Posted: April 2, 2020 in: Events

Connecting, World Autism Awareness Day, and Supporting a Small Business By Stephanie Castonguay Griebel

This morning as I sat down to write an email to a client, I found myself struggling with the opening lines.  I hope you are well, just doesn’t feel right anymore.  In this time when we are all craving (well most of us anyway) more social interaction, I felt that I had to share something personal to give her a sense of connection.  For those of you who know me, you also know that on most days I’m happy to share a lot of information about my life.  As clients, you share SO much with us, it’s only right that I give you a glimpse into my world.   Today, if I can provide a sense of connection, a moment of relief or distraction from the virus and the feelings of being alone and isolated, I’ll do it.  With that in mind, I shared my small moment of joy from my morning with her, and now I want to share it and the backstory with you.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  In past years, this date would have just been April 2nd to me – the day after my papa’s birthday, a nice spring day, or a date with nice round numbers.   (A financial planner has to like numbers! 😊 )  However, this April 2nd is different – I have a 6 yr old son with autism and I’m proud to celebrate this day.  I celebrate now, 3 years after his diagnosis, because something inside of me has shifted.

Parenting a child with autism has a way of taking you through a wide range of emotions.  One day you can be absolutely euphoric over a small step of growth – conceived by most as so small or insignificant, but to you it is a world of progress.  Other days you are absolutely beaten down and ready to crawl under the covers and not come out.  It is a journey to parent a child with autism and you have to take each day as it comes.

Most days, I wake up and feel like whatever the day (or Dylan) throws at me, I’ve got this.  I feel like a warrior.  Often, I feel like a lone warrior, as many friends and family don’t understand, even though they have the best of intentions and want to understand.

Clients often comment to me, “I don’t know how you do it.  I give you credit.”  THANK YOU!!!!  I do it because, as is often the case with hard things in life, I have no choice.  Though recently, this has started to shift and in part, is due to the influence of clients’ stories and the grace they grant me.  So, thank you!  I’m learning to appreciate the days with Dylan more – even the difficult ones, because it is those that make the euphoric moments that much sweeter.

Recently while binge-watching the Netflix series, Atypical, I spotted an autism momma wearing an attractive puzzle-piece necklace.  At that moment, I knew I wanted my own necklace.  I wanted to wear it proudly like a warrior would wear a badge of honor.  I needed to honor this part of my life and send a symbol to other autism families – You’re not alone, I see you!  As any modern day shopper would do, I set out on my quest for this necklace from the comforts of my couch on a little link called www.google.com.  To my surprise, I wasn’t finding much.  There were several puzzle-piece necklaces, but none like the one I saw on Atypical and none with the modern edge I desired.  I was bummed, until…

I remembered that I had a friend that makes jewelry that I LOVE!  Leesa Storfer, the creator and designer of Forever Linked and Furever Linked creates modern, fun, inspired pieces of jewelry to honor loved ones and pets.  I describe her work as a modern-day locket with a feel-good factor.  Aside from an attractive design, the pieces have a tactile element.  The pieces are made to be touched and felt.  As an ASD momma, we know how powerful the sense of touch can be!  So, as two friends did pre-quarantine era, we met over a Starbucks to discuss what I was looking for.  Leesa instantly got it and ran with it.

Yesterday, a package arrived on my doorstep and it was from Leesa.  It was the perfect quarantine day surprise.  I knew it was my necklace.  What perfect timing, too, as April is autism awareness month! I savored every moment of having that package in my hands, just waiting to open in.  The arrival of my necklace brought me to tears.  I know it sounds silly, really.  Especially with all that is going on in the world, but for today, this is my few minutes of normalcy.  That normalcy is me – a warrior, appreciating being a mom to a son with autism.

Today I wear it proudly and share it with you in recognition of World Autism Awareness Day.  If you know any warriors that deserve or want one of these badges of honor, please reach out to Leesa and check out the designs at https://forever-linked.com/.  I also encourage you to check out her other pieces as they serve as a reminder of connection we share with our loved ones.

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