FrashavanHaving a child with autismWed Apr 4, 2012 08:1918.104.22.168We didn't know that Eli had autism when we adopted him, we knew he had a wonderful, magical smile. We knew he adored his big-brother from the moment they met.
Time went on, and he didn't start to speak, as his brother had. We tried and tried to teach him words; sometimes he would repeat them once or twice, but he wouldn't use them. His fixation on a few things at a time, and his inability to cope with changes in routine, and his defensiveness when being changed were all signs.
The problem was that even the health professionals couldn't put their finger on exactly what was wrong with him. For two years we dragged ourselves to specialist after specialist. Most were puzzled, and this problem and that were excluded. The best advice we got was from a pediatric geneticist who told us, in her opinion, one day it would be like a switch had gone on, and Eli would be able to do things and learn in ways that surprised us. (Bless her for that advice, too! It kept us going.)
His Mom and I fell very much in love with him, but he was exhausting. It was awfully hard for his big brother, David, who couldn't quite understand why his little brother couldn't play with him the way he wanted. And, though he never said, of course he resented all the attention Eli required.
We learned fairly early, that Eli was very observant, and that he was sensitive to and interested in sound. Most of us are so visual, we have no idea how an open field sounds, or what a tree sounds like. Having a child with autism made me stop and listen and find out, though... even though I doubt I hear as much of the difference as Eli does.
Often his mom and I were frustrated, and often exhausted. I learned patience I never knew I had... but I can't say they weren't times when the exhaustion and frustration overwhelmed my patience. I wish I could say it. I wish we had understood more, earlier, because the relationship between his mother and I suffered and, eventually, unraveled. (Eli wasn't the sole cause, of course!!)
Even though his special kindergarten program assessed him as unlikely to ever learn -- a verdict his Mom and I never accepted -- he started to learn to speak under their noses (in their defense, he spoke so quietly at first, I doubt they could hear him). He has continued to learn, more and more quickly, each year since. We are extremely thankful for his teachers, and the excellent program offered by his school -- even in the face of constant budget cuts.
Eli is learning to cope and function with the rest of us. There is no "cure" for autism spectrum disorders; truthfully no one seems to understand much about them. Autism isn't caused by vaccines, or bad parenting, or drugs. It seems that there are big increases in diagnoses for Autism, but that may be down to the fact that doctors and others are getting better at spotting it. Every person with autism is a bit different; some are verbal and affectionate; some are not. They are all "different" from expectations, both those we have of "normal" and those most people have of "autistic." Eli won't "grow out of it," any more than any other child with an autism diagnosis but we do think (and hope and pray) he will learn to function and cope pretty well.
I have learned more from Eli than I can say. This is Autism Awareness Month.
- I am glad nobody cured my of my Asparger's ... Baruch, Sat Apr 7 08:47if they had, I would drive a big pickup truck, drink beer, and watch NFL ;-) Like Capt Kirk said about himself, in the movie about Spock's misguided brother, if he was healed of his pain, he wouldn't ... more
- So much to learn... clarym29, Wed Apr 4 12:24I remember watching a documentary on The Learning Channel, I think, featuring an autistic woman who is now in charge of an agricultural program at a Texas University I think. I do not remember her... more
- Indeed MN_Morgan, Wed Apr 4 10:37It sounds like they're taking good consistent structured care of him. The boy I train with after school has Autism, and it's not an easy task to keep from sabotaging work done with him. It makes me... more
- They are really good Frashavan, Wed Apr 4 18:09Eli loves school, and learning things, which helps a lot.
- Each person born, is handicapped ... Baruch, Sat Apr 7 08:49most handicaps aren't visible. Each child learns, if possible, ways of coping, by using their body and mind, in creative ways. This is like the genesis of a shaman. In their case it is mental... more
- I like that analogy clarym29, Sat Apr 7 10:09I guess that is a more creative way of saying that everybody is different.
- Creative yes, but hopefully more hopeful and insightful (nm) Baruch, Sat Apr 7 10:34
- That's something beautiful... MN_Morgan, Thu Apr 5 13:08When you see a kid get engaged into something like that. Sounds like he's gunning 110%.
- Thank you so very much for sharing this. Mirage, Wed Apr 4 10:17I have never been diagnosed as autistic but some people have suggested that I may have Asperger's. That is not why I am thanking you. I am thanking you because before I turned 2 I was diagnosed with... more
- It can be very hard for parents Frashavan, Wed Apr 4 18:23I was a severe, chronic asthmatic from infancy. It must have been very hard on my parents. The only two things I know for sure was my Mother told someone once, and I overheard, how much she hated... more
- In my case, I stammered a lot until in High School (nm) Baruch, Sat Apr 7 08:50