhere for no reason, other than the sensory stimulation of lights that were too bright, or a sound that was too loud. Dealing with an autistic child is exhausting. He taught me a patience that I never knew that I possessed and he taught me how to fail, without failing him.

All through this difficult period there was one constant in my life and that was the Sparkpeople. I don't know what I would have done without the Spark that was lit inside me when I joined. I was 40 pounds overweight and dealing with an impossible situation. I was depressed, anxiety ridden and exhausted. Jeni was never home and I felt solely responsible for this little life. Sparkpeople was my lifeline. I joined groups that were of interest to me. Dealing With Depression and Living with Bipolalr Disorder - yes I am bipolar, which made everything that Micah and I were going through much more interesting -and the 5% Challenges plan for living saved me. The friends and support helped me get through some harrowing times and kept me sane and whole. The exercise helped me burn through the depression and anxiety along with my therapist. The friends and conversation helped me deal with both conditions and kept me company while I cared for Micah all day and all night with no stimulation/contact from others. Micah and I were isolated. I had no time for exercise classes, I exercised to the Sparkpeople videos and ordered Coach Nicole's DVDs. I joined in the 5% Challenge for motivation, activity and support later in his development. I was educated about food, eating and what it took to keep me healthy by using the tools and information on site. I needed to lose weight to solve some problems of my own - high blood pressure, high cholesterol lack of exercise and sleep issues. I had to do some things for me in order to care for Micah properly. That was the beginning.

Now, through therapy and hard work, Micah is 7 years old. He is in the first grade and is doing well. He was successfully potty trained, talks up a storm and is bright, happy and healthy - in part, thanks to my Sparkpeople association and the plan for living I developed through my participation in the 5% Challenges. I have lost the 40 pounds, thanks to the Challenges too. I am still a member of both the Dealing with Depression Team and the Living with Bipolar Disorder. I am well medicated and haven't had an major problem in several years. I credit the 5% Challenges with saving my sanity, since 2016 when I first joined the group. The really rough years are over. Temper tantrums still happen, because Micah is a pretty spoiled, only child, but melt downs are almost non- existent. Most behaviors are under control. When he went to preschool and school the heavy weight of complete responsibility was lifted and I had my own time again. Jeni is working only one job now and has time to be home with him. He thrives and that makes me happy. He is literally my best friend and cheer leader. God has been good and I am blessed with the most awesome little boy around.


The 5% Challenge has helped save my life - literally. If you want to eat right, get healthy and stay fit all while having fun, the 5% Challenges are right for you. We emphasize daily activity and reinforce good habits within a team environment. There is friendly competition between teams - 14 in all, so there is a diverse choice. I am a ROWDY REBEL. We are ROWDY and really rebels. If you are interested in what the 5% Challenges can do for you, follow the link below. Push the yes button and you will join the Summer Challenge Community. Pick your team from the PICK YOUR TEAM FORUM and you are on your way.



If you have any questions or need advice on Autism, please go to the Autism Speaks web site and they have resources and information.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MIMULUSBUG
    enjoyed this old blog :-)

    Hope you can post a new blog to update us on your daughter & grandson w/pictures!
    emoticon
    194 days ago
  • MILLER-S
    What a wonderful blog, Deb. Even though it's been a while since you wrote it, I am inspired by it. You and Micah have been through so much together and have come out shining on the other side with good health and happiness. I'm so happy for you both and all your family. God bless you all!!!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    310 days ago
  • SARAHPPP
    Thanks for sharing all about MIcah and autism. He is so lucky to have you. emoticon
    770 days ago
  • MAYIE53
    Wow Deb. It was wonderful getting to know you better and learning about your life with Micah. You two are truly a Godsend for each other. God is good. emoticon
    781 days ago
  • MJK0430
    Deb, I'm a new Rebel and your love shines through for your grandchildren. I am so happy that Micah is thriving! Love to you and your entire family!
    805 days ago
  • ONEBLUEMOON
    Deb, you are a wonder-- a Wonder woman! emoticon I have a niece with two autistic son's, and have heard only secondhand from my sister how much patience, learning, and advocating needs to be employed. And it seems that you have done all that and more. Seeing the pictures you posted recently of Micah's 7th birthday party makes it clear: You are a wonder--! emoticon
    841 days ago
  • GOULDSGRANITE
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon and more. Amazing journey. Thank you for sharing the story about how SP can be a lifeline. Micah is a treasure and so beautiful a picture. I was isolated caring for my elders at home. I feel your experience with Spark as a positive lifeline. We are blessed with SPARK!!! emoticon
    842 days ago
  • O2DEBORAH
    Rowdy Rebel shout out to an amazing lady!!!
    Thank you for sharing your story and what an awesome looking young man Micah is!!!
    Way to gooooo Micah!!!

    so looking forward to reading more of your inspiring posts and getting to know you better during the 5% challenges as I too am committing to 5% and sparks 'for LIFE'.... emoticon emoticon emoticon
    843 days ago
  • ANNIE1114
    I know exactly what you mean about autism. I have a grown daughter on the spectrum. She has Aspergers and still lives with us. Autism is very difficult since every child is different. I am sure you have been an angel in your grandson ‘s life.
    843 days ago
  • BABSDOTTER
    Thank you Deb for making the Rowdy Rebels such a great team. I too have a grandson in the autism spectrum but he's at the high functioning end. He is so bright but has trouble with social cues. The 5% challenge is great for me because of the quiet little reminders of stuff I should know and should do but too often choose the wrong path combined with the desire to not let your team down. I will see what the summer challenge brings...keep us all in track
    843 days ago
  • LPORTER2015
    Wow, Deb your blog is AMAZING! God is so good to us throughout our challenges in life. Thank you for being a great Spark Friend and a great ROWDY REBELS Team Leader!
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    843 days ago
  • no profile photo CD23252497
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    843 days ago
  • CHUBBYNOMORE3
    emoticon That is a ROWDY REBEL YELL! Thank you, my friend, for sharing your and Micah's journey with us. I see now the source of your compassion and patience, which are both boundless. I knew part of your story, and now feel I have seen into your heart. Thank you for the details of your journey. I am glad that you persevered and that your determination has won the day! Please give Micah a big hug for me, my friend. I love the picture of him with that big blue star for his accomplishments! His huge smile says it all! emoticon
    843 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/29/2018 2:49:47 PM
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