WHAT IS AUTISM?
This page is dedicated to giving you information on Autism. Its purpose is to create awareness so you understand it a little more, can share your knowledge with your children and loved ones. We also hope to provide you with some communication tools when dealing with friends, neighbors and loved ones who may be on the spectrum. If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed, visit our blog 'Now What?'
The following is from Autism Speaks 'Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. As of May 2013 , all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.'
When Luca was diagnosed, my husband and I kept trying to understand 'how far' Luca was on the Spectrum. We've learned that the Autism Spectrum is not measured on a line or with a number. The spectrum is more like a circle. I love the below image which may help clarify what it means to be 'on the Spectrum'.
NAVIGATING THE SPECTRUM
Our journey with Luca is going to look different than other parent's journeys, so that is where sometimes the understanding of Autism gets a little foggy. The underlying factor that most professionals agree on is that being on the Autism Spectrum makes social interactions very challenging. For Luca, he has a lot of information coming in his brain all the time. So when you ask him a question, he might repeat something else he's already told you, because that is his running loop of appropriate things to say to someone. He's not really paying attention to what he's saying, he's just repeating it while his brain is trying to filter thru all the sensory input he's receiving (like the exact color of your hair and what colors he would mix to get it. He's busy taking in your scent, your height, the colors of your shirt, shoes, skin, etc. He's also taking into account any noises going on around him and any patterns, lights, shapes, etc.). As you can see, he's much too busy for small talk!
This might not work for all kids, especially ones that are uncomfortable with touch, but for Luca if you give him some sensory input into one sensation, like holding his hands, and asking him how many times am I squeezing your hands, then squeeze, let him count. You'll notice his attention and awareness shifts to the task at hand. Then you can ask him anything, and he'll listen, he's present to the moment and ready to answer. So he needs some reassurance of where he's at in time and space, then boom he's there!
Here is an article to help, click here.
Curious how to treat typical siblings of special needs families?
Check out this Ted talk, click here.
Here is a great story about how a Mom shared about her son's Autism diagnosis with his class mates, starting in first grade!
Article is located here.