GIFTED WITH AUTISM
I guess some might say I don't really have a right to speak about this issue as I am not a parent to a child who has been diagnosed with Autism and as correct as that may be, I have experienced and felt some of the same confusion and hurt others may feel.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. This is not the exact definition as ASD varies widely and it usually is different with each individual.
It was mid 2000's my younger brother was noticeably different, he wasn't communicating as much, loud noises were considerably frightening, no speech, no expressions and no eye contact. My mother was born to immigrant parents and never got an education, I remember her hearing the word "Autism" and it was so confusing to her, she had no idea what it was and how she was supposed to "fix" it.
As time went on he became a lot different, different to the other siblings. I remember seeing her confused, hurt and blaming herself. There were constant visits to the Dr's, social workers, nutritionists and speech and language therapist but nothing was getting better, there was no change, he wasn't acting like other children his age were "supposed" to act. I do not blame my parents for the way they were thinking, my mother never received an education, hardly any help in the beginning understanding what Autism was. All she ever received were endless questions she didn't have an answer for and pity.
I was around 5 when my brother was first diagnosed and I didn't fully understand until I was around 8 years of age. My mom had started to learn and figure out what she needed to do, with the help of certain organizations and social workers, by the time I had reached the age of understanding what my brother had. I made it my goal to find out everything and anything about it so I could be there for him in any obstacle he may face and to also educate those who treat people like my brother as if they are "freaks". I am extremely grateful to those who took out the time to help my family and to my mother who dedicated her life to him, making sure his childhood was just like any other child's.
There are different types of Autism Spectrum Disorder, each individual faces difficulty in different ways but it doesn't make them any different to the rest of us. I have learnt so much through children who have been diagnosed with Autism, I honestly have not met anybody more genuine, caring and intelligent than my brother. This journey started of with no speech, no emotion, no eye contact to an 18 year old today who excels in academics and sports.
I don't want to sit here and say every single case is like this but I write this hoping to tell those who are facing something similar; that there is help available and there are people who care. Our society has these labels for what is normal and what is not but the truth is there is no normal, everybody is different and that's what makes us stand out as individuals, I know it may sound easy for me to say as I am not a parent to a child that has been diagnosed with Autism but I understand and feel the confusion that other parents may feel.
As parents we want to give our children the best life we could possibly give them, the thought of them having to face difficulties with day to day activities pains us but IT IS GOING TO BE JUST FINE. The most important thing is to love them, nurture them and be there for them for whenever they fall and the rest will fall into place. I tried to educate those who were ignorant, who had such little understanding and compassion towards Autism but you cannot change everyone.
I hope this helps anybody who may feel as if they were alone in this. Autism is nothing to be ashamed of, there is nothing wrong with you and there is nothing wrong with your child. It is not a curse but a gift that our society has yet to learn how to value.
Information on ASD: