Special Needs aren’t something that are readily talked about, Or openly communicated. I wanted to take a bit to explain what my daughter has been diagnosed with, And how it affects her. I’d also like to talk about what makes her different from others with the same diagnosis.
If you do an internet search for the words “Autism Meaning” You will find hundreds of explanations. But all of them tend to be so vague. Here’s an example from Oxford Dictionaries;
“A developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behaviour.” ( https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/autism )
…..Most people would read that and not even begin to understand Autism. I know I didn’t.
A Little Backstory
As my little girl started aging and coming into her personality, I noticed that she was doing things her own way. She seemed overly shy at first. Hated if we tried to look her in the face, Didn’t like anyone being overly close, and hated physical Contact. I just observed her for a while and figured it was a stage. She is my oldest so I didn’t know there were signs I should look for. I don’t believe any parent looks at their kids and says “I wonder if they’re showing any signs of Autism” But, She was. She was struggling to remain calm if we went to the grocery store when it was crowded, She struggled if the music or movie was too loud, or if an Ambulance or fire truck went by, she struggled if there were too many guests at our home, She struggled a lot.
Her daddy and I had decided she had really bad anxiety so we took her to the Doctor. I explained to him what all was happening and he proceeded to try to ask some questions to her and examine her. When he was through, He told us that maybe we should follow-up with the Autism Clinic, Even if just for a piece of mind. Maybe we could find help for her, And she wouldn’t struggle so much.
A few weeks later she had her first evaluation. They give you paperwork to answer about your child and their activities at home. You fill it out and they score your child. Then they take them into a room with lots of toys and child-friendly activities and evaluate them One-On-One. The conclusion was in, Faith was Autistic. But, I didn’t want to believe it. Like most parents, I was uninformed on what exactly Autism was and thought it was something to be devastated over. I went for a second opinion, which only ended with the same diagnosis.
I started to research, talk to doctors and learn what we could do to help, But none of that really helped as much as I had hoped in the end, Because Autism works differently in every person. With Faith, She’s considered “High Functioning.” It isn’t like a subcategory in the diagnosis, Just lets others know that her brain works a little differently. Noises, Crowds and Large Areas Still cause her to struggle, along with things she doesn’t understand. Such as a toy she may see that’s been taken apart, That she’s unable to put back together. She has Tantrums just like other kids, but you have to discover the cause of hers instead of assuming all of them are just because she’s in the “Terrible Three’s” Stage. Emotions are foreign to her, and showing affection isn’t a second nature to her. She can talk, But if she gets stressed at all, She goes into her own little bubble and refuses to communicate in any form. And if she’s exposed to prolonged stress, She will “Lock Down” and stay that way for a few days, To even a week or more. We’re learning things that help, and things that only make her uncomfortable, but it’s a slow and steady process. And one that isn’t easy on her, her siblings, or Us.
She loves her tablet, And she shows, and she has a fondness for puzzles. If there is something that she wants to learn about, she will lock on until she’s satisfied with the answers she receives. (Her most recent “Obsession” Is the life cycle of chickens. From hatching to Egg Laying) She does also have a sensory disorder that affects, well, her senses. There are many foods that repulse her, and most even make her gag if she tries to eat them. Anything Grainy (Grits), Mashed (Potatoes), or anything that’s unpleasant or unpalatable to her (Eggs Usually are a bad one). This makes Cooking difficult, As it can change daily. She isn’t picky, She will try anything once, but you’ll know if she’ll eat it or not within a second or two of it touching her lips.
Clothes are a bit difficult since most fabrics cause her to get extremely irritated quickly. It can’t be too tight, nor can it be to lose. And socks and shoes will only cause her to get anxious. At night she lets me hold her. She will scoot close, and ask me to wrap the cover tightly around her. I love those cuddles! If she wakes up and it’s a “good” day for her, She will ask me to put her hair up. Other days she refuses to let me touch it.
Faith can do everything that others do, Just in her way, and on her own time. We know that we’re in for a lifetime of learning about Autism, But it isn’t a nuisance. Not now, Not ever. We love all of our kids, And will make sure they all get to enjoy life. Even if they all do it in different ways.