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By Suja Pisharody
04/09/2020

Looking Beyond The Autism Label

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  • “So called mild Autism doesn’t mean one experiences Autism mildly…It means YOU experience their Autism mildly. You may not know how hard they’ve had to work to get to the level they are.”

    Adam Walton

    Ever since I came out in the open about Dhruv’s Autism, and started writing about it, I have had many Autism parents call me for advice and counselling. The other day a parent called up and said, “My child has mild Autism, will she be normal?

    Her question got me thinking and these are some thoughts that came to my mind.

    Autism is not a ‘medical condition’ but a ‘disorder’, where the brain is wired differently. There are no medicines to “treat” Autism. The human brain is still a mystery, Autism or not. In the context of ASD, this mystery deepens; and we really don’t know what all our children can accomplish!!! Then, why do we limit them by slotting them into categories of Autism like ‘mild’, ‘moderate’, ‘severe’? As parents, we know our child has developmental challenges due to Autism. So, isn’t it enough to just work with them instead of dissecting what kind of Autism the child has ?

    Majority of parents cling to the hope that someday their child will miraculously be “normal” and recover from Autism (after all one does hear stories). By chance, if they have been told their kid has ‘mild autism’, the hope is even stronger; after all, if it is is mild autism, how bad can it be?

    Many a time, Autism is accompanied by other co-morbid conditions like Dyspraxia, ADHD, SPD, Anxiety, Epilepsy, to name just a few. You could have a child with Autism who is verbal and yet have severe anxiety, motor and comprehension challenges, and another child who is non-verbal with no challenges in these areas but maybe has epilepsy. Both these children bravely deal with their challenges on a minute-by-minute basis, no matter what degree of Autism they have. So, never judge another child.

    When we say a child is ‘high-functioning’ or has ‘mild Autism’, we assume he is highly capable and doesn’t have to struggle much. That is a misconception, as Autism is Autism!!! It comes with its own set of challenges, regardless of the labelling of ‘mild’, ‘moderate’, ‘severe’, ‘verbal’, ‘non-verbal‘. To an outsider, he may seem very ‘sorted’, while inside he may have severe anxiety and maybe trying very hard to keep it all together. By just saying so and so child is ‘high-functioning’, we are kind of putting expectations on him and somewhere ignoring the efforts taken by him to overcome his challenges. 

     

    As parents this is how we can help them: – 

    1. The sooner you accept your child’s Autism, the better it is for the child.
    2. Once you get a diagnosis, start early intervention and therapies essential for your child.
    3. Start understanding Autism so spend time with your child, read books, attend workshops, do a course if possible, anything to help you get to know your child better.
    4. Don’t get caught up in the label and assume things about your child’s abilities, remember even the best doctors in the field are still learning about Autism and there’s no way to gauge your child’s potential, so work hard and your child WILL progress.      
    5. Develop the art of patience as your child will progress, but sometimes the pace can be really slow and frustrating for you and the child.
    6. Work on your child’s strengths and challenges and focus on making them self-reliant.
    7. Learn to be positive and see the silver lining in every life-situation. Do remember that you are in for the long haul and staying positive and committed will help you tremendously.
    8. Appreciate your beautiful child, he has come to give you a different perspective of life and will end up being your biggest teacher.     

    Disclaimer:- This is a personal blog and the views expressed are my personal thoughts and are not meant to offend anyone’s beliefs and sensibilities.

     

    The original link is here https://sujapisharody.home.blog/2020/09/03/looking-beyond-the-autism-label/? fbclid=IwAR1Z_NhT12oRGRg1phc_SaW6DhT8kXFDKbBzexm6KREy_pfm8dA3mxc80iE

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