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totally anonymous

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autism :a mom's perspective
by totally anonymous   
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Last edited: Saturday, March 25, 2006
Posted: Saturday, March 18, 2006

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As a mom of 4, two of which have a.s.d. my two cents so to speak

My kid's pediatrician told me that all kids are different and develop at their own pace and not to worry.I worried anyway, Always trust your instincts. I am the mother of 2 autistic daughters and their development has taught me a thing or two about how kids really grow.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that affects the functioning of the brain. That's the polite definition that the doctors give you. Here's my definition: Autism is an incredibly confounding, constantly changing, never typical, mysterious way of life (sounds a little like a relationship, only much more complicated). All of the baby books that I'd read and practically memorized when Aryssa was born went into a symbolic bonfire when she turned a year old. she stopped talking at 18 months. She didn't get out of diapers til she was 6. She didn't do much of anything on time after that and I figured that, coupled with her stubborn disposition, was just my gene pool. The developmental charts mocked her progress and were a constant reminder that she was "different". Different. Seems like such an innocent label - but the world doesn't take kindly to "different". I discovered that the hard way.

Before I was a mother, I used to listen to little kids banging their spoon on the table and think, "Jeez, don't those parents HEAR that?" Well, Now as a mother I'm happy to say that there apparently is a biological shutdown in the ability to hear your own
child's disruptive behavior. And, as a result, you also lose the ability to see the expressions on the faces of the other patrons. It was quite a parental sanity saver really.

Once an autistic child hits 3 it changes. Every fiber of your being is suddenly painfully aware of your child's strange and "different" behavior. Autistic kids do not like change or disruptions to their daily patterns. Their brains are hyper-wired for structure and order and the world is a very, very unorderly place. The average mother bear doesn't always go to the same store at the same time, the same way, the same aisles every single shopping trip. Try explaining that to a non-verbal autistic 10 year old. Even worse, try explaining the whole situation to the other 250 or so people in the store who are witnessing your child's complete breakdown over the change in her routine. Of course, you'd have to explain very LOUDLY over the incredible screaming that your 10 year old is now doing. Chances are you won't have much luck, because now you're also crying and having difficulty breathing and the woman 3 carts in front of you with the neurologically typical children tells the checker that your kid is just a spoiled brat and probably needs a good spanking. 4 aisles and 7 carts away there is a man who can only hear all of this hubbub and is now cussing you out wondering why you won't just leave. All of the combined cacophony leaves the autistic child even more upset, confused and frightened and increases her tantrum level, which you didn't think was possible. Do you now leave your full cart in the store and head for the hills? How will the shopping ever get done now? How do you face evergoing back to this store where people now recognize you, see you coming and stare at you with disdain even before the tantrums begin? How will you find the strength to get up tomorrow and do this all over again, starting with the unimaginable pain of just brushing their teeth?

The autistic child doesn't have a flashing red light over her head that announces to the world that she's autistic. In fact, she's just another beautiful looking child, much like yours. What she does have is behavior problems. People with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and
non-verbal communication and social interactions. It makes it hard for them to relate to the rest of the world. Sometimes they display aggressive or self-injurious behavior. They often exhibit repeated body movements like hand-flapping or rocking. Often autistic people have
unusual responses to people or attachments. Almost all autistic people have increased sensitivities in the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

Over one half million people in the United States today have autism or some form of pervasive developmental disorder. This statistic makes autism one of the most common developmental disabilities. Even so, most of the public -- including many professionals in the medical, educational and vocational fields - are still unaware of how autism affects people and how they can effectively work with individuals with autism.

Early in childhood, one of the virtues most parents try to instill in their children is tolerance of their fellow man. It is my hope, that more people will continue adding to their original List of People to Tolerate and include people who are different. Try to develop a little compassion and understanding for individuals who think and color outside of the lines. Oh, and if you see me and my kids in the store (or more likely HEAR us) - just smile at us, and encourage the check-out line to move a little faster. Just because we're different, we could use a little helping of your tolerance today.

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Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher
This is a great article. We agree with Molly and Retta, this article should be read by many people! We wish you lots of strength in dealing with the ignorant people who seem to be found everywhere. It takes a lot of strength to deal with 'different' family members as it is, and you are doing a great job!
Birgit and Roger
Reviewed by m j hollingshead
excellent article, hopefully many will read it. I am a teacher, and have and have had autistic children in the classroom, parents of 'perfect' children tend to have selective memory and selective awareness regarding the behavior of their own children
Reviewed by Retta (Reindeer) Mckenzie
I admire your strength and thank you for the information, my daughter was mildly autistic., she could not stand noise, light or people, and perferred her own company to that of others. I count my self lucky. she was in special classes with others who were much worse off. I think this is one of the best writes on this subject that I have ever read. It should be posted where people everywhere can read it.
Reviewed by Nikki Edmonds (Reader)
What I really like is the great job you did at showing the insensitivity of others who don't understand our children and the way they sound to us (kind of like the jerks who think we just haven't taught our children proper etiquette and we must have been raised in caves and are raising our children similarly). A lot of people out there could stand to read this. It's painful enough to see your child have to suffer through this without having to also hear others be mean to her (or him).

Frankly, when someone says something stupid about my daughter, I usually have no problem telling them in less than polite terms that my child is autistic and they're going to have to be a little more patient. Oh, and if it bothers them, they might think about letting me go to the front of the line so I can take my child and get out of their way.

Great job.

Mother of Shannon; female, 6 years old, with PDD.
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
Oh I have read about autism but I still don't understand it.

All I can say thank God i don't have to deal with it....but I do have a rebelion problem that might be even worse I guess!!

Thanks for being so brave to share this !!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Sandy Knauer
I admire your strength, and your writing skills. You've educated, entertained, and inspired me, in one short article. Very well done.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
I have read about autism, but I still don't understand it. Your article will enlighten, inform, and educate. God bless you, and all the best to you and your family as you cope with this disability. Very well done!

(((HUGS))) and love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn.
Reviewed by Felix Perry
More education and public awareness is definately needed and thank you for sharing this information with us. My friends daughter is autistic and she was the subject of the short story I posted here shortly after joining.

Reviewed by L. Figgins
You have described the autistic child with amazing accuracy. Yes, mothers, listen to your intuition. At the age of 2 my son Shaun was hyperactive and behind in verbal skills. His older sister would translate for him--she had an uncanny way of knowing what he wanted to express--allthough he was at or above physical markers for his age. I had him tested at the age of three to be placed in a special pre-school program. He was found to be "borderline". At my insistance he was placed into a Developmentally Delayed preschool program. When time came for Kindergarten, he was placed in a regular class(28!)and thinking his behaviour was defiance, his teacher would punish him. Ok another fight to have him placed into Special Ed, where he thrived in a class of 6 students. Even then, at the first conference his teacher complained that he refused to color. I calmly told her that he prefered to paint and that when his motor skills were sufficiently developed he would use crayons. After hearing her go into a lecture of how she had to go to work each day whether she wanted to or not, I contacted the District Psychologist who agreed with my assessment and talked with his teacher. I could go on and on. It was a constant struggle all through his school years. Strides are being made both in understanding and treating Autism which has reached epidemic proportions. There are many theories on the cause.
But the brain and the study of brain functioning is still in its infancy. Would you beleive that my son was diagnosed with Autism/PPD
only at the age of 21! You're right about it being hard to notice, as the differences are not blatant until puberty, when the chasm becomes painfully wide and the autistic child can no longer interact effectively with his peers. One teacher tried to explain Shaun by saying "he doesn't know where he is in space", a good description I think. One thing that people should know is that there are many levels of functioning from low to high. From no cognizance or interaction with the outside world to being able to work and go to college with assistance. My son is somewhere in-between. Imagine yourselves mute, unable to write or express the thoughts in your head and you have some idea what it is like. Imagine, also, the times you woke up at night to go to the bathroom and those first moments before you turned on the light and were feeling your way through the dark. Thank you, t.a, for this well-written article. God bless you and your girls...

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