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a parents point of view of autism
Jeorge was 4 years old when he was diagnosed, we already knew he was autistic, as I had been an early years professional for 15 years. To begin with, even with some knowledge I was terrified. What would this mean for Jeorge? would he ever speak? would he ever stop head banging and crying, screaming and be afraid to go outside? We were drowning and out of our depth. I read so many books and researched so much until I almost drove myself crazy. I worried about dying, something I never worried about previously. Who would look after my darling, precious son, who would understand his needs and who would honour him like we tried our best to do?
Eventually I took advice and stopped reading books and started to listen and feel what we needed as a family, this was our autism. Through the years we have met many families and people on the autistic spectrum, I learnt each of us has our own unique autism. There is no right or wrong way to live or to support. No right or wrong therapy or strategy to try.
Once I stopped trying to please outsiders and other opinions of what we should be doing with Jeorge, as many opinions came to us from all angles, Some of which was shocking which was because of a lack of knowledge and true understanding of Jeorges needs and reasons for such extreme behaviours. Some was perfect for us and helped.
Jeorge is almost 11 years old now, he is still non verbal, we have offered him various communication tools. He uses them all in a small way. PECS, a communication aid, sign language and body language, a multitude of sounds we now have decoded and, yes ! even mind melding/ telepathy. I have learnt over the years to read what Jeorge is telling me, He sends me messages through pictures I receive in my own mind. I am still learning this i miss so much of what he is telling me, but I am getting better and when I do, it is stunning!
We learnt over the years to fully embrace Jeorge's quirks, His love of nature which is easy as we live in rural Wales so spent as much time as possible in streams, rivers, forests and swimming pools. We also stopped buying him traditional toys and instead bought sound and light up toys that he adored. We allowed him to spin his toys if he wished, He eventually stopped headbanging as he became more relaxed as his sensory needs were being honoured. If he needs to stim, flap, jump, spin we do not ask him to stop, we have learnt he needs to do this for a multitude of reasons.
I am constantly learning about myself, Jeorge is teaching me skills such as patience and letting go of any fears of the future, As Jeorge has taught me to live in the moment. Jeorge has shown me how strong I am, He has shown me how big my heart is and to see the joy and the beauty in everything. His lack of ego is humbling and his absolute joy of living, despite the challenges is inspiring.
The honest truth is I believe Jeorge was born the way he was meant to be. We do not see autism as a disease or illness to be cured. It has its place here in the evolutionary process of humans. Is it challenging and scary, do I feel hoplessness at times and that moments I have no idea how to support him? Yes I do. For autism raises many challenges for both Jeoge and us.