My Family

My Family

Friday, April 12, 2013

What Autism Looks Like...

I wrote this little article a few weeks back for a Contest being held by Parents magazine. It obviously didn't win, but I wrote it more for myself to get my feelings out. So, I thought I would share. What Autism Looks like in my family, from a Mommy's perspective. My son was diagnosed with Autism on November, 2012. The diagnosis not only changed the help we received, it also changed our parenting styles. I really was not well informed about Autism and how prevalent it is in so many homes. I treated my son just like my older son, had the same expectations and really wondered why he wasn't "listening" to me. NOW I know he wasn't ignoring me or choosing to disobey he was just struggling to interpret and process the things I was saying. As a baby Cohen was always sweet and laid back, but also quite loud. When he began to crawl he found ways to always find his way to the train table and would NOT leave. That was his thing and did not want anyone else to touch it. Play time as a toddler was always lining things up, playing legos, or playing trains. Everything he did was about Trains (Thomas) or solving problems. Again as time progressed we noticed more and more things were difficult. He would throw really bad tantrums when having to leave his favorite activities or random times we didn't know why. The tantrums would be fairly violent, throwing himself on the floor, kicking, stiffening his entire body. Finding a calming agent was usually a Thomas show if we were home. I began choosing not to do things as a family such as restaurants or parks, or parties just because I did not understand what was bringing on all of the tantrums. To skip ahead a bit at Cohen's 3 year old check up we went for his regular checkup and the Doctor recommended we have him tested for Autism. We did just that, and after much paperwork and meetings the Diagnosis of Autism was given to us. There were No tears. I was filled with such relief that there was an Answer to what was happening and that help was on the way. Wow! I can't tell you how many people have supported us and cheered us on through this process. I forgot to mention that Cohen's vocabulary at age 3 was absolutely non existent. He would always hum his words, and even get the right syllabols but not the word. We began to read a lot of information on Autism, and found that an I pad could be very useful for children with disabilities. Because Cohen could not use a crayon or would not use his hands to put pressure on things I was not sure how it would work. Almost immediately he took to it, was very stimulated by the Ipad and learned it and began using it by himself. After a week he was picking out the apps he wanted to use and flying through it. Words began to come, by repeating what he was hearing on these games. What??? Yes, he was so stimulated by this computer that he was responding to it. Occupational therapy and speech therapy came next. We began taking Cohen to 1 hour a week of each, which have been absolutely Amazing!! Now, a preschool 2 1/2 hours a day. Cohen is now repeating almost everything he hears and has several phrases to ask for things he wants or needs. So, to sum this all up I think Autism looks very different in every family. We have been so Blessed to have so much help and I feel like Autism is just a word to describe what we are treating our son for, but it's not who he is. Cohen is a funny, smart, endearing, loving 3 year old little boy that fills our lives with endless Joy! There are many many struggles through our days and weeks but our lives couldn't be more fulfilling. I couldn't imagine him any different. Autism has changed our lives for the better. It has opened my eyes and my heart to others with disabilities. Next time I see a child in a store breaking down I will not judge, I will help! I hope my families story and our daily struggles can maybe be an inspiration to others. Life is hard but it does get better, and what God brings to you and he will help you through!

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