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WARNING: I'm going to get a little emotional...
Earlier this month, I posted a video on my Facebook page and shared about my family.
If you haven't seen it yet, check it out here.
I have compassion for people with special needs and I wanted to raise awareness.
My older sister is hearing impaired and my oldest son, Malachi, has high-functioning autism.
In this blog post today, I wanted to share a little more about autism and what it means.
When my son was officially diagnosed with autism at age three, my husband and I didn't know where to start or what to do.
We decided to frame this experience in a positive light.
Malachi has low to moderate symptoms, so it's like he has one foot in the neurotypical world and one in the special needs world.
We've been age-appropriate and honest with him about his diagnosis.
Sometimes he'll talk to people about it, sometimes he doesn't!
What I Want Others to Know
I'm surprised that people aren't more familiar with autism.
The stat above shows how prevalent it is.
There's a lot of misconceptions, ignorance, and fear.
People don't think my son should be "mainstream."
What they don't understand, though, is that there's not a suitable alternative.
The only other option is attending an entirely special needs school, which wouldn't be a good fit for him.
Others have told me, "My friend's son has autism. I don't see how Malachi has the same diagnosis."
Since autism is a spectrum disorder, everyone has a different experience.
And, there's usually more than one special need.
For example, my son goes to an eye doctor for kids on the spectrum, since a portion of people who are diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) can have other diagnoses and/or disorders.
These can be:
- OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- SPD (sensory processing disorder)
- PLI (pragmatic language impairment)
...the list can go on and on in regards to diagnoses paired with ASD.
For other parents with kids on the spectrum, it’s sometimes hard to figure out whats going on.
Are you acting this way because you're just a kid? Is it because you have autism? Is it impulsivity? Is it sensory processing? Is it just a bad day?
It can get lonely at times.
Joining a support group, reading blogs, and spending time with friends that love us has helped my family a lot!
What I've Learned
I used to get hung up on why my son has Autism and listen to peoples' theories.
"You should try a gluten-free diet."
"You live too close to a freeway."
But I realized that it doesn't matter anymore.
We needed my son's brain because it's going to do something for others that the neurotypical couldn’t do.
As a parent, you have to put your sense of pride and accomplishment aside and focus on what’s best for your child, despite what other people say.
Malachi and I are a family forever - whatever a teacher, therapist, or doctor says doesn't bear that same weight.
It's our relationship that matters.
I view this experience as a giant iceberg - we're chipping away at it, and eventually, we'll see a beautiful ice sculpture.
I'll see it in his 20s and 30s - I wonder what it's going to look like!
My goal is to help my son become a self-sufficient adult; for him to live on his own and eventually get married.
I want him to be successful - what that looks like is whatever it looks like.
If you have a loved one with special needs or autism, I'd love to hear your stories! Do you have any questions for me? Let me know in the comments!