Screenshot / AmazingThinsHappen.tv
Weekend Images Inc. via Getty Images
They have a unique view of the world.
SerrNovik via Getty Images
Symptoms of ASD can vary wildly.
Jose Chavarria / EyeEm via Getty Images
You'll understand like never before.
svetikd via Getty Images
What is it about hair that ruffles so many feathers? Last week, despite having been told not to do so, an Ottawa teacher chopped the hair off a child, ostensibly because the child was chewing on it. The teacher appears to have believed that somehow, he was acting in the child's best interests. Had he decided the child's identity for him? Had he decided that a child with a disability cannot make his own choices as to his appearance?
It's hard to believe it's been five years since autism entered my life. My son is eight now. Raising him remains a mystifying experience, yet I have learned some valuable lessons along the way:
RubberBall Productions via Getty Images
Marc Carter was originally searching for a blue Tommee Tippee cup for his son with autism.
maksicfoto via Getty Images
No big crowds, long lineups or loud noises at this Edmonton mall.
JGI/Jamie Grill via Getty Images
Imagine watching a movie made by someone with autism, rather than about someone with autism. Wouldn't that be a refreshing change from the norm? Individuals with autism found themselves the subject of countless documentaries and feature films rather than the creators and the mavericks calling the shots.
He doesn't have a "special" talent. In fact, less than 10% of the autistic population have some kind of savant talent. When you ask about his "talent" and he knows that he doesn't have one, he feels less. He feels as though he is being judged for being "wrong" yet again. I hug him and tell him that you mean well, and that the drawing he did of Spider-Man really did rock! What I wish you would ask instead, is this.
Tetra Images - Jamie Grill via Getty Images
"The cup keeps him alive. If we lost the cup and couldn't find another Ben would die."
Stuart Dee via Getty Images
The child with ASD must learn to identify a broad range of emotions and corresponding facial and body expressions, then encouraged to tune into their bodies and rate the intensity of their emotion using a "feelings thermometer." We feel what we feel. Although our emotions are always valid, our thoughts about a given situation are often skewed and in need of revision.
MakiEni's photo via Getty Images
When my husband answered the phone you gently took over the job of restraining my son...something that no public servant has ever dared to do. We've had teachers and support workers tell us that they're not allowed to touch a child, even when it's a matter of keeping our son safe. But you held him firmly and respectfully, as gently as you could, without a trace of anger or fear on your face. "I have a lot of experience with autistic kids," you told me, and it showed.
Stockbyte via Getty Images
What kind of mom drugs her kid? The mom who is tired of walking on eggshells, wondering who her child will hurt today. The mom who is tired of watching her baby suffer inside his own skin. The mom who, fighting back tears, dutifully takes the scrap of paper from the doctor with the round glasses.... What mom does that, anyway? The kind who will do whatever it takes to help her child feel better, even if it means doing precisely the thing she vowed never to do.
I want my seven-year-old to have friends -- at least one, maybe two. But at heart, I'm a realist. He has high-functioning autism. Socially speaking, the odds are stacked against him. Making friends is a concept as foreign and uncomfortable as the wooly sweater knitted by a well-meaning great aunt.