Exploring autism around the world

Our Story up to Age 9

The first few years of my son’s life appeared normal like most babies; nappy changes, bathing, feeding, tickling, crawling, seven teeth at 7 months, walking and his first words mum and dad. Through his early developing years, he would play like most children. Then shortly after his second birthday and for several months following he seemed to stop developing and spent more hours a day staring at the leaves on the trees or was just vacant looking into space. Next came a breakdown in his speech, he stopped saying mummy and daddy, or asking questions like other children such as “why is the sky blue” or “how much longer”, and at pre-school he would generally prefer solo play, he was truly in his own world.

As discerning parents, we went to our local GP to ask why our child was not progressing in his development, rather he was going backwards?  The GP uncertain of reason or cause referred us to a pediatrician, a specialist in development disorders for children, who, after 15 minutes observing Mitchell informed us he has PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). Once we understood this was Autism, the realization set in and we were naturally devastated. We collected the pamphlets provided as well as a list of telephone numbers. We started ‘intervention mode’ and commenced speech therapy sessions immediately and found an occupational therapist, got hearing tests, psychologist assessments, started a gluten free diet, enrolled him in early Intervention programs and found a uni student to work with him 4 hours a week, while we continued our journey trawling the Internet and books to further research about Autism and how we could help our little boy fit into our world and how we could try to better fit into his world. At the age of three, Mitchell had a formal assessment and was diagnosed having high functioning Autism.

When Mitchell was 6 he was able to put a few short sentences together and asks for most essential needs, sometimes the words are not in the right order but at least he’s trying and socializing more, he loves to imitate people and characters and is very good at it, he sings beautifully and hums a lot, he remembers strap lines from all kinds of TV jingles and enjoys practicing faces in the mirror, we get the occasional sentence like “I want milk please mummy” or “help please daddy”, or “thank-you very much“.

Mitch also has delayed echolalia and repeats phrases he has learned, sometimes in the right instance, most times it’s random phrases from TV programs he likes or phrases he’s learned while surfing You Tube.

If you can imagine Autism as a broad spectrum of light with many beautiful colours and darkness, then somewhere in each child there is an individual contrast balance switch we need to find to help all who live with Autism and experience the beauty through their eyes and the many wonderful gifts they have.

Not that long ago, Autism was a rare occurrence, you may remember the 1988 movie Rain Man when Dustin Hoffman played a man with Autism, in those days as few as 1 in 10,000 people were recorded having Autism. Today, research some 21 years later reports 1 in 160 diagnosed with Autism each year in Australia. Ratio between boys to girls is 4:1. Without proper facilities and teachers, children with Autism will be extremely challenged to integrate into the community and understand our world. Importantly, as parents we have adopted a lifestyle culture with a better understanding of Mitchell’s world, and really, when you get into Mitchell’s world and get to know it and live it… What a cool world it is!

There is no known cure for Autism and services available to families with children that have Autism is very limited. It took us two years to get Mitchell into a special education program. Since his placement, Mitchell has grown enormously, he plays with his peers now, and he is reading books and occasionally engages in basic chat if it interests him. Early diagnosis and intervention has helped us tremendously.

Mitchell is 9 now and my worries have lessened about his future, he is smart and funny, interesting and all the kids at his school know his name and love him.  He wants me to make some T-shirts for some of the girls (he calls Dudetts) at the school that says “I Love Mitchell”  hee hee …how funny his mind is and how delightfully self absorbed he can be!  Mitch is in a private school in a Satalight class for Children with Autism, there are 6 kids, one teacher and one aid.  Mitchell has a great desire to be a movie star and enjoys memorizing lines and practicing in front of the camera…the skits usually end with “please subscribe to my videos” I am so excited about his future and the future of all with Autism, it really does seem like their minds are the way of the future and it is us who needs to slow down and see what they see.

Federal health authorities have significantly raised their estimate of the prevalence of autism in children, concluding in a new study of 8-year-olds that 1 in 88 has some form of the disorder.

For the analysis, released Thursday, researchers scoured tens of thousands of health and special education records in 14 states, looking for an autism diagnosis or the symptoms that would add up to one. It is the latest in a series of studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing autism rates climbing dramatically over the last decade.

story from http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/30/local/la-me-0330-autism-rates-20120330

What is Autism

Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent before a child is three years old.[2] Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood.[3] It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.[4]

Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and it is unclear whether ASD is explained more by rare mutations, or by rare combinations of common genetic variants.[5] In rare cases, autism is strongly associated with agents that cause birth defects.[6] Controversies surround other proposed environmental causes, such as heavy metals, pesticides or childhood vaccines;[7] the vaccine hypotheses are biologically implausible and lack convincing scientific evidence.[8] The prevalence of autism is about 1–2 per 1,000 people worldwide, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report 11.3 per 1,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with ASD as of 2008.[9][10] The number of people diagnosed with autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice; the question of whether actual prevalence has increased is unresolved.[11]

Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life.[12] The signs usually develop gradually, but some autistic children first develop more normally and then regress.[13] Early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help autistic children gain self-care, social, and communication skills.[12] Although there is no known cure,[12] there have been reported cases of children who recovered.[14] Not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, though some become successful.[15] An autistic culture has developed, with some individuals seeking a cure and others believing autism should be accepted as a difference and not treated as a disorder. click here for more  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism

A message from Beverly

As a mother of a son with Autism it is my goal to learn and try to understand as much as I can. Managing this process needs careful consideration and awareness of what is working and what is not needs to be captured. We as parents, family or friends need to become some level of an ‘Autism Expert’ because the spectrum is so vast and help so expensive and always evolving.

I’ve discovered people who have Autism also have something so very special,  they have many talents to discover, the more parents share stories the more we learn about how broad the spectrum of Autism is.

If it’s true that every working hour another child is diagnosed with autism than now more than ever we need to find a better way to cope with the growing number of cases.  The proper facilities and teachers to advance learning for these children is essential, starting from the moment the Autism is detected!

To better understand their world of various distractions and difficulties with socialization and comprehension, yet when you get to briefly know each scope of the child on the spectrum and see, even if only once in a while the glimmer of light and happiness, innocence and intellect shines through and…what a cool world it is!

Not all that long ago, about 20 years ago autism was a rare occurrence, as few as 1 in 10,000 people in the US.  4 years ago the studies were about 1 in 150 kids age 10 and younger…today they are saying it could be more like 1 in 68!   In Australia it’s estimated one in 100 people have an ASD; that’s almost 230,000 Australians…yet 4 years ago it was noted there were 130,000 Australians of all ages!

Autism is on the rise and although the increase of awareness is wonderful we really need to make some serious changes to the schooling system, with a major focus on High School.  Our teenagers deserve to thrive in their chosen area and deserve the help they need to set them up to succeed.

This site displays interesting articles that I have found helpful, please post me if you would like me to share something with Autism World social media platforms or simply leave a comment.

Best wishes

BeverlyIMG_7937

 

 

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