Best decision ever.
Good morning! As Autism Awareness Month kicks off, I wanted to get back to the blog and bring you more of my – our – story. Please feel free to share an experience or your own story, either here or on our Facebook page. We'd love to hear from you!
Together, we can help Raise Awareness and Gain Acceptance for everyone touched by the challenges of Autism and special needs.
Our current journey began several years ago when I made the decision – a very difficult decision - to leave my job of 14 years to stay home and care for DJ. At the time, DJ was experiencing some very difficult Autism related issues that I’m sure many of us can relate to: numerous daily meltdowns, self-harming (scratching, biting, and head banging), bad dreams and general rambunctious behavior. DJ also was dealing with extreme separation anxiety from me being at work most of the day.
It was a huge, scary (ok – terrifying) step. As a single mom, leaving my job to care for DJ would be a huge financial strain on our budget but, I knew deep down in my heart it was what was best for DJ. And myself. And after everything we’ve experienced, I would make the same decision again today.
As time passed, DJ slowly began to improve. The Imagifriends were “born”, and together we have been able to work together full time on The Mission, and we love it! The Imagifriends family began to grow (there are now over 3,000 Imagifiends!) and as we started promoting DJ’s story and the Imagifriends mission of “Awareness and Acceptance”, DJ started to get invited to speak at Autism and special needs conferences, along with schools, churches, support groups, and many other events! DJ’s artwork has been commissioned, he has coloring books, a full line of merchandise and his Characters have been brought to life by UNC-TV in their Rootle Educational Series.
We loved working together spreading hope and encouragement, along with our message of Awareness and Acceptance for those with Autism and everyone with a special need. We were blessed beyond belief. We’ve met so many wonderful people, visited so many wonderful people, and we hope we’ve been able to make a difference, make an impact, no matter how small.
Then March 7th, 2020 came without warning. Covid-19.
And we all know what happened next - all of our events for the rest of the year were cancelled. And for 2021 so far too, with the exception of a few virtual conferences. Like so many of you, we were out of work. We lost a total of over 60 events over the rest of 2020. No speaking fees, no merchandise sales. I remember saying “I can’t wait for our 2021 event schedule”, which was followed shortly thereafter by “Here we go again”.
It’s April, and so far in 2021 we have already lost over 30 events to date. Christmas was a great, and we’re optimistic as we are starting to discuss and book upcoming events.
DJ has been an inspiration. He is so positive and is a true believer. I look forward to sharing more of our journey throughout the month of April and beyond.
And please feel free to share your own story – we’d love to hear about your wonderful and amazing journey!
While I don’t know what tomorrow holds, the one thing I do know is I made the right decision to stay home with DJ and that’s what is most important. God will handle the rest. ❤️