Joey’s Hot Dog bracelets & Autism Awareness Month

30 Mar

This April, I’m struggling. I do not know what to say about my brother, Joey, who has autism.

If you were a Snap, Crackle, Pop reader last April, you know this.  You remember when I debuted Joey’s Hot Dog necklaces with my “This is what it was like growing up with Joey” story. When I announced that I was donating 25 percent of Jaclyn1423’s April sales to Autism Speaks, I shared some scary stats, but I like to think those were padded with my sweet Joey stories.

I don’t really have too many sweet Joey stories to share this year. Last summer, the meds my family and I thought were a Godsend stopped working. More, they made things worse.

For one, his OCD went off the charts. Instead of simply assuring that all the photos on the walls in the house were perfectly parrellel to the ground, he was lining up pretty much everything. The first time I noticed it, I thought Mom had been watching the Interior Design Show From Hell; all her vases, statues (both large ones from the floor and Precious Moments-sized ones) and picture frames would be lined up across the coffee tables in the living room. It was like a parade, right alongside the remote control and the TV Guide. Going into the bathroom was nothing short of hilarious — the toothbrushes, toothpaste, cups, hair ties, facewashes and mouthwashes would be lined up along the back of the counter, pressed against the mirror. Sometimes, the toilet bowl cleaner would get in on the fun.

He started to clean like crazy. He didn’t like anything in the way. This led to the avocado incident and the case of the missing jacket. This led to the garlic incident. This led to countless lost papers for Mom and Dad. I suspect they don’t even know what all he managed to pitch in his determination to rid the counter of everything.

He also started to throw tantrums. We thought we had seen tantrums. Alas, we had not. The last time I was home, I got to witness one firsthand. I’m not ready to write about it yet, not ready to sort through what I saw or how I felt and feel.

Suffice to say, it’s been a tough year. Mom’s been working like a dog to get Joey the care he needs, especially because he graduates high school this year. He’ll likely be in a work program after, but it probably won’t keep him as busy as a five-day-a-week school week does. There are therapists at my parents’ house pretty often. Mom likes to joke — even though she’s serious — that she has a psychologist on call. Simply put, she’s going to need help.

For his high school graduation, the school asked for five photos of Joey from five different stages of his life. The last time I was home, Mom and I were pouring through photo albums. I adore this one. He truly is the most beautiful baby Ive ever seen. I, meanwhile, had some effed up teeth. (Hey, Meghan, look: He found his feet!)

The therapists and psychologists will work with Joey and with my parents in an effort to make him more independent. He’s so reliant on my mom that he gets angry when she’s not as his beck and call. My phone conversations with her have been slashed in more than half because Joey doesn’t like it when she’s on the phone. He loses it. I don’t hold it against her when she has to all but hang up on me. I, too, would say “I’ll call you back when he goes to bed.”

This April, this Autism Awareness Month, I’m donating 25 percent of Jaclyn1423’s sales to Autism Speaks, like I did last year. This disease is ugly. It needs to go away. There needs to be more than one medicine on the market to treat autism. That’s it — there’s just one. The rest treat things like anxiety. When a doctor prescribes something for Joey, it’s hit or miss whether it could work. In the case of the Evil Drug, it was a miss disguised as a hit. The meds need to even him out without driving him over the edge or turning him into a vegetable. He’s been on those meds, too, where he sits and stares into space. Where he avoids any and all social contact. Where he hides out in his room and watches Cartoon Network and eats Gushers and Gardetto’s. It’s like Zombie Joey, and it’s not much better than Tantrum Joey.

This April, I’m debuting another Joey’s Hot Dog item in Jaclyn1423: toggle charm bracelets. Last year in the midst of the Joey’s Hot Dog necklace sales, a friend had requested a bracelet version, sans hot dog. This is what I came up with:

Now, the idea behind the “hot dog” was that, in addition to being a personal tribute to Joey, it would serve as a conversation piece. I’ve sold many Joey’s Hot Dogs, and I can only hope they’ve sparked conversation. One such conversation happened about a month ago. My best friend was wearing her hot dog necklace, and a coworker asked about it. Stephanie told her the story, and she showed the coworker the above bracelet.

The coworker liked them so much that she custom ordered six bracelets in her choice of colors.

Today, I posted the autism bracelets in Jaclyn1423. There are two choices: Joey’s Hot Dog bracelets and autism bracelets. For the former, $5 of every purchase will go to Autism Speaks. In fact, any piece of jewelry you order with a hot dog will get Autism Speaks $5. For the latter, $2 of every purchase will go to Autism Speaks. Any piece of jewelry you order without a hot dog but with a puzzle piece will get Autism Speaks $2. And this is no matter the month.

For these puzzle piece bracelets sans hot dog, $2 of each purchase will go to Autism Speaks. You pick the color Czech glass beads youd like. You have 12 choices!

Five dollars of every Joeys Hot Dog bracelet will be donated to Autism Speaks. You get your choice of 12 Czech glass bead colors.

This month, I’m teaming up with Handmade With A Purpose, a group of Etsy sellers and bloggers who are donating a portion of their proceeds or sponsorships to charity in April. How can you help? Well, if you’re a seller or a blogger, you can donate, too. Or, if you’re a buyer, you can patronize these shops or donate to these causes. Or, you can tweet, blog or Facebook about the project.

Or you can tweet, blog or Facebook about Joey’s Hot Dogs. If so, I send you huge hugs and big fat kisses.


7 Responses to “Joey’s Hot Dog bracelets & Autism Awareness Month”

  1. Alison March 31, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    Jaclyn – I LOVE these bracelets and that you are donating all this money. Autism is such a tricky diagnosis. I have found that no ones story is a like. I love my necklase and will be buying a bracelet very soon. They are beautiful. Hugs,

  2. Meghan March 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Omg, the first thing I thought when I saw that picture was “Aw! He likes his feet, too!” 🙂

    Love the puzzle piece bracelets. The combination of your beautiful writing and amazing jewelry is going to help bring a lot of awareness to this cause. xoxo!

  3. Judy Miller March 31, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I am the customer who ordered the 6 custom bracelets and I LOVE them. As I opened each bracelet (they were carefully wrapped in tissue) I became more and more excited. Each one was as pretty as the last. I am sure the girls will love them too. A great cause and a great way to bring focus – thank you!!

  4. Marcy March 31, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    I was actually looking at your bracelets yesterday! My son (who is 12) has Asbergers. He was fortunate enough to have had early intervention, and is quite high functioning right now. I am watching things revert as his hormones and puberty come into play. I will be back on your site to order some bracelets, and will pass it along to friends who share our story.

  5. Lindsay April 4, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    I am working on your post for tomorrow and just read through this.
    I have tears. I know you are “used” to it, but I am sure it’s still hard.
    Thank you for being willing to tell your story and for giving back.

  6. rachel / April 5, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    joey seems like he has such an incredibly patient family – with a great sense of humor. 🙂 i loved your story about the bathroom products & throwing things away. if there’s one thing autism is AWESOME at – it is SHAKING THINGS UP. 🙂 a sense of humor is necessary. i love your joey stories & i so wish there was a happy medium for the medications. we’ve been there … and decided nothing is better than the wrong one. 🙂 hugs to you!

  7. Candy April 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    I’m definitely in for a bracelet….if I can get it with tofu! (Just kidding, but I could get it without the hotdog, right?) I meant to take a pic of Ivy with the hat from last year. I’ll bet she’s still wearing it so maybe when she comes for Jen’s wedding, I can do that. It’s an important cause.

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