We are a family of 8; parents, Kyle and Shelly – our two oldest boys, Alek and Zak – then there’s Erik and Ricky (more on them below) – and finally, the twins, Jack and Chloe. We are your average everyday family (aside from the fact that there are 8 of us) that LOVES to laugh.
About Erik and Ricky
Erik was born in 1999 and was diagnosed as PDD-NOS (autism spectrum disorder) at the age of 5. Erik is a child of extremes – either extremely happy – or extremely – well, extremely UNHAPPY – and his state of being can turn on a dime. Luckily for us he spends most of his time in a state of happiness. Up until he was diagnosed, we were unaware that there was a “spectrum” of autism and just assumed – because of his lack of responsiveness – we had lost all ability to effectively discipline, encourage and influence our children. In our minds, we had just lost all ability to be effective parents. I vividly remember looking over at my wife, Shelly, and feeling that we both experienced a sense of relief when he was diagnosed. We NOW knew what we were up against and could get to work.
Rick – you’d better call him Ricky, or he’ll correct you – was born in 2003 and was diagnosed as PDD-NOS (autism spectrum disorder) at the age of 4. Up until he was diagnosed, we were unsure if he was “on the spectrum” OR was just learning unusual behavior from his older brother Erik. Maybe deep down we wanted him to be unaffected, but I think we – deep down – knew he was. Ricky has a love for laughter. He is always smiling, cracking jokes and trying his hardest to keep everyone else – including Erik – in stitches. He is also a physical freak – prompting professionals – more than once – to assume we had him on a workout regime. Not so.
Erik and Ricky are the best of friends and would be lost without each other. Neither of them wake up, spend their days, or go to sleep without knowing where their brother is at all times.
Why Did We Start AutismLaughterTherapy?
Sometimes WHILE things are happening, it’s not very funny. But almost always when we retold of events or recounted situations that were difficult or wacky or zany – sometimes outrageous – we would recall those memories with laughter and HUGE smiles on our faces.
As a family, we decided that if we were going to enjoy those moments so much LATER, we should go ahead and try to enjoy them WHILE they were happening. At least we should make an effort to THRIVE IN THE CHAOS.
It changed our outlook completely.
AFTER we changed our approach, when crazy, or zany, or wacky, or difficult situations would occur, we went from saying, “Oh, NO!” to “Oh YEAH!”
This approach lead to more love, more joy, more happiness and much less worry and fear. Obviously, we still have difficulties – we have 2 boys affected by Autism – but NOW, we THRIVE.
This site, and what we teach in our programs and seminars is how to THRIVE in CHAOS, and how to LAUGH and find the JOY in raising and working with people with special needs.
If you parent or work with children – or adults – affected by autism, you have probably been exposed to all of the available resources. If you go to the bookstore you’ll see more than enough books on identifying, teaching, potty-training, advocates, prevention, administration, parenting, well – you name it.
But there is one overwhelmingly absent category. It’s the category that details the JOY, the ZANINESS and the LAUGHTER that can result from those that have no fear of rejection, retribution and sometimes no conscience.
The internet can be the same way. There are organizations, forums and sites that focus on the signs, the cures, wanderers, raising money, raising awareness, answering questions, whom to blame, treatments, facts, activities and all the others things you can find in the book stores.
As we reviewed more and more of these resources it became apparent that there were very few sources designed to boost the spirits of those that work so hard day-in and day-out.
This site – our programs and seminars will do just that. You’ve finally found a resource to raise your spirits, maybe give you a good laugh or two, and let you know that you are not alone. There are also tips and techniques to help you keep your spirits high as you deal with the day-to-day grind that can be raising children with special needs.
It can be hard; it can be frustrating; it can seem never ending; We understand there can be pain. There can be worry, concern, and fear for their future. But it can also be rewarding, funny and fulfilling. Working with those affected by autism – regardless of the example of most of the information out there – does not equal pain, suffering and misery. It can equal anything you want.
We know autism isn’t funny. But YOU WILL laugh at some of the things my boys have done over the years. And remember, if you’re laughing, you can’t be crying. I guess unless you’re laughing so hard you are crying.
I’ve been reading and laughing. I would certainly encourage other parents of autistic children to post their stories. What a great idea Kyle! Thank you for sharing.
The site is awesome! I am just excited to see this from the beginning. I know that the Autism world needs more of these types of resources. I know this will touch a lot of people’s lives for the better. Nice job!
This is a great site Kyle. I told my sister about it. She has a daughter who is autistic. Thanks.