I Can't Help Screaming---About Autism
The Beautiful Face of Autism
Please Don't Judge Me...I May Have Autism
If you are a parent or grandparent of a child with Autism, then you already know how hard it can be to take that child out in public. And, although you should be use to the stares and whispers and even unkind remarks when your son or daughter has a meltdown in the aisle in the middle of Walmart, it still hurts knowing that you are being judged by complete strangers who know little or nothing about this epidemic disease. They just assume that you are a bad parent with a terribly spoiled child. If they only knew the truth. Autistic children are anything but spoiled. It is quite the opposite. Most are in therapy and work no less than 6-8 hours each day, locked in a room, working one on one with their teachers who are trained therapists specializing in Autism. These children are bombarded with colors, shapes, numbers and words for hours on end with the hopes that perhaps someday they will have a breakthrough or, at minimum, be able to live independently or in group homes.
If the family is fortunate enough to live in one of the many states that pay for therapy for their Autistic child, they may even have several different therapists coming in and out daily. One for speech, another for music, and so on. However, for the families that are not so fortunate, it falls upon the parents, who oftentimes must quit their jobs to stay home and become their child's advocate and full time therapist. These parents are using every minute of every day as "teaching" moments. So, when they aren't locked in a room going over "flash" cards or playing word games, they are teaching these special children to tie their shoes, dress themselves and say the word "drink". They are hard working "saints" and their life's "quest" is to make sure they have done everything in their power to ensure that their Autistic child has been given the "shot" in living their best lives. So, please don't judge them from the tiny glimpse you see of their child out in the world. Although it may be embarrassing for the parent or caretaker, it is important that these children get out and learn to socialize and also learn how to react in different situations. And since Autistic children do not like change but need order in their lives, this could be exactly the reason why they have their "meltdowns" in the middle of Walmart.
If you really knew this amazing parent, you would also know that he or she has learned to function on very little sleep for their child can go for weeks without sleeping, literally! This parent is most likely out shopping for the "glutton free" diet that she feeds her child which helps keep these "meltdowns" to a minimum.
So, I woud ask, as a mother or grandmother representing all Autistic children out there, the next time you see an out of control child in a store throwing a tantrum, hitting themselves or banging their head on the floor, please don't judge them. Autism has many, many faces. Although you see, on the outside, a beautiful looking child, they may be suffering from this epidemic disease.
If you think your child may have Autism but has not been diagnosed yet, here are some of the symptoms to be on the look out for:
The Symptoms of Autism:
- Loss of the few words your child had as a toddler
- Change in behavior; more tantrums, sleeping more, sleeping less
- Tantrums that include headbanging on the floor or against the wall
- Your child does not react when you call his or her name
- More interested in playing alone or by themselves than with other children or siblings
- Your child likes to line things up, (toys), straighten photos on the wall or move home décor arrangements around.
- Interest in watching the same video or videos over and over
- Spinning in circles, flapping their arms or flapping hands in front of their face
- Your child walks on their toes
- Staring at themselves in the mirror for long periods of time or mesmerized by their own reflection in mirrors, windows, etc.
If you feel that something is not right, listen to your "inner voice" , your "gut". Go to see your pediatrician with a list. Do not let your pediatrician tell you it is nothing and that each child is different. In these cases, usually the parents are right, unfortunately. We know our children and we just "have a feeling that something isn't okay.
At the very least, insist your child have a hearing test to rule that out. If he or she does not have a hearing problem and your pediatrician still insists your child will "grow out of it", get a second opinion. Time is of the essence as the sooner your child is diagnosed the better.
Find out if the state you live in has programs in place for children with Autism. Many parents end up moving to states that do provide free programs because the cost is prohibitive to most parents and it is vital to the growth and development of your Autistic child that they start therapy as soon as possible. This ongoing therapy will help them in becoming everything they can be. It will also ensure their place in society whether it be in mainstream, a group home or even, on their own someday!