Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April is Autism Awareness Month

Every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed with Autism. To increase awareness I'm sharing my family's story. In March of 1999, I gave birth to twins–happy, healthy and 6 lbs. each (my OB was pleased–a month early and still weighed in at 6 lbs.).  Apgar scores were good, no jaundice, no nursing issues–a perfect pair. As with our older three, we began vaccinations–we didn't realize the damage of the high fevers and rash the vaccines ( the drug contraindications) had prompted until it was too late. 
This is the face of autism.
and this. . .

We, as a family, are very lucky. There is no mental retardation. However, the emotional, social and verbal stigma's associated with children who fall on the spectrum do exist. What does this mean, exactly. Speech delay, I didn't hear "I love you mom!" until Colby was four; some parents with autistic children never hear those words. Socially, Colby prefers to play alone or with one other person (except at home), usually with a family member or adult and doesn't have good eye contact. Emotionally, there are tears (fewer each day) over matters such as picking up toys, taking a shower and sharing chores.

Instead of reading for pleasure, many times this is my reading material.
What does it mean for Colby. . .years of speech therapy, social awareness therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adaptive PE and until one month ago, a special classroom at a special school separated from his twin sister.

Now for the good news. . .and there is quite a bit. Colby has a high level of intelligence and math and science seem to be his areas of greatest academic success. He has returned to a mainstream classroom with a permanent one-to-one aide. The physical therapy and adaptive PE are working, his gait is almost perfect and he's beginning to run as other 10-year-old boys do. The speech therapy has taught him to look at others when spoken to and when speaking to others. Social groups he participates in also encourages appropriate social interaction and reciprocity.

Colby has made unbelievable progress since his diagnosis, he has an awesome physical therapist, a speech therapist who never gives up, a SDC (special day class) teacher who knows when to push and how hard, and Lisa, his aide, whom without, Colby would not be where he is today. We're very thankful and Colby, from all professional opinion, will lead a productive, independent life. 

There are many things you can do to help Autism Awareness, if you're a mom-to-be educate yourself on the effects of vaccines given before age 4. Support through your local quilt guilds donating projects to families in your local area. And purchase the puzzle ribbon magnet for your car to spread the word–Every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed with Autism.

1 comment: