Autism Family Adventures – An Interview with Bonnie

Bonnie is one of the first Moms to blog about autism. Writing on several sites on the web, Bonnie shares her wisdom and a peek into her life as a single mother of two children with Autism.

Tell me a little about yourself and your family.

My name is Bonnie Sayers, also known on the web as “autismfamily”. I have been writing about single parenting two kids with autism since January of 2000 when I joined I was the only person people knew with two kids on the autism spectrum.

Nicholas is now thirteen years old in the seventh grade. He is high functioning, likes to draw animals and is interested in working with animals either at the Zoo or an Animal Sanctuary.

Matthew turned twelve over the summer, is nonverbal and not yet toilet trained. He just entered the sixth grade starting Middle School in an MRS class (Mental Retardation Severe) instead of an autism class due to the schools here in Los Angeles being year round. Matthew uses a Go Talk 9+ device for communicating his needs at school.

Tell me more about your children’s disabilities. Did you know when they were born that they had disabilities? If not, how did you feel when you discovered it?

Nicholas and Matthew are fifteen months apart and on opposite ends of the autism spectrum. Nicholas was a late walker, which concerned me and he lined up toys and was not interested in other kids at the park. He only had a few words. I first read the term “autistic-like” on a speech assessment and then ordered all the documents via the fax line at the Autism Society of America.

There was a Behaviorist funded that came twice a week, yet she did not seem to notice Matthew touching the walls, flipping on the light switches and playing with water. I got a copy of the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) and realized that Matthew was on the spectrum. The Psychologist at the Regional Center was quite certain it was only a matter of time before Matthew got the diagnosis.

You blog a lot about your children’s issues, and that is so valuable to me and I’m sure, to others that read your blog. How did you go about making the decision to blog about them? What do you personally get out of blogging about them and their issues?

Since I freely discussed my kids in my reviews at epinions someone from that site contacted me about BellaOnline looking for an autism editor and thought of me. I applied for the volunteer position and submitted some sample articles. I have been writing there since June of 2005. Then in August of 2008 I started a blog since I felt like I was missing out due to not having a comment system at the site.

How have your children’s disability affected you as a person and as a mother? What did you do right? What do you wish you had done differently?

The only difference for me is that I am staying a single parent and not dating. I do not want to risk their safety by letting a stranger into their lives and take my attention away from them. I wish I had taken them both to get swimming lessons and visited the beach, but as a single parent with no family or help that was an impossible thing to try on my own. I do hope to learn more about Special Olympics for Matthew to try with track since he can run and skip very well and over the years this has been suggested to me.

What do you want other parents fighting the same fight to know?

I am not fighting any fight, just living our lives day to day. I want to survive their puberty stage and get through menopause without losing my sanity.

Make sure to visit Bonnie at both her Bellaonline site and her Autism Family Adventures blog!

Deborah can be found writing here at 5MFSN every Sunday and Wednesday, and can also be found at Pipecleaner Dreams.

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