Thursday, April 2, 2009

World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. This month is Autism Awareness Month. Today 67 children will be diagnosed with autism. This hour, the parents of 3 children will receive this news. 1 in 150 children are diagnosed with autism. Stats say 1 in 94 boys are diagnosed.

Why do I write of such things? Why does this interest me? Because of a beautiful 12 year old child in my house with autism. We are among the fortunate ones. Our child has the highest functioning form of autism, Asperger Syndrome. She can speak very well. She now communicates "almost normally."

Others have more severe stories. Many have a child who was developing normally and speaking at 18 months. Then they gradually lost their child to this hideous condition. The child stopped speaking, stopped making eye contact, stopped laughing, and withdrew into a private world full with a mixture of screaming and silence. The child started rocking incessantly and banging his head on the wall. The child they knew at 18 months no longer exists at 24 months.

Much has been done to help find ways to help these kids in recent years. Some have seen success with dietary changes or removal of mercury in the bloodstream. Others have used a behavioral approach to help the child be content and better able to communicate his or her needs.

We have used a program called LIFE. No, it's not an acronym for anything. It's what we do. From the time we realized SOMETHING was going on with Bethany, we focused on dealing with the symptoms. We didn't know we were doing it, but we worked on it. We continually had her learn to look at us when she talks. We taught her how to answer questions (at age 5 she often could not answer a "yes/no" question, and no way could she answer the "wh" questions). We lived life as normally as possible. By homeschooling, we could have our own "Special Ed" classroom: the WORLD!

Bethany still doesn't like crowds. She still has trouble expressing feelings sometimes. And she is SO LITERAL. She actually loves to use "play on words" but she will also then tell you that she's "just using the expression" and doesn't "really mean" the literal use. She makes us laugh a lot!

If you'd like to read more about World Autism Awareness Day, you can visit this website:
Autsim Awareness

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