I haven't written in three months - my family life has taken an unexpected turn.
April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day – the whole month of April is National Autism Awareness Month in the U.S. This hits home for me right now. With all the issues we’ve been having with our oldest daughter, we’ve been meeting her pediatrician, her teachers and other support staff at school, Occupational Therapists, and her counselor and they are leaning towards a diagnosis of her being on the spectrum. High Functioning Autism, but autism all the same. We’ll have a more definite answer after her neuropsychologist appoint in June. In the meantime, I’m learning all about autism. At the beginning of this journey I thought maybe we were dealing with anxiety or ADHD or both (as those run in the family) but have since learned that Autism can present as these issues, many of the symptoms overlap.
There is so much that I didn’t know. It used to be a “boy” issue because 3 out of 4 cases were boys. That’s because it presents differently in girls and so many of them get missed. Apparently, girls are better at mimicking social skills than boys, and don’t have the singular focus you see with boys. Girls are typically caught later than boys because they often don’t show their difference until the social skills get too complicated to mimic. I know a woman who found out as an adult that she was on the spectrum who is happily married and very good at her job.
I discovered a blog called “momnos.blogspot.com” and if you look in her March 2010 you will find a series of blogs posted about talking with her son’s class. I love her toaster vs hair dryer analogy. Their brains process differently – not better or worse, just differently.
I love the term “Spectrum”. It makes me think of the rainbow – every case of autism looks different, must like the different colors of the rainbow. Instead of being overwhelmed by touch – my daughter seeks out touch, she asks me to “squish” her when she needs something more than a hug. She sold a whole boatload of girl scout cookies because she gave out free hugs to anyone who wanted them. She’s funny and outgoing, but also bossy and needs to be in control of every situation. I constantly have to remind her that I’m the mom and I’m in charge of her sister, not her. She loves math – probably because the order inherent in math. But then the meltdowns come, when her system goes into fight or flight mode over things most of us can deal with, and then we have to weather her storms until they pass.
So forget everything you thought you knew about ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and be open to all the ways they can process their world. No wonder the symbol is a puzzle, and usually a rainbow of pieces at that – as a parent, I’m trying to find all the pieces to her puzzle, to help her put the pieces together so she can function in a “normal” world. Even if we wind up with a different diagnosis in a few months, I’m so grateful about having my eyes opened to the world of autism and how I can better relate to those who see the world through their own special lens.