Enjoy this wonderful guest post by my blogger friend, Chantelle, from She’s Losing It.
With autism as prevalent as it is, I am always surprised when I meet someone who has no idea what it is. From Autism Speaks: “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.”
1 in 88 children is affected by autism. Mine is one of them.
This is Taylor. She’s 9 years old. She’ s funny, smart, independent, sweet, quirky, silly and persistent She also has autism. Because of her autism, Taylor is non verbal. She also has social and academic delays. These aren’t easy things to deal with, but her tenacious spirit makes it so easy to overlook her challenges and love her for who she is.
That being said, the challenges that Taylor faces are very real and sometimes scary for me. I often wonder what her teenage and adult years will be like. There is so much uncharted territory waiting for us in the future and I have no idea where it will lead us.
How did you find out that your child was autistic?
I get this question a lot. There were signs…some we recognized some we did not. Our biggest sign that something was not quite right was that Taylor wasn’t hitting her milestones. She rolled over late, crawled late, sat up unattended late (and later walked late…not until she was 2 1/2). Our pediatrician thought she was a late bloomer. As time went on, we realized that this was not the case. A few months before Taylor turned 2 we began to have her evaluated by Early On, an agency in our area that deals with developmental delays in children from birth to age 3. After several months, it was determined that she had autism. I think in the back of my mind I knew that it was autism, nonetheless, I was devastated with the diagnosis.
We are lucky to have a phenomenal Special Education school here that Taylor could attend. She was enrolled at the tender age of 2 1/2. At 9, she still attends this school and loves it. She has made tremendous progress in the last 7 years. Early intervention had a lot to do with that. She has an education plan in place that is specifically tailored to her needs. She studies things that “typical” third graders study: math, science, reading…but they are presented to her in ways that she understands. She also gets help with life skills: brushing her hair and teeth, using the bathroom independently and using silverware. She gets gym time, pool time and music class, too. She’s a busy kid and she loves every second of it.
April is Autism Awareness month. Right now Facebook is flooded with puzzle pieces, awareness posts and lots of “Light it Up Blue”. It happens every April. May comes along, the Autism posts dwindle and posts about something else takes their place. For me, my family and thousands of families around the world, every day is autism awareness day. We make it our mission to educate others, so they understand and recognize the signs of autism.
Please help us spread awareness by educating yourself about autism. While it may not affect you directly, it may affect someone you know. There are many great resources out there where you can find out more information about autism or where you can donate to autism research if you are inclined. Autism Speaks and The Autism Society of America are great places to start.
Support. Educate. Advocate. Love.