Friday, July 11, 2014

Star Tribune article about our family participating in the Life Time Fitness Triathlon on July 12th, 2014

This year's Tri isn't about great tri's about great "TIMES" being a family and inclusion.  Star Tribune reporter Megan Ryan write a story about our family in todays paper.  Will add a new pic with everyone on Saturday!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Difficult milestones when you have autism Jimmy’s 21st Birthday feels a lot like his 16th and 18th Birthdays

Jimmy and Dad at Minneapolis Institute of Arts
with his
painting Girl with Cork II
Most people that know me would say that I am a positive, cup half full kind of person.  I usually feel that way. For reasons that I don’t completely understand but have a hunch about, Jimmy’s birthday seems to cause me sadness and regret.  Jimmy will be 21 years old on July 6th.  I had great difficulty on his 16th and 18th birthdays.  The milestone birthday for most young adults are filled with excitement about the future.  For me, I can’t let go of the losses…driver’s license, true companionship, need for guardianship, voting, lack of independence, etc…

Man of the World by Jimmy Reagan
Arcrylic on Canvas 2013
Watch Jimmy create this painting on YouTube
While our kids and Josh, are excited about the prospects of Jimmy being legal, I feel regret that I haven’t changed his trajectory in life, especially as it related to his healthcare challenges.   Jimmy seems to like the discussions that Jack has with him about having a sip of wine and a puff of a cigar. Jimmy just wants to be like everyone else and experience the things he sees in life, TV and the movies.

Jimmy has gained notoriety for his art and is making his way as an artist.  His differences likely make his artwork unique. We are grateful that he has this gift and that it is well appreciated by others.   It is a marvelous outlet for him to express himself when words are otherwise lost.

Head Hurts by Jimmy Reagan
His Yoga teacher asked him to show her how
his head felt when it hurts
Wednesday morning, I had to take Jimmy to the U of MN Autism Clinic for evaluation for the County.  He has several pieces of his artwork hung in the clinic.  I hadn’t seen them in a long time.  Two are images that he created for his yoga teacher… us head hurts and stomach hurts.   The images make his point as it has been a particularly tough year with regard to his health.  I am baffled by how it is that he is allergic to food….but, he is. He will be scoped again this month to see the progress of the last six months of medical treatment.  We are sure that there is some improvement but not as much as we would like.  I hope and pray that medicine will discover better treatment options Jimmy.  It is heartbreaking to see him sit on the couch in tears crying in pain that we can’t fully comprehend or understand. His doctors are trying to understand his symptom and treat creatively….we are so far from the years ago when I sat in the doctors offices trying to convince doctors that there was something wrong as they dismissed his symptoms and my concerns.  Now, his condition is very interesting.  I hope and pray for solutions for Jimmy that will positively impact him and other families.

Stomach Hurts by JImmy Reagan
Jimmy doesn’t receive any benefits from the County, State or Federal government….he never has.  Yet, the County/government agencies still make him/us/me go through the assessment process again and again.  We have almost no contact with the County…I was told his case manager has 160 clients.  His diagnosis hasn’t changed since he was 2 ½ years old.  We have to make changes in how benefits and services work for those with autism.  People with autism don’t often fit into service categories the right way because their skill sets are so variant.  The process is so demeaning for him and for us. I am told how handicapped he is and how “challenging” my life and the life of my family is.  Followed by he doesn't qualify for services.  How is that possible?  It makes me sad that I couldn’t change this experience for him and us. But, it is what it is and we work hard to make the best of it for him and us.

Untitled lost image by JImmy Reagan from 2009
I lighten my thoughts when I look at his artwork and the bright happy colors he chooses. I tell myself that they are a glimpse into his world that chooses happiness. I visualize his joy when he shows his art and I see the gratifying smile on his face.   His artwork has grown so much since he began in 2009.  So, he is growing as a human being…isn’t that we all want to do in our life and careers?

"Selfie" by Jimmy Reagan
Acrylic on Canvas 2014

So, I will say we are blessed and see our challenges as a means to make change for Jimmy and others.  It’s a pathway to learn from the human experience and try to make changes that matter to us and others.

I lighten my emotional low on these milestone birthdays when I think of the joy Jimmy brings to other people and the hope that his art offers others as well as I remind myself that he has a purpose in life and that is really important.
Jimmy at the Good Purpose Gally in Lee, MA with his paintings
Goodbye Ron", "Girl with Leaves", Jim" and "Elizabeth".
Jimmy has a solo show at
Good Purpose November through January of 2014/15

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Jimmy Reagan Lost Images

Sometime in early 2010, I took roughly 50 of Jimmy's images to a printing firm to be scanned and to have our first group of note cards created.  After I delivered the artwork for scanning, I couldn't seem to reach the staff or owners of the business to retrieve the artwork.  After weeks of trying, I went to the shop and was told they couldn't find the was lost.  I was stunned and shocked.  I was told that they had a disgruntled employee who either took them or disposed of them.  Fortunately, I had taken poor digital images of the artwork.  I thought I'd post some of these as Jimmy has grown so much as an artist since 2009 when he began creating art.  I miss these works particularly the portraits of van much emotion in them.  You can view current works at