My name is Michael. I am 29 years old and was diagnosed with PDD-NOS last year. Getting the diagnosis came with a complex range of very mixed feelings. On the one hand, for instance, I was consumed with a kind of relief that there was finally something out there to explain the social and sensory difficulties that seemed to alienate me from my peers. On another hand, I was faced with the reality that I would always be different and the normal day to day things that I found so hard, and that seemed to come so naturally to those around me, would always seem unnatural to me.
The months following my diagnosis were very confusing to me. I was put on several medications. Some seemed to help, and some I didn’t like very much. One of the things to come of my diagnosis was that I came to know Becky Krisko. Our paths began to intersect when my wife was put in contact with her via my therapist at the time. And since then, Becky has conversed and counseled with me on numerous occasions, and still does so to this day.
I liked Becky immediately. Though my nature tends towards mistrust of new people, I found her to be exceptionally honest. She made me feel very comfortable being myself from the beginning, while also holding me accountable when my social logic or thought process on a certain subject was flawed.
The thing I really found to be different from my experience with any kind of counseling interactions I have had in the past, was that Becky felt and still feels to this day like more of a coach than a therapist. I found this to be a wonderful change as I personally am not a huge fan of sitting across the room from someone who is psycho analyzing me. I personally feel like a specimen and get very uncomfortable in interactions of that kind. Though I am not saying traditional therapy isn’t helpful, I personally take issue with the social parameters involved.
Becky has helped me with many things, including accepting my diagnosis and how I think, structuring my day to day life, and communicating with my spouse, which has always been a problem for me. She also has talked to my wife on several occasions and has helped her with understanding how I think and why I may be doing the things I do. In doing this, she was careful not to explain these things as crutches that my wife would have to get used to, but rather explained to me and my wife how to overcome my more problematic tendencies.
I still have a lot of working to do with Becky, with myself, and with other professionals who can help me overcome the challenges that I and others on the spectrum will undoubtedly face. But I am on the road to getting better at succeeding in a world that I’m not quite wired for.
When I leave the house I still feel as though I am wandering through a sea of faceless people. I still feel things inside myself and for people around me that I can’t quite seem to adequately share. And the world around me still feels a little harsh and accosting, but I am learning very useful skills, theories, and philosophies that help me cope with these things.
My family struggled through the diagnosis and waiting period, and had already started intensive therapy when Becky Krisko “joined” my family in 2009, as an Autism therapist. I was living in a perpetual state of crisis and chaos and I felt as though my life had been hijacked. I could tell immediately that Becky was what my son needed…and what I needed as a mom. She wasn’t just an Autism therapist doing a job. She was “walking the walk”. Her knowledge and REAL LIFE experience are priceless!Becky taught me that in making a connection, “going through the front door” doesn’t always work. Sometimes, we have to go through the back door, or a window, or down the chimney. In other words, sometimes as parents, we get caught up trying to change our child to fit into our way of thinking. We try to teach them by using “standards” or “methods” that do not make sense in their minds. It is our job as the parent to “guide” them, which means we need to make those adjustments. Acceptional Minds can help!Acceptional Minds is a valuable resource for helping individuals and families make those adjustments. Even more valuable is the fact that Becky Krisko created Acceptional Minds to offer help for ALL ages and stages of life. Many of the resources available are limited to children; however, they aren’t there when your Autistic child reaches puberty. I am thrilled that Becky has created Acceptional Minds!
My name is Nekita. I am Becky Krisko’s eldest child, and I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS when I was eight. My younger brother, Ian, was diagnosed a year earlier at three with “classic autism”. I knew I was different. I was the weird kid who always played with the same “Clifford the Big Red Dog” stuffed animal in the kindergarten play room, and would run away from people in first grade, but I didn’t know that it was okay and had a name until second grade, a year after my brother’s diagnosis. I remember, right after Ian got diagnosed, I asked my mom if I had autism, too. She replied with ‘no’. I knew I was different, and I thought there was a name for it, but I shrugged it off and went along with my life.For an entire year, my mom read all the books there were on autism, and went to all the websites and all the lectures. She became an expert, with a natural knack for children. And she slowly started seeing subtle signs that I was, in fact, different. Possibly even autistic. She went to get me tested, but the doctor we went to at first only wanted to test me for ADHD. My mom, at this point read up on almost all mental disorders, related and non-related to autism, wanted me tested across the board. The doctor refused. If I had been diagnosed with ADHD, I would have been given Adderall, and even though it works wonders for kids with ADHD, kids with sensory processing disorder (like me) would go off the wall. My mom asked a psychologist that she worked with at the time, who agreed to test me across the board. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a sensory processing disorder, and anxiety. We tried medications at first, but my system wouldn’t take them. They did either the complete opposite of what they were supposed to do, or they just wouldn’t do anything. My mom researched natural supplements, and they work phenomenally.In middle school, I tried to open enroll into another district, but they wouldn’t accept my transfer due to my school diagnosis. So my mom uprooted her life temporarily, and got me into the school I needed.Then the fight for sensory tools came. Gum and hats were “banned” in my middle school, and if we were caught with any we would get a “major referral”, the school’s largest punishment under suspension and expulsion. The only two things that were banned in my school were two sensory tools that I needed to function at the time. Gum was first, because most people don’t understand how it can be used as a sensory tool. We fought for the use of gum, and we explained it to teachers and principals and specialists, and eventually got it in my IEP that I could chew gum in class. That caused an uproar in the students, with friends and strangers alike asking “can I have some?” or “why do you get to chew gum and I can’t?”, and it got frustrating. I would explain to close friends, but I didn’t feel the need to explain myself to every student in the school. Finally, one afternoon at the after school study program, it got so annoying and the entire class and the supervisor ganged up on me, that I stood up and shouted “I HAVE AUTISM, OKAY?”, and I sat down and cried. The supervisor told me it was okay, how brave I had been to admit that. I wasn’t brave, I was frustrated. My mom stood up for me, and explained to my peers about Autism, sensory needs, and how everyone has baggage.Hats weren’t as big of an issue. After the gum fiasco, word spread through the grade that I was autistic, and wearing hats wasn’t as big of a deal. Sure, substitutes and teachers I didn’t really interact with were a hassle, but my mom stood up for me every time, if only in spirit or in the little voice in the back of my head. I learned to stand up for myself instead of evading the problem, and soon the entire school knew that I was special. When I got to high school, the fight started all over again, with even my IEP supervisor questioning me. “Why can’t you just wear a headband? It agrees with school policy”. But a headband wouldn’t give me the pressure I needed, nor would it give me the pressure in the right places, and there wouldn’t be a brim that would block out extra sensory. Administration even tried to get me to consent to my IEP being changed, to trick me into agreeing with something that would be easier for them, but my mom was having none of that. My IEP meeting was in a week, and I told my mom all about it and how I didn’t agree to anything. She came in to the meeting prepared as ever, and made sure that never happened again. They eventually agreed on a compromise.My mom has fought through thick and thin by my side, from my diagnosis to present day. I’m sixteen now, and she still fights for me on a daily basis. I’m glad that now, I get to help her out with her company, and she can do for other kids what she did for me for the last eight years. Ian, too, she’s fought for, and she fights for friends and clients the same way she fights for her own kids. She poured her blood, sweat, and tears into my education, and my social skills, and if I were to be tested today, I most likely wouldn’t meet the criteria for autism. But without my tools, I would spiral downward, like I did when I was eight. My mom will never stop fighting for me, and she’ll never stop fighting for anyone else, either. Go get ‘em, Mother Hulk.