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Birmingham Parent magazine

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day - An Open Letter from One Mom

Mother Of Son With Autism Carves A Strong Path for Advocacy From Her Determination To Bond And Connect With Her Child
Many of us may take for granted the fact that when our children were babies, they were cuddly, happy, and connected to us. However, for some families, often those with a child on the autism spectrum, those early bonding moments may seem unattainable or unrealistic.
For one mother in Utah, her incredible determination to bond with her son, Parker, lead to the creation of a product that not only helped her own family, but is now helping other families to reclaim those beautiful bonding moments they may have otherwise missed.

Here is her message to the world, as she strives to broaden the understanding and compassion for those with autism and their families:

When I look at my son, Parker, I am blown away by the journey we are on. As a parent with a special needs child who has been diagnosed with autism, I have my good days and sad days. I say “sad days” because there are days when I feel crushed by the weight of the what if’s.

What if he never goes to prom? What if he never goes to college? What if he never drives? What if he lives with me forever. What if he never understands how much I love him?

I barely remember what my life was like before he was born, let alone what it was like before his autism diagnosis. I’m not sure if it’s due to exhaustion… lack of sleep… or stress. Maybe it’s just the daily ordeal and the culmination of the hardest moments.

I’m bringing this up because over the last year, I really started to notice how my son and I are viewed. In society, at the park, in the grocery store, Starbucks, or even out to dinner with friends. The looks we get when our wacky and sometimes inappropriate behavior comes out -- I see it. I’m a mother. I have eyes in the back of my head and I see it. Always.

I’ve also noticed this on a larger scale, due to my recent involvement as an advocate working in my home state of Utah to increase funding for families with children on the autism spectrum. As the parent of a child with autism, you often have to fight even harder to get them the services and support they need to help them function and to normalize their daily life.

I have also started a company based on giving back to the autism community by donating a portion of sales to autism research. At the end of the day, I am a mother with a son who is viewed as different. He is viewed as less-than. It leaves ME feeling less-than and I am determined to do everything I can to change the way families dealing with autism are treated. My first reaction when my child is treated differently is to fight. To fight for his rights and the rights of others like him.

Our everyday existence continues to confirm my belief that advocating for those with autism and educating the masses is crucial. Society needs to embrace those that march to the beat of a different drum. Each day, I think to myself: “What can I do, as one single mother, to help educate the population about autism and the acceptance of those who are living it?”

I have learned an incredibly valuable lesson thus far on our journey: The fact is, ALL parents stress and stay up at night worrying about their children -- whether they have special needs or not. When it comes down to it, as parents, we have an overwhelming love and desire to see our children happy and healthy. Our worries may manifest themselves in different ways, but in the end, we never worry about anything like we worry about our children. And that is a universal truth.

As you are reading this blog post, I just have one thing to ask of you. Be kind to each other. We are all in this life together. Thank you.

- Kelly Johnson

About Kelly Johnson and Parker Time Potions
Kelly Johnson is the founder of Parker Time Potions pediatric massage oils, and mother to Parker. When Kelly noticed that her toddler son was developing at a “delayed” rate, she wanted to find a way to bond with him as the “normal” avenues of bonding were not effective. Through her research, Kelly discovered that pediatric massage was a meaningful way for her and her son to bond, leading her to formulate her own all-natural Parker Time Potions pediatric massage oils. Her son was since diagnosed with autism and Parker Time now also funds autism research by donating some of its proceeds to autism related causes.

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