April is Autism Awareness Month, unlike some other disabilities or disorders Autism has no medical detection or cure. Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. My beautiful ALMOST 9 year old son is Autistic. He lights up my life and has made my heart not only bigger but more caring and understanding then I ever thought was possible. All Autistic children are different, some are very severe and some, like Aiden are high functioning.
My son started showing signs around 18 months and at that point we just thought he had a speech delay. He was completely OBSESSED with Thomas the Train and I really thought it was because the cartoon was maybe brainwashing him or something. We started taking him to doctor after doctor to see if they had any answers. We went to a Neurologist, ENT and a Speech Pathologist and didn’t get many answers. Around 3 he was finally enrolled into a school program for Early Intervention called Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities. We owe SO much to the school system we are in. Aiden came home everyday with new words, songs and social skills. Since about 1st grade he stays in his regular classroom FULL TIME! He manages to stick to the schedule daily with only minimal outbursts. Like all children he has good and bad days. One of the biggest things I have noticed in the last year is that he has gotten SO mush better with eye contact and initiating conversations with me. He will notice familiar people when we are out running errands and 50% of the time will remember their names. 🙂 Aiden will eat almost any kind of grilled chicken I make, but still struggles with eating “normal” foods like cereal with milk in it. It’s hard being a parent and its even harder being a parent of a child with Autism. Not only do we have to hear criticism from family, friends and strangers about why we “LET” him behave and eat how he wants. We also have to deal with him finding the tiniest green speck in his food and then refuses to eat. He is getting older now and asks me if he can start the car and when can he start driving. We just got him diagnosed by a Phycologist (previously has just been though the school district) so we will be able to get him more help. I try to get as much help for him as I can, there are so many things I do not know or understand how to teach him. Aiden does a thing called echolalia (replicated utterances that are produced or echoed immediately or almost immediately after they are heard). It is the hardest thing to get him to stop doing. I typically let him do it 2-3 times then I tell him “ok we just heard that, lets move on”. He is so smart, loving and kind. It amazes me how he can direct me to get somewhere he has only been to one time. He says he has a map in his head. His social skills are still rough around the edges but he’s only 9 (in 9 days!!) . We have very high hopes for Aiden. We believe he will live a normal life one day.
I encourage anyone to get help for their children if they have any reason to believe it could be Autism. The earlier they start getting help the better the outcome will be!! Don’t be in denial that there is something “wrong” with your child. If you need help finding resources let me know I’d be happy to help! As hard as it can be to accept that your child is different just know that they need you to help them, teach them and most importantly ALWAYS love them.
In the last year or so we signed up for a study called ‘Tooth Fairy’. They test his baby teeth along with other children who have and don’t have Autism. They are looking for information about environmental exposures both before and right after birth. I am still waiting to hear the results. Last week we sign up for another study that is called ‘Spark’ and it will test my, my husband and both sons DNA. I am not sure what it will or will not tell us, but I am open to helping get more answers for the Autism community. We have also signed Aiden up for ABA ( applied behavior analysis) therapy through Butterfly Effects. The therapy should start in late May we are very hopeful to see even more improvement! I have heard amazing things about them. Be sure to check out AutismSpeaks.org for more info and resources.
1st photo cred: http://countrygracephotography.com