Autism In The Family

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Article first published as Autism In The Family on Technorati.

Autism is a devastating diagnosis for any family. It's not fully understood, causes are hotly debated, and there is so much misleading information out there that no one really knows what to do. When we found out our son had Autism, we were expecting another child. Instantly we were afraid that the same diagnosis would be attributed to him, and our dreams of the perfect normal family would be shattered.

Then, we learned more about autism. We learned how our first son's mind worked, and how we could help him learn and grow like any other child. There are still a lot of things we need to teach him and there are plenty of struggles, but overall our son is doing great.

And now our second son is starting to show signs of autism, having turned two years old just recently. His behavior is not as pronounced as our first son, as he is far more verbal than our oldest had ever been, but his signs of frustration, tendency to line up objects, and various other clues indicate to us a form of autism. Most likely he will have Aspergers Syndrome based on the observations we have seen, though we still need to get him formally diagnosed.

I thought it might be scary, having two children with autism. My mind kept flashing back to the horror, fear, anger, etc. of discovery about our first son's diagnosis, I wasn't sure I wanted to repeat it. The frustration that came from learning about autism, the various theories, and finally starting to get into the real clinical research to get a better understanding threatened to overwhelm me. But then I remembered I had already been through all of that.

Our oldest is 6, finished Kindergarten with such high praise from his teacher that he is advancing to the next level, even though she doesn't want to lose him as a student. His performance has been spectacular, his academic achievement has exceeded expectations for his class. And he is, with only a few exceptions to sensory sensitivity and being non-verbal, a perfectly normal little boy.

So I no longer fear the diagnosis for our youngest son. He's also very exceptional. He is quick to see connections and make them work for his favor. He has a slight edge over our oldest in that he is likely to give eye contact, is somewhat verbal, and is less animated in his need to express himself. Having been through the gambit with our oldest, I'm prepared with our youngest. There are bound to be differences, but the autism diagnosis no longer terrifies me.