I thought I would drop in to remind everyone of Autism Awareness . April is the month of the year that this strange disease is in the news. I thought I would share our Autism story...just as with this syndrome, every story is different.
We were so excited when we found out Ben and Katy were having a BOY! Our first Grimm Grandson. He arrived on time and was perfect in every way. Things seemed to progress normally until he was about 18 months old. I noticed that Baylor did not respond to his name. As an old nurse that was when the alarm bells started going off in my mind. But we can always make excuses for things we do not want to think about. Other signs were popping up as well...speech delay and disinterest in what was going on around him to name two. Doctors will not diagnose autism until the child is three years old. We lost at least a year of early intervention because of this timeline. I hope in the future it will change. Katy and Ben took Baylor to an ENT to make sure he could hear. Tubes were inserted and we hoped that his speech would come. It did not. Finally he was evaluated for Autism and was diagnosed as moderate to severe. I can still remember hearing those words.
After diagnosis, Katy and Ben started therapy for Baylor....speech therapy, occupational therapy etc.Over the years we have seen some improvement but there is no miracle cure for Autism. Puzzle pieces are a great symbol for autism as it is very puzzling and challenging. My hat is off to Ben and Katy as they have parented their special boy. When Katy found out she was expecting another boy, we were all concerned because if you have one son with autism there is a 20% chance that the next son will also be autistic. We are thankful that Elliott is neurotypical. That is the name for those not affected by autism. I have to say that I could not fully enjoy Elliott as a baby because I was always on the look out for signs of autism. As he passed the danger year and progressed with speech and motor development we breathed a sigh of relief.
As I mentioned yesterday, I am more aware of those suffering with Autism these days. I can usually spot it immediately. Here are some tips for you if you encounter an autistic child or adult.
1. Make eye contact, smile and say hello. They probably will not react to you but the parent appreciates the interaction. So often people stare or just walk away.
2. If you see a child having a complete melt down in public...it may not be a temper tantrum. It could be a sensory overload moment. I used to be the person who walked by and thought, that child needs a good spanking. I am not so quick to judge anymore.
3. Teach your children to be kind to those who are different. Katy and Ben would rather people ask them questions about Baylor than to stare and gawk. Recently a little girl asked Katy why a big boy was in a stroller. Katy graciously explained that Baylor had a problem with his brain and the stroller kept him safe. The little girl said, "COOL" and went on her way.
4. Be kind to the parents. They are often at their wits end. Open a door for them....say an encouraging word and whisper a prayer for them to have a good day.
5. Be aware of signs of autism. As I said before, we thought Baylor was perfect when he was born and we wanted to ignore the signs in front of us. Early intervention is very helpful to the whole family.
I pray that the cause of this baffling ailment will be found in time to give Baylor a chance for a normal life.