How do you define your child’s disorder?

My family spent Thanksgiving in Carmel with my dad. My aunt Carol, who hadn’t seen Matthew since he was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, was struck by how friendly he was.
“I thought they were all in their own world!” she exclaimed. “I know I shouldn’t have to ask, but what is autism, anyway?”
It occurred to me that all parents of special needs children should write down an explanation of their child’s disorder so that you can refer to it when people ask questions. I know that I get all tongue tied when people ask me to ‘splain autism.

"'Splain in to me, Lucy"

"'Splain in to me, Lucy"

Heck, maybe we could all create a handout! Here is what mine would say:

1) Autism is a neurological disorder; not a disease. It is a broad spectrum disorder, meaning that people with autism can be a little autistic or very autistic. Thus, it is possible to be bright, verbal, and autistic as well as mentally retarded, non-verbal and autistic.
2) People with autism share deficits to some degree in three areas: social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors or interests. In addition, many have unusual responses to sensory experiences, such as certain sounds or the way objects look.
3) “They” are not all alike. Individuals with autism have unique challenges, quirks, and interests. People with autism can be hard to figure out. Don’t be afraid to ask their parents or caretakers questions.
4) There is no proven cure for autism-yet. Autism is a lifelong diagnosis. That’s not to say that people with autism don’t improve, because many improve radically with treatment. But even when people with autism increase their skills, they are still autistic, which means they think and perceive differently from most people.
5) No one is sure what causes autism. Theories range from mercury in infant vaccines(a theory that has been hyped up by celebrities, not scientists who maintain there is NO link)to genetics to the age of the parents to almost everything else. At present, most researchers think autism is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors – and it’s quite possible that different people’s symptoms have different causes.
Follow up from last week:
My friend who was in the bicycle accident is pretty banged up, but off of the ventilator. He is in a rehabilitation center and on the mend. I’ll keep you posted. Thank you for your good wishes!


p.s. My book A REGULAR GUY:GROWING UP WITH AUTISM makes a great gift and is only 10 bucks and free shipping-if you order by Monday, you can get three books for $25.00 and free shipping. Just CLICK HERE. NO pressure-just a special holiday offer I thought you would like to know about.


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