A Child With Autism Vs Autistic Child: Heres Why It Matters
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In the autism community, one of the most fiercely debated topics is how to refer to people on the spectrum. While some prefer the term people with autism, others lean towards autistic person. Then there are those who remain indifferent, and prefer to take a tomato tomato view of things. When a post in our Facebook group sparked fervent discussion, we realized this isnt a simple matter of semantics. We felt it was important to get to the bottom of this because theres no denying the power of words. More than simply conveying meaning, words convey sentiment and ultimately shape how people are perceived.
As a parent and someone whose life has been impacted by autism, youre likely to have your own thoughts on the topic. The way you refer to your child, as either a child with autism or an autistic child, says something about how you see your childs condition.
Give Yourself Time To Grieve Heal And Accept
Grief may come in waves and it may take you places you never expected to go. It is a normal and natural process, which comes and goes. You may be able to take comfort, however, in the reality that you are not alone: your feelings which run the gamut from fear to guilt, to anger, and depression are actually the symptoms of a broken heart. So go ahead and look at your grief.
Observe your thoughts and feelings. Accept them and be kind to yourself about having them. It doesnt help to pretend to be positive when underneath you may be lonely, afraid, or sad. You dont have to lie to yourself. You can grieve. You can complain. You can mourn. This helps you to go on, make the best of the situation, and enjoy life.
It is natural to wonder about what might have been. Your longing for the healthy child of your dreams or a typical life for you and your family may endure. You have to learn to live with that yearning, and you can do that, but you dont have to lie to yourself about how hard this can be.
Once you have given yourself permission to accept your feelings, try to accept yourself as you area kind and loving parent doing your best with your child who is undoubtedly doing his or her best under trying conditions.
Autism Causes The Brain To Process Things Differently
Children on the Autism Spectrum process differently things others often take for granted. Crowds, loud noises, and bright or blinking lights, among countless other things, can often lead to extreme anxiety or a total meltdown on the part of the child. As one parent of an autistic child stated, If you are in a supermarket and your child is getting overwhelmed and maybe making a scene, it makes it ten times worse when people around you are giving you dirty looks or making comments.
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Are You Sure She Looks So Normal
So what does an autistic person look like? Much like people with asthma, crohns, or anxiety, people with autism spectrum disorder dont all look the same, or exhibit the same behaviours. Quite honestly my ASD girl is way better than societies normal. Aside from being beautiful, she is intelligent and hugely sociable. Shes quirky and quite fascinating . Her resilience has been tested, but her determination and drive is second to none and really is quite enviable. Commenting my daughter looks normal might be intended as a compliment, but in reality it is a kick in the teeth for every other ASD person that might fulfil your ASD stereotype.
Getting Started: Introducing Your Child To His Or Her Diagnosis Of Autism
Marci Wheeler, MSW
Many parents are fearful that labeling their child as having an autism spectrum disorder will make him or her feel broken, or that they may use their label as an excuse to give up and not try. Adults on the autism spectrum have found the opposite to be true. Giving your child information on the nature of his/her differences will give them a better understanding and the motivation that is needed to drive through challenges.
Discussing an autism spectrum diagnosis with your child is an important issue and one for which many parents seek advice. This article will focus on aspects of explaining your childs diagnosis to him or her, and provide resources that can assist and guide you.
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How Can I Help Your Child
This one is so huge, I cant explain it enough. Whether youre a teacher, a volunteer in the church nursery, a friend of the family, or just a parent of a kid in the same class, this question will make you an autism mamas best friend.
But it comes with a rule. If you ask, you have to actually make an effort to help. Please dont ask for ways to help my child, and then ignore them all as soon as Im out of the room. Now, I know, youre probably not specifically trained in autism or special needs, but anyone can help a child with autism.
Whether that means explaining things to them a certain way, offering foods that they can actually eat, or even just talking with your child about why my son doesnt do things the same way others do. Its also really important to get these tips from the parents.
My son has to handle transitions using first this, then that, but a friends son has to have a clock time that something will happen. Again, all children with autism are different, so just ask the parents!
What Is Borderline Autism
In this article Ill be examining the term borderline autism as a possible diagnosis or as an alternative term for high functioning, atypical, or mild autism. Terms like aspergers syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders-not otherwise specified will be investigated to see whether symptoms of these conditions may lead individuals to be diagnosed or informally labeled with borderline autism.
In this regard it is important to realize that autism is diagnosed as a spectrum disorder. Terms like high functioning autism or borderline autism are not an official diagnosis, but rather an informal way of referring to the severity of symptoms experienced. Thus when referring to a diagnosis of high functioning autism, mild autism, or borderline autism, remember these are unofficial terms, and the word diagnosis is used informally.
Autism will be defined and the wide berth of its spectrum will be discussed. The criteria and various factors influencing diagnosis will be investigated to ascertain whether borderline autism has a place on the spectrum.
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Ways To Help The Parent Of A Child With Autism
I have a child with classic autism, another with Aspergers and a third with learning difficulties. Having a friend to support you can be invaluable
My newborn didnt cry. Instead she peered, owl-like, at her new environment. Instantly, I fell in love. She was adorable, her face and shoulders were covered in down-like peach fuzz. Her blue eyes were almond shaped and her mouth was tiny. Over the next few days in hospital, while I recovered from a caesarean, various professionals came in and out. I well remember the third evening. I was forcing my tired eyes to read a novel that I had been enjoying before Daisys birth. Along came the junior registrar, hovering over my sleeping babys cot, his furrowed brow far easier to read than my book. Is there something wrong? I asked eventually.
This baby isnt normal, he answered. I think there is some kind of a syndrome.
Downs syndrome? I asked. In those days, I only knew of one syndrome.
Yes, or something similar. The muscle tone seems to be low, and the feet are too small. See?
I felt as if I had been dropped into a dark hole. It was lonely in there. A thousand questions bubbled inside me, but the registrar had disappeared. I wanted to talk to my husband. Instead, I scooped up Daisy and examined my sleeping daughter. Whatever the future held, I knew we were in it together.
So, if you know someone who has a child with autism, here are 10 ways you can help:
What Isnt Recommended To Say
Im Sorry This is almost a knee-jerk reaction for many people. Your friend is upset, and saying Im sorry seems like the natural thing to say. I, personally, was never offended when someone said this, because I know theyre coming from a place of love and that theyre genuinely sorry Im hurting. However, some people have a really hard time hearing it. It makes them feel like their child is suddenly less than a typical child and thats not the case. In fact, the mantra of the autism community is: Different, not less..
Another reason some parents hate to hear it is that we dont want you to feel sorry for us. We love our children just the way they are. They are perfect in our eyes, just as any other parent feels about their child. So, you dont need to be sorry for my child just being who they are. Im not sorry about that, and you saying it can make parents feel defensive.
How is a child diagnosed with autism? When your friend tells you that their child was just been diagnosed, its normal for you to wonder about the process. Maybe you even think that a mistake was made, and want to encourage your friend to seek a second opinion. While your intentions are good, this is not the time. The overall experience can be emotionally consuming for the parent, so when everything is still fresh, dont try to come up with solutions just be there for them.
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Recieve The News With Respect
As a friend or family member or a loved one with autism, it is normal to want to know more about the diagnosis. It is important to know that questioning the diagnosis is usually more harmful than helpful.
People often say: Maybe its a misdiagnosis Ive heard they are overdiagnosing things these days.
Better to say: Hes lucky to have an observant parent learning about his needs. Thanks for trusting me enough to share this I am here for you.
Dont Stop Trying To Include Us
Autistic children, their siblings, and their parents are simply people, and people like to feel as if they are a part of a community. Though spending the day with a child on the Autism Spectrum may come with a few additional challenges, continue to spend time with them. Ask families to come to the Sunday BBQ, ask questions to better understand, and invite the parents out for dinner and an evening away. If they say no, ask again next time.
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Govt Reaches Out To Families Profiled By Global News
Following the announcement Monday, officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reached out to several of the families profiled by Global News in the series Inadmissible, an eight-month investigation that revealed serious flaws with the way the government handles residency applications of persons with disabilities.
One of the families contacted by Immigration Canada was the Warkentins, who moved from Colorado to Waterhen, Man., in 2013 to fulfil their lifelong dream of owning a hunting and fishing lodge.
But their application for permanent residency was denied by Immigration Canada because their six-year-old daughter, Karalynn, had epilepsy and a mild intellectual disability. Their application was denied despite the fact theyd invested more than $600,000 into the Canadian economy and had become a fixture in their local church and community.
Jon Warkentin, Karalynns father, said officials from Immigration Canada assured him during the phone call that, going forward, the government plans to take a more holistic approach when assessing permanent residency applications that include people with disabilities. This means looking at the benefits they bring to Canadian society, not just the cost.
Warkentin said he believes the attention his familys story received was a key reason for the government to reach out to him and for making the ultimate decision to reverse key aspects of its policy.
What Does A Child With Autism Look Like
Seems like a strange question. But I know that there have been times when a person has met my son and then makes a comment such as, “He doesn’t seem like he has autism.” or “He doesn’t look like he has autism.”
The interesting thing is that there is no “look” to autism. Yes, some of our kids may have similar behavioral or social characteristics, but they are all very different. So this is why if someone tells me they have experience in autism, that doesn’t mean they will know or understand my child.
If you do know, watch, or teach another child with autism, it is best not to compare what you know to the child you are meeting. Also, I would refrain from telling your friend about how you think autism should “look.” Being open to learning the hallmarks of autism is important, but learning about the individuality of each child who has autism is the best approach.
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Sharing An Autism Diagnosis With Family And Friends
Tips for explaining autism to family and close friends, to help them become effective allies
- How can parents of kids with autism help friends and family understand the diagnosis?
- What are some common misunderstandings about autism?
- Why do relatives sometimes dismiss the diagnosis or say you are overreacting?
Breaking Through The Barriers Of Asd
ASD has no cure. But there is hope through treatment. Many children can learn to communicate and interact. Healthcare providers and mental health experts have learned a lot about how to break through to these children.
Here are some things we know about children with an ASD:
They may not be able to understand your nonverbal communications. They may not react to your smile or frown.
They take things literally. You need to be careful to say exactly what you mean. If you hurry the child by saying “Step on it,” don’t be surprised if he or she asks what to step on.
They may only be able to handle one thought or idea at a time. Keep conversations focused and simple.
They may want to only talk about the one thing they are really interested in at a given time.
They may see things differently than you do. You may not even notice ordinary sounds, tastes, touches, smells, and sights. But these may be physically painful to the child.
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Not All Autism Is The Same And Neither Is Every Child With Autism
Its called the Autism Spectrum because autism actually covers a wide scope of complex disorders in brain development. Included are Aspergers Syndrome, classic autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, among others. The types of autism range in everything from communication skills, anxiety, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors, among other things. As with any kid, a child with autism should be treated as an individual with his or her own set of abilities and preferences.
My Autistic Child Is Not Trying To Be Difficult
As one parent stated about her autistic son on the popular website Baby Gaga, He isnt giving us a hard time. Hes having a hard time. No child on the Autism Spectrum is trying to behave badly when they experience a meltdown. The biology of autism is complicated and extensive, and much of it cannot even be tested for medically. Children on the Autism Spectrum have trouble with their methylation pathways. Their intestinal tracts do not absorb nutrients well. This impairs their immune system and guts, which then leads to issues in the brain. Because the brain and body of an autistic child do not always work as one, they have to express their pain and frustration in the form of things like meltdowns.
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What Does The Research Say
In 2015, a variety of people were surveyed including those with the condition, family members and professionals to get a better sense of the autism communitys preferences. The survey clearly shows that there has been a shift towards language which in some way identifies autism as an integral part of a persons identity.
All those surveyed identified with terms like on the autism spectrum and Asperger syndrome. However, a significant distinction can be found when it comes to terms like autistic and Aspie. According to the survey, those with the condition prefer identity-first terminology like autistic while family members didnt. The survey also found that terms like low functioning and classic autism are strongly disliked by most people surveyed.
Autism Parents Do Seem So Keen On Labelling Their Children
I have fought hard to get a formal diagnosis for my daughter. This diagnosis has been the springboard for so many new opportunities. Its given her the best opportunity to fully understand herself and her quirks. Vocabulary to explain what shes experiencing and how she feels. To develop strategies to help her in the moment, and on her journey into adulthood. Its given her a community of other neurodiverse teenagers that like and accept and like her for who she is. A diagnosis has given us leverage to insist on an education that she can access and that has subsequently enabled her to thrive. Diagnoses are not weights to drag children down theyre rocket boosters to empower children and their families to push forward and grow.
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