Who she is:
I’m a business owner, wife of a retired soldier and mother of two dynamic little boys with autism.
I started a handmade bath and body product business a few years ago in order to help support the family. It has paid for ski field trips, school supplies and other small things that kids often need. The boys love helping to make the products. David enjoys picking out the scents and putting on labels. Jon likes to help mix the bathing salts and scrubs. The boys also like writing occasional notes that I’ll send with many of the products we ship. The name of our business is 11B Savon. 11B is the number that identified Marcus’ job in the Army (Infantryman), and “Savon” is the French word for “Soap.”
Marcus is currently working in Saudi Arabia as a contractor. Although I’ve experienced many deployments with the Army, it’s still very challenging to manage our home as a “temporary” single parent. Even with plenty of practice it never gets easy. I do my best to keep my stress from affecting the boys since they have their own stress and anxiety over Daddy being gone.
We have an extremely small support system. We have a speech therapist and former teachers that have remained friends. I don’t have anyone I can call when I need an emergency sitter, or who can come over and have some coffee. My good friend (Theresa) lives right around the corner, but they have children with special needs as well. So, her problems are similar to mine. At times I wonder if things would be different If I had a job outside of our home.
My children are extremely important and I have trouble trusting just anyone with them. This includes actual family members.
Both boys were diagnosed with autism around the age of 2. David will be 8 in December and Jonathan will be 6 in September.
What do people assume:
Most people wrongly assume Jonathan’s inability to speak also means he can’t hear. They also assume both boys have an intellectual disability and that their disability is contagious. They often assume the boys are unable to understand what others are saying or asking, and that they’re unable to read, write, count, enjoy music, laugh at or make jokes. They do all of those things — and more!
What they should really know:
I want people to know that they are little people — not a diagnosis. They have feelings, emotions, likes, dislikes and personalities. Although they need support, they are extremely independent
As a mother, I always try to set a good example for my children when we are singled out, or when we’re being openly discussed by others who don’t acknowledge us. I do my best to not respond with anger — but it’s tough. I try to use those incidents as teachable moments for people who don’t understand autism. I’m much less diplomatic when I observe people being bullies and making fun of my children or others.
When they said “mama” for the first time. It happened around the age of 4 for both boys.
David: “I am smart. I can read very well now. I can do math but I like to read instead. I am a good dancer. I love my brother. I love my plants.”
Jon enjoys numbers, letters, music, fish, birds, dancing, straight lines and milk.
David and Jon are GISHWHES world record holders and they have the official certificate from Guinness to prove it! I also want people to know that Marcus and I celebrate every accomplishment by our boys. We celebrated when David wrote his name for the first time in preschool as well as when the boys began to acknowledge our presence. I was especially overjoyed when Jon hugged me for the first time at the age of 5. We are very proud of our boys, and excited about the amazing things they do every day to prove previous doctors and others wrong.
Please visit the 11B Savon website for information on their handmade bath and body products: http://www.11bsavonllc.com/
UPDATE: David is continuing in the entrepreneurial spirit established by Lora and creating cord bracelets that he sells via local vendor. He used the profits from his early sales to buy plastic letters for Jon, and balloons for himself! David’s cord bracelets can be ordered at: https://www.toscanointeriors.com/apps/search?q=bracelets