The moment that the doctor gave back the diagnosis for my oldest son as “mildly autistic” I thought, “This is the darkest day ever.” Little did I know that as he turned 3 years old, and my youngest son turned 2 years old, I would be faced with a deja vu scenario when it came time for my youngest son to be tested. When my youngest turned 2, I had already seen signs of developmental delay and experienced the non-verbal tantrums that go beyond the simple “terrible twos.” I made the appointment with our family pediatric psychologist and had my youngest go through the battery of fine motor skill, gross motor skill, hearing, visual, cognitive processing tests that took roughly 6 or 7 office visits to get a comprehensive testing assessment. There was the waiting. Then there was the diagnosis. Not only did my youngest have autism, he had Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder and low-inattentive attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Wow!
Coping with the Diagnosis
At the time, I was still learning about Autism. I had lots of questions. How was it caused? Why did my sons have it? How was I supposed to prevent it but failed to keep them from getting it? So many questions. So many days and nights of crying and worrying that my sons were now “disabled” and what kind of life would they live? I was a young mom and thought coping was not really an option. I needed to get smart, really smart on what to do, how to do it and who I needed in my life to help me so I could help them. The more I shared my frustrations with others, the more information I received about mom’s groups, church groups, social service programs and resources that could help me go beyond coping with the disorder to helping both of my sons.
The World of Autism
In 2014, a “surveillance study identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD).” (Autism Speaks website)
Living with autism IS hard. We have to become more aware that there are millions of parents who have sons and daughters that would love for people to understand the challenges they face dealing with autism. Challenges that can seem overwhelming. What can you do to help?
Autism Awareness and You
There are many ways that you can raise your awareness of autism. Go online to Autism Speaks and read about World Autism Day and the autism spectrum disorder. Your small steps to educating yourself will go a long way to increasing the overall awareness in our world. Thank you!