Question from one of my friends when I invited them to ask questions on my personal Facebook:
“I want to know just how wide is the diagnosed spectrum?”.
Well, the saying “When you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve only met one person with Autism” is true. Some children are considered to be low-functioning, some high-functioning, and some in between, all in comparison to other kids without Autism of the same age. So the width of the Spectrum is frankly, huge…but always presents characteristics and behavioural traits that lead specialists to diagnose that child with Autism. The definition of Autism according to Wikipedia is:
“as a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired
social interaction and communication,
and by restricted and repetitive behaviour”
Common characteristics that parents initially present to their family doctor include some and/or all of the following:
- no eye contact
- don’t point using their index finger
- using someone else to point
- start talking and stop
- line up items such as toys, etc
- stimming (repeated body movements such as hand flapping, rocking, head butting)
- unusual responses to people or attachments to objects
- resistance to changes in routines
- sensitivities (hyper- or under-) to things like sounds, tastes, etc
More information is available on the Autism Ontario website.
When we started on this journey, we approached the doctor when my son was 18months old, saying that he had been talking but stopped (whereas his sister started a bit later but kept on talking), didn’t make eye contact with anyone but me, used his father and I’s hands to point to items, and was lining up all his toys. It took another 2 years to get official diagnosis, where he was classified as “severe” but for those who know my son in person, they are amazed as this. He’s a happy little boy, with a smile that lights up the room, can work his way around Youtube like no one’s business, has made amazing developmental leaps in the last couple of years, is a funny dancer, and best of all…is talking! He doesn’t speak the way other 7, almost 8 year old little boys do, but his speech is one of the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard…primarily because I’ve waited so long to hear it.
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.
Day 22- Some of Your Favourite Websites
The websites I frequent are:
WordPress (specifically my blog…tee hee…)
What are your favourite websites?