What is #Autism?

I had the honour of speaking on the local radio station (thank you The Grand 92.9FM!) this morning about Autism. We concentrated the interview on what Autism looks like in our little family so I thought I would extend the reach of the discussion through my blog as well.

According to Autism Ontario’s website, Autism is:

“a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life: it is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain. Autism impacts the typical development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. They find it hard to communicate with others and relate to the outside world.”

My interpretation of this statement is that my son’s brain isn’t “wired” the same as others who are considered to be “typical”. He needs to learn through repetitive teaching how to identify and respond to social cues (the example I gave Vic off air was to teach my son to learn to read situations where it’s appropriate to greet someone with a handshake vs a hug vs a “good morning”, etc), and why most people use verbal language to communicate and how to figure out which words to use, and to physically form the words to use to facilitate that communication.

More from Autism Ontario’s website:

“In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behaviour may be present. Persons with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects and resistance to changes in routines. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.”

My son doesn’t have many of the repeating body movements (otherwise known as “stimming” in the Autism community), but he used to stim with headbanging against any surface he could (wall, floor, other people, etc). He has an abnormal reaction to people/kids crying as he’ll usually go over and hit them…not hard, but it definitely catches them off guard, sometimes stopping them from crying or making them cry more. My son is learning how to self-regulate through this over-stimulus he feels when others are crying. It’ll just take time…and for me to be quick on my feet to ensure he doesn’t hit the person crying.

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