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I Am Not Rain Man

Posted by admin | April 7, 2015

Cute 6 years old boy looking through the window

Children with autism spectrum disorder and Asperger’s struggle for years to meet other people’s expectations of “suitable behavior.” We see children on the spectrum and the parents of those children with Autism and Asperger’s here in the office who are struggling to come to terms with their child’s behavior, such as skipping down the hall singing Barney songs at 15 years old, carrying Sesame Street toys in their pockets to feel safe and reassure themselves, becoming obsessed with dinosaurs or a preschool television show or cartoons like Magical DoReMi, and SpongeBob and just wanting to talk about that all the time. We try to encourage parents to focus on teaching their kids the appropriate times and places to pursue those interests, e.g., listening to the Muppet music on an iPod with ear buds is fine; carrying a Muppets backpack is not. It is inviting bullying. It is important, I believe that children with Asperger’s and Autism be encouraged to have some conversational currency with peers such as being aware of sports championships, players, team rankings and game rules, or American Idol, ways of connecting with peers on their level. I have come to wonder if wanting a child to be more “age-appropriate” says more about our comfort level than the child’s development.

Research shows that early intervention is beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder, but on average children are not diagnosed until they are four or five. That is about two years later than is possible. Part of the delay is because autism spectrum disorders have wildly ranging symptoms from mild to severe. Children with autism show deficits in social interaction, language and imaginative play. While in some instances taking a “wait and see” approach can be appropriate, but at times it results in children not getting the services they need at an early age, when those services can make the biggest difference in a child’s development. Early intervention is key to helping children with autism spectrum disorders.

I read on the Autism Speaks website, “10 Things Autism Parents Wish You Knew”.

  1. People do not need to feel awkward when they’re around my son. Yes, they may need to treat him a little differently, but I wish they would not be “weirded out”.
  2. Not all autism is the same.
  3. People seem to think that because my son isn’t like the one single other person they know on the spectrum, that he must not be autistic.
  4. These kids love. They need love. They are wonderful and bring enormous joy and laughter to those who love them.
  5. Knowing one child with autism does not mean anything really – they are all so different. Please don’t tell me my son doesn’t have it because he looks so different from the other kid you know on the spectrum.
  6. Kids with special needs are smart. Talented. Creative, and thoughtful. It may not be obvious all the time – their minds work differently.
  7. If my daughter is making strange noises, feel free to look. She’s just making them because she’s excited. Please don’t stand there and gape at us with your mouth hanging open.
  8. If you see my son in a grocery store, he may be head nuzzling, chewing on the corner of his shirt, or spinning. He’s anxious. I will not scold him, so please do not look at me as if I should. He can’t help how is body receives stimuli. He is trying to cope with the way his body is affected by his surroundings.
  9. From onlookers who think I am not addressing my child’s odd behaviors: I ask for a little empathy. Don’t judge. Try to understand that his environment strongly affects him.
  10. Please accept our kids the way that you assume we will accept yours.

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