Monday, April 30, 2007

Thanks, Mason...

I was reading through my bloglines and saw this wonderful post on Autism Awareness Month at Anne's blog, Knitspot. It's an essay by a nine-year-old friend of Anne's, about what having autism is like.
As some of you know, my older son S has autism. Many times I have thought about writing about it here. But I generally don't want to write about very personal things here, especially about my kids. Also, I don't really know where to start. It can be infuriating to deal with autism ... with mysterious behaviors from your child, with ignorance from physicians, with judgments from other parents who assume your child is bad rather than disabled. It is incredibly difficult to watch your child struggle and feel frustrated over communicating the simplest things. Nothing will break your heart like realizing that the kid next door is afraid of your child because he thinks shoving is playing.

S faces many challenges. But he is doing better every day. He is a beautiful, sweet, affectionate, happy little boy who likes swimming, ice skating, riding his scooter, and coloring.

Chances are, you know a child with autism. What was once rare is now frighteningly common -- approximately one in 150 children are suffering from autistic spectrum disorder. Yet there is surprisingly little being spent on research ... a fraction of what is spent on childhood diseases that are far less prevalent. If you're interested in helping or learning more, check the links below.

- National Autism Association
- Autism Speaks
- Autism Society of America
- Autism Research Institute
- U.C. Davis MIND Institute

Anne and Mason, you've given an eloquent voice to many people who cannot speak so well for themselves. My son and I are very, very grateful.

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20 Comments:

Blogger Liz K. said...

I am honored to have had your share this part of your life with us. I have been educated about and exposed to children with autism in varying ways (teaching, friends' children, etc.), but I truly appreciate your glimpse into your life with a child with autism.

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Ruth said...

After 7 perplexing years, and no shortage of smug judgements on our presumed parenting skills, we are finally getting somewhere with formal evaluation for our daughter, and Asperger's looks to be one of the front-runners for diagnosis. I don't blog those struggles, because some of the worst judgers are family members who read the blog and she doesn't need more negativity from them.

8:34 PM  
Blogger pamela wynne said...

thanks for this links, Laura -- and for sharing. (such a cutie, by the way!)

8:42 PM  
Anonymous nishanna said...

I really agree that people have to be more knowledgeable about PDD and autism-spectrum disorders. I work with early intervention services(in NYC) and I see very young children (birth to three) who are exhibiting signs of pdd. We strive to get the children services as young as possible because in NY it's totally free and incredably effective.

I would also like to offer words of encouragement and praise to you for working with your son. Day to day life is certianly hard and it takes a courageous person to do their best.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Scoutj said...

Ditto what Pamela said!
Thank you!

9:17 PM  
Blogger Sonya said...

What a beautiful boy, Laura. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for you at times. I'm just astonished that the prevalence has increased so much yet funding for research isn't there. Thank you for sharing with us.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Dame Wendy said...

Beautiful post. You're an amazing mom with a beautiful boy.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

What a sweet face! One of my friends growing up had a younger brother with severe autism. It was very difficult for his family to get him the help he needed back in the 1980's. I can only hope things are better now. Bu there's always room for improvement I'm sure!

9:57 PM  
Blogger Laura B said...

Thank you for sharing this. A while back I blogged about my daughter's experiences with seizures. It was strange to share something so personal, but I often see that I get hits from people searching for such information, so I'm glad that I did it.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Olga said...

Thanks for the link to Mason's essay...it was incredible. And thanks for the sweet picture of S...it's good to hear that he's getting better every day. He's such a cutie..and he has your eyes!

11:40 PM  
Blogger Dr. B. said...

Thank you for sending us to it, and for going out on a limb in sharing personal information. I've bookmarked that letter from Mason and plan on sending the link on to all the professionals I know who work with families.

As always, you rock.

1:57 AM  
Blogger jillian said...

This was an enlightening post for me! I had no idea autism spectrum disorders were so rare, or that funding isn't adequate compared to less prevalent disorders. I wonder if it because "diseases" of the brain always get second fiddle to diseases of the body even though they can be equally disabling.

S is lucky to have a mum like you!

9:48 AM  
Blogger anne said...

thanks for adding your voice to the chorus! i have two nephews with autism who are doing very well in school and at home, but it is mainly through the extreme proactive stance of their parents that they are making progress. the more of us that pitch in to make that voice louder, the better.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thank you very much for sharing with us. I don't think I know a child with autism personally, but it still frustrates and angers me that so little is being done to understand why autism is on the rise, and how we could better help those suffering from it.

9:45 AM  
Blogger knitography said...

Kudos to you for having the courage to share something so personal with the blog community! I have a friend with an autistic son, and it can be very isolating. By speaking up, you are helping to change that.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Brianne said...

Laura,

Thank you for sharing. My youngest brother, Isaac, has Asperger's and Owen is seeing a peds neuro on the 14th for evaluation. We're thinking that if not Asperger's that he has PDD-NOS. It's been quite a journey!

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Erica said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. It's always astonishing to me that, as autism-spectrum issues seem to be reaching near-epidemic proportions, that more research isn't being done. It seems...beyond unfair. Cruel, almost, and certainly devastating to those who could benefit from more research.

He's a beautiful boy, and lucky to have such a warm and wonderful family around him.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous tiennie said...

Thank you for sharing this. You have a beautiful boy!

2:34 PM  
Anonymous melissa said...

thanks for sharing this, you have such a beautiful son.

i once worked as a speech assistant in an elementary school and spent much of that time working with 2 boys with autism. it was frustrating for me to see some of the teacher's reactions to what they considered "bad behavior". i've found, in many years of assisting people with all sorts of challenges, that treating each person as an individual, and working with each individual's needs, really is the secret to helping others grow and learn.

your son is lucky to have lovely mom like you!
and congrats on passing the bar!!! wooohoooo

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Kathleen said...

Thanks for sharing. I feel like I never shut up about autism on my blog but knitting is my sanity in our world of autism. Thanks again.

8:20 PM  

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