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.
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.
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