How do you process what it means to be a parent of a child who has been diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and how can you help your child succeed?
Autism spectrum disorder, generally referred to as “Autism,” is believed to affect 1 in 68 children and presents itself to children in different ways. The term “spectrum” refers specifically to the wide range of symptoms and severity that children experience. What does this mean practically speaking? It means two kids who are both diagnosed with Autism may function at different levels of capability, may communicate with family or in social settings differently, and may have very different treatment plans.
Part of the difficulty with treating Autism is the uniqueness of each child. Some children are quick learners in class, but have trouble functioning in social settings. To make things worse, social problems are often compounded by high anxiety. This anxiety make some kids may shy away from anything from making friends to playing on a playground.
This does not mean a child with Autism cannot lead a happy, well-adjusted, and productive life! Many children with Autism are very intelligent; they simply communicate differently. Part of my job as a parent of an Autistic child is to figure out how to effectively communicate with her and to help her learn how to bridge the communication gaps in her life. Although she is academically gifted, she struggles through many school days because the social aspect of school is stressful and exhausting. However, as we continue to learn more about Autism and the “conversations” about Autism continue to be part of our daily lives, we are able to spread awareness and help bridge the differences naturally.