When you do a search for “autism” or “what is autism”, you get websites that will provide you with a sweet, scientific definition. It will tell you that it is a “complex developmental disability”, or a “brain-based disorder.” These definitions are a nice stepping stone for understanding what autism is, but they don’t explain what it means to raise an autistic child.
Many parents that have received an autism diagnosis for their child need more information than a scientific definition. They want to know all the good, the bad, and the ugly of day-to-day living. They want to know what it means for their child, and their family. This is what brings people to my blog. I’m a mom, raising an autistic son, and I share my experiences in my blog posts.
It’s seems like just yesterday that my son was diagnosed with autism. In actuality, it was 10 years ago. My son was diagnosed at the age of 5. Back then, there weren’t a lot of mom bloggers sharing their experiences raising an autistic child. Over the years, the number of autism mom bloggers has risen. The support I have received from other autism bloggers has been great. Julie, from Julie’s Boyz, has been really sweet with her support as I have been dealing with my depression. She is one, of many autism bloggers, that have left comments offering support and advice.
One thing that is common with autism bloggers, is that we all have learned that autism means something different for each of us. We have a lot of similarities, but our lives are determined by our child. Children are different, whether they are NT or autistic. We share our experiences, not in order to show other parents how to raise their child. We share our experiences in the hopes that least one parent can use the similarities to help with issues in his/her home.
What does autism mean to me? Autism is no longer a term that I feel the need to have a definition for. For me, autism is just a diagnosis. It allows for more services for my son. It helps steer the approach during IEP meetings. It is one word that stops (or brings out more) looks. I’m sure you know the variety of looks I’m talking about. The ones that you try so hard to ignore, and hope your child doesn’t notice. The exception is when another “autism parent” is giving you a look. Then, it’s usually a look of complete understanding. You don’t even have to say your son is autistic, because that parent has already figured it out.
Instead of defining autism, I define his abilities and disabilities. His strengths and weaknesses. My son has OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. He likes everything in it’s place. He stops and straightens things that are not in the right spot. He picks lint off of our shirts, and has to fix anything that he thinks isn’t the way it should be. He has gotten really good in “helping” me in the kitchen. When I’m opening cans or packages, and leave them on the counter empty, he picks them up and throws them away.
My son has poor fine motor skills. He is still struggling to learn how to color and write. His fingertips are really sensitive to touch and textures. He has still not learned how to button his shirts, and struggles with zippers on his clothes. He also isn’t able to tie shoes. His typing skills have improved. He loves using the computer keyboard and touchscreen.
My son in completely non-verbal. He uses communication device, and has been learning to use sign language. He also is good at pointing to what he wants, or pulling us over to where he needs us to help him. My son is potty trained during the day, but not at night. My son doesn’t give hugs or kisses, but does lean into me to receive them. And he has an amazing smile, and giggles, when he is receiving them.
Notice how I wrote “my son”, and not “my autistic son,” while listing some of his abilities and disabilities? It’s important to remember that your child is an individual, not a diagnosis. If you are interested in learning the definition for autism, visit the websites that define it scientifically. If you are in need of learning what it is like raising a child with the diagnosis of autism, visit mom bloggers. We will provide posts that are both happy and sad. We strive to be honest with our emotions and experiences. We will answer comments left, to the best of our abilities. We are not medical professionals, just moms with experience.