Autism Awareness Month and Families

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Article first published as Autism Awareness Month and Families on Technorati.Two boys with Autism at the grocery store, comforting each other.The CDC's latest estimate of children with Autism is 1 in 88 children. That's a significant representation of our children, and it means that Autism is more widespread then first thought. Many families out there have been touched directly or indirectly by Autism.So what is it like for a family who has a child on the spectrum? It's very stressful. Not stressful in the way you may think, with children behaving oddly all the time at home or with chaos reigning at home. To tell you the truth, most parents with children on the Spectrum have already worked out their lives around the spectrum. No, we are more worried about what others think of us.So, we tend to try to compel proper behavior with our children with more vigor than may other parents. We give our kids less of a chance to misbehave, and control their stimulation to be sure their experiences are more positive. And we do it with constant fear that it will fail.Still, in the safety of our homes, we have a lot of fun with our kids. Right now I'm writing this article with both of my boys on the Spectrum sitting by me, cuddled under a blanket while both are enjoying their iDevices. My oldest is playing a game, while my youngest is going through a digital book. It's an experience that I had actually hoped I would have with my children before we found out about their condition, and yet it still has happened with their Autism.I can't tell you the difference between parenting a child with Autism and not, because I have never experienced anything other than Autism with my children. I still help them with their homework, and try to find more active ways to get them engaged into their learning. I would do the same thing with any child, as assessed by their ability level. Autism just means you need to address learning in a different way.Parenting doesn't stop because your child has a condition that makes him or her different from other children. It just makes your approach different from those parents who have neurotypical children. It's a challenge that can be exciting at times, and frustrating at others. Just like parenting, I'm told.So when you hear about the "Autism epidemic", I want you to think about what it really means. It just means that parenting has changed for a significant number of parents, and many of these parents need help in order to get their children with Autism ready for the world.