“You’ve seen one child with autism, you’ve seen ONE child with autism.” That is a very true statement, and it was shown to me by a wonderful woman who worked with autistic children for years.
People with autism are not the same in how they exhibit the symptoms of their “condition.” In Builder’s preschool class, for example, there were very verbal children. They would wave to me and say hello and want to take my hand even before they really knew who I was. However, they have other limitations involving light, sound, and processing instructions from speech into meaningful actions. Many of the children require therapy to help them learn basic skills. Others do have profound speech concerns. Builder, for example, didn’t know the concept of “name” before he began therapy. He didn’t know what a name meant.
So in a class of, say, a dozen students, there are a variety of concerns. Sensitivity to light, to sound, to texture. And my son is in the “higher functioning” class. There is another at his school that relies a great deal on picture-codes, because many of the children are still “prespeech” in their development.
There is as yet no actual “cure” for autism. There is no magical routine that will change the brains of these amazing children, who face a word filled with often frightening stimuli and manage, somehow, to either put it from them or work their own way through it all. All we can do as family, teachers and friends is to help them develop skills with which they can adapt and even conquer their environments.
My son is a funny kid. He makes jokes, plays with words, draws endless pictures on paper, a magnadoodle and the computer. He is proud of his achievements, such as finishing his medicine, putting on his socks and shoes all by himself, and when he makes new jokes. His laughter is as contagious as anyone’s.
And he fights with his big brother, Cyclone, just like any other kid, too.
People with autism are people. They do not look the same, do not act the same, do not exhibit the same curiosities as others who share their diagnosis. But they all have hard-wired oddnesses to their thinking and development. I liken it to missing bridges over streams. It doesn’t mean they cannot cross the streams; it means that we have to find stepping stones for them, show them how to use them, and make sure it’s as safe as possible on the other side.
And then, we watch them go. 🙂