Every day, we're reminded that our child or children with autism are "challenged," "disabled," and otherwise unable to come up to society's expectations. That hurts. But we're practical and realistic; we swallow the negative feelings and move forward. Of course, soldiering on is part of parenting any child with a disability.
Except in the rarest of cases, children with autism are always growing and progressing. In fact, adults with autism are ALSO growing and progressing. Yes, it may be slower... and no, progress may not be unlimited.. but our children are doing more every day. And that's cause for celebration.
Think celebration is a luxury you don't need to indulge in? Here are five reasons why we can and should celebrate our autistic children's small victories!
Enjoy Parenting Your Child with Autism
Hey, look! My amazing kid with autism can play the clarinet! He plays solos... he plays in theaters... he plays in bands... he plays in camp... he plays in the junior symphony!
Sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it?
Before you jump to any conclusions, take a few minutes to read "How My Kid with Autism Learned to Play the Clarinet."
The journey has been long, difficult, expensive, and ... in our opinion... well worth all it cost. So far!
(Coming next: how my kid with autism learned to play the bassoon!)
Parents get hands-on involved with their children's autism therapy for many different reasons -- to save money, to find more quality parent-child time, to provide higher quality experiences for their child, or simply because they find the opportunity interesting and worthwhile. Whatever their reasons, many parents find that being an autism therapist for their is actually quite a lot of fun, very rewarding, and a great way to bond. This article explores five models for becoming your child's autism therapist!
Of course, it's important to bear in mind that almost every child with autism will have more than one therapist -- and it is virtually impossible for a parent to provide the entire gamut of supports required to help a child with autism to improve speech, dexterity, social skills, and other challenges. But that doesn't mean that mom or dad don't have a great deal to offer.
More About Autism Treatments
Well, it's World Autism Awareness Day, and by golly the world is now very, very aware of autism. From the Empire State Building to the Sydney Opera House to the Macau Tower pictured in the photo, buildings are lit up blue as part of the Autism Speaks awareness initiative. There are events, programs, symposiums, special parades, walks, marches... in short, autism seems to have achieved the kind of status that were once reserved for more well-known and common disorders such as breast cancer, muscular dystrophy, and the like.
Of course, for the most part, these events are about and not for people with autism -- but that's not unusual. Galas, fundraisers, parties and other lavish fundraising events rarely involve those people for whom funds are being raised. How typical is this approach? If you're like me, you may remember a Frasier episode in which Frasier's brother, Niles, is mortified at being left off the invite list for the Hoedown for the Homeless -- a gala event at which the hoi poloi rub elbows, far far away from any hint of homelessness!
Perhaps the most impressive (to me) sign that autism has now achieved Major Status comes from DisneyWorld, where the posh Swan and Dolphins have "lit it up blue" and...according to a press release, "In addition, one of the hotel's signature restaurants, Todd English's bluezoo has created a specialty blue cocktail, named blue sparkler, in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Through April 30th proceeds from sales of the drink will be donated to the Princeton House Charter School, an Orlando area school for children with autism. The blue sparkler is a mixture of pavan liqueur, Florida 4 orange vodka, sparkling wine with orange and vanilla syrup."
So autism now has its signature adult beverage, its signature color, and its signature events -- and, presumably, has become a part of the charitable mainstream.
How do you feel about all this? Share your thoughts!
With Autism Awareness Week around the corner, the CDC held a press conference. According to them, autism rates continue to climb at an incredible rate, and now stand at 1:68 among their select group of 8 year olds. You can quarrel with the CDC's approach to identifying children with autism (they are not simply counting children who have been officially diagnosed), and it is rather confusing that they base their announcements on observations of 8 year olds in a few select states. But even if you find fault with the process (or the institution of the CDC), there is no doubt that autism is a significant issues for Americans.
Here are the details from the CDC digital press kit:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds) in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a surveillance summary report, "Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010."
- According to the new report:
- The estimated number of children identified with ASD continues to rise. This latest estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates from CDC's autism tracking system.
- Some things about ASD have remained the same. For example, ASD is almost five times more common among boys than girls. White children are more likely to be identified with ASD than Black or Hispanic children. And, most children with ASD are still not diagnosed until after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2.
However, the picture of ASD in communities is changing. Almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above average intellectual ability (an IQ of 85 and above) compared to a third of children a decade ago.
Grandparenting can be tricky. But grandparenting a child with autism is actually easier than you may think. That's because your grown children and your child with autism really, truly need you -- and, with a little extra effort, you can make a profound positive difference in their lives. Find out what it takes to be the perfect autism grandparent. Even if you're less than perfect (and aren't we all?!), trust me, a good autism grandparent is very hard to find, and in very high demand!
More About Extended Families and Autism
If a person with autism is part of your life, you may be interested in donating to an autism-related charity. You may even be in the habit of participating in charitable walkathons, auctions, galas, and other events which collect funds for a particular charity or project. These types of activities are laudable, and almost certainly make you feel that you're doing your part to support autism-related efforts.
Before you commit yourself to a particular charity or event, though, it is worth your while to do a little research to be sure you know where your money is going. The fact that the word "autism" (or "Aspergers") appears in a charity's name tells you very little about what they do, how they operate, or how donations are used.
In this article, I've outlined six things to consider before giving to autism-related charities. I haven't made any specific recommendations for giving (or not giving), but instead (I hope) am providing some food for thought!
You'd do anything for your child. And your child has autism. So you'd provide any therapy, no matter what the cost in cash, time, energy, or frustration.
But is more therapy always the best choice? Are there times when enough is enough?
Here are some clear signs to help you decide when it's time to stop adding yet more therapies -- for a variety of reasons.
If you're the parent or grandparent of a child with autism, I'd appreciate your thoughts. What should grandparents know about grandparenting and autism? What helps? What hurts? What's the least they can do -- and what's too much? Should they learn about autism, or stand back and let their adult child do the teaching? Should they offer hands-on support, or get out of the way? What should they say to extended family or friends?
Thanks for your input!
In a New York Times article, writer Ron Suskind describes his son's diagnosis with autism, and his own journey to reconnect with his son through the magic of Disney. Perhaps not surprisingly, Suskind's personal journey is not unique: not only do many parents, siblings, and teachers connect with autistic children through television and movie characters, but the idea of pretend play as therapy has been around for a long time. Find out more about how to connect with your autistic child through television and movies!