Sunday, September 7, 2014

"Shining a Spotlight on A Great Camp for Children with #Autism to Attend"

If you live in Oklahoma, and have a child with Autism, you may already heard about or at least know about Camp C.A.N.O.E. which is located just southwest of Frontier City on I-35, on Hefner Road. Please read the article which I wrote about this awesome week-long, day-camp, that offers children with Autism Spectrum Disorders an opportunity to enjoy the same outdoor experience as the other children who attend the summer camps at Camp DaKaNi through CampFire Heart of Oklahoma. I encourage you to #share it with someone you know, whether it be a friend or family member, because there is a chance that they may know a family touched by Autism or Aspergers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Would YOU Have Taken Advantage of an Opportunity Like This To Raise #Autism Awareness Around You?!?

I was approached almost a year ago about being featured in the online magazine, Leaders Across America*, as a spotlight on my Advocacy for Autism. This project was supposed to have been published in April 2014 so, it was a pleasant surprise when I was notified that it had finally launched this afternoon. I hope that whether you know me, or not, that you understand this was an effort to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of individuals with Autism, in both our surrounding communities and in the social media outlets. Please share this article with anyone you want and know that together we can help everyone #ThinkDifferently about #Autism! 
*You will save some time looking for my article if you enter my first name "Lorrie" just below the magazine and click "go".

Friday, August 15, 2014

Nathan's Voice is hosting a Virtual Book Tour Stop for "My Peace Place"!

A Parent on My Peace Place - Guest Post by Mari L. Barnes

Today, FlyingTurtle Publishing’s destination is Nathan’s Voice, created and administered by Lorrie Servati. In addition to her roles as wife, mother and “Nana,” Lorrie is a dedicated Autism Advocate. In April 2012, Nathan’s Voice was nominated as one of the “Top 10 Autism Blogs of 2012”! 

How does My Peace Place relate to autism? Tammy Hastings left a comment on Flying Turtle’s Facebook page. She thought the book would be beneficial to her daughter, Katelyn, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Tammy’s post opened my eyes to new possibilities for helping children.



My co-author, Lori Bortnick was the catalyst for this book. For more than 15 years, Lori has been an early childhood educator in inner-city schools. She sees the effects of environmental stress on very young kids every day. Lori wanted to create a book that encouraged children to practice self-regulation — calming, comforting and centering themselves.

Tammy agreed to share some thoughts about My Peace Place.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am 41 years old, I had Katelyn when I was 36; she is an only child. I love to read when I get the time, most of my time is spent playing or taking care of Katelyn's needs.

2. What would you like us to know about Katelyn?

Katelyn has autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder. She is verbal, can read and write and is very sociable.

3. What kinds of activities do you and Katelyn enjoy?

We paint, go swimming and play at the park. She loves pretend play with her Barbies and stuffed animals. We read stories and sing songs.

4. What causes stress reactions for Katelyn?

Katelyn gets easily stressed out about certain TV commercials and shows. She doesn't like yelling or fighting even if it's just pretend. Or loud noises such as sirens, fire drills at preschool, motorcycles and fireworks. She is very sociable, but will sometimes get stressed out at large gatherings of people.

5. What did Katelyn most enjoy about My Peace Place?

Katelyn really enjoyed the rhyming. She loves to rhyme and tries to make words rhyme all the time.

6. Do you and Katelyn have a favorite technique from?

I just think the whole book is wonderful in trying to teach children about coping skills. Katelyn has a very hard time understanding and processing coping skills. With this book being a rhyming book, it is something that Katelyn loves and very much takes an interest in. It therefore allows her to understand and process the meanings a little easier.

Thanks for your insights, Tammy and thanks for sharing My Peace Place with Katelyn’s class.

As they grow, children continue to benefit by the knowledge that they have the power to control the anxiety caused by stress. They learn that they don’t need to look outside of themselves for peace. Here’s to helping our children grow in confidence!

Mari L Barnes writes for children under the pen name of Mari Lumpkin and for adults as ML Barnes. Her books, Parting River Jordan and Crossing River Jordan are proof that church can be funny. Mari’s company, Flying Turtle Publishing, specializes in books that families can share. Be sure to check out Flying Turtle Publishing on Facebook and follow @flyingturtlepub on Twitter!

Click here to find out how to get a Flying Turtle Publishing’s Blanket Fort Club certificate for your child. PLUS, subscribe to Turtle Talk and you’ll automatically be entered to WIN a $10 Amazon Gift Card in our monthly drawing.

Friday, August 1, 2014

I'm the Proud Aunt of the 2014-15 GNHA Queen in Support of #Autism

It is with immense pride that I write this article, in recognition of my niece, Rachel Nunley, who has matured into a beautiful young lady. She has always been extremely dedicated to her family, her friends and everything in which she becomes involved such as playing softball, being a cheerleader, taking care of and the showing of her animals. Rachel has shown that she is also committed when it comes to raising awareness for the causes which hold importance to her. She, along with her mother, who is my younger sister, and the rest of their family have been a great support to me since my youngest son was diagnosed with Autism six years ago. It has been a long journey like nothing our family would have ever imagined but, it has made me a better person and I am grateful for the chance to be my son's advocate!


Over the last year, Rachel has been spending her weekends at the arenas with her horses running poles and barrels in preparation for the competition in late July 2014. My niece has also been competing as one of two candidates for queen to be crowned at the completion of the July 2014 GNHA Finals at the Lawton Coliseum. When Rachel was recently asked how does one win the title of GNHA Queen, she answered "By having an outstanding appearance, personality, speaking skills, and horsemanship. The queen candidate gets judged in all those areas for a year and the one with the most points wins."


My sister, Rachel's mother, was her personal seamstress and creator of the numerous themed eye-catching western shirts w/ matching saddle pads & gear for her horses to match her during the competitions. My niece was dressing in Autism themed apparel & riding in honor of my youngest son, Nathan, with her horse's matching saddle pad stating "in honor of Nate the Great". These items were worn during the arena event in April supporting Autism Awareness Month but, the big showing of her support was during the week of the July 2014 GNHA Finals when all of the districts came together in competition against each other. 



Rachel and her family have done so mush to raise awareness for Autism. They handed out more than 100 handmade buttons that either displayed a picture of my son, Nathan and/or one with a multi-colored rose on a white background with the words Autism Awareness on them during the week of the July 2014 GNHA (Grand Nationals Horseman Association) Finals. It is an amazing feeling to have the support of my teenage niece in such a public and widespread manner!! Kudos to my sister, Heather, and her husband, Danny, for an excellent job of raising Rachel and instilling responsibility, compassion and integrity in her and each of her siblings, Kaitlin and Daniel. 


The same week that Rachel was participating in the GNHA Finals at the Lawton Coliseum, Nathan, his brother, Vincent and I were attending the 3rd annual Autism day Camp C.A.N.O.E. located at CampFire Heart of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. I drove the boys to Lawton to take pictures with Rachel and her horse, Skip. It was a great experience to actually get to see my niece in the western shirts that my sister had made, get pictures of the boys with her, her horse with his matching saddle pad, and spend some time with her and my sister's family at dinner before heading back to Oklahoma City. Nathan and Vincent excitedly told everyone about our trip at Autism camp the next day.


My niece, Rachel, has probably spent almost every weekend over the last year participating in GNHA Playday events hosted by participating districts around her area. She also had to do public speaking, socially interact with all the members of each GNHA district and dress up in the beautifully hand-made western shirts for each of these events. Just a few days after our visit, my niece was chosen to represent GNHA as the 2014-2015 Queen. She has really matured over the last year in becoming a candidate for the title of the 2014-2015 GNHA Queen. I am extremely proud of her accomplishment and dedication to such a time-consuming schedule. If anyone ever deserved the recognition of the time that she dedicated to this year-long endeavor, it is definitely my niece, Rachel. This is something to celebrate and, hopefully, it will inspire someone that needs the courage to do something in their life that they have put on hold or haven't started. 


Please share this article with someone you know. It would mean so much to our family to be able to reach as many people as possible through the story of what my niece accomplished and how she chose to raise awareness for Autism in her surrounding community. It takes a special person to commit to such a task and have the stamina to follow it through to the end. I'm not sure that I could have been able to do something as extraordinary as what Rachel has done. She has officially become my family's superhero.


To read the essay that Rachel wrote for Autism Awareness, please check out where I shared it on my Facebook page here. You never know who you may come in contact with that might know someone, or have someone in their life that has some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Sharing it with them may just be what they need to realize that they and their family are not alone! If you are not sure but, you think that your child may, or may not, have Autism, please take a few minutes to check out another article, Autism How-To Guide for Parents, which I wrote for an online parenting community a few years ago. Thank you again for taking the time to support a cause so close to my heart and one that is becoming an epidemic across our nation.



If you want to follow me on Twitter, you can find me at @NathansVoice and @MissMaryMackOKC. I frequent other sites such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+, as well. My email address is Lorrie@AutismOklahoma.org and I always look forward to hearing from anyone looking for available resources in their local community. 

~Lorrie Servati

Monday, July 21, 2014

Visit the Executive Broadcasting Channel for my #Autism Podcast!

It is only in the effort of raising the awareness, understanding and acceptance of all individuals with Autism that I share the following podcast which was recorded a few weeks ago.  If YOU would share it with everyone you know, I appreciate it. Support #Autism in your community!! Thank you! 

If you would like to contact me, please do so by emailing me directly at Lorrie@AutismOklahoma.org any time. I will respond to your email as soon as I possibly can. You may also check out the wonderful grassroots nonprofit that I'm affiliated with, as the local AutismOKC.org support group coordinator, at AutismOklahoma.org, as well. It's always nice to hear that the resources being provided are helpful to those in the community, online and local. It is my goal to continue raising #AutismAwareness in everything I do, everywhere I go and with everyone I speak with. Would YOU take a few minutes to help me? I look forward to hearing from you, if you have the time. Thank you for supporting the cause!

Friday, July 11, 2014

#Autism Awareness, Life Decisions and Tattoos, Oh My!

This is an amazing story which might surprise you. Tattoos have intrigued me as far back as my teenage years but, the promise of pain lingered at the surface of my dreams. I have never liked needles and I cringed every time I had to get a shot. I used to have to get allergy shots when I was in first grade. I wasn't the least bit disappointed when I didn't have to be a human pin cushion any longer. IF I ever decided to get a tattoo, I wanted to make sure it would symbolize something of great importance in my life because it would be on my body forever. 

I don't consider myself as the type of individual to flaunt. I will share about every acheivement that my family receives because I am intensely proud of them. I am a cheerleader for each of my children but, I try not to go overboard. With the exception of Nathan, all of my children had made the decision to accept Christ in their life. We are thrilled because he chose to make that important decision during this year's VBS event and he then followed through by being baptised this last Sunday morning. I accepted Christ while attending a youth camp when I was eleven years old, the same age as Nathan. 

Music has always been an important part of my life, especially growing up. Besides reading my Bible, it was the only other thing that I could count on to calm me during difficult times and wouldn't harm me. I grew up listening to artists like Elvis Presley, Barbara Mandrell, Kenny Rogers, the Beach Boys, Sonny & Cher, Tony Orlando & Dawn and Captain & Tennille but, I eventually gravitated towards the desire to be surrounded by only positive stimulus. I tried to focus on those things which were uplifting to my spirit, in order for me to survive and succeed in life. It wasn't always easy to accomplish, with the unidentified challenges which riddled my childhood but, I managed to rise above it. That's a completely different story...possibly for a book.

Our family struggled for several years before our youngest son, Nathan, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders almost seven years ago. It has been quite an adventure, to say the least! It is not enough to say that the experience has made me a better person. I am more in tune to what is going on around me, I can identify with other parents when their child is being challenged in particular situations and I have learned more about myself than before my own son was diagnosed. Nathan, his brother, their father and I love to listen to KLOVE radio station 88.9 FM when we are in the car but, it was also what we played for both of our boys at bedtime when they were much younger. Nathan is like me, not only because the music calms him but, because he also shares the love of singing meaningful songs, whenever he gets the chance. Nathan and his older brother Vincent have matured so much in the last several years. Their father and I, as well as the rest of our family, are extremely proud of them and their many accomplishments.

Timing was a major factor in deciding when to get my tattoo. I wasn't "gung ho" or "raring at the bit" to get something permanent emblazoned on any part of my body. What actually motivated me to make an appointment with a tattoo parlor would probably surprise you. It was in April when I shared a Facebook post promoting an event which would benefit our grassroots nonprofit AutismOklahoma.org when someone got a tattoo in support of Autism Awareness Month. I didn't realize it but, that qualified me an entry into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to be used for services at Voodoo Tattoo. It didn't take me very long to figure it out, especially when they tagged me in a Facebook post as the winner!

I had been working on another design for several years which was supposed to be an interlocking chain of different colored puzzle pieces to look similar to an ankle bracelet. That particular design seemed to be quite popular and I was rethinking what I wanted in my one of a kind tattoo. I decided to scrap my original design and start fresh. In the last few days leading up to my appointment, I tossed around several ideas while trying make a decision on a particular design. I finally went with a stylish cross that had plenty of characteristic, a purple (my favorite color) puzzle piece placed tastefully on the lower half of the cross with musical notes circling the cross in an upward motion. I hope you enjoyed the story of how I came to a decision, on what I wanted in the design for my personal tattoo.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Nathan Made An Important Decision In His Life With #Autism


     Almost two weeks ago, Vincent and I worked together as volunteers at the Vacation Bible School which eleven year old Nate attended. This particular VBS is open to children from preschool up to those entering sixth grade. Because Vincent will be a seventh grader this fall, he had two choices: joining the youth group which he still considered himself an outsider, or volunteering alongside me as a transporter to help groups of children make it through the daily schedule of VBS. I would have liked it if he had chosen to join the youth group but, Vincent chose to be a role model for those children in which we maneuvered through the halls of the church for VBS as a team. I have to admit that I witnessed an older and mature Vincent than the one that attended VBS last year.

     As you can see, I love talking about my children. At VBS last year, Nate was close to making the decision to accept Jesus but, he was still trying to process what it all meant. I wasn't about to pressure him before he was ready. He needed to make that commitment on his own. Vincent had made the decision a few years earlier, has been a very patient, older brother to Nate and made countless compromises in order to help his younger brother. It was during the Bible Study portion of last Wednesday's VBS rotation that our eleven year old Nate chose to stand up and follow through on what he started last summer. 

     I immediately followed Nate to the hallway, where I asked him if he wanted me to accompany him, letting him know he was not alone if he was looking for someone to advocate for him. He told me that he wanted me to go with him to make sure he understood everything. I pushed back the tears which filled my eyes and gladly followed him and the man from the church to a room to confirm my son's decision. I found out later that he is the Minister of Missions for the church where Nate attended VBS. 

     His father, myself, the rest of our family and close friends are proud of the decision that Nathan has made to put Christ first in his life. Our family has been a member of one church for over ten years. The only reason that we are visiting this church is to give the boys an opportunity to fellowship with peers their age. It is regrettable that our home church does not have any children, especially boys, their age. Our primary goal is for them to find friendship among other young gentlemen in a church which we can call our home.  

     Nathan is scheduled to be baptised this coming Sunday during the morning church service. By the time most of you read this post, he will have recorded that in the front of his new Bible that I took him to pick out just after his decision almost two weeks ago. Both him and his older brother are old enough to know what to look for in a Bible and what is easiest for them to understand. I am so proud to know that even with their challenges, they have been able to comprehend everything that they have been taught over the last ten years. These two young men are continuously making significant and consistent progress in everything they have before them. Their father and I know that both Nathan and his brother will be able to accomplish anything they put their mind to!