Mommy Monday

Stacy Strombeck is an Arizona native raised in Scottsdale. She is married to Bob and together they have 2 adorable boys, Lance and Luke. She has a hilarious dry sense of humor and seems to tower above most women I know. I asked Stacy if she would share her story with us on Mommy Monday…

So lady, how is the weather down south?
Just fantastic today. About 80 degrees and partially cloudy. I think this may be our last cool spell before the dreaded summer heat.

Tell me about your boys, Lance and Luke.

Lance is 3 years old, Luke is 11 months.

Around the time I first met you, Lance your eldest started to change, what happened?
Lance developed normally. He was just like any other baby. He smiled and laughed, and walked and talked, all right on schedule. He was a very happy, loving little guy. He could say about five words. At 18 months, Lance lost his words, as well as his skills, like waving bye-bye, pointing, and playing peek-a-boo. Bob said it was like he had a switch, and someone turned it off. He was diagnosed with autism at 21 months of age.

The first time you heard the word Autism, what went through your mind?
Well, Lance had pretty much stopped talking. Everyone said not to worry, that boys talk late. Everyone had some story about a child they knew who didn't talk until he was five, and then turned out to be a genius. I remember Bob and I went to San Francisco for a long weekend in November of 2007. We left Lance home with my mom. I came home, all excited, and said to my Mom, "Well, did he say anything?" My mom said no. A few days later, Katie Couric was doing a story about autism on the nightly news. They listed symptoms, and one was loss of speech. I thought, that's what's happening. Lance has lost his speech. I literally broke out in a cold sweat, and I went and threw up.Then I jumped on the computer and went on line. Did you know that when you Google the word "autism", you get 18,000,000 hits? I read and read and read. I made an appointment with our pediatrician, who referred us to a developmental pediatrician, who said yep, autism. So by the time Lance was actually diagnosed, I already knew.
Katie Couric told me.

This was also just about the time you found out you were pregnant all I can think of is how overwhelmed you must have felt…
Yes, I was 12 weeks pregnant with Luke, our much-wanted second child, when Lance was diagnosed. The main thing that was horrible was that, once I found out we were having another boy, I knew Luke's risk for autism is hugely increased. The statistics right now are 1 in 150 children has autism, and 1 in 94 boys. Luke's at an additional increased risk because his brother has been diagnosed. The best advice I got was, don't worry about something until it happens. In other words, don't worry about Luke having autism, unless and until he's actually diagnosed. There are so many other ways I can focus my time and energy, like working with Lance. So that's what I've decided to do.

Tell me about your hubby, he seems like a great guy. (I mean he dressed up as ‘The man in the yellow hat’ for Halloween..Zach would NEVER do that!!) How hard was this on him, how did it affect your marriage?Ya, wasn't that great when Bob dressed up with Lance, who was Curious George?Autism has it's own special stress for dads, I think. Autism is expensive. The latest figure I saw said it costs 3.5 million dollars to raise an autistic child to age 18. Of course there is assistance available, but we shoulder a huge amount of the expense ourselves. So I know that Bob feels the stress of providing for our family.The divorce rate of couples with kids with autism is somewhere around 83 percent. Bob and I are determined not to be a part of that statistic. We have chosen to ban together to fight this disorder, not each other. I can tell you I would not be able to do any of this without Bob. He is a rock, and I love him more every day. Our relationship isn't perfect, but we really work at it.

So tell us about your daily letters and how you came up with this idea.Well, I was a fan of Barack Obama when he was running for office. I think that he is the epitome of hope for our nation. When he gave his acceptance speech, and said, "Yes we can!", I thought, "Yes we can. . .help my son Lance." And I thought President Obama would be the one to help me. So I decided to write him a letter, about Lance. And then I decided to write him a letter every day. In each letter, I ask President Obama to meet with me, to discuss Lance and autism. So far, I've received a form letter from his Correspondence Director. That's progress, baby! I will continue to write until I hear from the President himself, or the FBI shows up at my door, whichever comes first.

The part that resonates with me the most about your letters is at the end where you list the statistics of Autism. It was not until I read that the first time that this epidemic really sank in for me. Those are some crazy statisticsRecently, I heard the Vice President of Research for an organization called Autism Speaks. She said something like, 1 in 150 children being diagnosed is unacceptable. If 1 child in 150 were being kidnapped from our schools, the public outcry would be unbelievable. The thing is, that 1 in 150 children are being kidnapped. By autism.

Ok the fun question…So if you had a sitter and a 1000 bucks what would you do for the day??Oh, goodie. A fun question. Okay, this is going to sound like I'm off my rocker, but I would take Bob, both kids, and the sitter, and go to Legoland. We went two weeks ago, and we had the best time ever. I'd take the sitter so Bob and I could go out for a nice dinner after Legoland. I know I sound loonie, but Lance was amazing on that trip. I never would have attempted it a year ago, but he's come so far. The smile on that kid's face went from ear to ear. The look on his face was worth more than any spa day or shopping spree could ever be.

The message that I would like to get out is that autism is treatable. Early intervention works. The families we've met with older ASD kids are living proof of this. And so is Lance. He gets a little bit better every day.

You can read all of Stacy's (Stacy Strombeck-Goodrich) daily letters to President Obama by asking to be her friend via facebook. Just mention you follow this blog.


Anonymous said…
Thanks the interview with Stacy. I really admire her. The changes in Lance are amazing. It's so cool when he does something new. They really are the best neighbors. ao
Anonymous said…
What a great interview, Amber and it's wonderful to get a glimpse into the lives of some of your AZ friends...and this is a glimpse that is so inspiring. I get so weary of reality TV and stories like this confirm the reason why. I love real-life 'SURVIVOR' stories.
Stacy, you are a brave gal...not because this is what you chose for your life but because it's what was handed you, and you are choosing to walk this path by putting one foot in front of the other - one day at a time. My favorite ?/answers are the 'hubby' one and your 'dream day' one. Both answers show the great character that you possess! Bless you lady! ...and I would like to follow you on FB! Elaine Tolson
Random Thoughts said…
What a great mommy and daddy! I loved this interview. I will send you this rain though and I had to turn on the heat today. Now I am whining. Just kidding. Isn't it amazing how good God is as He walks with us through the challenges of life? I loved the strength I could feel through you as I read.
Lateda said…
another great Mommy! I just LOVE these... and Stacy, hats off to you and your commitment to raising awareness to Autism! You are an incredible woman!

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