April is Autism Awareness month. Recently new statics came out saying that 1 in 68 children have Autism and 1 in 42 boys have Autism. Most likely you know someone with Autism and I think everyone is pretty "aware" of it. However, I think it is greatly misunderstood. I want to focus on Autism this month, on what it is and is not and how it affects our lives, etc.
Living life with Autism is hard and unpredictable but also full of blessing and wonder. Here are some things I wish everyone knew about our lives with Autism.
1. Our child is on the spectrum.
Little Man is higher functioning so he is on the upper end of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Just because he doesn't sit in a corner spinning plates all day does not mean that he was mis-diagnosed). If you look at my child as a determination on whether you child is on the spectrum or not you will probably miss something. Their are "classic" things that most children with Autism struggle with (socialization, communication, eating problems, sensory problems, etc) but each child will display those things differently. We are constantly learning who he and how ASD displays it's self in his life.
2. Little Man is SMART!
I love to watch people come to this realization. He is a smart cookie. He may struggle to verbalize. He may not yet know his numbers and letters. Those things do not determine how intelligent he is though. His biggest strength is that he can look at all these different pieces and put together a bigger picture of something. Unspoken things or things Tony and I speak "around" do not get past him.
3. Our lives are a roller coaster ride.
There is a reason Little Man's therapist ask how his week went. Some days he is doing great, happy as a lark, talking well. Other days he struggles to look at us, struggles to talk, lays around and mopes. Some mornings he starts low but snaps out of it sometime in the day and does great. And vise versa. He can have an awful day at school and do exceptionally well at Awana. We never know how he will handle something and he often shocks us (good or bad) making us very unprepared.
4. We learn everything.
Everything Little Man can is because he learned how to do it. He had to be taught. He plays imaginative games he learned from his sisters. He knows how to lie because he watched others do it. He can take turns in a board game because he was taught. He builds pyramids when he builds with Legos because that's what mommy builds. Every moment that he is in our care is a therapeutic moment in which we are teaching him something. We don't just play memory match to have fun but we do it to teach turn taking, patience, communication, and enjoyment to be with others. It's about the process, not about the game.