World Autism Awareness Day

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What Autism is

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability affecting how people communicate and experience the world around them.

It’s not always obvious that a person is autistic just by looking at them and because of this it is often referred to as a hidden disability.

Everyone with autism is different.

What Autism Isn’t

Autism is NOT the result of bad parenting.

Our son is almost five years old and he was diagnosed with autism a few months ago.

The conclusion of a year and a half’s assessment was Autistic Spectrum Disorder and our feelings were a mixture of relief, sadness and determination to do all we can to make our son’s life the best it can be.

I have learned so much about autism over the past year and a half. I’ve recognised traits within myself, as I’m sure many other parents of autistic children have. But while I fully understand my son’s struggle with an overwhelming world, living with it and being able to cope with his challenging behaviour are two entirely different things. I know what works for me but I have a lot to learn about my son.

From experience I know how judgmental people can be. Most of it comes from ignorance and I hope that today being World Autistic Awareness Day  will help people to understand autism a little better.

As the mother of an autistic child I would ask this of people.

When you next see a child screaming and shouting in a shop please don’t jump to the conclusion that this is a naughty child/bad parent situation.

Think before you pass judgement.

The next time you see a mother close to tears because her child is clinging onto the school gate, screaming, shouting and kicking out – don’t judge her as a bad parent who has no control over her child. The child could be autistic and having a “melt-down”. When an autistic child has a melt down in public it is embarrassing for the child’s parents or carer. It is not a tantrum. There is a distinct difference between a tantrum and a melt-down. With a tantrum, the child has some control over their behaviour. A melt-down is a total loss of behavioral control.

In this situation the child needs help from the parent or carer and they, in turn, can do without judgmental attitudes.

Think.

Maybe you could help.

A kind word or act.

‘Are you OK? Is there anything I can do to help you?’

You have no idea how I have longed to hear these words…

It’s never happened.

Can you even imagine how it feels?

For me the problem isn’t with autism but the people who don’t understand it.

The world is a better place for autistic people. If you were to take away autistic people from the equation we would never have known Einstein, Mozart, Issac Newton, Charles Darwin and Michelangelo. All geniuses and all believed to be autistic.

S is quirky and I love that about him.

Sometimes I am mentally exhausted by it all but it’s up to me to find a way to cope. Being a parent is the most important job you’ll ever do. Being the parent of an autistic child is both challenging and rewarding.

In the space of a few seconds he can go from laughing his head off to spitting at the wall. It’s a roller coaster. It’s one hell of a ride and one thing is for sure – it’s never boring.

It is estimated that more than one in a hundred people are autistic. You will most likely know, or know of someone, who is autistic.

Autism is NOT an excuse for bad behaviour. It took a year and a half of in-depth tests to diagnose S. It has taken a number of professionals to conclude that my son is autistic so please don’t belittle it by presuming that it is an excuse for bad behaviour.

One thing I’m sure of is that intolerance is learned. Go into any nursery or infants school and you will see how accepting children naturally are of each other. We can learn so much from our children if we only take the time to observe them.

Any sadness I feel is about how society will treat him. I am not sad that he is autistic. Nor do I mourn over what could have been. This is who he is and I’m proud to be his mum.

Tonight he will go to bed. His dad will read him a story. Ten minutes later he will shout for me. I will go in and lie down next to him. We will talk for a while. He will put his arm around me and hug me tightly. I will say, ‘I love you my little boy’ and he will sigh and say, ‘I love you my little girl’. Then he will remove his arm and say, ‘You can go now’. Dismissed – just like that lol

Our son is autistic.

But that’s only part of it.

He is an amazing human being… I just wish that everybody could see him like we do.

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I like the concept of the world lighting up on this day of awareness because he certainly lights up mine.

If a member of your family is autistic – find out as much as you can about autism. Understand them and help to dispel the myths and raise awareness.

I would love to see a time where differences are not only tolerated but embraced. Not only for my son but for every autistic child and adult.

Thank you for reading.

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” ~ Debra Ginsberg

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8 thoughts on “World Autism Awareness Day

  1. That’s a wonderful quote at the end…so true. And a beautiful post. Whatever our children are we as parents just have to nurture. That is our purpose. It’s nobody’s fault that they are born with this condition, and I’m much more informed than I used to be. Both my children show traits, the more I’ve discovered about Autism and Aspergers, the more I’ve realised that. You just have to work with them to help them on their journey in life. I’m pleased the Media can actually help with bringing awareness to this condition.

    • Thanks Stella,
      It would be wonderful if everybody felt like you do. Unfortunately there is a lot of ignorance about autism but you’re right – the media can really help in raising awareness. x

  2. Beautifully written. S is very lucky to have you as his Mum. Lots of Autisic children are sadly not so lucky. Love you.xxxxxxx

  3. It goes without saying you know I think you are an inspirational woman Tracy, 3 boys, all different but only 1 has been given a label. Every morning you must wake not knowing what lays ahead of you and S. You yourself have traits of being very sensitive to situations and although it would be easy for you to stay indoors apart from the school run, you don’t, you put your shoes on and get out there with S to allow him as much of the world that you know he can cope with. All our children are challenging at times but nothing like parents of children with special needs in one way or another.
    If twitter has taught me one thing, it’s autism, following you and other friends has opened my eyes and yes, maybe I have judged tantrums without the thought that the little person might have no way of controlling their emotions, for that I can promise you that I am truly sorry. I would hope to think you have opened my eyes to so much in life that I have been ignorant about before, not in a bad nasty way but just in not understanding.
    On a happier note I want to thank you for making me laugh at the quirky things S says and does, you give me some laugh out loud moments. I see S as a Christmas present, each morning you unwrap him and you are not sure what kind of present you’ve got inside…..1 day it will be OMG this is great and maybe another day is, thanks very much it’s lovely…..that sound odd but I know what I mean….lol
    Well done in having the most handsome little chap in S, whatever comes his way in the future, you will be there for him as long as you can.
    Love you sweetheart
    Xxxxxx

  4. Such a great comment, Sheerie – thank you for taking the time to make it…I really appreciate it.
    I’m glad that you know more about autism now and I’m glad that some of that knowledge has come via me.
    I understand the Christmas present analogy lol. It’s very true – I never know what the day will bring. Not to mention so many emotions throughout the day…
    Thank you, lovely. Love you LOADS!
    xXxXx

  5. Love you and my little buddy. I only knew the very basics about autism but slowly I’m learning more and more from you. Big huge hugs and always remember whether you’ve had a hard or ok day I’m here to listen and be there for you as much as I can. Love you xxxxxxxx

    • Thanks M,
      I don’t know where I would be without the support from you and all the other lovely people who live in my laptop. You make the difficult days bearable. Love you loads xXxXx

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