I am slowly catching up on my reader this evening. It’s under 8oo for more than two hours for the first time in DAYS! Any-who … I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw Rebecca’s post about a reading challenge for Autism Awareness Month (April).
Pixie from the The Page Turners blog came up with the idea of raising awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by hosting a reading challenge. We are encouraged to read and review at least one book dealing with ASD or learning disabilities. She doesn’t specify fiction or nonfiction, children’s books or adult literature, so the field would seem to be wide open.
As some of you know, Autism is a subject near and dear to my heart. What do you say when your child asks “why can’t I be normal like other kids and not get in trouble?” or doesn’t understand when the joke ends and all the other kids have moved on. ASD isn’t like high blood pressure. There is no “cure” for it you can’t medicate it into oblivion. Being Autistic is about the long and constant journey to build strategies to manage what comes easy and natural for others.
There is no single set of criteria that define the conditions on the Autism Spectrum. There is no test to “find” it. In fact you’re not likely to know about medically confirm an ASD diagnosis until your child is three.
There is a saying, if you have met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism. It is true. Some children are developmentally delayed speaking … others never stop talking; some children can’t sit still … others have rituals that verge on obsessive-compulsiveness; some are hyper-sensitive to getting their hands dirty or itch because of the tags in their clothes … others jump from the monkey bars just to feed the need for sensory input. Autism doesn’t look like anything else and it looks like everything else. Is it ADHD or is it a precocious child? Is it a hearing problem or is it sensory processing disorder? Is that a parent who has no control over their child or a caregiver who is working through a planned strategy? Sometimes there are tell-tale signs, but not always.
I cannot tell you the frustration of hearing “oh, I would never guess X is autistic” or “oh, I’m sorry. Will they ever be cured?” Life with an autistic child is unbelievably full … but it is not always easy, for the parent, sibling, extended family members, and most significantly the child. With more and more children diagnosed with ASD, it is imperative that we get smart about the spectrum of disorders not only for ourselves, but for our family members, our neighbors, and our kids.
You can learn more at Austism Speaks, the website for the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization.