|My son, Matthew.|
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Autism Symptoms-What To Look Out For
Consult Your Doctor Early
I am writing this because I am the mother of an autistic child. Even though you may have heard it all before, I am writing from my own experience of twenty-one years, and I have written other articles on autism as well. So if I sound like a book, it's because I've been through pretty much the whole gauntlet. Please be assured, you're not the only one. Autism can be found in children of all ages, in every corner of the world and among all ethnic, and economic groups. No parent wants to think something is wrong with their child, and many think that it's their fault is something is wrong, even though a lot of children suffer from this hard to diagnose and puzzling disorder. Often well-meaning family members and friends will tell you that it's just a phase the child is going through and it will pass, causing us to adopt a 'wait and see' attitude. As the parent, you know your child better than anyone. Keep an eye out and check the progress charts. If you suspect something is amiss, don't hesitate to contact your child's pediatrician.
Often I would keep calling my son's name but he wouldn't respond, or make eye contact with me, even when I was right in his face. When I would pick him up to hold or cuddle with him, he would kick, and squirm, and fight to get down. He was slow to do everything, even crawl. Do you have a child who has stopped speaking or has never talked at all? Some children with autistic symptoms make repetitive movements such as flapping their hands and rocking back and forth. My son did this quite a bit but not as much as some children. They can become extremely attached to objects such as articles of clothing or toys. My son always wanted to wear the same outfit to school. Severe discipline problems due to frustration because they can't keep up, are another sign. Children with autism symptoms can show a lack of affection or go the other direction and show an inappropriate amount of affection. Sometimes they show a lack of fear, yet may be violently afraid of loud noises. They are very literal and methodical with everything done the same way, every time. Often your child will refer to him or herself in the third person, and may have difficulty in communicating their needs or wants. Their interest is very narrow, and they will talk about the same thing over and over, day after day, and will repeat what is said. A child with autism symptoms is not usually social does not often show interest in other children (although my son is very social and loves to be around people). Changing their schedule, routine, or environment can be a problem, so make sure it's absolutely necessary.
Having an autistic child is not easy. They can be a handful and there will be days when you just want to quit. They will test your resolve to the max. I spent many nights crying thinking I was a bad mother because Matthew was driving me crazy asking the same thing over and over and over again (kind of like Drew Barrymore in "50 First Dates"). But a friend who has an autistic child also let me know that I was only human, and my frustration was normal. I handle it much better now, but there are still times I just have to have a change of scenery. In other ways he is amazing. A smile that can light up a room, and uncanny sense of direction and a gift for figuring out anything electronic. He loves to work at Super Target and they love him because he never complains, and the quality of his work never changes. He is a greeter at church and loves music. He manages to have a full life, in spite of his challenges.
If your child has autism symptoms, it won't be easy to walk your child through the land-mines of evaluations and assessments. It's a process, and one you should start early. Unfortunately I didn't know until Matthew was in kindergarten. Have your doctor give you a referral to the early intervention services. This is a federally funded program for infants and toddlers who display autism symptoms. If they are school age, go to your child's school and speak to the person in charge of special education. You may have to stay on them but there is a lot of help available. Unfortunately sometimes you have to fight for it. Learn all you can because you are your child's greatest advocate. And, never, ever give up, or stop fighting for your child.