I recently shared a bit about my autism story with my middle child. Diagnosed High Functioning Autistic about 3 years ago or so, it was a new learning experience. With that being said, finally having the diagnosis that now is pretty much Asperger’s helped us to better raise our son. Now when others want to look at him odd or make faces because he isn’t as social as one would anticipate for a 10 year old boy to be, I just say “that’s how he is and that’s okay! He will socialize when he warms up to people but that takes a while.” And I am okay with who my son is and I think he’s pretty darn awesome!
Since April is World Autism Month, I’ve decided to #LightItUpBlue with Autism Speaks to increase understanding and awareness of autism. I have found that more people are aware of autism than ever before. I personally have learned that there are many areas of Autism that make raising autism so tricky. No two parents will have the same child who exhibits exactly the same quirks or personality traits. It’s highly likely that you know someone with autism too since the CDC estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in every 68 children in the United States.
Autism refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
Autism’s most obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Autism Speaks encourages parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes.
My Son Was Diagnosed around age 8
It wasn’t easy to get an autism diagnosis. First he was said to be ADHD, bi-polar as that runs heavily in the family and at age 2 I even had a pysch try to give him anti-psychotic drugs. I walked out and never went back there! It isn’t easy to get a diagnosis for Autism because the symptoms can be clearly misdiagnosed for ADHD, bipolar and other mental health symptoms like anxiety. There simply aren’t many professionals out there who will look deeper, they prefer to give a quick diagnosis in my opinion and ADHD or anxiety is much easier to say a child has than to take the time to evaluate for autism. Again that is simply based on my own experiences. Finally we met a psychologist who has an adult son who is high functioning autistic – she diagnosed my middle kiddo in a mere matter of minutes. From that day forward my son was no longer on any medications and we worked to mold his household life into something that decreased meltdowns, was routine driven and worked for him.
Never Give UP!
If I had to advise anyone looking to get a diagnosis or answers, I would say DO NOT EVER GIVE UP! You will find someone who gets your child and will give you the diagnosis you and your child deserve. Try to find someone who has a child or grandchild with autism, they are the key to spreading awareness and getting more kiddos diagnosed properly.
Light it Up Blue
The “Light It Up Blue” campaign is about more than awareness — it is about increasing understanding and acceptance of autism. This includes advocacy and support for people across the entire spectrum throughout their lives. It also includes advancing research into personalized treatments for autism and related conditions. I encourage you test your understanding of autism by taking this quiz!
Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include GI disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.
My son has GI issues, he has sleep issues and as a younger child ADHD was certainly present. Overall my son still has anxiety and after having his adenoids out he sleeps okay. There’s a tick he has when he is excited and now at age 10 he simply tells his friends that’s what he does when he’s excited, he doesn’t know why. There’s little symptoms he has that you can see if only you know more about autism, the average person may just see him a shy, quiet kid until you get to know him then he’s a chatty Cathy!
Make a Difference …
You can help make a difference too by taking the Light It Up Blue Quiz to see how much you know about autism. If you’re moved to do so after visiting AutismSpeaks.org, please show your support for and understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with autism by sharing a photo to #LightItUpBlue for Autism Awareness Month too. Also, check out Autism Speaks’ nationwide calendar of autism-friendly friendly events and activities in April.