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Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Autism Awareness

??????????World Autism Awareness Day is April 2nd. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disorder with many different symptoms, behaviors and characteristics. It affects people in different ways and at varying degrees (from mild to severe). Since my son’s initial diagnosis over three years ago, I’ve learned a great deal about the spectrum, but there is still much to understand. With this post, I join many others worldwide by sharing some thoughts from personal experience in hopes of raising greater awareness, clarifying misconceptions and building more support.

Autism is not a processing error; it’s a different operating system.

  • autism ribbonThe autism puzzle logo represents the many shapes and colors (or aspects) of the disorder; each person exhibits their own unique puzzle pattern. It is not a one-type-fits-all concept. Some might visibly exhibit their autism while others might have a less visible form, but just as valid.
  • My son, and every other individual affected by autism, is a person, not a label. Try to focus on the individual as opposed to stereotypical labels or expectations of certain behaviors. Every person has purpose, gifts, talents, worth and a unique personality. As Dr. Temple Grandin puts it: People with autism are different, not less
  • More understanding and less judgement is important when dealing with anyone, but even more so with someone who has autism. Forms of autism require repetition, patience, structure, routine, individuality and flexibility.
  • Support parents and families who care for someone with autism. Parenting is a life-long journey that will have ups and downs along the way and for those with autism, it can be even more challenging.
  • When an autistic child acts up or ‘misbehaves,’ please understand it might be condition related and beyond their control. It is not always easy to know how to handle behavior so it might take more time and effort to understand what is happening and figure out the best way to help them through it.
  • The guidelines used to identify autism spectrum can change. While this change may be necessary to better identify conditions and needs, it often results in children losing certain services and considerations. It is important to remember while some terms and categories may “no longer exist,” a child with a condition remains. I hope more is done to make sure children and their families are not left out due to restructuring of the spectrum’s terms and conditions.
  • Do what you can to gain a better understanding of the spectrum and help spread awareness. To learn more about autism, I recommend reading Rethinking The Autistic Brain by Dr. Temple Grandin. It is an incredible tool for any parent or educator who wants to truly understand the full spectrum brain patterns. Dr. Grandin, a successful autistic person herself, shares valuable information to help others understand the complexities and patterns, as well as targets needs and life skills for those with autism.

The more we know, accept and embrace the individual, as well as the spectrum’s characteristics, the better we can support those who need it most. Thank you.

My son creating artwork for Autism Awareness reflecting words important to him.

My son creating artwork for Autism Awareness using words to describe himself and things important to him.

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This entry was posted on April 1, 2014 by in Art & Crafts, General, Health & Nutrition, Life Skills, Social Studies and tagged , , .
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