When Caitlin was first diagnosed with Autism, way back in 1994, my first reaction was shock. As time went by, my shock turned to sadness. I don't know why I was sad, but I felt a loss for Caitlin.
After the sadness, I realized I needed to become more knowledgeable about Autism, so off to the downtown library we went. Every Saturday morning, after breakfast, a very pregnant me, Caitlin and Patrick went to the big library...they had a larger choice of books about Autism (which was slim pickings, by the way). I read every book there was to read on Autism....scared the heck out of me.
I remember after reading the Parent's Guide to Autism...I was thrilled. It gave step-by-step instructions on how to handle your emotions with Autism.
I was up to the loss part....
Next came anger. The book stated that it would be a good idea to call everyone you know with a "normal" child and let them know that you will be distancing yourself from them for a while. You did not need to hear all of the milestones their child was going through, while your child was struggling. OK, so I got mad. I thought I had to fight for everything. I thought it was okay for me to let Caitlin run wild in the doctors office, at the mall, at the grocery store.....all because she has Autism, I could let her behavior be horrible.....
Caitlin started Early Childhood at the age of 3. Her teacher was Mary Allen. She was perfect for Caitlin. Caitlin would try to pull her crap with Mary, and Mary would not have it. Mary DID NOT let Caitlin's autism be an excuse for her bad behavior. It was through Mary Allen that I learned that Caitlin did not have bad behavior, just because she had Autism.
Once I saw what Caitlin was capable of, my anger flew out the window. I learned how amazingly smart she was. She was reading, writing and communicating through sign language and PECS before she was 4 years old. This child's brain was enormous and just because she was non-verbal, she could communicate finally. That opened a huge door for Caitlin.
Caitlin was the role model for us to use with our subsequent children. She was the one who taught us that it is okay to embrace the Autism...not hate it. Once we let Caitlin "shine" and show us the true person she was meant to be, she became calmer.
We are always commented on the good behavior of our children, out in public...at home, they are siblings who argue and bicker. They are reminded to pick up their rooms and put their dishes in the dishwasher.
Caitlin and Kiernan are allowed to stim and allowed to be their "autistic" selves.
Deirdre is a true teen-ager with all the angst that includes. She is sure we are "stupid" and she will teach us to be smarter. She has her group of friends and loves the church and her church family.
Erin, Patrick and Meaghan always have friends over and on Saturday, I had 12 children in my home for a play date. Their friends are not on the spectrum, yet consider my children peers and never judge them for their differences. They help them when needed. My children have great friends.
I am NOT saying that you should not help your child with Autism, we work very hard with Speech, OT, PT, Play Therapy, Sensory Integration Therapy, Recreational Therapy, Music Therapy and Massage Therapy. We want our children to be able to go out into society and have the skills they need to succeed. They are working very hard at this.
My final step, in learning to help my child(ren) with Autism was to learn to Embrace the Autism itself. My children were put here for me to be their mother for a reason. I have learned that they are each an individual first and I needed to learn how to nurture their individual needs.
God gave me these amazing children and with the children came Autism. I could "hate" the Autism, but in turn, I would not be the best mother I could be. Instead, I "embrace" the autism and with that I embrace the children that were meant to be.....SUPERB!
- 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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