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.
- 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.
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