Understanding my Son with Autism
If you are reading this, you most likely received a card from myself or my wife, after we perceived some misunderstanding regarding our son. Â We thought you should know a little more about him before you pass judgement on him or our parenting skills. Â My son is on the Autism Spectrum. Â His behavior is often the result of over stimulation, particularly in loud, visually rich, or poorly lit environments. Â All children with autism have some reaction to their environment, because they process the various stimuli their senses give them differently than most of us. Â This can result in random crying, screaming, yelling, singing, jumping for joy, climbing, or other reactions that may not appear "normal".For most children on the Autism Spectrum, this is the result of an increased amount of gray matter and a decreased amount of white matter in their brain. Â They tend to have larger brains than most people their age, with increased neuron synapses that fire randomly between the two hemispheres. Â As such, their brain doesn't know how to process all the information coming in and leads to a melt down.Â Teaching a child with autism is no easy task. Â It requires constant focus on one topic until mastered, and then moving on to cover another skill. Â Unlike many "normal" children, those children with autism do not learn from imitation. Â Instead they need to rationalize the behavior, understand all the aspects of it, and the limitations before they can embrace it. Â Therefore their development in many of the "normal" behaviors (such as social behaviors) are very slow. Â But do not assume that my son is slow or stupid. Â Most children with autism have very high I.Q.s, representing high intelligence and grasp of details that most "normal" people miss.Please note that children with autism are not "tuned out", but rather more "tuned in" than a "normal" person. Â Autism increases the processing of all information being absorbed. Â Notice how my son doesn't return eye contact for long? Â The sheer amount of information contained in the human face overwhelms him. Â Every word you speak, every phrase uttered under your breath, he hears, understands, processes, and contributes to his world view. Â Comments about "tantrums", "poor discipline", or "beat the kid" is heard. Â And he knows what you are saying. Â My son feels joy, anger, sorrow, pain, excitement, and other simple emotions as do other children. Â He is not a monster, but very human. Â He can be hurt by your comments, by your looks, by your disgust and distain. Â He can also be encouraged by a smile, a kind word, or an encouraging look. Â Chances are we may never meet you again, and chances are you may never know the damage each condescending stare, each snide remark, each half-spoken rebuke of his behavior has done. Â But I do want you to be aware of those on the Autism Spectrum, so that others you meet will not receive the same judgement. Â After all, about 1 in every 145 children are diagnosed with Autism, with 1 in every 94 boys being the average. Â Chances are you will meet another child with autism that will react in a different way than my son, but have the same condition.So as you go through life, I hope you think about the impact you have with the world, instead of what you think the world should give you. Â While you may expect one set of behaviors from those around you, keep in mind that there is an increasing number of people in this world that are unable to meet to your expectations, but rather require you to change and see them for who they are: Â special people that have a lot to give in the right environment. Â Are you able or willing to help create that environment?