Thursday, April 2, 2020

World Autism Awareness Day

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 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.


Linda said...

Thank you for sharing this......Deanie’s oldest grandson has autism. His parents sought help very early on and Austin is living a very good life. I started to say normal but that’s not really a good word. We all have restrictions or limitations to one degree or another but that doesn’t mean we can’t live a full life. Ever since I met you I have loved Baylor’s name.....and when you have a name in your heart it’s easier to remember to pray for him.. Baylor is blessed to have parents and grandparents like y’all.

Anonymous said...

Your post today really touched my heart, as I, too, have an Autistic grandson. Joey is almost 17 and a big young man who is non-verbal and very severely Autistic. His wonderful parents tried just about everything in the early years, diet, brain training, you name it they’ve tried it; all to no avail. I know it weighs heavily on all your hearts that Baylor is the way he is, but believe me, it could be so much more severe. Joey requires 24 hour supervision and always will. God bless you all.

Susan C

Brenda said...

Prayers...although I started teaching in my 40's to 60's, I taught regular classes. Because I learned to love the kids who were Autistic and the Downs, etc, the parents wanted them to work with me. I had them in some of my electives, and what a joy they were to me. You should have seen some of them performing skits from these kids. prayers prayers

Bonnie N said...

Thank you for this post. I am a grandma with two autistic grands. One is almost 8, the other is 5. One is very social, the other is not, and is non-verbal. Hats off to my daughter and son-in-law for their wonderful parenting. With the isolation at this time, their work is harder, but they are troupers.

Plain Jane said...

I want to add this: autism is not only for boys. Girls are also autistic and they are often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed until their teens long after early intervention is possible. Girls will present differently than boys but the signs are there.
My daughter has autism but wasn't diagnosed until she was 13 because of the misconception that autism is only for boys.

Sandy said...

Katy and Ben are to be commended as well as grandparents. It can't be easy. I too don't rush to judgement having seen my fair share at school.

Robin in Virginia said...

Arlene, thank you for sharing today. Baylor is a lucky boy to have the parents, grandparents, and family who want the best for him, who love him and continue to pray for him. As a former teacher of students with special needs, you offered some fabulous suggestions/tips about kids on the spectrum. Thank you for making us aware.

sharon said...

Thank you for sharing. As an educator I pray for these special children everyday.

Mary said...

Arlene, This was a beautifully written post. I did not know that a diagnosis would not be made till the child was 3. That is terrible that months of early intervention would be missed because of that. I am thankful Baylor has a loving family that will love and cherish him.

Mari said...

This is a wonderful post. I really appreciated the tips at the end. Baylor is blessed to have such a wonderful family, and Grandma!