When her son (who has brain damage from a birth injury) was also diagnosed with autism a few months ago at the age of four, Meredith Masony felt that having a diagnosis frankly hasn’t made her feel any better, or that putting a label on his condition hasn’t given her some peace as she thought it would. But looking back, she also noted that her son has been displaying signs of autism for a long time without her realizing it. Some of the things she saw was his need for a safe place to decompress (in this case, the closet), the level of rage he can display in the blink of an eye, his tendency to ask repetitive questions (even after they have been answered), his habit of humming and rocking back and forth to soothe himself, and his need to have things a certain way (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Living with autism hasn’t been and will not be easy for them; but she hopes that time, talking, learning, listening, and letting go are hopefully the next phase of this journey.
I would be the first person to admit that when I have to deal with a complicated situation or I am moving through unchartered territory in my life, that my go-to move is to search the internet for answers. That’s why this week I decided to share something personal that my family and I are currently experiencing, in the hopes that it might be of help to someone going through a similar situation. As my brother Danny, who has autism, grew up and reached adulthood there has been a looming uncertainty about what the next step in his life would be, and who would take care of him when my parents were no longer able to. My family has been an active advocate for adults with disabilities for decades, enough to land my brother and my Mom on the cover of Newsweek Magazine in 2006, but that didn’t mean that my brother’s future was anywhere near set in stone. Even for the most active parents and caretakers, the task of finding services for our loved ones with special needs is an incredibly daunting task. Fast Forward to 2017 and it just so happens that about a month ago we were notified of a vacancy in a supervised apartment in the neighbouring town, and from there everything has moved incredibly quickly, and in the blink of an eye my brother will be moving into his new home in just a few days.
At first, simply making the decision to commit to such a significant change in my brother’s and my family’s lives was difficult. Of course what we ultimately were trying to determine was whether moving to this supervised apartment was the best move for my brother’s happiness, well-being, and quality of life. Even for a person with exceptional communication skills, expressing what they truly want in a moment of transition or a major life event is difficult. So, when it comes to a person with autism the difficulty level raises to somewhere around impossible. How can you make such an impactful decision about someone else’s life without being able to ask them if they are feeling happy, sad, scared, excited, uncertain, angry, disappointed, overjoyed, liberated, trapped, or a combination of all the emotions under the sun? Our reaction to moving to a new place is not always a clear cut “yes definitely, I’m ecstatic” or a “no way, I’d rather die.” Actually, in the majority of cases, our emotions lay in the grey area between these two extremes, and expressing this grey area in words is something that is immensely challenging to my brother.
Considering the uncertainty, complexity, and importance of a transition like this in my brother’s life, we are all pretty much an emotional mess, however temporarily. If you’re reading this and you’re also a mess, you’re not alone and you’re not crazy. I find that it is best to recognize that the reason this is so difficult to deal with is because of all the “unknowns” about the near and distant future that we are facing. The hard truth is that only time can tell me if this move was the best choice or not.. Unfortunately, I am a person with about zero patience, so my own advice won’t exactly be an easy pill to swallow, but I know that for right now all we can do is try our best to do the right thing by keeping Danny’s needs in focus, and rely on our faith to carry us through the rest of the way.
The hottest trend in the toy industry right now is, without a doubt, the fidget spinner. At first glance, well, at first glance you have no idea what it is, how to hold it, or what to do. Then once you crawl out from under your rock and get on social media, you might think it’s just another adolescent fad that is likely to die down as the novelty wears off and today’s youth discovers the next big thing. However, when considering why the spinner has become so popular supported by scientific research, it’s easy to think that the fidget spinner might be here to stay. Elementary school and middle school age kids can’t keep their hands off these simple little toys, and their fascination is even causing some teachers to ban spinners from classrooms. Even though most kids probably don’t realize it, there is actually a reason behind why they are so taken by fidgeting with their fidget spinners, and why even adults are catching on and purchasing the devices for themselves.
According to an article published by PBS , fidget toys such as spinners can act as a relaxation tool or a concentration aid for kids and adults. It is already common for people of all ages to fidget in situations that are particularly stressful, socially awkward, boring, or that require intense concentration. Furthermore, for children and adults that experience these types of situations in a more intense way, such as people with ADHD, Autism, or an anxiety disorder can find much needed comfort and relaxation in using a fidget spinner. There is still a lot of research to be done to prove that specifically fidget spinners can serve this type of purpose. However, evidence from similar studies that have been done suggests that fidgeting is something we all crave from time to time as humans, and doing so can really help us stay calm, focused, and be productive. Thanks to the kids and adults that are loving their fidgets, the spinner trend is now evolving into a whole range of fidget toys, and it seems as though an entire new subcategory of the toy industry is taking shape. These hand-held satisfying gadgets can be found in corporate offices during meetings or in elementary schools, and they continue to be manufactured and sold by the millions. Despite their immense popularity and speedy rise to the top of the toy industry, time will only tell us if they are here to stay or truly just another trend.
He’s back and ready for action. Who’s back, you ask? It’s My Pal for Tennis! This My Pal character has always been one that is particularly special to us here at LorettaRose, LLC because it was inspired by yours truly, moi . Before I wrote this blog for a living and lived in Spain like a princess, I was quite the tennis player. When my mother started creating My Pal characters , she decided to make a My Pal for Tennis character in my honor of being a slightly above average tennis player in high school. To be honest, this character was discontinued a few years ago because finding or making a decent tennis racquet and ball for an 18 inch doll turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated. I know it’s a lame excuse but trust me, you’ll be glad that we took the time to take My Pal for Tennis down from our store until we could find him a suitable racquet that wasn’t made out of pipe cleaners. No disrespect to our old pipe cleaner racquet, it was innovative and cute, but we knew we could do better than that.
After lots of research into doll accessories suppliers, and visits to two Toy Fairs, in Nuremberg and New York, we are super excited to show our customers our 18 inch boy doll for tennis enthusiasts, now that he's had a major make over. We finally were able to find the perfect racquet and ball for our little court warrior that makes him the perfect buddy for any child who loves tennis. We have also re-designed his outfit with some inspiration from my childhood crush and tennis superstar, Rafael Nadal. Now, instead of looking like your grandpa playing doubles at the club on Saturday morning, My Pal for Tennis is sporting a modern and fun tennis look. Check back with us soon or make sure to keep up with our Instagram and Facebook accounts because My Pal for Tennis is only days away from being available for purchase!
Autism Awareness Month will draw to a close this weekend, but it is so important for everyone to remember that autism awareness should be something that we continue to advocate for throughout all twelve months of the year. People with autism and their families and friends need support, acceptance, respect and services all year long and for many years. Now that we are arriving at the end of autism awareness month, it is the perfect time to reflect on how we can best continue to make a positive impact that will last in the long term. For us at LorettaRose,LLC we are particularly passionate about the availability of services and job opportunities for adults with autism. It is essential for their wellbeing and quality of life that individuals with autism are given opportunities to integrate into society when they graduate from school, and have a chance to use their many unique talents and characteristics to be productive members of society.
In my opinion, one of the most important possible outcomes of an increase in autism awareness is for employers to realize that there are many reasons why hiring people with autism is not just a nice thing to do, but rather a very smart thing to do. People with autism are extremely consistent and detail oriented, they have the ability to see things in ways that people without autism can not see. The way the autistic mind works is fascinating and can open up doors for incredible accomplishments, but only if employers were willing to learn about autism and accept people with autism into their companies. I hope that at the end of autism awareness month 2017, there are now more people in the world who believe that, apart from the hardships and frustrations it may cause from time to time, autism is something that can be celebrated, not turned down. If people were less inclined to be frustrated with how people with autism are different, and instead they were inclined to be aware and learn about why people with autism are the way they are, then maybe there could be some amazing strides made towards a more inclusive world. There is an incredible amount of untapped potential that I am hoping will continue to be discovered as autism awareness continues throughout the year.
Earth Day 2017 will be celebrated tomorrow and we are pretty excited about it. Here at LorettaRose, LLC we are honestly just a bunch of tree huggers. We love our Earth, and we feel very passionately about doing the best we can to respect it, live a responsible lifestyle, and teach children to want to do the same. Our objective is to express through all of our characters , a positive message to children, and inspire and educate through play. But with My Pal for Going Green, we are particularly hopeful that we will actually make a difference. Every year when Earth Day rolls around we are so proud of our My Pal for Going Green character. It reminds us that every time we sell a My Pal for Going Green doll , we are spreading a message of environmental consciousness to another kid who might one day invent a biodegradable substitute for plastic, or something crazy like cars that run on apple core fuels.
Some people might think that in celebrating Earth Day we aren’t really making any positive impact on the environment, but we beg to differ. With every #earthday that is posted, every free sticker or button given out, every biodegradable or environmentally responsible product that is promoted, the people that celebrate Earth Day increase society’s awareness of the importance of caring for our Earth. It is essential that the message is spread as far as possible to people who may not consider sustainability to be a priority, or to young people who may not understand the frightening truths about climate change. Earth Day is the day to try and make as many people as possible realize that living green and caring about the environment is of utmost importance for the well-being of future generations, and just for the general moral concept that as humans we have been blessed with an incredible landscape that we should never cease to appreciate, respect, and protect.
The Internet has fallen in love with a little girl who, by her choice of doll, has given us all hope that the next generation will make the world a better place. It all started out with an Instagram post made by the little girl’s mother that described an interesting experience at the toy store. As a reward for being fully potty-trained, the little girl was given the opportunity to choose any doll she wanted. She picked out a doll dressed as a doctor, with dark skin and black hair. When the mother and daughter went to pay for the doll, the cashier questioned the little girl’s choice of doll. Since the girl is blonde with light skin, the cashier couldn’t imagine why she would have chosen a doll that looks so different than she does. The girl defended her choice, saying that she thought the doll is pretty just like she is, and that the doll is a doctor just like she is.
Wow. Can we just have toddlers teach each other from now on? This story is so important to us because we believe that teaching children to love others who are different than themselves is just as important as teaching children to love themselves. As a company that specializes in 18 inch dolls , we face the look-alike issue on a daily basis, and we basically say to our customers what that little girl said to the cashier. Just like the girl wanted a doll that was a doctor, we have customers who fall in love with a certain one of our characters because of the theme that it teaches about. But, if that character is not available in our online store with the exact hair, eye and skin color of the customer’s child, they often call or email us, asking to place a special order to get a look-alike doll . We are more than happy to fill those special orders, because we recognize that in many situations having a mini-me buddy can be very beneficial for a child. However, we always try first to convince the customer that it’s very likely their child will not see skin, hair or eye color to be as significant as an adult would, and the child will probably care more about the theme or character of the doll. We try to explain that a child will recognize beauty in a doll’s features, even if they are different than their own, just like the little girl with blonde hair was able to very frankly explain to the cashier that she thought the black hair on the doll she chose was beautiful, just like her’s!
We were so excited about the announcement of Julia, the first Muppet character with Autism, that it’s hard to believe there is even more to look forward to on PBS during this April, Autism Awareness Month. On April 10th, Julia will kick off the month will her debut on Sesame Street. Following Julia’s big reveal, there is a lineup of new autism themed episodes of popular shows that are scheduled to air throughout the month. An autism-related episode of Dinosaur Train will air on the 10th, and autism-related episodes of Arthur will air on the 10th through the 13th of April. Each episode that has an autism theme is meant to send a message to the children who watch these shows about awareness, acceptance, and understanding when it comes to autism. PBS recognizes that almost every child who watches one of its shows probably has either a sibling, family member, or classmate that has autism. The network therefore realizes that it is essential to address the issue through its programming, and make an effort to teach its young viewers about the importance of being open-minded, respectful, and accepting.
This concept of educating young children about autism awareness and acceptance sure rings a bell to us here at LorettaRose, LLC considering the fact that it is the very concept that our company was founded on. Each of our dolls from our original line, My Sibling , comes with a booklet that tells a story about having a sibling with autism or Down Syndrome, in an effort to expose children to the topic of developmental disabilities and to preach acceptance and understanding. We couldn’t be more excited about the fact that something we believe so strongly in is finally being seriously recognized and promoted by such a popular TV station for children. Just like learning a language or riding a bike, what you learn when you are young never fails to stick with you in the long-term. Thanks to the efforts of PBS, and others that have a strong influence on children, better acceptance and understanding of autism might just be something that sticks with the younger generations as they grow into the future leaders of our world. Here at LorettaRose, LLC we certainly plan on continuing our efforts in all aspects of autism awareness and advocacy. Stay tuned to our blog throughout the month of April to see what we are up to, and to get ideas on how you can get involved!
Everyone’s favorite kids show, Sesame Street, has evolved from a childhood classic to a trail-blazer for inclusion, thanks to the introduction of its newest Muppet character. In April, the PBS show will celebrate the debut of Julia: the first Muppet with autism. Julia is described as a four year old who likes to sing, but who also does things differently because she has autism. As the prevalence of autism continues to grow, this is a very significant step in the right direction for one of the country’s most famous children’s shows. It is crucial that typically developing children are educated on and exposed to what autism is, so that they learn at a young age that respect and inclusion of their peers with autism is of the utmost importance.
The unique nature of autism is that it shows itself in endless forms and affects people in countless different ways. The depiction of Julia’s character is an example of only one individual girl who has autism, not the entire population on the autism spectrum. It is essential for children to understand that by knowing the character Julia, they are learning what one of the many unique cases of autism in the world would look like. In teaching children that Julia simply sees the world through a different lens, and goes about her day with a different manner of thinking and acting, the younger generation will grasp the concept that some people don’t fit into a standard box. More importantly, they will learn that when one of their peers does not fit into that standard box that’s ok. Hopefully, this understanding at a young age will blossom into a generation of leaders that not only accept but also value the unique manner in which a person with autism’s brain functions.