Sunday, 6 April 2014
How does Autism affect my family? Autism Awareness Month
April is Autism Awareness Month around the world. So I thought I'd do a post about how autism affects me and my family, I don't think I've written much about it on here before, bear with me, this might be a long one!
When my daughter was 2 years old, my partner Chris started picking up on little things she was doing, and started looking into Autism. I remember I was reading Jodi Picoult's 'House Rules' at the time, in which the main character has Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism. It was while reading that, that I started noticing similarities between the character, and my daughter. She eventually (after a lot of meetings and appointments with various people), got a diagnosis of Autism. I remember this breaking my heart. I didn't know much about Autism,Ii had only met one child with Autism when I was 16 and worked in a nursery. He was totally non verbal, didn't like to be touched etc. I thought this was what life was going to be like for my girl. A few months before my daughter got her diagnosis, we started noticing the same things happening with my son who was 2 at the time. Therefore the ball got rolling, and yep, at around 2 and a half years old, he was diagnosed too.
Someone told me children with Autism don't smile, don't laugh, don't like to be touched, can't show emotion, and don't love. This seriously killed me inside. But now I know, boy was that person wrong. My children were both diagnosed at 2 and a half. They are now 5 and 4, so it's been a couple years since we first found out. And they are so loving.
We have good days and bad days. The bad can sometimes be horrific. My daughter doesn't have a great deal of sensory issues any more, she has learnt to overcome some of them, but some things still affect her. Bright lights annoy her, if there are loud sounds you still see her covering her ears until it has stopped. My son has lots of sensory issues, but again some of these are calming down. He has issues with loud sounds and crowds. What does all of this mean? Well, with the crowd issues my son has, it means we can't use public transport like buses or trains. This means we have to taxi or walk everywhere. As you can imagine, with it being £10 each way for a hospital appointment, it sometimes becomes very expensive. it means we have to plan things in advance most of the time, like trips to soft play, if it's busy, you can see they get overwhelmed easily with the noise and amount of people there, this can result in a major meltdown.
But it's not just sensory issues that affect them. They don't understand things like we do. For instance, social boundaries. They will gladly say hello and talk to anyone, which is very scary for us, as they would possibly gladly wander off if they weren't watched like a hawk.
But with the bad things, comes great things. My daughter is very bright and has high functioning autism. At 5 years old she has a reading age of around 9/10, is in the year above her normal one in school 3 days a week for an hour to do spellings with the older kids, and gets 10/10 every week. My son is getting on well and knows all of his numbers, colours, letters, and some words. My daughter is in a mainstream school and is coping very well, she loves her friends but doesn't understand how to play games properly sometimes. My son is in a specialist autism school at nursery, although he also goes to a mainstream playgroup in the mornings too. They both need full time one-to-one support in school, but the people they have are fantastic and really know and understand how to deal with their moods.
There is plenty more I can say, but I think this is longer than Ia first anticipated!
I may do another post soon about the other ways in which autism affects us. If you made it to the end of this one, thank you so much. Feel free to comment :D