About Me

I am the proud mother of 6 children. 5 of our children have autism. We do not feel our world has ended, but just begun. We do not chelate, intervene biochemically, give shots of any kind, practice ABA, etc. We treat them as we treat any humanbeing. We treat them with kindness and respect and expect the same from them. They are exceptional children.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

AUTISM 101...

Autism is big news lately. It is everywhere. I was watching VH1 classics yesterday, and lo and behold....Autism.
Autism is not new to me. I have been around someone with autism from the age of 11. There has always been someone with autism in my life at one time or another. From babysitting to working at a residential treatment center to giving birth to 5.
What is new to me is the fighting amongst the Autism communities.
First there is the biomedical vs. the Neurodiverse...
Second is the adults with autism vs the parent's of autistic children...
Third is the bickering between the different Autism associations;ie, CAN, NAAR, Autism Speaks, etc...
Autism to me is simple....it does not take a college course to understand.
Watching Caitlin, at a young age, seeing the tiny dust particles in the air and dancing around them....laughing at something so tiny that other's just never take the time to notice.
Watching Kiernan pour water from one cup to another, barely with a drop of water falling out. Seeing the joy this brings him.
Listening to Erin sing for 30 minutes in the shower in such a high tone without a care in the world...if we could all be that happy.
Watching Patrick with his wrestling figures during one of his make-believe matches. This from a boy whose playskills were nil just 2 years ago.
Handing Deirdre the phone after she receives a phone call from one of her many friends. Remembering last year how painfully anti-social she was, and now has become this carefree social butterfly.
My children with autism have all come so far, in such a short amount of time.
This happens, I believe, from Early Interventions such as Occupational Therapy, Play Therapy, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, etc.
This happens from inclusion with Neurotypical peers in regular education classrooms...I do not believe in segregating autistic children away from NT peers. Life is not segregated, why should school be?
We were approached by an Autism "Specialty" School in Austin when Caitlin was 3 years old. I was invited to come and observe a classroom they would like Caitlin to be enrolled in. I saw not only behaviors similar to Cady's, but new behaviors I did not want her to bring home.
Caitlin has been enrolled in regular education classes since she was 6 years old. Before that, she was the ONLY autistic child in her Early Childhood Classes.
Caitlin has flourished and learned so much from NT children. Her peers nurture and correct her in public if her behaviors are disturbing. Caitlin takes their cues well and alters her behavior when necessary.
I can take all of my children out in public without meltdowns. They know how to behave in public...when they were young, if they started to scream or misbehave in a public situation, we would leave the situation. We do not throw a tee-shirt on them as an excuse for them to misbehave. We do not hand out little business cards to explain their behaviors. We do not glare at people who look at our children strangely for noticing their stimming and humming. People are curious....
Autism is not focusing on why my children are different, but focusing on what makes them all unique and special individuals who have so much to offer now and in the future.
We are so very lucky have been given the opportunity to be the parent's of these children. I thank God every day for this opportunity. I hope they are as proud of us as we are of them.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with you about how important it is to have children with autism included in a "regular" classroom. When I was in high school there was a boy with autism in several of my classes and he was a cool kid. I became friends with both him and his aide--they were two of the best parts of my high school experience.

As for the divisions and arguing that take place with just about anything related to autism--research, inclusion, parenting, etc.--I totally agree with you. I find the fighting sad and counter-productive. I'm sure that someone is going to disagree with me about this--which in a way is good--but I appreciate your focus on moving forward and not looking back.

Anonymous said...

I have seen children in some of the so called "best" ABA centers and what you see are rote children with zero social skills. The centers rarely even work on them which is just detrimental to the children. I also see children who develop new stims and negative behaviors every day due to the fact they are mimicking whatever they see.

Parents leave these kids in these places year after year and then wonder why they are looking at residential placement when the child turns 17 years old (or younger!)

Although I do believe in ABA as a proven methodology of teaching, many of these centers are a joke. The people who run them convince parents that putting all of these kids together is what's best. The parents are morons for not demanding better curriculum and some kind of social skills training for their kids.

Random Mom said...

Hi Jeanette-
I'll bet your kids are very proud of you. How could they not be?
Heck, I'm proud to just be your friend!

Bonnie D. said...

Hi, we have one son, who has Autism and is 9. I struggle daily with the inclusion issue. Right now he does about 40% in regular ed and 60%in special ed. Next year he is changing schools and I have no idea what to do with him. Although I find your ideals admirable, I fear that my son's anxiety level will be way too high being in a classroom all day with typical 5th graders. At the same time, I have a fear of him being in a room with a bunch of kids that aren't as high functioning as he is. I am going to take your thoughts and ideas in mind. Thanks so much for sharing.

Mom26children said...

Hi Bonnie,
Our youngest, who is 7, is in about the same ratio 60/40.
He is doing well, but this week he is really testing our limits.
I am glad to have found your blog through this comment.

LAA and Family said...

Well said! Temple Grandin has also mentioned that it's more important to focus on an autistic child's talents rather than what he cannot do. I have the quote somewhere on my blog page.