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Plainville, CT, United States
Having achieved my goal of becoming a published author, I contribute it to the fact that I have been writing since the age of 9. My boys were the inspiration for my children's stories and my life is the inspiration for my autobiography. I have a tendency to write about whatever I feel, relevant, interesting or not. I welcome any comments you may have, positive or constructive. Thank you so much for visiting and following my blog, My life.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Society vs. ASD-Ignorance at its Best-Part I

Autism. That word can send shivers down the spine of steel.  But what is it really?  You know, with all the research and development, theories and probabilities, I don't think anyone really knows. Sure they can all speculate but do they really know what Autism is?  
Now excuse me if I am not politically correct on a lot of terms, I am not an expert.  I am just a mom. And my son has Autism.
The general consensus on Autism is that the child or individual cannot function in society, can not speak, is disruptive and cannot process the simplest of things. This strikes fear in  many people. All that they see is someone that is different.  They do not see the extraordinary person that is inside. They do not know that loving individual who does not have the capacity to hate.  They do not know that generally intelligent individual who, if for lack of a better term, has a brain that has a short circuit somewhere and is in need of a software upgrade.  An upgrade that has yet to be written.  
Many people do not realize that autistic individuals are intelligent.  Those individuals that appear to "not be able to process anything" are in fact processing everything.  They lack the ability to separate and block out that which is not important or significant at the moment. Put yourself in their shoes.  You are at work in a busy office. You hear all the phones that are ringing, you hear each individual having a conversation on their phone, you hear the clicking of pens, the sipping of coffee, the voices of co-workers walking by, staplers stapling, etc. all simultaneously. YOU CANT MAKE IT STOP!  You cant sort everything out and you can't find your voice in all that jumble.  All you can do is blurt out a word or two, a noise here and there to express yourself.  You want to tell someone that you love them but all you can manage is a verbal blurb. Its not an easy life for AI's (Autistic Individuals),  But because we don't understand them, we shun them because they seem "different".
That's the extreme level on the Autism Spectrum.
Over the years there have been many diagnosis of different levels of functioning with Autism.  So now the diagnosis is not "Autism" but "Autism Spectrum Disorder" or ASD.  Different levels of functioning.  We go from low functioning, such as an extreme case of Autism to the high functioning Aspergers Syndrome/Disorder.  These AI's, seem normal in all aspects of their functioning.  They just get labeled as lazy, sloppy, stinky, dumb, weird and dopey. Enter Erik.  My son.
Most children are diagnosed with Autism when they are young.  Around 4 or 5 years of age.  Instead, Erik was diagnosed as psychotic, delusional, bipolar, and oh yes. Lets not forget the universal "we really don't know what is wrong" diagnosis.....ADD.  Keep in mind that Autism was not amongst the realm of possibilities because Erik was a normal kid.  He wasn't stupid. He had a high IQ. He had an extensive vocabulary.  He didn't have outbursts for what seemed like no apparent reason.  He could function.  So we just go with whatever we can find that might fit the symptoms at the time.  
To make a long story short, Erik did not receive the correct services when he was going through school.  I brought up Aspergers time and time again but the district stood their ground. He didn't have autism.  He was normal.  
Finally, after gathering enough information, I took him to a private psychiatrist.  He interviewed Erik and myself individually, then together.  I took a test, filled in some bubbles.  He gave Erik some tests.  Guess what the diagnosis was?  Aspergers Syndrome/Disorder. Along with PDD.  FINALLY the diagnosis that would help my son. But did it come too late? 
For Erik, implementing services when he was in high school was going to be tricky.  I knew I had a lengthy battle on my hands and I also knew that I wasn't going to be able to fight this battle on my own.........

6 comments:

  1. This is so true. Autism is nothing to fear. They are beautiful, wonderful people whose brains process not only everything, but usually differently from "normal" people. Autism is part of our family's lives, too. We know the heartache and the joys. Thank you for sharing this with such openness.

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  2. My niece was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome when she was about five. I believe that my brilliant polymath father had it. Back in the 20s and 30s there was no such diagnosis, but he was an unusual child. Played hooky all during first grade until the truant officers came after him and made him go to school. Was considered dull by his teachers until they tested him in sixth grade and his abilities were off the charts. Achieved a PhD but on a scale of 1 to 10 on empathy he was about a 2. Sort of difficult for my brother and I to deal with when we were growing up. And poor Mom . . . I always resented my father until I realized he was an Aspie and then his behavior all made sense.
    But my niece: She was highly motivated to overcome her social deficiencies and has become a very friendly, supportive and outgoing person. She just graduated from Fordham Law School and I think she has a promising future ahead of her. I think that if she applies herself she may succeed at relationships as well. One of the endearing qualities of an Aspie is that they are very direct. Dear Abby once printed a letter from a mother whose son had Aspergers. She said: "and if you ever want an honest answer to the question 'do I look fat in this dress?' Just ask an Aspie!"

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  3. Great article...what a struggle to get so many wrong diagnosis...looking forward to Part 2.

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  4. There are so many wrong diagnosis on so many things. I have a second cousin that is autistic and he sounds like an adorable kid. (he lives in Japan so I have never met him) It is foolish to fear autism or anything like that. It is the fear of the unknown and the different I think.

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  5. I just hate, hate, hate when the so-called experts give you the wrong diagnosis and try to shove it down your throat. A mother knows whats wrong with her child . . . . . Hello!

    I went through the same thing also as a child. Unable to sit still in class I was diagnosed as retarded. After years of living with that stigma and fully functioning ( except for times when I went off the reservation. I was finally given the proper diagnosis about two years ago. Adult Attention Deficit Syndrome or ADHD. In other words, I'm adult version of TIGGER from Winny The Pooh. Howie Mandel has an organization to raise awareness because he too suffers from ADHD.

    Yes, it is amazing the ignorance out there. However, children and people were never meant to set and forget.

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  6. Excellent article Mel!! So many things to consider and so many that go unnoticed!! I KNOW Erik. He is highly intelligent and very loveable!! Can't wait for Part 2!!!!

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