When I started this blog I jumped straight into Reilly’s autism without really explaining what autism is so I thought a little section on what how I interpret Reilly’s autism. Like I say i’m no expert i’m just a busy Mam treading water in the autism ocean at the minute. I have been on a course though, imagine having to attend a course to learn about your own child!
The definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder
(psychiatry) any disorder within the spectrum of autism, such as Asperger’s syndrome, characterized by impairment in communication, social interaction, and flexibility of thinking and behaviour ASD.
Still none the wiser? You’re not alone so i’ve included some examples of what they might mean.
As i said in my very first blog I knew Reilly had autism from a very young age and Reilly demonstrates all of the signs on the poster below on a daily basis and has done for a good few years.
- There isn’t a shopping trip yet that hasn’t resulted in Reilly lining things up or putting items in the correct place on shelves. They obviously love us in Fenwick’s toy department.
- He doesn’t play with friends. He’s usually not interested in other children.
- He bursts into fits of giggles at absolutely nothing.
- He has more energy than a red bull factory.
- He is oversensitive to many things, all of the senses in fact.
- He cannot bare some items of clothing resulting in an awful lot of nakedness.
- He loves cold water and would sit in a bath of cold water for ages if we let him.
- He has the blandest diet and only eats really beige sometimes with a hint of orange food.
- He can smell a kinder egg at 100 metres.
- Some noises actually hurt him. An a autistic adult who now lectures told us when he sees a number 4 he smells petrol!
- He has no speech.
- Changes to his routine like this morning where he had to go back to school after 2 weeks holiday is an absolute nightmare.I cried like a baby this morning for this first time in an age. Unable to get him into his transport screaming, kicking, pulling hair etc but we got there eventually.
- He doesn’t like to drive down roads he’s unfamiliar with.
- He doesn’t like it when manufacturers change their packaging.
- You can watch the National Autistic Society’s Autism sensory video to get a greater understanding of how the senses are overwhelmed.
- And the most terrifying of all is his lack of awareness of danger.
- We keep our doors locked at all times but if on the off chance he gets his hands on a key he can open the door and will just run, sometimes into a neighbours house; sometimes he’ll just keep running with no regard for cars and roads.
- If he can get a toe on something he will climb it regardless of height.
- We need eyes in the back of our heads 24/7.
So its complicated. No two people are the same so a minefield to navigate. I must admit I thought that children with autism never gave eye contact, didn’t want to be held and all had a gift, a savant skill. I know now this isn’t always the case. Reilly loves to cuddle and kiss me. Reilly’s ‘skills’ are being able to mix four jigsaws together then assemble them with no pictures for guidance and having the looks of a demi-god, he’s brilliant.
But autism does affect how Reilly makes sense of the world around him. Life for him can be frightening, overwhelming, confusing. It can cause him horrendous anxiety but it can also be intriguing and fabulous in the right situations when we get into Reilly’s world and not try and drag him into ours.
Nobody knows what causes autism, environment? genetics? who knows. There is no cure but there are methods of help like learning and development techniques, which is why we attend courses to learn a little more about these special, unique cherubs and guide them best we can.
A little bit of awareness and acceptance will go a long way to make his journey a bit smoother. Be kind to those struggling a little acknowledgement in the form of a nod or a smile goes a long way mid meltdown for tired parents and overwhelmed kids.