Thursday, 2 April 2015

What Is Autism, Really?

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  

So this year, I am going to raise awareness by the following blog post ;)

What is autism?

According to the The National Autistic Society, autism is a :

"lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours."

Developmental disorders are different to intellectual/learning disorders (formerly known as mental retardation).

Think of a developmental disorder being kinda the same-ish as someone who has had a major stroke.  Their bodies don't respond the way they want them to (damage to the central nervous system), but they are fully aware (the mind) of what is going on.

What is my definition of autism?

Autism is the unknown.  The unpredictable.  The meltdowns.  The obsessiveness. The isolation.  The conversational silence.  The lack of sleep. The stress.  The self-injurious behaviour. The, sometimes, all-consuming anxiety and worry.   The desperation in not knowing how everything is going to turn out.  

You see, I really, really want to hate autism. Not just because of what I've listed above, but also because I see how it interferes with Gabriel's every day life.  I can see and feel his frustration at times.

But no matter how hard I try, something deep down in my gut always overrides these attempts and whispers into my mind that there is much more going on here than any of us realise or understand.  

For families living with autism, we are aware of it every single day.  

For those of you who do not live with autism, I ask that you do something today, no matter how small, to raise some awareness.  Maybe ask a friend if they've heard of autism?  Maybe smile at the parent whose little boy or girl is standing in the check out line of a store, wildly flapping their arms (stimming).  Maybe share this link with families who want to explain what autism is to their kiddies, in a way they will understand.  Every little bit helps.

And, finally, I want to end off today's blog with these words -

A child with autism is simply different.  Never less.  

In other words, just like you and me :

Perfectly Imperfect