Thursday, April 2, 2009
Today is Worldwide Autism Awareness Day. Actually, this month of April is Autism Awareness Month as well. Why is this important? Because for one, the light of my life and my joy, my son Noah has autism. I've been fighting this fight for over 7 years now. Another reason, because 1 in 150 kids is being diagnosed with this condition. It NEEDS awareness, people have to find out the facts about it. Parents need to know the warning signs, because the earlier you see the signs, the better chance your child has of responding to treatments and therapies.
What IS autism?
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. (Copied from the Autism Society of America's website).
My son Noah is on the severe side of the spectrum of autism. He has made huge progress and improvements the last couple of years, but there is still a long way to go. He finally started to talk after age 6, very simple one-word copying of words he heard. Now he can ask for what he wants, "banana please" is his favorite request. Most parents would think nothing of a child who says NO, but my son just found this word and he is almost 10. And he is using it properly, once even to answer a question.
This journey is full of sadness, for the child who may never be, for the "loss" of your child when you realize he doesn't communicate or look at you. The devastation of hearing the words, "your son (or daughter) has autism." Because you know, life will never be what you hoped it would be for your child. But then time goes on and the sadness lessens.
Some days we may cry off and on all day, because of stress or sometimes it hits you that your child is stuck inside his or her own head. Some days we get mad, because people in the store are staring and/or voicing their opinion about something they know nothing about. Sometimes I have to say, He has autism, he isn't just being a brat!
Then there are days (or moments) of joy. Us parents of children with autism find JOY in the milestones, no matter how "late" they reach them. It is the joy of knowing that he/she can do it, when doctors and others have said it would never happen. He or she lets you in just for a brief moment and you know you connected with your child. Those are the days we live for!
Thank you for reading about my journey with my son Noah. Please read the following websites for more information about autism.
and please check out this blog post about autism awareness day on a team blog I belong to: