I remember when Landon turned 2 and asking his Developmental Therapist what is Autism? Then I asked, “Is it like Raymond in the movie “Rain Man?”
Being brand new to the world of Autism, I had my stereotypical thoughts of what the characteristics would consist of for a person with Autism. I wondered if Landon would spend his time rocking in a corner, screaming during situations, or if he was going to be counting cards at Vegas.
When you look up the definition of Autism it is described as a developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behavior. This is what my definition of Autism is-it is a disability involving the brain.
Autism will have impairments in social interaction such as the inability to maintain focus or being able to read social cues. Some individuals with Autism will be non verbal while others communicate very well, they have restricted or repetitive patterns such as insisting on the same routine, obsessing about a specific topic, rocking and hand flapping.
Autism is a Spectrum Disorder. Ok, what is that? You can read Wikipedia’s definition of what it is and be totally confused (or not). What does a Spectrum Disorder really mean? It means as you journey down this path you will meet so many individuals with Autism. Just like neurotypical (regular developing) individuals we are all different. I have met individuals with Autism who were nonverbal and wore diapers, others were verbal but had limited abilities and skills, then I met others that developed amazing skills such as jewelry wire working and cartooning, and I have met professionals who have degrees and maintain successful jobs. It has been amazing what I have learned about life through all of them.
Another term you will hear is Pervasive Developmental Disorder. A Pervasive Development is where you see your typically normal child start showing signs of delays. Landon started babbling and developing words at the age of 1. As Landon started to approach the age of 2 his first sentence never happened and he had significant delays in cognitive function.
These are probably the questions you have asked yourself and there will be even more questions as your child grows up. Helping others along the way is my passion. My life experiences and resources will enable you to find these answers. I remember in the beginning how hard it was to find someone that has been there before. When I did it was an answered blessing. Remember you are not alone.
I am also going to provide some parental advice, please don’t let the diagnosis of Autism frighten you. While it is natural to be afraid of the unknown, having a positive outlook on the situation will benefit your child. How do I know? Landon is proof that I can break the stereotypical mold of what I thought Autism was and what Autism actually is.