au•tism () n.
Condition affecting the processing, integrating, and organizing of information that significantly impacts communication, social interaction, functional skills, and educational performance. There are many manifestations and degrees of severity in the autism spectrum.
If you are the parent of a child with autism or on the autism spectrum, you may wonder “Why me, what did I do to deserve this?” There are no good answers to this question despite the fact that more and more children are diagnosed with autism each year.
Instead of focusing on why your child has autism, you will find that life will be much easier and fuller if you can learn to live a day at a time and find creative ways to handle both the daily and the long-term problems. This will leave time for family fun and also time for you.
Practical solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems are provided in the following pages, plus advice on handling family and community difficulties. Autism will change not only your life as a parent, but the lives of other children in the family, the grandparents, and relationships with friends and neighbors. Some family members will be supportive while others will pull away. This can be extremely painful and you will need to find ways to shield yourself and your children. Even a single unkind remark can pierce like a sharp dagger.
The diagnosis of autism is certainly not the end of the world for you or your family. Many brilliant people have been diagnosed with autism and some have done amazing things. The trick is to find a way to unlock the mysteries of your child's brain and channel his abilities into healthy ways of living. Finding a cure or effective treatment is of paramount importance, and you can help others to understand autism spectrum disorders by working for more international research that will benefit everyone.
As parents, you will be an important part of the team you put together to help your child. It is particularly important to first find an autism expert who can guide you through the diagnostic process and the labyrinth of treatments and medications. It may take considerable time and effort to find the right physician to care for your child. Networking with other parents should help you find just the right professionals to be part of your team of experts. You and your child deserve the very best.
If your first visit to a physician leaves you feeling uncomfortable, then keep looking. No doctor or other professional should ever make you feel inadequate. Never forget that when it comes to your child, you are the expert. A good physician will want to learn things from you, as you learn from her. Learn to trust your instincts, and if you have any reservations about a professional, think twice. A professional degree does not necessarily indicate that an individual has compassion, wisdom, or common sense. Along the way remember that not only do you to need to pay attention to yourself and your partner, but also to your other children. Siblings of a child with autism can feel unimportant and left out and will need special times with each parent. It is a juggling act, but if you take time for yourself, get some exercise, try to eat well, and plan time for fun, then you will be able to keep all the balls in the air at once.
The advice and solutions given in this book should help make your days easier and help to keep your life in balance. Then as you solve more and more problems, the realization will come that no matter what lies ahead, you will find a solution and your confidence will continue to grow.