Every 11 minutes another family receives news that their child has Autism Spectrum Disorder. These days, more Americans are being diagnosed with Autism more than ever before. The good news is that there is a growing awareness of developmental disorders in general. The bad news is that there are not enough resources to help families survive through the ups and downs of Autism. Treatment for Autism is expensive without resources. Autism is becoming more common. Autistic children eventually become adults and need help later in life.
My son, Andre, has Autism. I noticed that Andre wouldn't respond to his name and avoided eye contact. I saw the signs, but I didn't want to believe that he might have Autism. He's my first baby. I went to all my doctors appointments, I took all my vitamins, ate my vegetables. I took him to the doctor for his evaluation which involved a doctor, nurse, speech and occupational therapist, psychologist, social worker and a psychiatrist. Can you imagine being in a room with people who don't know your son, sit and watch you interact with your child for 30 min or so ( it felt like forever) and ask you questions? Then, they left the room for 30 min or so, came back with tissue and told me that my son has Autism. I was I mixture of emotions. How could they come up with that based on talking to me and talking to Andre?
What is Autism? Autism is a developmental disorder, typically diagnosed during the first three years of life. It is neurological in nature, affecting the brain in four major areas of functioning: language/communication, social skills, sensory systems, and behavior. The cause of autism remains a mystery. Current research suggests there may be different subsets rising from genetics, environmental toxins, or a combination of both. Every person with autism is unique, with a different profile of strengths and challenges. No two individuals manifest the same characteristics in the same degree of severity. It is a “spectrum” disorder, and the various individual diagnoses are collectively referred to as autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Individuals on the spectrum range from those who are nonverbal with severe challenges that can include self-injurious behaviors and mental retardation, to individuals on the higher functioning end of the spectrum (known as Asperger’s Syndrome) who are extremely intelligent, with good expressive verbal language, yet markedly impaired social skills and weak perspective-taking abilities. Some of the signs and symptoms are no response to their name, avoiding eye contact, trouble understanding one or other feelings and obsessive attachments just to name a few. If you see these signs it is very important to go see a specialist for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment for Autism is expensive without resources. Some examples of treatment would include psychiatric, psychological, rehab and therapeutic care.
I was in denial for a very long time after Andre was diagnosed. I was sad and depressed. I felt like I let my son down. I felt like I wasn't good mom. Every time I would think about it I would just cry. Then one day, I told myself that just because that paper said Andre has Autism, that doesn't make him who he is. Andre is still Andre. He is my baby and I'm going to do whatever it takes for him to be the best that he can be. Andre is ten years old now. He goes to a school that is designed for children with special needs. He gets speech and occupational therapy in school. We have had many ups and down on this journey. I thank God for the great support team that he has. I want Andre to be able to function within society instead of society looking down on him and not helping him. I know that I won’t be around forever to help him. The thought of this scares me every day.
Early detection is key. Once you know, then you can work on how to teach them the way they can learn. Having a great support team and someone to talk to also helps. We need to continue raising awareness in our communities. The outbreak of Autism is continuing to grow. We, as adults, need to step up and speak out about Autism. One person cannot do it alone.
Protective style lover, taco connoisseur, DIYer, makeup fanatic, Autism mom.