There’s a saying that when you’ve seen one autistic child, you’ve seen, well, one autistic child. Meaning that no two kids on the autism spectrum are exactly alike. Each child has their own quirks and struggles and trying to find the apples-to-apples comparison is nearly impossible.
And if you look at the autism spectrum, itself, you’d see that it includes autism, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified or PDD-NOS (how’s that for definitive?). Although each of these three have their own definitions and characteristics, there are overlaps in symptoms and each seems to have higher and lower ends of behavior children will display.
Considering my own experiences with my son Matt, kids from his school, and following other blogs such as Lost and Tired and It’s a Wunderful Life, the truth of the matter is everyone’s experiences are different. The kids have their own set of problems but the parents also have a vastly different range of what (and how) they deal with on a day-to-day basis.
This, too, adds to the complication.
While the kids themselves are obviously the focus, they still are but one – albeit large – variable. Home environment, school, diet, access to therapies and healthcare, and parental involvement all have their place. There are others, but you get the point.
I still cherish the saying by Charles R. Swindoll that says “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” In today’s terms, it simply means “attitude is everything”.
I commend my wife for spotting Matt’s speech delays early on. Without her quick actions, God only knows what our son’s situation would be today. Matt was tested, diagnosed and receiving three types of therapy before he was three years old.
Yet some parents aren’t that quick to react. Some parents deny for the longest time that something might be wrong. Others will sit back and say that it’s up to the schools to “fix” the problem. And still others will just accept that their child has autism thinking nothing can be done.
Matt has autism – the 10%.
Speech, behavioral, and occupational therapy prior to age three. Diet changes. Chiropractic care. An aggressive IEP (individual education program) agreed upon by us, the teachers and therapists at school. We also tried an incredible speech program for the iPad called Proloquo2Go.
With my new job and switch in health care plans, the first thing my wife looked into was autism coverage. As a result, Matt now receives additional speech therapy up to 45 sessions per calendar year. It’s not ideal, but it’s absolutely worth doing.
We also push social and group interaction with Matt and other children/adults. And although differences exist in how we raise Matt compared to his twin brother – our expectations for manners and proper behavior remain consistent.
And you know what? It’s working. I don’t know what part might be working better than anything else, but does it matter? Matt’s progressing in just about every way and I’ll be damned if I’m going to start second guessing the reasons.
Listen. Autism sucks. You’ll never hear me say otherwise. Yet I’ve said it before and will say it again: even with Matt’s quirks, I’ll match him up against just about any other 4-year old in terms of intelligence, behavior, manners, etc.
That kid has a great attitude. It would be a disservice to him if the wife and I did not.