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I normally write these posts on World Autism Awareness Day, but this year I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to write until now. Also, I have a lot to say and wanted to let my thoughts coalesce into a more solid form prior to posting my annual self assessment. I like to take stock of where my family has been and where we are now, and I finally feel ready to do that.

First and most importantly, Raymond is doing well. After going through absolute hell the first half of the school year we finally had the supports put in place to help him be successful. Now that he is properly supported he is shining again. We have more language, more engagement and more social interest than ever before. He is consistently completing work on a second and third grade level even though we kept him back in first grade.

Second, our family is doing wonderfully thanks to the addition of our amazingl therapy dog Blue. You can see my other posts on Blue here on the site, and I’m preparing to post a huge update on Blue in the next week or so. Blue has lowered our overall stress level and, I believe, is a creature of pure love that was sent here by some celestial force.

Third, my wife and I have grown both as people and as advocates. We have learned how to parent using positive reinforcement instead of folksy but ineffective reactions. We understand both IDEA and Section 504 much better, and can effectively argue discrimination with the most well trained school officials. Most importantly, we have not lost our love for each other, as our shared struggle has only brought us closer.

Fourth,  I have finally managed to bring the Autism Society of Northern Virginia into our local community with our first Autism Acceptance Walk. You can check out the details online at http://autismacceptance.org/. We also managed to put together our first Sensory Friendly Movie with the help of Muvico. Hopefully we can have some more, and soon!

Finally I want to thank everyone who has helped us and continues to help us. I want to thank the people who believe in Raymond, because he is an incredible kid and deserves that belief. I want to thank our friends who stand by us even when we’re having a rough time. I want to thank Don and Karen, my in laws, for everything they do for us. We literally could not do it without you. And in closing, I want to thank my incredible wife Kelly, without whom none of this would be possible. I love you.

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