Before I start with my 10 on Tuesday, first I want to say that we arrived safe and sound from our train trip yesterday morning! It was a long ride, with a cranky Shaun, but we survived! And most importantly, we will see my husband tomorrow for the first time since August! So exciting! Obviously, I will write more about his R&R (and our trip I'm sure) later, but for now onto 10 on Tuesday!
As many of you may know, this month is Autism Awareness month. I write fairly frequently about autism as it is, but in honor of this month, I will be trying to post a bit more on the topic! So for today's topic: 10 Facts about Autism!
1. The numbers. 1 in 110 children are affected by autism. 1 in 70 boys. 1 in 88 military children. These are some of the more conservative numbers, others stats say 1 in 91. Regardless of the correct statistics, the numbers are growing. Chances are if you do not yet know someone affected, you will in your lifetime. More children will be diagnosed with Autism that AIDS, cancer and diabetes COMBINED, yet receives less funding for research.
2. All races, religion, social classes, etc are affected.
3. There is no known cause for autism and no cure. Amazing progress can be made through early intervention and various therapies, but it never goes away. Some have also made amazing progress with the GFCF diet and other biomedical treatments.
4. There is no 'look' about autism. I have actually had people say that my son 'looks normal'. A person with autism does not have an extra head, no distinguishing features, etc that set them apart from the crowd. I will never understand this statement. Shaun is in a class made up entirely of kiddos on the spectrum, if you were to look at their class photo, the only thing setting them apart from every other preschool class is that they are the cutest group of kids I've ever seen! (I was told that was a requirement!)
5. No two children on the spectrum are the same! There is a saying that if you know one autistic child, you know one autistic child. There are three key areas that make up the diagnosis of autism- communication, social and repetitive behaviors- but each person is affected differently and has their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, my son (now) has a lot of speech but does not always use this language to communicate properly and he still has a harder time with receptive (what he understands), but someone might have less speech but might understand more and even be able to communicate better.
6. Autism does NOT mean dumb! Sadly, I know there are many who avoid testing, etc because they see a diagnosis of autism as meaning their child is dumb. And many still have the ignorant idea as well. I hate that my child might be written off before being given a chance, because he has the most amazing mind! I know all parents say that, but I truly believe he is brilliant. Having autism just means that his mind works differently. He may have trouble communicating and may not always understand things, but he has an amazing memory and a knack for words and numbers and singing songs. He amazes me. Besides that, many of history's greatest minds are now thought to have been autistic- Einstein, Mozart, Emily Dickinson, and so many others! Dumb? I don't think so!!
7. A child with autism is not necessarily antisocial. I think when many people think of autism, they think of someone completely inside their own head, but this is obviously not always the case. At one point we had a doctor tell us he would never be diagnosed with autism because of how social he was. This was before he regressed, BUT even then there were signs (he did not respond to his name, etc), but even now he is still pretty social. He just doesn't always know how to act appropriately in social situations.
8. Some signs of autism: lack of eye contact (or difficulty getting and keeping eye contact), no babbling by 12 months, no words by 16 months, lack of gesturing (pointing, etc) by 12 months, loss of language at any age, not responding to name, hand flapping, spinning, self injurious behaviors, and many more. I will not go on about this because there are so many great resources, but I will attach a few links at the end of this post.
9. Early intervention makes an amazing difference. I cannot even begin to say how thankful I am to the amazing therapists that Shaun has had and how they have helped him. He was diagnosed about a year and a half ago and in that time has made such amazing progress!
10. The following are some great sites for more information: