What Autism Means for Me
This month is Autism Awareness Month. All month organizations will be trying to bring the awareness of Autism and it's impact on families to the forefront of all who care to listen. It's a cause that is near and dear to my heart, having now both children on the Spectrum.
So what is Autism? It's a disorder, and in ever-deepening levels. First, it's a disorder of the brain that causes social dysfunction, speech delays, and odd, repetitive behaviors. It's a disorder in that parents need to spend more time focusing on their child on the Spectrum to help them learn and keep up with their peers. It's a disorder that changes family dynamics for siblings of a child with Autism as their parents spend more time with the child on the Spectrum than with them. It's a disorder that places a burden on school districts to provide classes that focus on the Autism Spectrum disorder. It's a disorder that affects a family's choice of school districts, places of worship, daily routines, places of employment, and even the choice of where to live. Everything seems to revolve around this disorder.
The United States Center for Disease Control has increased the estimate of Autism occurrence in the United States to 1 in 88 children. It used to be 1 in 150 when my son was first diagnosed, and then went up to 1 in 110. There are cries of an epidemic, calls for funding to find a "cure", rallies and walks to raise funds in order to help these children. Governments are being tasked with finding ways to fund therapies to intervene as early as possible in order to increase the chances of a child on the Spectrum to contribute positively to society. Companies are being established that use the unique abilities of many adults with Autism in order to help them take care of themselves. Political candidates, talk show hosts, researchers, and parents are doing everything they can to bring awareness to their particular point of view of this mysterious condition.
So what is Autism? For me, Autism is an older son that, at 7, remains simply on the cusp of speaking but not quite there. Yet he can type on the computer, use an iPad without difficulty, write, read, and now draw faces and stick figures. Autism is a boy who will do everything himself if he can, yet has trouble with some basic functions like using the bathroom. Autism is a son who has an amazing mechanical sense, able to take toys and, well vacuums apart, and put them back together again (and they work).Continued on the next page