Monday, May 3, 2010
Autism and Self Expression
We laugh, we cry, we yell, we whisper, we sing, we speak softly, we sigh, we run, we hide, we kiss, we hold hands, we encourage, we argue, we join, we shy away from and we do so much more but I don't have enough space to incorporate everything we do but you get the idea. We as human beings have so many emotions and feelings and for most of us as we grow we are able to express how we feel and speak it to the people most important to us such as our parents, our siblings, our teachers and our friends. We take liberty in what we discuss and who we share it with. As we grow and experience life we learn coping and social skills which enable us to become more independent and more responsible. From the first day we are born when our mom gives birth to us we make our first entrance into the world making a lasting impression on our parents from our first cry and breath we take to when the nurse gently puts us into our mother's arms starting a relationship and bond that will hopefully last a long time.
In life we sometimes realize that not everything works out perfectly and sometimes we may have a child born with a disability or develops one over time in their initial 3 years following birth. As loving parents we learn the power of unconditional love will heal the sadness and frustrations we feel in addition to the imperfections. I can't speak for all the possibilities of disabilities but do know that of the many that a child can develop, autism is ranked high on the charts nowadays as the current rate as seen in many articles and published reports is 1 in 150. The mysteries surrounding autism are many and no one really seems to know why there are so many more cases of it occurring today. All I know is that it is a very lonely road to travel when you learn your child is autistic initially and you really don't always know what to do or who to turn to. Logically the first step is to seek proper medical attention and early intervention.
By seeking early intervention you are providing your child the benefit of very critical therapies that will be aimed at addressing their social deficits. Autism is a condition that affect a child's way of relating to others and communication. The telltale signs of autism is lack of eye contact and lack of speech at the typical age of 18 mos - 2 years old. If your child is not expressive with these basics there is a good possibility that they may be autistic. You as the parent have to be proactive in your child's development and if you recognize these concerns then you really need to address them with proper medical consultation.
It is very scary when you are uncertain as to your child's development if they are not making the age appropriate milestones and the sooner you realize there is something not quite right then you need to take action as soon as you recognize this. The main challenge autistic children face is difficulties in self expression, speech and relationships. The hardest part in dealing with autism are the more severe cases where a child seems to be hopelessly lost in their own world and you can not make contact with them. Some children can not speak and have very poor motor skills. They are completely dependent on you for all there needs and it is very traumatic and heartbreaking to the parents seeing how helpless their child is. These kids are low functioning and since they can not express themselves with speech they are prone to self injurious behavior in trying to communicate. They generally will need to be protected at all times from harming themselves and every day is a difficult challenge. These parents and their child really need a lot of love and support to help them through a very difficult situation.
On the higher end of the spectrum there are children who are diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome which is considered a high functioning form of autism and in these cases the child typically has a balance of strengths and weaknesses. Asperger kids generally have above average skills in math, science, music and language but they have a very difficult time in establishing relationships and in expressing themselves socially. They are used to routines and if those routines are altered then they will get easily frustrated and become rebellious and very difficult.
The most important things we can do for our children are to provide them with a loving home and accept them for who they are and teach them, mentor them, support them and most of all cherish them and provide them with hope, confidence and let them become their own person and equip them with the coping and social skills they need to make their contributions and experience life on their own terms.
Edward D. Iannielli III