Autism Awareness Day

This is a challenging subject to write about. My youngest son, now age 22, was diagnosed with autism many years ago. We now know that within the autism diagnosis, there are many types within the total spectrum. Some have language and some don’t. Some people have an above average IQ, and some have developmental delay.

Joseph is one of those with an above average IQ, yet his autistic qualities are certainly in force, so he has Autism(High Functioning). When Joseph was attending school, they only had programs for students with a developmental delay component, but they didn’t know what to do with a young man with a bright wit, who told the truth no matter what- even if it meant he would tell the special education teacher to “stop using that stupid special ed voice on me, it’s insulting.”

Most parents of children along the spectrum have a challenging parental journey and Joe and I certainly had our share. We had our lows, like the time we discovered they were locking him in the time-out room for long periods, to the highs- I have particular fond memories of the time he graduated from his private high school and he stood in the front of the group and presented the Senior Class gift.

Why am I revealing this detail of my life? Today is Autism Awareness Day, and I hope that one day there will be education programs for students like Joseph, there will be Transition-to-Adulthood programs to assist in making them as independent as possible. Milestones can be reached only by focusing public awareness into this disorder and letting people know that it affect individuals with potential, families, and society at large.

Please consider donating to research, or if you can’t give monetarily, provide the gift of kindness and understanding to any individual or family struggling with autism. Thank you, Carla


6 thoughts on “Autism Awareness Day

  1. Thanks for the heads up Carla. As you may or may not know we still battle for a diagnosis with my step grandson ( 7) Daniel. My poor daughter is very proactive trying to get him the correct help. These doctors have had him on so many meds its just exhausting for him, and his parents. ( ok me too)
    Since he had diabetes at age 1, they cannot put thier collective fingers on what exactly he does have, ranging from tourets syn to HF Autismn…to ADHD with disobedience disorder… WTF eh?( and all the meds to each diesease too!)
    We are in hopes that the new doctor will give us more insight. Frankly, they are running out of schools to be kicked out of, with administrators who just throw up thier hands siting brain misfiring.

  2. Carla, I feel so blessed that my child is healthy. I can’t imagine how hard it is to have to watch your children struggle to make it through with such a challenge. Your kids are lucky to have a mom like you. Autism does affect a large number of people and families. Your post is very well written. You know I’m a NASCAR nut, and there are some drivers who are affected by autism, whether with their own children, or nieces or nephews. Autism awareness & research is one of the charities that NASCAR mentions frequently. You probably already knew that…. 🙂

  3. Great post, Carla. It isn’t Autism Awareness Day here in Australia (that I know of). I know I am aware of Autism every day, just like you.We still have mini challenges all the time, but things are going very well, on the whole. BTW, William turned 12 on April 1. I can’t believe it! My friends’ son, whom I drive home from school every day was recently diagnosed with Aspergers, too. Life is never dull with these two around!

  4. Clearly some people who are diagnosed “autistic” have traits and behaviors that make parenting — and life — very difficult. But it seems that part of this so-called increase in autism cases is just an increase in diagnosis, fueled in part by an expanding definition of what’s “abnormal.” I have two very smart children who are also have trouble being interested in what other kids are doing and sometimes can’t be bothered to respond when spoken to. They have so much going on in their heads, it is a battle to teach them that the world expects them to interact in a certain way, and that making small talk and eye contact will give them long-term benefits, even though they aren’t fun in the short-term. Why interact with your peers when your peers are boring? Does that mean there’s something wrong with you, if you don’t find all of the tedious ways most people fill their time to be engaging? If a smart, numbers-focused, book-loving kid is born to parents who are not comfortable with an academic culture and lifestyle, it seems they are very likely to be concerned that their kid doesn’t want to ‘go out and play like all the other kids.’ That doesn’t equal disorder, in my book. We need to have a greater appreciation for many different kinds of people that make up this world.

    Liz, the debate over proper diagnosis is indeed an interesting one. Probably the difference between a child truly along the spectrum and just a socially awkward child relates to how impaired the behavior or behaviors affects their development and functioning. I certainly hold more stock in a comprehensive evaluation by a university center that focuses on autism than with a therapist or other individual who does not have real experience with this population of individuals.

    There is a significant difference between introverted, shy individuals and people within the autism spectrum. They do not grow out of it, obviously. A very small population of people mildly affected by their autistic features do learn the skills to adapt to a small college or job environment and actually finish and enter the workplace, but I would say they are the exception.

    I do find it interesting that among families struggling with one or more children with autism, there is a high number of scientist, engineers, accountants, etc as parents. My daughter, now aged 24, once went to the first high school in the US for students with Aspergers and NLD (non-verbal learning disability). Among the parent group, we couldn’t help but notice there was a high number of parents in science/technology/accounting fields. Another finding was that one of the parents usually was more verbal and outgoing than the other parent. The introverted, shy parent, while having some Asperger traits, did not meet the criteria for having Autism, though.

    Thanks for responding and sharing your views. Regards, Carla

  5. A great topic Carla, thanks for bringing it forward. I have a nephew who is now in his 20’s that struggles with this disorder. And it affects his entire family. He has always gotten the best of everything available, fortunately. But he will likely always have to be taken care of. And again, fortunately my brother has both the means and the will to do it right. He is so bright, but just unable to cope with daily life. But it brings to mind all those who don’t have the means to get the best diagnosis, and treatment, school environment and family support system. Awareness and education is an important step to ensure that all of these children will receive what they need.

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