(This is one of my favorite pictures. He loves to make faces. You may have seen it before 🙂 )
Autism fact: Autism affects one in every 150 children born in the United States. Autism is the fastest growing disability in the United States.
I’ve never been the girly-girl type. While some of my friends carried around baby-dolls and babysat for extra money I never felt that inclination. In fact I didn’t really have any contact with babies until I had one of my own. When my maternal instinct finally kicked in it was as much a surprise to me as it was the rest of my family.
My first child was the type who talked early and at twelve years old still hasn’t shut the hell up. So when my younger son turned out to be a quieter soul I considered it a welcome relief. It wasn’t until he was about three that I began to become concerned. I would point out to others that he wasn’t talking like his brother. That so and so’s child had been speaking in perfect sentences a long time ago. It wasn’t that he couldn’t talk or point or communicate what he wanted, he just chose not to. I was told there probably wasn’t anything wrong. After all he’s highly intelligent. He could do puzzles far above his age level and he knew his abc’s well in advance of others his own age…but something still bugged me.
He didn’t meet my eyes.
He didn’t interact with the other kids.
He was happiest alone and playing with something by himself.
It wasn’t until I moved to Texas that a doctor told me he thought my child should be tested for a developmental delay. Once he went through some tests and was preliminarily diagnosed the people mentioned how I should’ve gotten him help sooner. We can agree that my response was less than polite.
When people speak of autism I hear horror stories of temper tantrums and horrible, loud meltdowns. I feel for those parents but I have to admit to a bit of relief that that isn’t my son. My child is a happy child who enjoys his computer, legos and reading and when he has a melt down it’s all about tears and a broken heart. He doesn’t understand why the world is so loud or why other kids do whatever they do. He doesn’t understand why making a lego Mario made his mother smile when making a lego machine gun with a removable cartridge didn’t bring quite the same reaction. (Note: I was torn between pride and horror over the machine gun. LOL! Did I mention it had a moveable trigger?)
Autism is considered a spectrum disease of which there are varying degrees and symptoms. Will my son grow out of his autism? Doubtful. But as his parent it is my job to show him that although he has to work harder to understand the motivation of the people around him he can do it. My husband has overcome his dyslexia, I’m hopeful with the right tools my son can deal with his autism. I don’t look at autism as a disease to be cured. My son has a unique look on life and when he finds ways to express it I’m always amazed at everything that goes inside that incredible mind.
He told me the other day that a tree was good. When I asked why he said it was “because it helps the elementals around it.” Was that the right answer? No. But it does show that when he was in school something they said stuck with him. He learned that a tree that looks still and quiet is actually changing its environment. To me my son is like that tree. He might be silent as he goes about his day but he’s still absorbing thing around him and like a tree produces necessary oxygen, my son gives what society often needs, a fresh perspective.
I will be releasing a book titled Accidental Alpha some time in April and all proceeds will go to autism charities. More information will appear on my website as I polish it up and have it edited.
As part of RJ’s Autism Awareness posting I will be giving away your choice of any of my books if you leave a comment below. A complete booklist of my stories can be found at amberkell.wordpress.com
For more information about World Autism Awareness facebook page https://www.facebook.com/worldautismawarenessday