Hi! My name is Kristen and I’m the oldest of nine children (3 girls & 6 boys), I married the man of my dreams just two weeks after I graduated from high school in 1990, I’m mother to four fabulous kids (2 girls & 2 boys), I’ve been told I’m extremely intelligent, & regardless of what some people may say, I’m not perfect. I worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a bunch of different positions and loved learning as much as I did while I was there. I struggle every day with depression and in 2009 I had a breaking moment and attempted suicide which landed me in a “care facility” for a month. My two boys have been diagnosed with PDD-NOS with a final diagnosis on Asperger’s Syndrome. They also have suffered from seizures, which we were told is not uncommon for Aspies. Every day when the phone rings I hold my breath until I see who the caller is because I’m praying that it’s not the school calling with another issue that needs dealt with.
I LOVE nature and everything outdoors. My ideal day would be spent in the mountains slouched in my hammock surrounded by lush greenery and the sounds of water flowing lazily over rocks. Birds would be singing, insects would be buzzing (but not right next to me) and the occasional animal would wander by stopping only to check out what’s happening and then moving along to wherever it’s going. The campfire would always be burning, even in the heat of the day, because the smell of fresh burning wood is so peaceful to me. My husband and children would be chattering and casting fishing lines, occasionally catching a yummy fish for dinner, but more often just enjoying themselves and the freedom of having nothing to do. Dinner would be some delicious creation my husband has concocted in Dutch ovens and the smell would be blissful. Time would move slower and the hectic confusion of daily life would be replaced with peace and contentment.
In my dream world, there would be no autism. Plain and simple. If I won the lottery or found a mountain of money I would use it to help find a cure. Autistics are some of the most intelligent, honest, special people on earth. They can’t always express themselves and are often shunned by “normal” people, but there is a sweet innocence in all of them that anyone blessed enough to be involved in their lives will be changed forever. I admit it’s a daily test of my patience to have two of these sweet angels in my life, but they have taught me new and exciting ways to look at the world and everything in it. I have learned to slow down and breathe deeply. I have learned to unlearn and do things differently. I have learned that unique, odd and eccentric are good qualities. I never dreamed that I would have a disabled child much less two. I mean, how many little girls play house or dolls and say, “my baby is handicapped” or “my baby is broken”. It just doesn’t happen, but when it does and after you’ve accepted that things aren’t as perfect as you dreamed it would be, you learn and experience a wonderful world that few people have the opportunity to see. Yes, it’s a struggle and yes, I’m tired. But if I don’t stand up for my kids and advocate on their behalf, how will they ever become the amazing contributors to society that I know they can be? They will succeed and I’ll sleep later.