What's running though my mind comes through in my walk / True feelings are shown by the way that I talk. ~MCA Adam Yauch 1964-2012

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Today is World Autism Awareness Day

Autism Awareness
Back in December, the United Nations General Assembly declared today, April 2nd, as World Autism Awareness Day to bring more of a awareness to this disorder that is affecting many of the world children. This is an event spanning seven continents and the first World Autism Awareness Day to be observed.

I am glad to see more and more focus being given to autism and it's spectrum. One of the complex things about autism is the range at which a person is affected by it and the mysteries that occur in the mind of a person with autism. One person can be affected by it profoundly, while another can be so mild as to escape a diagnosis. Here is some more information on autism from the Autism Society of America.

Autism Society of America - What is Autism?

I am the mother of a 15 year old son with Asperger's Syndome. It is one of the milder variants of the disorder, but has presented itself with it's own challenges and hurdles. He developed just like ever little boy should. He played, he laughed, he learned at an amazing speed. He never lost his language skills, a big indicator of Asperger's, but at around 2 1/2, he started to act a little odd. He looked at fans and things that moved in a circular motion constantly. He was the easiest child to take to the laundry mat, because he would pull up a seat and watch the dryer spin. He started to talk like a little robot, in a droning monotone. The thing is, being as he was my firstborn and I wasn't around other little kids so much, I just thought that these were some cute things he was doing.

When his father and I divorced, however, my son started to smack himself in the face, rock in the rocking chair constantly, and hit his head on the floor when angry. I knew something was wrong, but I wasn't sure if it was from the trauma of the divorce or if it was due to the something else. I took him to a child therapist and after observation, she recommended that he go to Syracuse to get observed because she suspected something altogether different.

So at the age of 4 1/2, my son was diagnosed with PDD, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is the starting point for many parents whose children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Once I knew what I was dealing with, I started researching like a fiend. I read books, I looked at websites, I even looked at diets (but kind of stray away from that). My son was put in an Early Intervention program and to this day, I will say that if it wasn't for Early Intervention, my son wouldn't be where he is today.

I started researching more on Asperger's around 1999-2000. It actually was due to me being a little confused because my son did not seem to follow the "typical" autism pattern. He spoke very well, he carried on great conversations, yet he seemed socially awkward, not noticing when he was losing a person in the conversation due to him talking about his favorite subject, cars, over and over and OVER again. To many, my son doesn't even seem like he has an autism spectrum disorder, but to those who know and love him, we see the eccentricities that come with him and love him for them.

He has his struggles and he has his hurdles, but as his mother and his homeschool teacher, I do not allow him to give up, not that he gives up easily, it just takes him a little longer to do things. This is why I decided to take on the task of homeschooling him once he finished the 6th grade. I wanted to give him the opportunity to learn without struggle, without stress, and without getting further behind.

Living with my son has been an adventure and a joy. I see the world in a whole new way because of him. Even the simple task of going for a walk is different as he notices different things and perceives the world around him in a whole different way. I honestly wouldn't change him for all the gold in the world. He is unique and he is wonderful. He is my boy and I love him.

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