“Until you have a kid with special needs, you have no idea of the depth of your strength, tenacity, and resourcefulness”. ~ Anonymous
April is an Autism awareness month. Autism is very new to our family and friends. Though they are getting educated seeing my son and the ways we deal with his autism however they lack even basic awareness. Today I would like to use this platform to raise awareness for my family and friends.
First and foremost my humble gratitude to them as without their encouragement and blessings moving forward may not have been possible nonetheless there are a few pointers from them which make me pity my own people as they are not yet aware of many things occurring in the world where my son resides.
Here’s the most common statement that they tell us.
Even our neurotypical child did not reach a particular milestone at a certain age so your son is fine.
In this blog post, I would like to address this issue and oppose the statement.
I hear this often from my friends and family. I sometimes wonder are they trying to give me assurance or is it their lack of awareness. Hope I am able to clear their point. Since my elder son is neurotypical I know the above statement does not fit for ASD (Autism spectrum disorder) kids.
Here is what I want to tell and educate them.
Even if your child never did certain things at a particular age they will do it maybe in a year or two because Learning is Natural to the neurotypical child. Although the same statement cannot be stated for ASD kids, the reason is if we don’t teach the ASD kids they may never learn as they are usually in their own world.
When I say teaching them, I mean teaching them everything; right from how to look at you, ask for food, wash hands, eating on their own and so on. A simple gesture that comes naturally to a neurotypical kid becomes a challenge for the ASD kid.
A neurotypical child simply will pick up knowledge from everywhere, family, peers, Video’s, books, neighbors and so many other resources. “They will learn on their own” with the help of the cognitive skills they will grasp things easily. However, ASD kids are not that fortunate, “Learning is a challenge”. They cannot process many details at one time.
Given below are just a few life skills that Girish has been taught right from the time he started therapy which was from 16 months till today at the age of 8;
♣ Labeling “mom” comes naturally to a child. I never taught Krish, my elder one how to call me. He just did it. Although for Girish, this was not very easy. Might appear unbelievable, to label me as his mom, his dad as daddy took us 3-4 months of ABA therapy. Oh! I can never forget the day he called me “mom” without any prompt . It was such a huge celebration.
♣ You might know that Girish’s first accomplishment was to point at his favorite toy which appears to be a simple thing however what you may not know that it took him persistent hours of Occupational therapy sessions to achieve this task that is otherwise supposed to be a “natural” act.
♣ If you are surprised that he is taking a bite of his cookie and putting back in the bowl then it is because of our therapist patience and creativeness to teach him how to release things smoothly. Because Girish never knew to release things nicely as he only threw items.
♣ It was months of practice to teach him how to ‘request’ for a cookie. I also know many ASD kids even with hours of therapy they have the inability to convey to their caregiver that they are hungry and they are around 10.
♣ Did you know that it was a part of ABA goal to teach Girish ‘how to ask for help’? because all he knew was to cry if he didn’t get anything.
♣ We regularly encounter meltdowns for no apparent reason. And not to forget the silly laughter that can last for hours if not intervened.
♣ Girish is verbal but have you noticed that he cannot communicate the reason for his meltdown?
♣ Can you believe that he is having a program in his ABA where they are teaching him to recall at the age of 8? A neurotypical child around this age can go non-stop about their daily activities naturally.
What has been written here are just a few achievements we have made. I can keep going on and on about every success Girish achieved with the help of his therapists but then you have to keep scrolling down. Just know the fact that it took hours of hard work from school teachers, aides, occupation therapists, speech pathologists and many more to the place where Girish is today.
Every single act/gesture in life is taught to Girish. It is a bonus when Girish or any ASD kid to learn something on his own whereas a neurotypical kid will learn naturally if not at this age then maybe in a year or two.
So think before you say this, Even our neurotypical child did not reach a particular milestone at a certain age so your son is fine.