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Can someone help me understand autism?

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 I am the first to admit, I don't understand autism. What made you seek a diagnosis for yourself or your child/ren? I know I can look up a million sources and articles on the internet, I would rather ask real women who have it or have children who have it. Please can someone educate me (and maybe others)?

ETA- I really want to thank you all for sharing your stories, struggles and triumphs.

by on Apr. 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Replies (21-30):
MsDenuninani
by Silver Member on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:17 PM

 This is the part that seems to me that it would be incredibly difficult to deal with as a mom, and I'm really curious as to how mothers handle it.


Quoting desertlvn:

People with mild autism often seem "weird" or "odd" to other people. They are often struggle socially. They have a flat tone to their speech. It can seem like they aren't as connected or caring about others, even though that isn't true. They tend to have a focus or interest that can become obsessive: dinosaurs, lining things up, feeling soft sand, etc. eye contact is hard for them. They often aren't aware of social norms or cues and have to be taught explicitly how to interact.


 

desertlvn
by Silver Member on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:18 PM

We had dd tested at 4. She couldn't interact with peers even though she wanted to. She would watch other kids and cry because she wanted to join them but nothing we did helped her to join in. She had no inflection in her speaking. She was monotone, flat, and stilted in speech. However she also used the vocabulary of a college student. Most autistic kids don't pretend play. My dd, however, pretend played the same scenarios over and over and over. She had facial tics and throat clearing tics. She has great focus but needs to be physically moving. so for example at dinner she talks, eats and walks around her spot at the table, and sometimes sits. When tested we found that she was one symptom shy of an aspergers diagnosis. She has a near genius iq. I think she is on the spectrum but really far on it.

Over time some of her struggles have gotten sooooooo much better. She is still "weird" compared to normal kids her age though. Her tics have changed... She smells her hands, bites the skin on her fingers, and still uses an outrageous vocabulary. But she has friends and loves to socialize. For now she has friends who seem to value her different ness. 

desertlvn
by Silver Member on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:23 PM


I know... It is hard to explain autism when it is really such a huge spectrum. I have found that the more you "see" and interact with autistic people the easier it is to get a feel for it. Know what I mean?

Quoting cjsbmom:

Keep in mind that this is more true of higher-functioning autistics than those who are diagnosed with "classic" autism. People with classic autism may never learn to speak or even walk on their own. It can be quite challenging for parents of children who are diagnosed with classic autism. 

Also, the flat tone to the voice is only true of some autistics. My son is very animated when he speaks and when he reads. I think that comes from us reading to him at such an early age and consistently. Who knows if he would be so animated if we hadn't taught him that skill. 

Quoting desertlvn:

People with mild autism often seem "weird" or "odd" to other people. They are often struggle socially. They have a flat tone to their speech. It can seem like they aren't as connected or caring about others, even though that isn't true. They tend to have a focus or interest that can become obsessive: dinosaurs, lining things up, feeling soft sand, etc. eye contact is hard for them. They often aren't aware of social norms or cues and have to be taught explicitly how to interact.




Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:23 PM
It's different for each child.

For my son, he was non-verbal at age 3 and he had these epic meltdowns that we couldn't figure out the cause of. He has a lot of "quirks" and some made us say, "hmmm".

So we asked questions and sought out answers...
The answer for us was Autism & Sensory Processing Disorder.

His brain works differently than other kids his age. His nerves work differently. He is different.
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elkmomma
by Bronze Member on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:30 PM

 

For DS they can change depending on situations (at least for now) or as he ages and matures. It can be as simple as Day Light Saving Time change or McDonalds Happy Meal toy isn't what's in the display case. I have learned to coach him ahead of time on what to expect if we're going into a new place or if they run out of his favorite item.  DS sees most things in black or white, very seldom understanding a grey area.  I have to prepare him for any changes in his routine.  Social cues are minimal for him and we use a lot of metaphors for him or different examples of what typical kids do or should act.  For the moment our bigest issue is teaching him how to "fit in" at school, team sports, and even his group therapy sessions.  It's no easy, but he's growing up and learning.   It's not always a struggle with him either.  There are many many times he simply makes us smile or chuckle when he's just being himself.  Some times I think we (parents in general) need to focus more on the good and wonderful things our kids are and do instead of all the difficult things.  We get so much negativity from outsiders that we can come off  kind of bitter from "defending " our kids.  I for one know that I tend to forget to explain the joy DS brings to us.  For example;  the unrelenting forgiveness he can have for those who can be mean, the extreme extent he will go to in order to help others (even when it may not be appropriate), the tears he sheds every time he notices a dead animal on the side of the road, or when he sits and reads to our grandson and tries to teach him how to read or do math. 

Thank you for wanting to learn more for a better understanding.

Quoting tscritch:

 Thank you.

Do the techniques that work change often? Does something trigger that change?

See I don't want to be ignorant of it. I don't think it's bs, I just don't know much about it. So what better way to cure ignorance than by learning :-)

Quoting elkmomma:

My 12yo is an Aspie.  While I have learned a lot and am still learning a lot; I don't think I will ever understand it.  Every child is different and it takes endless hours of patience and practice to find the varying techniques that work and hope or prayer that it doesn't change so we don't have to start all over again.  The sensory, behavior, anger, and communication issues take a toll on our frustrations and parents have to fight the urge to give up at times. Most of us don't  give up on our kids, but some do.  We deal with a lot of ignorance from those who simply choose to believe that the spectrum is BS and nothing more than a lazy or bad parenting. 

 


 

specialwingz
by on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:37 PM

I appreciate you wanting to understand it.  So many are quick to judge and blame rather than to attempt understanding.

Quoting tscritch:

 Thank you for sharing that!!

I do know that there are so many factors and no two people are alike. For me it's just that I read posts and whatnot about autism and I just don't get it. I have no personal experience to relate it to, but I want to understand. :-)

Quoting specialwingz:

My twin boys are ADHD/Asperger's Syndrome.  Asperger's Syndrome is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum.  For them, it was the inability to focus on ANYTHING!  They are incredibly intelligent with a bit above average IQs.  But, in school, they could never finish things.  They couldn't focus on the teacher.  They would find their "happy place" by getting up in the middle of class, grab a book off a shelf and sit down and read.  It was how they escaped the "information overload".

Autistic brains work completely different than yours or mine.  I learned a lot about it, actually, when I researched traumatic brain injury due to an accident my ex-h had.  TBI and autism are very similar.

We tried the "diet" approach.  It totally did nothing.  We finally tried them with different meds.  Ritalin was the one that made the teachers shriek with amazement!  They boys owuld finally look them in the eye and repeat what the lesson was about!  Their grades improved and their social skills also improved.  They still read a lot.  But, it was used as a reward for paying attention in class.  As the years went by, they had to change the type of meds they were on.  Kids outgrow the dosage.  Or the medication didn't last through the day to still be effective for homework and boyscouts.  Tweaking times were hard.  But, we all got through it.

Now that they are in college, they are on Vyvanse.  Which was primarily (at first) designed for adults since an adult's day goes way beyond an 8 hour stint of anything.  LOL.  Now they have it for children as well.

College brought out a lot of their social inabilities again.  And, they are struggling again with organization.  But, we are working with them to help them try to find a new "sweet spot" that works for their brains.

There really isn't a short version to explaining autism.  And, really, all the words in the world don't cover what an autistic child and their caregivers go through on a daily basis.

 


tscritch
by Silver Member on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:38 PM

 What is Autism & Sensory Processing Disorder? Is it something on the spectrum?

 

Quoting Mommy_of_Riley:

It's different for each child.

For my son, he was non-verbal at age 3 and he had these epic meltdowns that we couldn't figure out the cause of. He has a lot of "quirks" and some made us say, "hmmm".

So we asked questions and sought out answers...
The answer for us was Autism & Sensory Processing Disorder.

His brain works differently than other kids his age. His nerves work differently. He is different.

 

tscritch
by Silver Member on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:39 PM

 Thank you for helping me to understand! I like how you try to focus on the good and wonderful child he is and not just on his disorder.

Quoting elkmomma:

 

For DS they can change depending on situations (at least for now) or as he ages and matures. It can be as simple as Day Light Saving Time change or McDonalds Happy Meal toy isn't what's in the display case. I have learned to coach him ahead of time on what to expect if we're going into a new place or if they run out of his favorite item.  DS sees most things in black or white, very seldom understanding a grey area.  I have to prepare him for any changes in his routine.  Social cues are minimal for him and we use a lot of metaphors for him or different examples of what typical kids do or should act.  For the moment our bigest issue is teaching him how to "fit in" at school, team sports, and even his group therapy sessions.  It's no easy, but he's growing up and learning.   It's not always a struggle with him either.  There are many many times he simply makes us smile or chuckle when he's just being himself.  Some times I think we (parents in general) need to focus more on the good and wonderful things our kids are and do instead of all the difficult things.  We get so much negativity from outsiders that we can come off  kind of bitter from "defending " our kids.  I for one know that I tend to forget to explain the joy DS brings to us.  For example;  the unrelenting forgiveness he can have for those who can be mean, the extreme extent he will go to in order to help others (even when it may not be appropriate), the tears he sheds every time he notices a dead animal on the side of the road, or when he sits and reads to our grandson and tries to teach him how to read or do math. 

Thank you for wanting to learn more for a better understanding.

Quoting tscritch:

 Thank you.

Do the techniques that work change often? Does something trigger that change?

See I don't want to be ignorant of it. I don't think it's bs, I just don't know much about it. So what better way to cure ignorance than by learning :-)

Quoting elkmomma:

My 12yo is an Aspie.  While I have learned a lot and am still learning a lot; I don't think I will ever understand it.  Every child is different and it takes endless hours of patience and practice to find the varying techniques that work and hope or prayer that it doesn't change so we don't have to start all over again.  The sensory, behavior, anger, and communication issues take a toll on our frustrations and parents have to fight the urge to give up at times. Most of us don't  give up on our kids, but some do.  We deal with a lot of ignorance from those who simply choose to believe that the spectrum is BS and nothing more than a lazy or bad parenting. 

 

 

 

 

specialwingz
by on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:42 PM

OMG!  For my twin boys, it was dinosaurs.  I would have sworn they would eventually be paleontologists!  And, Heaven forbid if you mispronounced a name or placed one in the wrong era.  It was brutal!  LOL.

Now, their obsession is Manga.  They read it over and over and over.  They have thousands of characters they have developed and drawn.  Each one with a complete dossier.  And, be prepared for a looooong conversation if you ask them about it.  Where reading used to be their escape, now it is their drawing and storylines.

Quoting desertlvn:

People with mild autism often seem "weird" or "odd" to other people. They are often struggle socially. They have a flat tone to their speech. It can seem like they aren't as connected or caring about others, even though that isn't true. They tend to have a focus or interest that can become obsessive: dinosaurs, lining things up, feeling soft sand, etc. eye contact is hard for them. They often aren't aware of social norms or cues and have to be taught explicitly how to interact.


tscritch
by Silver Member on Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:44 PM
1 mom liked this

 I admit I am guilty of seeing a "difficult" child and thinking man why aren't those parents doing anything. Then I catch myself and tell myself that I don't know their story....I give myself a talking-to in my head lol.

If I don't ask and put my own ignorance out there then how can I learn? I think waaaay to many people are afraid to ask...they don't want to look stupid...me, eh, I don't mind looking stupid :-)

Quoting specialwingz:

I appreciate you wanting to understand it.  So many are quick to judge and blame rather than to attempt understanding.

Quoting tscritch:

 Thank you for sharing that!!

I do know that there are so many factors and no two people are alike. For me it's just that I read posts and whatnot about autism and I just don't get it. I have no personal experience to relate it to, but I want to understand. :-)

Quoting specialwingz:

My twin boys are ADHD/Asperger's Syndrome.  Asperger's Syndrome is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum.  For them, it was the inability to focus on ANYTHING!  They are incredibly intelligent with a bit above average IQs.  But, in school, they could never finish things.  They couldn't focus on the teacher.  They would find their "happy place" by getting up in the middle of class, grab a book off a shelf and sit down and read.  It was how they escaped the "information overload".

Autistic brains work completely different than yours or mine.  I learned a lot about it, actually, when I researched traumatic brain injury due to an accident my ex-h had.  TBI and autism are very similar.

We tried the "diet" approach.  It totally did nothing.  We finally tried them with different meds.  Ritalin was the one that made the teachers shriek with amazement!  They boys owuld finally look them in the eye and repeat what the lesson was about!  Their grades improved and their social skills also improved.  They still read a lot.  But, it was used as a reward for paying attention in class.  As the years went by, they had to change the type of meds they were on.  Kids outgrow the dosage.  Or the medication didn't last through the day to still be effective for homework and boyscouts.  Tweaking times were hard.  But, we all got through it.

Now that they are in college, they are on Vyvanse.  Which was primarily (at first) designed for adults since an adult's day goes way beyond an 8 hour stint of anything.  LOL.  Now they have it for children as well.

College brought out a lot of their social inabilities again.  And, they are struggling again with organization.  But, we are working with them to help them try to find a new "sweet spot" that works for their brains.

There really isn't a short version to explaining autism.  And, really, all the words in the world don't cover what an autistic child and their caregivers go through on a daily basis.

 


 

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