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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Focus on Autism--From Denial to Devastation to Discovery (Part 1)

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Autism Awareness images



In light of Autism Awareness Month, I thought I'd write a series of blog posts on the subject.  There are many MANY families affected by Autism.  At the same time, there are people out there that have no personal experience or knowledge about this mysterious condition.  You may be one of those people.  If you have questions about Autism that you were always afraid to ask, please leave a comment and I'll answer your questions here.  :o)


 Part 1-Denial

de·ni·al [di ni' …ôl]
(plural de·ni·als)
n
refusal to acknowledge existence of something: a refusal to believe in something or admit that something exists


Whether they admit it or not, most Autism parents begin their journey in a place of denial.  Some are there because they have no knowledge of typical child development.  First-time parents are so thrilled and excited by baby's every move that it doesn't matter if those moves are happening on track.  Constantly reminded that comparison is the death of contentment, new parents try not to compare.    

Other parents may just be so overworked, sleep-deprived, and well....so busy...that they just don't see it.  Here again, reminded not to compare, older parents remember that babies are individual and no two develop exactly the same.  Oh, and don't forget that everyone says that boys and girls develop at different rates and in different ways.  It's true!  They really do. 

When babies reach the one-to-two year range, the differences in developmental stages can vary quite a bit.  One toddler may be talking up a storm and walking like a pro by that first birthday party, while another toddler may still be jabbering to beat the band and crawling like a commando.  Both may be totally normal.  Both may be affected by Autism.  This is what makes Autism so darn tricky!

But here's the thing.  When you live with Autism, you know it.  Deep down inside you know it.  However, acknowledging it makes it real.  And sometimes it is easier to keep it inside.  Even those parents who get gobsmacked by the news that their child has Autism will later report that there was a feeling, an inkling, early on that made them think something was off or not quite right.   They just never allowed themselves to believe it was Autism. 

Denial is a very strong and powerful defense in the world of Autism.  Sometimes it can help a family slowly come to grips and other times it can prevent a family from getting the help they need.  Some kids go undiagnosed until adulthood due to denial.  Some adults will never be officially diagnosed because of denial. 

Once a family is able to move past the denial and search for answers, the true devastation settles in like a cold, wet blanket.  Ever try to maneuver a heavy, wet blanket on wash day?  Then you know what devastation feels like to an Autism parent. 


April is Autism Awareness Month. 
Autism is a neurobiological condition that affects typical development.
Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in 110 children.
In the US, one in 70 boys is diagnosed with Autism. 
The cause of Autism is not entirely known.
If you have questions or concerns about your child's development, 
please talk to your pediatrician.  Early intervention is crucial.







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