Autism is an integral part of who my seven-year old son Angel is. I know some people say, “My child has autism, but autism doesn’t have him” but I don’t see it as autism having my child. I see it as a condition that has a significant impact on how he interacts with and functions in the world around him.
According to the CDC, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.” So how do these challenges affect Angel?
Autism affects how he communicates.
Most of Angel’s verbal communication is needs-based. He is able to say single words and a few sentences. Abstract thinking and concepts are tough for him to understand and articulate. Sometimes we have to guess how he is feeling because he can’t tell us.
The other day we were all relaxing in the living room and he just started crying. My husband and I rushed toward him to find out what happened. We asked him over and over what was wrong, and he continued to cry. Although he has some words, he was unable to articulate what happened. This broke my heart. That day as he cried, I held him and told him that I was sorry. There is so much that the rest of us take for granted when it comes to language. I pray every day for God to give my child the ability to verbally communicate his thoughts and feelings.
Autism affects how he socializes.
As human beings, we all have an innate desire to be loved and accepted. We want to have friends and be social with them. I know as a parent, I want Angel to have friends. I have always wondered if he understands the concept of friendship. In social settings, he has difficulty sharing. It is tough for him to understand the concepts of possession and boundaries.
When he is on the playground, he misses social cues and this makes it tough for other kids to gravitate to him or want to play with him. Still, he tries in his own way to play with them but somewhere along the way lines get crossed. There are times when I have left social settings in tears because I thought other kids were being mean or ignoring him. I have to keep reminding myself that as long as he is happy, he is okay.
Autism affects his behavior.
Angel is not aggressive and the frequency of his meltdowns has decreased dramatically. I do not know what puberty will bring, but for now he is the most loving and affectionate child I know. What he struggles with is his attention and focus. If there is a child ready to jump out of a chair to run across the room, it is my son.
He has also been struggling with sensory processing issues. Couple that with behavior typical for a seven-year old and you have a child who needs a behavior intervention plan and numerous sensory breaks to help him focus and function in the school environment. Medication has been brought up by school professionals since he was three-years old, but we are not ready to make that move yet.
Angel has brought so much joy into our lives. He has overcome so much and is progressing at his own pace. We will continue to applaud him every step of the way as autism continues to rock his world.
BMWK: Do you know a child with Autism?