As I was growing up I have always had experience working with kids and adults with disabilities.
Admittedly not as much experience with Autism as I did with Downs Syndrome but I still did know and work with, generally adults, with Autism.
Even with this experience I only knew about the stereotypical behaviors of Autism when my own daughter started showing signs that she may be Autistic. I did not know that Autism manifests differently in girls. I did not know how the general behaviors you hear of, hand flapping, no eye contact, echolalia, were not across the board behaviors.
When it was first suggested to me that my daughter may be Autistic, I denied it, not because I would be ashamed or I refused to believe it, I just did not understand how wide the spectrum of Autism is.
I did not understand how slight and subtle symptoms can be. My daughter is Autistic, she was diagnosed in June 2019, at just 3.5 years old.
Since the diagnosis I have done what I can to research and understand Autism more thoroughly.
Admittedly I still have a lot to learn but one thing I do know. Autism is not due to environmental factors. Children do not “turn Autistic.” When they are born they either are or are not. It’s genetic. Because I know this and science knows this, it’s is generally believed by medical professionals that their is no cure, it hurts me and upsets me when I read people in denial and thinking to the contrary.
As I was looking up information on Autism just yesterday I came across this website, Age of Autism. This website believes and states so in their “Mission” that Autism is an environmentally caused disease that can be treated and cured.
Websites like this push that they think there is some sort of Autistic epidemic.
Autism was first ‘coined’ in 1911 and was started to be used widely in the 1940s. Since then as research has been done and Autism has been more widely understood diagnoses have become more prevalent, true, that does not mean there’s an epidemic. What does it mean? It just means that children and adults that are Autistic are being recognized. So many have not been diagnosed until adulthood. Before this there was no name for the symptoms and behaviors we now know as Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Now, I do not want to minimize the struggle that Autism can bring to not only the Autistic child or adult, but also the family. Autism is not easy, it is a spectrum. Some may have very severe and limiting behaviors where others may be able to mask and “fit in” better with their neurotypical peers.
Autism can be treated.
But when I say treated and when many medical professionals say treated it’s not a search or journey to a cure, it’s a journey to help those struggling to not struggle. It is helping their behaviors. For instance, it may be giving an Autistic person meds for anger management or anxiety. Helping those to constructively live their life.
Autism can not be Cured
Autism is genetic. Just like how Downs Syndrome is genetic. It cannot be cured. The difference right now is we don’t yet understand exactly the genetic cause. It’s not as easy as Downs Syndrome and seeing a duplicate chromosome. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
I understand the hurt and pain it can be as a parent when your child is diagnosed with Autism. Especially when they do have severe behaviors that you have to learn to work through and guide. It’s hard to understand our children when we do not understand Autism and we do not understand how Autistic people think. It’s hard to live in this uncertainty. Unsure if your child will grow to be a productive adult, able to hold a job, able to get married, able to have kids.
This is why it’s important to accept not deny.
It’s not helping your child to look for a cure. It’s not helping you to blame yourself for their Autism. You did not do something wrong during pregnancy, drinking a soda while pregnant did not cause their Autism. Vaccines did not cause your child’s Autism.
Your Autistic child is just that. He/she is Autistic, neurodiverse. He/she thinks differently and this includes seeing things differently, feeling things differently. If you do not understand, try to learn. Research, ask questions, and do so not only of other parents that have gone through raising a child with Autism, but from adults with Autism. No one better to help you understand what goes on in an Autistic child’s mind than an Autistic adult that has been through it.
Remember above all else. You know what’s best for your child and you know your child better than anyone else.
Accept do not deny.
Remember that your child is beautiful, brilliant, unique, and exactly who they’re meant to be.