My middle son has Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. My son has a mischievous streak a mile wide. He has sensitivities to change in weather, to light, to skin irritants and others. He is prone to outbursts, violent, loud outbursts. He has an amazing sense of humor, he is crazy smart, he loves legos…I mean LOVES legos.
My oldest daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome which is currently listed on the Autism spectrum. My daughter is very high functioning and has been therapy for a year now, some might not even notice that her behaviors are that different…maybe quirky, but not worrisome. She is flighty, says what ever she is thinking and did I mention she is flighty.
My other children are neuro-typical.
When I head out the door with my kids no amount of planning ahead, practice sessions or stern discipline will help me when my middle son has a meltdown, especially if it requires me to wrap him in a bear hold till it passes. Who will watch my kids? What if one of the toddlers runs off while I’m dealing with this son?
I don’t avoid social situations or home school co-ops because I don’t need them, I avoid them because they don’t have room for my family. What I mean is that so far my experiences have been poor to say the least. I can’t keep subjecting myself over and over to failed outings, long enough to make friends and educate people as to what will be helpful.
Going to a sit down restaurant with just the family is a learning experience, not an enjoyable, relaxing one. I get judged by strangers, waitresses and not to mention the berating I am giving myself.
When we first got to this duty station, my Autistic children were toddlers, 18m and 2 1/2 years. Going to Bible studies and the like were easy. They were both assigned to over staffed play rooms, keeping an eye them was easy. As they aged it became not so easy. Their play rooms had less staffers and their behaviors became more and more inappropriate for their age groups.
I have tried to go this last month to a home school field trip and to a couple of MOPS meetings. The field trip went horribly, no fault of the organizers or the venue, just can’t be with my oldest who are interested and with my son and toddlers who are not. MOPS went fine, but I took the kids tutor with me, I wouldn’t have gone without her. They have great childcare there, but not consistently the same staffer each time, or even the same location, no one’s fault. Just not conducive to my kids.
So why do I bring this up? Well it is Autism Awareness month and with new numbers coming out that 1 in 88 children have Autism, groups that cater to children or mother’s of young children, need to get hip to the Spectrum. If you know that one of your prospective clients, mom’s or volunteers has children on the spectrum ask them what you can do to make it easier for her and her children. I mean for real folks it is that easy. Let’s practice, repeat after me, “What can I do to make it easier for you and your children?” Now say that a hundred times or until you are comfortable enough to walk up to that Mom and really make a difference in her life.
My husband loves Messy Mondays, they are on youtube, look’em up! A couple of weeks ago they did a short on being an activist. It’s not just about hitting like on someone’s Facebook page or re-posting a status for a couple of hours or changing your profile pic, its about actually taking your time and resources and devoting them to changing or assisting in something you feel strongly about.
So often we are only a activist when they have cool swag…