|My Son says: "I am not a puzzle piece!!"|
Having a strange sense of humor, I found it funny when I heard the news this morning. "Happy April Fools Day" and "Autism Awareness Month." Does that mean that it's just a joke? That 1 out of 89 boys are not really Autistic? I don't really think that, but they were linked together on the news, Facebook, and Twitter this morning.
As a parent of an adult child with Autism, I don't think I really need a month of reminders. I got the memo. Last year I wrote a blog about the Temple Grandin movie on HBO. http://theknifewife.blogspot.com/2010/02/still-waiting-for-mother-ship.html Since it aired, it's gotten an Emmy. The world saw Temple at the awards show. The doctor who published the study about vaccines and Autism has been outed for false reporting. I think most people know someone on the Autism Spectrum. We are still in the dark about why or how. There are hundreds of Autism cures, diets, behavior programs, and shisters who prey on parents with Autistic children promising a "cure." Below is the link to the HBO trailer...I wish I had it back in the day.
When people hear about my 23 year old son with Autism who is holding a full time job, engaged to a lovely and brilliant young woman, living independently, and being sent to vacuum cleaner conventions in Las Vegas by his employer, they want to know the secret. If I had one, it wouldn't be a secret. I would shout it from the rooftops. I can tell you a few of my golden rules for the higher functioning end of the spectrum. I can also tell you that he still has issues, though more complex. More on that later.
1. Don't fall into the "bad haircut syndrome"... the child will not outgrow it.
2. Families are the bottom line. So don't expect the school district to fix it.
3. Address sensory issues. Here is an excellent link on Sensory Integration issues:
4. Teach to the child's/adult's perseverations. Use your child's favorite obsession to teach real life
subjects. I laminated chicken pictures and we did "chicken math" to teach arithmetic.
5. Find a behaviorist and work on your behaviors as well as the child with Autism. Consult with this
professional as unwanted behaviors arise.
6. Don't swim in this sea alone. Support groups for parents saved my sanity.
7. What is so special about Special Ed? Most programs allow bad behaviors to continue. But real life
as an adult does not. This goes back to rule #1. I had to explain to our school that my son would not
always be a school aged child. They were surprised by this news. :-)
8. Teach the child to learn to live without you. How? Over night summer camps. Although expensive,
they will give confidence, skills, and a sense of independence that does not come naturally. Parents
can recharge their batteries. Which is imperative. Many have sliding pay scales.
9. Find a program that matches the child vs. trying to make the child match the program.
10. They need the most love when they are acting like they deserve it the least. Love and affection
will be accepted and reciprocated if you continue to give it.
11. When the child is capable/ready/mature/wanting: get a pet that is ONLY the child's. Teaching your
child to care for this pet will teach compassion, and life skills. This is a tricky one which is why
it is last.
During this month I will write about each of these subjects. Please feel free to write me privately at:
firstname.lastname@example.org . If you are a parent who feels like they are drowning in Autism. You are not alone. I have been there many times. You are probably sleep deprived, financially and emotionally spent. In the first few years after my son was diagnosed, I needed help as much as he did. I give you full permission to put your oxygen mask on first. And a BIG (((((((HUG))))))))))).
Below is the link to Temple Grandin's Autsim site.
Each day is a gift. Open now.