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What do you know about Autism?

February 5, 2013

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This “meme” I saw this morning is hilarious and true.  And got me to thinking:  What do you know about Autism?  It’s a mysterious thing, …. It is different in every child that is diagnosed.  Then you throw on top on top of that regular good old child development, and you are wading through a web of what is normal what is autism.  I have to remind myself that not only is my son ASD he is also in his *ferocious fours*,  *I can do everything myself* mode or *Kindergarten attitude* (that is what we called it when I was a teacher) , which can be magnified by 1000 times.  It can seem like a huge task for us to figure out how to help him best.  But with the right info I hope we are making good decisions for him to be a success!

autism

When I had my son back in 2008 the rates for Autism where somewhere around 1 – 125 children.  I had a distant sense of autism but I was SURE my child wouldn’t be affected by it.  You see, he was a bright, smiling, sweet, loving, affectionate baby.  He made eye contact (although looking back not as much as he should) He gave kisses, he cuddled, he was in no way distant or cold.  I remember getting this questionnaire at his pediatrician office.  It was supposed to catch autism early on.  Here are the questions:

  • Does the baby turn her head when her name is called?
  • Does the baby smile?
  • Make eye contact?
  • Imitate simple facial expressions?
  • Imitate gestures?
  • Becomes upset when you leave?
  • Notice when you enter the room?

He did all of these things except for responding to his name.  We thought he had a hearing problem for a long time, but his hearing was checked and was just fine.  His doctor and I chuckled and joked that it was due to him being stubborn. I wish I knew more back then…. Or maybe I wish I knew different.  I wish I knew that a child on the spectrum didn’t have to act cold or distant.. I wish I knew that children of the spectrum could be bubbly and funny and sweet and loving!  I wish I knew that not all autism was defined by what I saw on TV or Movies.  Autism is different in every child.  When we had him tested at 3 these were some of the questions we were asked:

  • Point to objects
  • Looks toward items that you point to
  • Shows objects of interest to you
  • Interact with other children
  • Engage in pretend play
  • Meet developmental milestones

Well, he didn’t point to objects and he didn’t look toward items we pointed at.  He interacted with his cousins.. but didn’t do pretend play.  And his language was delayed.  He didn’t talk much until he was well into 2 years.. close to 3.  He hit many more of these markers and got the diagnosis of ASD.  Needless to say, I watch my younger son like a hawk, and will have him tested too.  He is 20% more likely (on top of the the 1-54 boys statistic) to be on the spectrum.  He is a much different baby/toddler then his big brother, but in the world of Autism… that might not mean much.

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Nope, my son doesn’t act like Dustin Hoffman did in Rain Man.  Yes my Son is Autistic, and yes so was Dustin Hoffman’s character in that movie. (and I do love that movie, but interestingly enough, I haven’t watched it since my son’s diagnosis….)  I know it can be confusing to others who are not in the world of Autism.  Here is a brief, VERY BRIEF, explanation of some of the types on the Autism spectrum:

Autism Types

But look at this!!!

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So my son is in great company with his Autism.  Did you know that many think  Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, James Joyce and Thomas Jefferson all had some form of Autism? I do think they all used parts of their brains that the rest of us Neurotypical brains could only hope too.  They are different.  And it’s ok.  Look what each brought to the world.

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 But just the very word AUTISM seems scary to parents and the general public .  It did to us.  I have overcome that with time, researching, reading, and working with his teachers.  I ask questions all the time.  I look things up.  I try so hard not to bury my head in the sand.  The earlier the acceptance,  the earlier the treatment and therapies, the earlier the understanding ~the better.  The difference in my son from 6 months ago to now is astounding.  Not only have the classes, treatments and therapies worked wonders, but so has the acceptance and understanding of family and friends.  So… what do you know about Autism??  I hope you found a little bit of info here, but more importantly, I hope you go look for yourself.   The rates are climbing.  When he was born, it was 1-125.  Now it’s 1-88.. and the projection for the future is truly scary.

 What I know about Autism is that someone I love with all my heart is on the spectrum and he is truly one of a kind.  I wonder who will play him in the movie about his life? 😉

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2 Comments
  1. My son did all of those things at age one, too! I sometimes feel that those “red flags” don’t detect high functioning autism. Those things come out a little later. But the perception of autism is what is really the problem! I just wrote about that in my post this morning! Let’s start changing the way people think of autism!!

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