First I would like say thanks for all the allergy well wishes! Thanks to my new over-the-counter friend, Zyr*tec, I am feeling MUCHO better. It took about 4 days after starting the medicine, but it really did the trick. My eye finally stopped crying and now I am just dealing with the aftermath of that…skin that is dry and patchy and trying to regenerate! Ha!
On a more serious note…
Today, April 2nd, is the very first World Autism Awareness Day. April is Autism Awareness Month.
“Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.” ~Autism Speaks
Eight years ago, almost to the day, my son, Jacob was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. Though it was a shock at the time, we know we are incredibly blessed to have this gifted child as our son. I see his giftedness. But many don’t. This is why I feel spreading awareness about autism is so important.
Autism is a hidden disability. Because children with autism look like everyone else, they are often mistaken by “well-meaning onlookers”, who have perfect children, as a disciplinary issue that could easily be solved by a good solid butt-whoopin’. Oh, that it could be that simple.
Chances are, you have encountered someone with autism.
Next time you see a kid having a meltdown at your local Super Wal*Mart, think twice before you pass judgment on that kid and his mom. Think twice before you offer free advice to her about her parenting skills. Perhaps instead you can be understanding. Be aware of the possibility that there is something more going on. Maybe the crying baby on the next aisle has assaulted his sensitive ears to the point where he is screaming and falling down boneless on the floor. What is just background noise to you may very well be causing physical pain to an autistic child and without the ability to verbally express what is upsetting him, he reacts the only way he can. It’s probably not because his mom won’t let him get the Cap’n Crunch he likes for breakfast.
The social cues that you and I naturally pick up on are foreign concepts that have to be taught to those with autism. Something so natural as responding when someone speaks to you, for example. Or turn taking in a conversation. He may have no friends. He may react wildly when he loses a game of checkers. He may never be invited to birthday parties. He may scream and tear up a test he made a mistake on. Or he may not speak at all.
He may learn to tie his shoes and ride a bike. He may one day say, “I love you, Mom.” Maybe one day he’ll let you see into his world.
Or he may be the first chair trumpet. He may be the math whiz. He may have 500 Pokemon cards or be able to name every brand of vacuum cleaner ever produced. He may be a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He may have composed famous symphonies. He may have been a famous physicist or a famous author. You just never know.
Don’t underestimate persons with autism, try to understand.
“Autism is about having a pure heart and being very sensitive… It is about finding a way to survive in an overwhelming, confusing world… It is about developing differently, in a different pace and with different leaps.
Autistic beings develop and bloom if their spirits, talents and self-esteem are not destroyed by bullies, prejudice, ‘doggie-training’, and being forced to be ‘normal’.” ~Trisha Van Berkel
For more information about autism: Autism Speaks, OASIS: Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support, Autism Society of America