Two things that are often paired with one another, autism and ignorance. There are many people out there who are ignorant on what autism is. You can’t just look at a child and say, “They don’t have autism” or “Oh yeah, they have autism alright.” You have to either be familiar with it, or get to know that child well enough to see the signs.
Some look at my daughter and think there’s nothing wrong with her, that she’s just quiet and reserved. Some tell me that she’s just slow because she couldn’t sing her ABC’s to you. Some tell me that meltdowns are a part of her being a child and that I’m not doing right by properly punishing her and letting her get away with bad behavior. If there was a class to learn about what autism is, I would suggest it to these people, but unfortunately there isn’t. There isn’t a class for us parents who have autistic children, to learn how to deal or cope. There ARE support groups, but not enough out there and some aren’t even nearby.
There are many sides to autism, not every child with autism are the same, it’s that broad. That’s why the doctors call it, autism on the spectrum. One child may display anti-social behaviors, while another child many not be anti-social. One child may like to hug, whereas the other child doesn’t want to be touched completely. Lack of eye contact, inability to understand emotions, delayed speech, all those that I’ve said above are all autistic behaviors.
My daughter has progressed so well since having started therapy. I commend each of her therapist as I’m starting to understand my daughter better and she is able to understand me better. After picking her up from daycare each day I’ll ask her, “Did you have a fun at school today?” It took her many months before she would reply with a yes. A small word that many parents may brush off as being normal, but for me that’s in a sense, moving mountains.
Just yesterday at breakfast we were eating eggs and toast, our usual breakfast meal as she would only eat just that. She looks up at me with cinnamon on her face and says with a big smile, “I like toast.” It threw me for a second as this is the first time she’s ever confirmed liking anything. Better yet, this is the first time she’s used a full intelligent sentence with every word being understandable and clear. She usually talks in babbling sentences with one or two words that are understandable or mumbled to the point I have her repeat what she said just so I could try and figure out what it is she is trying to say. This is where it gets upsetting, her inability to communicate clearly and my inability to understand what she’s trying to say.
Another thing ignorance doesn’t see is that majority of children with autism are very, very smart. Every day I can see just how smart my daughter is. She may not be able to communicate very well, but she does not forget anything, especially if you told her something this morning, she’ll remember it at the end of the day. She can put a puzzle together really fast on her kindle. She can understand three different languages, even say a few words in another language. She can even count to ten in Spanish without missing a beat.
A person should never judge the capabilities of a child with special needs. That child may look at us as the one with a special needs. My daughter continues to amaze me every day. I have never judged what she can and can’t do. I myself will test that, just to show others that you can’t tell me I can’t do something. My exact response is always, “watch me!” My daughter will learn this from me, and I will be there to encourage her every step of the way. Autism isn’t a disability or something to be afraid of. Autism isn’t a label. It just gives a child their own uniqueness. The ability to show those that are ignorant around them that they are just that, ignorant for not believing in what they can do and for judging and doubting them.
You are so right. The speech thing is difficult for sure. My girl speaks in mostly 3 words beyond it gets a little hard to understand. That’s when I lean in and ask her to repeat it to see if I can pick apart the words and understand them. Usually if I can’t I tell her to show me in communication book and we try and talk the word out. Have learned a lot being in speech apts with her. Picked up some of the techniques and used them at home. The ignorance is tough to get over at times especially when it comes from the family but we move on.
I LOVE this post! I’m afraid that I used to judge other parents when I saw children acting up or throwing tantrums. After all, my 1st three children were so well behaved! Then, we had our 4th and he is teaching me everyday about patience, understanding, and compassion. Now when I see children acting up or throwing tantrums, I give the mom a smile because I think she probably needs it!
I think there is always one child that breaks the mold. For an autism child, their way of understanding things is a little different as they see things differently. I have learned in Sociology class that their connectors in their brains to function correctly, so for them it seems hard to fully understand reasoning, emotions, and other things.
This exactly! My son communicates in an entirely different way than his older siblings and it’s like I had to learn a new language to understand his needs.
Great perspective and insight!