I’ve been happily married going on two years now and having a child with speacal needs is challenging. My two biological children have no speacal needs, I was introduced to the Autism world through my nephew but, my sister kept a small group of people that interacted with him and so I wasn’t one of them. Now, I have a step child that has Autism. So, to try to understand this unspoken world of Autism I’ve been reading books, talking to so many doctors and taking a online class to gain some insight into my step sons world.
Autism 101: the red flags
Going through my travels of books, websites and doctors I found out that early identification of Autism is the “Key”.
No babbling by 12 months
No pointing by 12 months
No one words by 16 months
No 2 words by 24 months
Loss of skills previously learned or acquired
Lack of drawing attention from others
Does not respond to name
Lack of joint attention (child does not draw other’s attention to objects in the environment)
Lack of pretend, imitative and functional play appropriate to developmental age
failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to his/ her age
Child does not imitate others’ behaviors
Even throu I wasn’t around when my step son was little, I’ve been told that everything on this list he was doing. Being a concerned parent I would of had my child at the doctors ASAP.
Difficulty with social interactions
Some individuals with autism do not spontaneously reach out to others to share information or feelings. Some may not seem to notice other people at all, while others strongly desire to interact with others but become overwhelmed in social situations due to deficits in social skills. With effective treatment, many people with autism learn social skills and come to enjoy spending time with others.
My step son don’t give hugs or kiss at all, it’s more of him pressing his head into your chest with his face down. Yes he calls me “mom” now but, on occasional he still calls me “lady”.
Difficulty with communication
Many individuals with autism have delays in or do not develop spoken language. Some may only communicate using single-word utterances or simple sentences. Other speech abnormalities include echolalia (immediate or delayed repeating of information), unconventional word use, and unusual tone, pitch and inflection. Others have complex vocabularies and can speak at length about topics that interest them, but they may have poor conversational skills. They may also have difficulty understanding nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions and eye contact.
Individuals with autism who do not develop functional speech can use augmentative means of communication, such as sign language, picture boards and technological devices. Autism-specific apps can help them communicate their needs and feelings and gain independence in their daily activities.
My step son communication it “Load”, he will yell or even scream to get your attention. Showing any specific feelings of happiness, sadness or anger is very hard for him. For example, when getting a gift on his/her birthday a “normal” child would be excited but my step son it’s more like going through the movements to make everyone else happy even when he’s not.
People with autism have restrictive, repetitive behavior, interests and activities. For example, a child with autism may play with only one toy or watch the same video repeatedly. They may engage in peculiar, sustained play activities such as spinning the wheels of a toy car instead of pretending to drive it, or dangling an object in front of their eyes for long periods of time. Others may focus intensely on a particular topic, such as dinosaurs or vacuum cleaners, to the exclusion of any other interests. Individuals with autism can be very reliant on specific routines and resistant to changes. Even a minor change in their routine or environment could be a great upset to a child or adult with autism.
My step son has this one “blanket” or should I say rag because that’s what it looks like that he chews on. He will cover his head and chew on the blanket. Also, using the bathroom he must have the door open at all times or he will go into a “creaming fit”, sitting in chairs are almost impossible because he “must” sit in a squatting position or sitting on his feet. He will not eat anything green, yellow or red and will eat chicken nuggets but will eat chicken finger, will not eat a sandwich, hamburger or hot dog on bread. When playing with his toys, he “must” decorate them by color shape and size before playing with them. Also if his brothers want to play with his toys he must bag them up and carry them around so that no one touches them because he believes that they will contaminate. These are just a few of my step sons unusual behavior.
Navigating the world of autism has become a challenge to me, trying to understand this world that my step son lives in so that I can be a better parent. I welcome any insights, books, wedsites or information that is out their.