Today is Autism Awareness Day
Autism is a spectrum and neurodevelopmental disorder defined by persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction, accompanied by restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
I have never met a parent who wants this diagnosis for their child. It is often full of lifelong challenges for the individual, as well as for the individual’s family. We do not romanticize Autism. We love our son and wish this condition didn’t exist.
So today, let me paint you a snapshot of our current world. Our son, Luke, is 8. He was internationally adopted at age 28 months and is also profoundly deaf. He wears cochlear implants and was officially diagnosed with moderate to severe autism at age 4.
Luke doesn’t understand safety and must be closely supervised at all times.
Luke often approaches strangers and wants to hold their hand or sit on their lap.
Luke is nonverbal and frequently makes very loud guttural noises.
Luke functions on very little sleep and our family often suffers from sleep deprivation.
When Luke gets mad or scared, his strength exceeds a grown man.
Luke is a sensory seeking kid who loves deep pressure and vestibular input.
Luke smells everything, including people’s hands and feet.
Luke is very affectionate and loves to cuddle.
Luke’s emotions are extreme and change quickly. He is often joyful and full of exuberance, but he can be overcome with sadness or anger in an instant.
Activities of daily living such as hygiene and toileting require close supervision.
Getting Luke’s hair cut or bloodwork taken are often insurmountable challenges.
Luke’s diet consists of a wide range of foods but he has no self-control.
Luke’s focus is almost solely on his own wants and needs.
Luke’s current obsessions are bubbles and balloons.
Luke suffers socially with his peers.
Luke loves technology.
Luke is both resourceful and smart.
Luke functions best in a structured setting with a set routine.
Life isn’t what we expected. Autism rocks our world every day. And although there are not nearly enough resources available for families affected by autism, we are thankful for friends, families, organizations, and resources that help us navigate life..