So I’ve learned “10 things I’ve learned raising my autistic son”

大愛劇場「 一閃一閃亮晶晶」片尾曲 – 路要自己走 演唱:秀蘭瑪雅

I appreciate the learning from reading this article “10 things I’ve learned raising my autistic son” by Mona Jamshaid on April 2, 2015 on this web page http://www.dawn.com/news/1173457/10-things-ive-learned-raising-my-autistic-son.

I quote some information from the article as my reference.

I quote:

. That moment defined triumph for me. He had learnt to wait for his turn and was okay to let go of things he really wanted to do. All this was unimaginable a few years back.

. Through this article, I want to share my experiences and observations of running an early intervention program when I was introduced to autism a few years ago when Adil was diagnosed as “at the risk of developing autism” at the age of 18 months.

That early warning turned into confirmed diagnosis almost 13 months later. He carried the label of “highly functioning child on the autism spectrum who has the resources of a charming smile, joy of music and very observant in relation to objects function but has difficulties in social interaction and communication and by stereotyped behavior and play.”

. Children with autism are different, and even children who exhibit very similar symptoms and receive very similar treatment can have vastly different developments. There is no guarantee of particular treatment outcomes, and one cannot generalise one child’s experience to another’s.

. Today, Adil has made huge progress in his development through the intervention program – being a mother; I would say that within 18 months of the intervention program he is a completely different person. He is verbally active, excelling at academics and becoming considerably fluent in social skills. He is a happy go lucky boy who has opened up to the world around him. This has come with some idiosyncrasies of his own, which are integral part of autism. Most importantly, we, as parents understand him better and love talking to him to learn more about his unique perspective.

1. Wake up before it’s too late.

Parents hold the invaluable wisdom of knowing their child. Being with them 24/7, we know our child more than any pediatrician, family relative or friend.

Our advice is once you see the red alert, go for the diagnosis. Don’t wait. Adil’s success is 90 per cent attributed to a diagnosis at an early age.

2. Accept that your child has autism.

My husband has a ridiculously positive attitude towards life and I don’t mince any words here. It was his positivity that gave me the confidence. He chose to say that our child “can do” things as opposed to us being told that he couldn’t.

3. You are your child’s trainer, build a team to support you.

I observed at length how the training was conducted. The aim of the training was for my son to be able to generalise the skills he learnt at the clinic and apply them to life outside, I realised that the home environment best served this purpose.

4. Build a “can do” network around you and your child.

One of the first things that I did was to build a network of people with a “can do” approach. This included my immediate family and friends, my son’s trainers, teachers, etc. I made use of online resources to read stories to my son in which characters overcome struggles in their daily life. I myself read up on Temple Grandlin and others who had emerged successfully from autism. This gave me the confidence to believe that given an effective way to treat autism, my son indeed “can do” things.

5. Get to know your child, push the limits whenever possible.

It is very important to focus on the child’s interests, and then build his/her skills around them. My son was always fascinated with transportation and thus willing to talk about it — this was the first step in his verbal communication progress.

From narrating factual statements about transportation to coming up with made-up stories, his verbal communication improved considerably. Once the communication got fluid, his socialisation skills started improving too.

6. Interact with “normal” kids.

My son was always imitating other kids without knowing what it meant. When the training started showing results, I strongly advocated for my son to move to a normal kindergarten. I believed that the company of other kids was the best environment for him.

He would observe his peers, which has helped him hone his social interaction skills. Now he keeps a “Friends Book” where he makes notes about his friends and their interests. The idea is for him to take an interest in other children.

7. Prepare the sibling.

Siblings can be the most loyal friends that your child will ever get. They have the magical power of bringing out the best in each other. This requires you to prepare your other children to be lifelong friends with the other.

8. Autism is not a disease.

Being autistic is not a disease or an abnormality; it is a way of personality. Over time, autistic people learn the ways of presentation that allow them to function normally in the society. My son had a different pace of learning when it came to social development but through appropriate training and intervention, he is catching up with his peers.

9. Allow the discovery of a new you.

My son’s diagnosis changed me for the better; his diagnosis helped me accept myself. For the first time in my life, I learnt to push aside what I did not like about myself, along with any negativity.

I learnt to appreciate myself. Today, I more at ease with myself. I learnt to be patient, compassionate and understanding with my son and in effect, other people. Most importantly, I learnt the importance of appreciating life and what it had to offer.

10. Make parenting less stressful.

I became a more conscious parent. Once I found peace within myself, I found it easy to be a more mindful parent with my son. Being with him, did not seem stressful anymore.

I started to invest more time, energy and thoughtfulness in my parenting. I started doing things that I had never done before. I made myself more available to him. This added a new dimension to our relationship. My son and I feel more at ease with one another now than we have ever before. There was no resentment or irritation from either side. It has also helped me set ground rules for him which, if not always, are frequently followed by him in good stride.

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