This year marks my first Autism Awareness Day as a proud mother to an autistic child. It’s only been 7 months since my 2-and-half-year-old toddler was officially diagnosed. Since then, I have taken an active interest in autism, to educate myself about this developmental disorder and its many wonders.
While it has not been a walk in the park, I can’t help but appreciate the beauty of my son’s ways. Every day, I wish I could see the world through his eyes. His attention to detail and how he examines his toys thoroughly before playing with them. An ability to remember things, people or places. His inclination towards keeping to his routine to a tee. These are just the few wonderful things I am in awe of.
There are many things about autism that is still being researched – this is simply because it is a spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are three words that describe behavioural and development issues that can be spotted as early as 18-months in a child. In the many support groups for parents, it is quite common for a parent to say, “my child is on the spectrum.” This is because autism manifests in many different ways and forms.
Since it is a spectrum, there are many different types of ASD
Here is an example of one type of ASD. If you have watched television series “The Good Doctor”, its main character is portrayed as a surgical resident at a hospital. He is autistic and has ‘Savant Syndrome’. Savant skills are a skill present in those with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism. Those with Asperger’s typically display average to above average IQ. This is coupled with certain autistic tendencies such as anti-social behaviour or communication issues. However, not all with Asperger’s will have savant skills.
No two-autistic children are alike
It is spectrum, therefore each person will display autistic symptoms in their own beautiful way. Some may be loving and cuddly, while others may not like being touched. One may be friendly and another may cry at the sight of a stranger. Some may have uncontrollable tantrums, while some do not have them at all. Some may have delayed speech while some may have selective mutism. Hence, the term spectrum, indicating the range of differences from one autistic person to another.
This spectrum is worthy of admiration
Farah Nadia, mother to a six year old autistic girl says, “Just because they are a labelled as children with a learning disability, it does not mean we parents have to stop building their dreams. They can do wonders, sometimes even better than a typical child.” Farah is a preschool teacher and sees signs and symptoms of autism in some of her students. Her heart goes out to the child whose parents are in denial and unable to accept that their child is “different”.
While parents like Farah and I have chosen to embrace and appreciate the beauty of our children, we cannot ignore that denial still exists where autism is concerned. I believe denial comes from the fear of uncertainty. The development of a typical child can be predicted and estimated. With autism, development is always a grey area. But isn’t that the beauty of life itself?
We never know what the future holds for anyone, whether or not a person is typical or atypical. So, why not embrace the beauty of autistic ways and take it as an adventure?
By Desiree Kaur
After 8 years in Public Relations, Desiree Kaur founded a tuition centre so she could start a family. When her son was diagnosed with autism, she decided to learn how to help her son and others like him. She is now pursuing a Masters in Special Education.