I’ve learned a great deal about Autism in the past three years. At the age of 3 my son received a diagnosis for Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not otherwise Specified – he falls on the Autism Spectrum. Since then we have learned so much about how my son ticks, and continue to acquire information on how to aide in his growth and development.
Did You Know?
Did you know that the CDC estimates that 1 in 88 individuals are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder? I didn’t! I also didn’t know that it is five times more frequent in boys than in girls. Di you know that each year the numbers are growing by 10-17% and that 67 children will be diagnosed today? It hit me hard when I learned that more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined. WOW! ASD is equal across socioeconomic class, lifestyle, education, race, and ethnicity – it is global!!! It has been suggesd that the care of my son will be about 3.5 million dollars throughout his lifetime. Finally, did you know that there is NO, NONE, ZERO medical tests for ASD and there is no cure?
So, How Did My Kid Get IT?
Who know! During my pregnancy with him I tested positive for Cytomegalovirus – a common virus that once contracted most don’t even know they have it. I never knew I was sick – but it was in my system and it can be lethal or devastating to a fetus. Fortunately for my little guy he grew normally. I ended up with Gestational Diabetes and at 35 weeks my son started to stress. He was born at 5:12 in the evening with the cord wrapped around his neck several times. As they pulled him out his blood oxygen level dropped to zero. He was born right in the nick of time. He spent 11 days at the NICU for weak lungs.
The Medical Research Council came out and said that there several factors that play a role in triggering the outcomes of ASD. There are genetic and environmental factors – yet they are as of yet unknown. Not only are there genetic and environmental factors – but there are chromosomal abnormalities as well. Insurance doesn’t like to test for these abnormalities just to see if these abnormalities exist – why test to see if you have funky chromosomes? It isn’t like knowing that you have funky chromosomes will cure you or anything!!!! (Their motto, not mine!!). We are now wondering if my husband is somewhere on the spectrum as so many of the things we have been learning about Chase also affect my husband. Hmmm, maybe it is genetic? Fact is there may not be a sole cause to why my child has ASD.
I Didn’t Know He Had Autism! Your Kid Looks Normal!
What does normal look like? What does a child with autism look like? Here is a picture for ya!! Isn’t he absolutely perfect? His sister too!!!!
One of my favorite quotes from I have heard often the past year is “If you have met one person with autism, then you have met ONE person with autism!” Autism is a spectrum disorder. It is broad. The severity of symptoms, the age they show signs of autism and whether they have other disorders varies from each person.
There are times when it is OBVIOUS that our son has Autism, and other times when I wonder to myself – did we get him diagnosed wrong. Granted five seconds later that thought vanishes as he sits on the floor and makes a line using all the CD’s he has found throughout the house. It is important to remember that Autism is a SPECTRUM disorder and that every person with autism is not going to exhibit the same behaviors. My child has never flapped his hands. I always know when he is overstimulated, because he wants to be a train and then his hands and arms become the wheels, but it is not “typical” behavior. Does that mean he doesn’t have ASD? Nope!
How Does Autism Affect Your Child?
Well, I’m still learning this part. One of my favorite sites to visit is AutismSpeaks. They succinctly stated that “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. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.”
That is my kid! He struggles with social interaction. He has both an expressive and receptive language disorder. He exhibits repetitive and restrictive behaviors. He is bright, but tested with a low “average” IQ (whatever this means – heck, I had an IQ of 70 at his age!). He struggles with motor control and coordination – he hates the balance beam, but loves to do forward rolls. He suffers from ADHD (then again so do I, oh look at the pretty butterfly! Did you say there were cinnamon rolls in the kitchen? Where was I going?) Until recently, with heavy hitting medicine he hadn’t slept through the night since birth.
He is bright, and funny. I walked through the school book fair last week and every adult stopped me to tell me how much they loved my son. What a proud Momma! He is so stinking cute that it is hard to stay mad at him. He loves to write, trace, draw and spatial stuff he excels at. He loves to construct and it appears that drawing is the preferred activity that the teachers at school use to get him to do his work. What is most amazing is how he can take ordinary things and make them extraordinary!
So, how does autism affect my child? Who knows? It makes him who he is, and I can’t imagine him any other way. I love his quirky behavior, although sometimes it exasperates me. Then again, so does my four year old daughter, my sixty year old mother, my next door neighbor, and the lady in front of me at the check out line. All I know is that I love him for who he is. Autism is a part of who he is. I love him, all of him!!!