I know when people hear about Autism and children with Autism the stereotypes abound. Ignorance also abounds and as it is Autism Awareness Month I thought I would tell you what Autism looks like in my house.
M2 is on the Autism Spectrum. Her official diagnosis is Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. M2 loves her family like no other deeply and passionately. She loves hugs and snuggles and is always the first kid to help you out. She does not spin, or flap or stare into space. She senses when you are happy, sad, angry or mad and most times responds appropriately. You cannot tell by looking at her that there is a problem or that she is “different”. Some days she also has great eye contact.
M2 is a size eight but don’t try to get that size on her. It is too tight, it hurts “it gimme me a red mark”. Don’t try to put her in jeans they are too heavy, too hot, “they gimme a rash.” The form fitting shirts..yeah right..pockets,keep dreaming…buttons, come on you are joking right? Socks, well the good news is that there are three types that don’t cause a melt down. Underwear is cotton only, briefs only and yes you have to check daily or might not be on at all.
Are you up for a challenge….try brushing her hair. Guaranteed meltdown in 3…..2……1
Intellectually there are challenges although she is in the 3rd grade she functions between the first and second grade. Her language skills are significantly impaired. If you don’t have the context you may not understand what she is saying at all. Her comprehension of what you are saying, well that depends on the day. She works hard at school and therapies every day and despite her significant limitations she is a happy and up beat kid.
She loves macaroni and cheese, making it, eating it and yep when Mom isn’t looking playing in it. If you want to keep her busy for a long time give her play doh. She likes music hates headphones. Loves dancing lacks coordination. M2 wants to either be a fireman, a teacher or a Mommy she isn’t quite sure yet. Her goal this summer…race walk a 5k with Mom without stopping.
When she has a meltdown she SCREAMS like no other child you have ever heard. Those blood curdling yells can be heard clearly outside when she is in the house not near an open window. If she melts she runs so you have to catch her or you might lose her all together. It can happen at home or in public and despite me knowing most of the indicators, hey I get tired too and miss them so you get to see the meltdown. When she was little it was a tantrum and people sympathized. Now at 9 I am a bad parent who spoils their kid and can’t effectively raise them. I have been corrected, stared at and condemned by strangers.
But it is not a horrible life. M2 is the most compassionate and caring kid you will ever meet. She lives with a passion for life that is like no other. We can have fun and laughter regularly without issues or problems but when it does happen…oh my does it happen.
So I would just say to someone not close to a person with Autism, the next time you see a screaming kid ask if you can help. If it is a poor parenting issue they will blow you off. If it is a Mom with a special needs kiddo she might actually explain how to help.