Autism Awareness Month, Y’all!

Hey, you know someone with Autism, so it’s time to learn a little more about it! We heard “yes, it’s Autism” when our child was 5. It’s scary to hear. There are many variances within the Autism spectrum. If on the milder end of the spectrum, it’s called PDD-NOS or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. Yep. Now you know why we use acronyms. (update: by the way, PDD-NOS is no longer a diagnosis.  just Autism.  whatev.)

Many with any degree of Autism have sensory and social issues. Like,  being super sensitive to sound, light, crowds, foods, people, etc. And not ever being overly social. (or being way too social) BUT, we’ve all worked REALLLLY hard –and are seeing great improvements, like being a lot more social now. Also, the ability to tolerate way more foods and situations than in the past is possible. It is possible to see improvements and it is possible to cope better.  Not possible to “cure.”

What has worked for us?  Lots of gentle exposure.  Key word, gentle. Do not throw your child out there with the attitude of “well, they have to learn how to function in this world!” It is OUR job as parents to help our children and guide them, lovingly. Food issues were dealt with in the same way. With age, this has gotten better and we can have more than green beans as a vegetable. Also, we have documented food allergies/intolerances.  Gut issues are common with people who have Autism, so please take it seriously.  I promise we’re not trying to be difficult by asking for a specific type of milk. Some kids cannot have corn products. We have wheat problems. It varies, just like our kids. Speech and language therapy helped, Occupational Therapy helped and a social skills class helped.  Yep. Social skills.  Reading social cues and situations is very difficult for many. Help them know how to respond.  Role play. Give them words.

My biggest wish for you? Learn about Autism. Learn how it affects those with the diagnosis. Don’t be scared to ask questions. (ask me if you want an answer!  you know I love to talk, so ask away!) Believe me, people with Autism know they are different.  And no 2 people with Autism are alike. It affects everyone differently, hence the “spectrum”.  They can’t help that certain things are very overwhelming to them, even though you think it shouldn’t be.  You know what? When you hug me and I don’t know you, it makes my skin crawl.  Smelling meat frying makes me nauseated.  We are all so similar in our uniqueness. Just take my word for it……it’s not a discipline issue.  Of course, above all else, kids are kids, so they act like kids. A little girl or a little boy with Autism. A little girl or little boy who is funny, smart, a little brother or sister.

One more thing…..when people say, “I don’t think I could handle having a child with a disability. Or Autism. Or special needs. Or _____ -you fill in the blank. God knew you could handle this.” Or, my least favorite, “God gives special children to special moms.” It’s really not a compliment.  For one, of course you could handle it. You can handle anything you want to handle. You were created that way. Don’t underestimate yourself. Secondly, it’s kinda like you’re saying you’re glad it’s my child and not yours. But I get it….I’m glad God gave me my child, too! I’m no more special than any other Mama.  I’ve just chosen to embrace my life that I’ve been given. You can, too.

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Spend a few minutes reading about Autism Spectrum Disorders today…..do it for me! Really, do it for yourself.  After all, it is World Autism Awareness Day! Blue is the official color!

Autism Speaks has info about adult services, community connections and health and wellness tips.

TACA has lots of good info about treatments, including diet suggestions and signs/symptoms of Autism.

Your state should have information, too.  Check the department of education if your child is age 3 or older.

FYI, many people with Autism do not want to be FIXED. They embrace their uniqueness and want to be accepted, just like you and I want to be accepted for who we are.

Show a little grace to those mamas and daddies  just hearing the words “your child has Autism.” It’s a blow.  Learn with them and show them some love. They’ll need it! We all do.

 

{linked with Holley’s blog today because advocating for all children IS my dream!}

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