I want to share my experience in having a child with Autism and how I personally feel the need for more education on Autism Spectrum Disorders. I didn’t know anything other than the “hand flapping” I had heard of kids doing that was related to Autism in the beginning.. I have a four year old son who from about the time we were transitioning from baby food to solid foods I had a sense something was off..not in a bad way..just something wasn’t “right” or “normal”…which is called neurotypical in the spectrum world. I personally have always been very aware of myself and my children in medical issues as I believe my passion lies in helping others..I’ve always been the caregiver type of person and partially because it’s almost an intuition I have..a sixth sense some would agree. So I paid extra attention to the little things, not rolling over, taking much longer to “babble” than you would expect, yet it was the food that really set me into researching. It’s one thing to be a “picky” eater, it is a whole other issue when it physically makes a child vomit by just the food touching his or her mouth. Ironically I caught all of the “warning” signs before our peditrician did, which didn’t surprise my pediatrician given my diligence and constant research. He apologized and complimented me on my correct diagnosis of my son and from there we moved ahead in our clinical diagnosis. We were referred to the Alexander Center in Eden Prairie Minnesota. What an amazing place and a wonderful team of doctors and therapists we had! Now even though I knew this was coming..I have to say, hearing a team of doctors give you the actual diagnosis, was very emotional for me personally. I cried…a lot in that meeting..it wasn’t until the next day that I realized why I cried..I mean I already knew what they were telling me..I realized I was crying out of fear of the unknown..at this point I had the answers to all of the “whys” but it is so much to take in…it is a ton of information and everyones diagnosis and treatment plan is different..that is why it is called a spectrum disorder. If you have met one person with Autism, you have met ONE person with Autism..each person is completely different in what makes them tic and how their brain functions..if I can give two pieces of advice, rememeber what I just said about meeting someone with Autism and please know children with Autism do not look any different, so please don’t ever tell someone, “They don’t look Autistic” A person DOES NOT “look” Autistic! If you speak this way it clearly shows ignorance and lack of education. I share this because I personally delt with this situation when I took my son to the Minnesota State Fair this past weekend…let me share..
My son loves jumping on the trampoline so when he noticed the trampoline “ride” where they had ones for younder children so I thought if he really wants to do this we will give it a go! Now mind you my son does NOT like being thrown up in the air so I was a bit concerned as to how he would do once the harness wast atached. While parents lined up to the left, your child to the right with ticket in hand..my son was so excited along with the little girl behind him in line, now I was a little cautious as the childrens line was moving further ahead than the parents line was and my son is never out of eye sight as he looks to me for guidence..after him making it to the man checking his weight I moved ahead in line so I could make eye contact with my son when another worker came up to me and said, “I see you are an over-protective parent, he will be fine.” I looked at him…and very calmly, yet stern said, “I sir am NOT an over-protective parent, my son is Autistic and needs more guidence then the other children I see around him..please educate yourself if you are to work with children.” The man felft awful and apologized a handfull of times in the few moments before I followed my son to the line..my son also can only handle two step directions so the worker telling him very fast where to go and wait by pointing, which my son cannot follow pointing directions either, was very confused let alone add all of the smells, sounds, heat along with his excitement for the ride…thank goodness I took the mans words in stride and just followed my son..and honestly I was most upset he called me an “over-protective parent” as in I don’t let my son do anything because of my fears…that literally couldn’t be further from the truth! I’m proud of my son and I’m proud of my parenting skills..we continued our day at the fair and hopefully ONE person was affected by meeting someone with Autism and he will educate himself on Autism so he doesn’t embarrass himself again. 🙂 (It was not the man in photo working with my son.)
I had starting reading and researching Autism prior to our diagnosis and had been looking into St. Davids Center for Autism located in Minnetonka Minnesota, they are a private (seperate from school districts) therapy center that offers day treatment programs which include speech and occupational therapy which is what my son needs. Today, we were accepted into the program after a short 2month wait..we hoped for October so a month early is quite exciting for us! I highly reccomend checking into each of these facilities if you are in need of treatment for Autism in the twin cities.
Now the upside of Autism your wondering…the upside is educating, researching and finding the best treatment possible for your child..it is being your childs avocate and doing all you can to support and educate yourself and anyone who is in contact with your chlid…doing so will result in such an amazing relationship between you and your child..and you will be so proud of your child and what your child TEACHES YOU! It is truly an amazing journey that I wouldn’t change for anything in the world!
Ms.Luck & my super-hero side kick!