Thankfully “Odin’s Story” went viral and social media gave a real problem the attention it deserves! For those who aren’t aware, Odin Camus is a 13 year old boy from Peterborough who has Asperger’s Syndrome (on the Autism Spectrum) and struggles with bullying and being ostracized by his peers. Last weekend, he invited friends to his birthday get together and did not receive one “yes.” As a way to improve Odin’s day, his Mom, Melissa, reached out to her contacts on social media and asked them to text Odin a birthday message on his new phone. WELL, her request grew legs and Odin had a birthday to rival all birthdays! He has appeared on television but most importantly has shed light on what it is like to grow up being “different.” I was very touched by this story. It gave me the initiative to share our family’s story and a recent incident that cut me to the core. It truly hurts to see your son hurting.
I know first- hand how it feels to be THAT Mom. I have four sons (15, 11, 9 and 6). That in itself makes for a busy, interesting household. To add to the mix my 11 year old son, Anderson, has Fragile X (a genetic impairment), ASD, ADHD and ODD. Anderson can sometimes be a challenge for both his adult family and his brothers. Anderson has a hard time regulating himself during transitions. Sometimes, this leads our family to look like a ‘circus side show.’ I am aware that seeing a young boy yelling, hitting me and swearing is not pretty to look at. However, Anderson is a PERSON! He just has a hard time with self-regulation.
He is a super handsome young man!
He has the best sense of humour, he is loving, kind and wise beyond his years.
He may be the boy without many peer friends but the adults who know him love him to bits! I can’t count the funny Anderson stories we continually share.
Anderson doesn’t forget ANYTHING. So it can be very frustrating, disappointing and heartbreaking to witness adults in his community judging him. Imagine his pain.
Anderson didn’t ASK for this genetic difference and we didn’t know it was a part of my genetic make-up to pass on to him. However, all things considered, I wouldn’t trade having Anderson in my life for anything. He has taught me more about myself and the world than all of my life experiences combined. He will grow into an amazing man. He may not share the same life milestones as others his age. But I will never fail to provide him with great life experiences. Together with Anderson’s determination, his family, our true friends, his therapists, awesome teachers, school staff, and EAs we will help Anderson to become the BEST he can be. He is already reaching milestones we were told he wouldn’t meet. We won’t EVER give up!
In light of Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd and Odin’s story I feel compelled to share that stigma still exists in our small town. I encourage everyone to talk to your children and teach them understanding and sensitivity. Parents have the power to model positive behaviour. Be the adult you want your child to be. As a family, please view the awareness video that is now available through www.73z.a99.myftpupload.com. Teach yourselves and your children about the importance of inclusivity and acceptance.
Like Odin’s Mom, I will continue to be THAT Mom, forever Anderson’s advocate. I used to be a snobby teenager who was afraid of anyone remotely different. As a teen, I chose to challenge my fears and grow. As an adult, being blessed with Anderson has opened my heart and my mind. For that, my son, I thank you! You are my hero and an incredible human being. Together we’ve got this!
By Lori in Acton