Thursday, March 31, 2011

Autism Awareness Month

I haven't posted in forever because I find posting things on Facebook satisfies my need to share my life with family and friends. I have decided that this month, I should go back to blogging because April is Autism Awareness month, and this is a subject that is hitting close to home.

Almost a year ago I posted this entry about Jayden's 3 year check-up and my apprehensions about his lack of speech. The plan was for Jayden to go to HeadStart and see if things would work themselves out with extra outside help.

I'm happy to say that things ARE improving. He has developed more vocabulary. He is starting to play more with other kids- whereas before, he was mostly doing his own thing and didn't care to be very social. He's receiving therapies that seem to be helping a lot.

Therein is the pull. He is receiving therapies because it has been determined by the Special Education team that he qualifies based on the SSIS(Social Skills Improvement System) and other assessments they performed. The SSIS includes an assessment of autism behaviors. Jayden placed within the above average range for behaviors related to autism. This wasn't a big surprise to me. I had suspected such for a while, but it makes it a little more real when you hear it from others.

Those of you who know Jayden well might be shocked to hear that he could be autistic. He shows love and affection and interacts. It's a myth that people with autism lack the ability to show affection and love. In fact, it's a myth that if you've seen one person with autism, you've seen them all. There is a reason that they call it "the spectrum." I am fortunate in that Jayden seems to be on the high functioning end of the spectrum.

Some things that indicate he could be on the spectrum:
Speech delay
Difficulty with social interaction
Repetitive behaviors
Lines toys up
Becomes very upset if his order is messed with
Difficulty with change
Sensitive to some sounds
Food aversions

Some of these issues lead to behaviors that seem less than desirable to the general passerby. I'm sure that people might look at Jayden during a meltdown and think that he just needs to be disciplined and I feel like a bad parent at those times. I think that one thing people need to be aware of this month(and others) is that autism is an invisible disorder. Don't sit in judgment on a situation where a child is having a meltdown. It could be that the child is a little hellion with lack of discipline, but it could be something that is beyond control. I know that I've been judgmental in the past, but I'm not so quick to be that way now. A kind word goes a long way.

It hasn't been easy for me to come to terms with our situation. Parents want the best for their children, and I want Jayden to have a good life without too many struggles. The truth is that we all have our own struggles to face, and I hope to be able to help Jayden face his struggles. He hasn't officially been diagnosed with autism(something I need to work on in the coming year), but no matter what label he gets, the label that I hope to put on him is LOVE. He's a great kid, and I'm proud to be his mom. He makes me smile every day(even on the days that I want to cry).

There's a lot more that I want to say about this subject, but I'm leaving on a weekend retreat later today, so my plan is to blog frequently through the month about autism and Jayden. I'll be adding more pictures and stuff, so check back soon!