noun Pathology .
any of a group of disorders each having symptoms that occur on a continuum and certain features that are shared along its spectrum but that manifest in markedly different forms and degrees. See autism spectrum disorder.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014. <
It’s Different and the Same. It’s All Frustrating.
Is it possible for one condition to manifest itself differently in individuals and treatments vary depending upon the person? Yes, it is possible and it is a prevalent condition called Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is a condition that is the same but not the same all at once.
To me ASD can be very frustrating. To explain, relief is minimal and short-lived at the time of diagnosis. Why? Most often, as parents, we already strongly suspect the diagnosis before we seek it out. Diagnosis is just a confirmation of our suspicions. Secondly, autism spectrum disorders vary from one individual to another (thus the “spectrum” description) so treatments and therapies are a hit or miss process. One treatment or intervention works for one individual but has little benefit for another. Finally, I am the type of person who seeks solutions. Once the diagnosis was given I was ready to find the “solution”. I laugh at myself now because I was so naive. There is no one “solution” for autism.
For example, my son is high on the spectrum. He is very functional in terms of ASD measurements. When the diagnosis was given, yes, as parents we were happy to have a name to “it”. Unfortunately, the diagnosis left us with a myriad of choices that gave no promise of absolute success. For a child already resistant to change and the unexpected, introducing one treatment after another was not appealing.
Autism, Asperger’s, and ASD – It’s Individual
Fortunately, once the therapies, treatments, and aids are sorted through parents and care givers are left with a specific “play book” for their loved one.
Certainly they are all related in some ways as is the method of scientific classification. Each has similar characteristics that link them together into a family. Of course, families are made of individuals. So, autism, Asperger’s, and ASD’s are the individuals that make-up the family of disorders.
But these family members do not respond to the same treatments the same way. For example, we know to treat an infection we take antibiotics, to treat diabetes we take insulin and so forth. ASD is very different. One intervention or teaching method works great for a couple of individuals on the spectrum but another will have difficulty with the method, color, smell, feeling, or some other abstract relationship.
If I Can’t “Solve It” – Then What Can I Do?
Educate yourself. Read as much as you can about autism, Asperger’s, and ASD. Early in my son’s treatment and diagnosis, his psychiatrist recommended several articles and books to read. One recommendation, “A Parent’s Guide to Asperger Syndrome & High-Functioning Autism” by Sally Ozonoff, PhD., Geraldine Dawson, PhD., and James McPartland, PhD. was particularly helpful. I found the content very interesting because the authors write not just about symptoms and signs but what also how the brain of an ASD individual functions.
For me, knowing how the brain works – differently from mine – is very helpful in grasping how to support the individual. Why? Because each person, each brain, is different. So the ASD brain may function in similar fashions but it is still and individual organ in an individual person.
Support systems in the medical community are important. My son had a fantastic child psychiatrist. He is a wonderful doctor who was kind to Jack and extremely support of my husband and me. He was instrumental in helping getting a diagnosis and support.
Seek out resources and services in your area and school. My son is a lifetime client of our local Regional Center in California. It offers support services – especially helpful as he becomes more independent and approaches adulthood.
Find support groups. Autism is a growing community. Support groups exist online, schools, mom’s groups, and community centers. Find others who understand you experiences and can offer a kind word or smile.
Try to be active in your child’s / loved one’s education. This is not to say interfere or stay at the school from drop off to pick up. Merely, check in with the teacher, aids, therapists, or whomever your child has contact. Keep these people apprised of advances or set-backs at home; find out what is happening at school. This information will help with consistency in the Autistic’s daily life making transitions a bit easier. Trust me – it’s all about the transition!
If possible, try to find time to care for yourself. As a parent I rarely take this advice but I wish I did! I know there is nothing wrong with going for a walking, getting a coffee, going to the library, reading a book, or meeting a friend. My outlet and time for myself is blogging. I like to write and find it therapeutic. Try to find the time for yourself – you deserve it!
Don’t be embarrassed. Your child or loved one may see “odd” to other people but that is their problem; not yours. Do not pick up and carry other people’s judgments and issues.
What I Want, Desire for All of Us
My hope in sharing my story and journey is to inspire other parents, family members, or individuals on the spectrum to learn more about ASD, share their stories, talk about what works for them, and contribute to the community we find ourselves members.
I have learned there is no one answer or treatment for ASD. Fortunately, 7 years after diagnosis I can see more therapy options, educational tools, and support systems available for little ones who are freshly diagnosed. This is very encouraging for those of us who have older family members on the spectrum and for new members.
Sharing of our stories helps, I believe, to enhance the choices and options before us. If we learn anything from our lives with an ASD individual, it is there is no judgment here!
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