A Gentleman and a Rogue

Monday, April 8, 2013

April is Autism Awareness Month #autism





According to the latest information released by the US Center for Disease Control, approximately 1 in 88 children are found to be on the autistic spectrum. Autism is 4-5 times more common in boys than girls. So what is autism?

It's a complex disorder involving brain development. Autism tends to emerge between 2-3 years of age and it presents in varying degrees with difficulties involving social interaction, speech, and repetitive behaviors. Many autistic children also have sensory processing issues.

A great online resource for autism is http://www.autismspeaks.org. They have a lot of up-to-date information along with a comprehensive list of symptoms.

The latest information from the Autism Speaks website indicates autism many have its roots in early brain development, but currently there is no one cause for autism. From Autism Speaks, the cause appears to be a combination of a gene at risk for autism and environmental factors that influence early brain development. Other environmental factors during and before birth include advanced parental age at conception, maternal illness during pregnancy, and difficulties during birth including periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby's brain.

My son is now 6 and his official diagnosis is Expressive Language Disorder. He's been seen by 2 psychologists at 2 different times (when he was 3 and 6) who have both come to the same conclusions – Expressive Language Disorder, but it hasn't been easy for me as a parent. I began being worried for him at 15 months when he wasn't talking. At 18 months he still couldn't say a word.  I took him to the regional center and he was evaluated.  He's had therapies since 20 months.  He's gone to speech, child development, group, and occupational therapy. He has sensory processing issues that affect his fine motor and sense of balance. Currently, he's in the first grade and while he still sees a speech therapist for misarticulations, he's mainstreamed 95% time of the time in a general education classroom. His sensory processing issues get in the way at times. He uses a chewy in the classroom and has a weighted vest. He's highly active and he goes to a social skills class.  I've heard it all – he's got ADHD, Asbergers, high-functioning autism and one thing I've learned as a parent – you are your child's best advocate. I've had to become a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and an autism expert. For my son, he's succeeded because of the early intervention, but he also has a great support network. He still has to work hard and there's no denying his speech misarticulations and his sensory processing issues that mainly affect his vestibular and proprioception senses, but he takes hip-hop dance lessons, gymnastics, goes to religious education, and is a tiger cub scout– all mainstream.

When he was first seen, I received a lot of information from http://www.spdfoundation.net for sensory processing.  If you have any questions, searching out reliable online resources is a great start.  Also, hearing other parents stories offered inspiration and hope. 

Patience, Understanding, and Caring are traits that will help everyone when dealing with autism. It doesn't just affect the child, but the family.

If you have any resources to recommend or would like to share a story or an experience, you're very welcome. 

10 comments:

  1. I applaud your dedication Steph. He's going to have a good life because of your hard work. I had special needs kids mainstreamed in my classes many years ago. The extra effort by dedicated parents made noticeable differences. I still hear from a few of my students. (It blows my mind they're pushing 40 now.)They lead very successful lives and have families of their own now. :) My best to you and your little guy.
    Rose

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    1. Rose,
      I agree - it makes a big difference when parents are dedicated to helping their child. I find Temple Grandin a true inspiration.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  2. It appears that parents have come a long way. Before, if a child had a problem interacting, it seems that status was accepted as permanent. Now, there are ways to lessen that status and deal with it in a more knowledgeable manner. I'm glad you're getting help on this and don't have to go it alone, Steph. Keep up the good fight!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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    1. Morgan,
      I think the convention years ago was to either ignore it or to say the parents had done a "bad" job raising their children. There's a lot more openess in today's society about autism and how it affects people. Knowledge is power.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  3. You are doing so much for him, Steph. We were chatting about autism elsewhere and I mentioned a nephew of mine who isn't autistic but displays some of the symptoms. He was in fetal distress during delivery and they did an emergency C-section to get him out. If that contributes to autism, then that explains a lot.

    Thanks for the information and thanks for being such a great advocate for your sons.

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    Replies
    1. Maggie, that's exactly what happened with my son. He had to have an emergency c-section because he was showing signs of fetal distress. Since lack of oxygen is one of the factors, for me, I have a better understanding where it happened in regards to him. He does have "autistic-like" behaviors, which can be a distraction in his class, but in the doctor's report out of 6 qualifing behaviors, everything was "no," with one "maybe." I agree, with the research that's coming out now, it's beginning to help us understand better.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  4. Thank you for reminding us and leading the fight.

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  5. Steph, you're an amazingly good mom. My cousin's son suffers from Autism too. He's 17 now and seems well adjusted, thanks to his mother's dedication too.

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    1. Mona, it's so important to "be there" as a parent, but it isn't easy, either. I've often questioned myself - am I doing this right, what did I do wrong? I try not to dwell on it. If you can't face problems, you can't solve them.

      Smiles
      Steph

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