Living with Autism
An Article Written by Gloria Larson

Autism. When I first heard of that word I thought is was a childhood disease. Being a teen mom for the second time, I thought I heard and was told of every type of diseases to watch out for. I didn't expect to hear such a thing like that. You could never tell he was autistc. He looked so perfect! By the time my son was 3 1/2 months old, I notice some odd things he did.The first thing I notice was that he was trying to crawl! I thought" He's way too young to be able to even try." Then at 5 months old, he was saying "ma-ma." I took him to his pediatrition. He said that there has been known reports of babies doing incrediable things and not to worry. When he was 1 year old, he talked up a storm! You couldn't get him to be quiet! Then one day I noticed He wasn't talking. I thought it was just something he was going through. He didn't talk for 3 months. I was crying when I arrived at the doctors office. He sent me to a specialists who dealt with children.

The day came and it was a long day. The doctor was a very nice person. Very understanding in how I felt and he made sure that He was going to test my son with some easy "games." At 14 months old, he just sat there and stared at the wall. Then he began slowly rocking. This was normal for the last 3 months for him. He wouldn't blink for long periods of time, and when you called his name, he acted as though he couldn't hear you. Even if you went up to touch him, he'd jump a mile high! The doctor gave me a diagnosis: Autism! He said to come back when he turned 3 years old and he could do a more detailed test on him. I went home not knowing what to expect for my sons future as well as mine.

The next day, I went to the public library and checked out a whole bunch of books on autism. I read page after page not knowing what all these new words meant. That's when I met this woman in the library one day. Her son was autistic. She asked me what kind of autism does he have? I didn't have a clue. She told me there were many types and I need to check back with the specialist and get the right diagnosis. I got a hold of him the next day, Here's the diagnosis he gave me: Autism, aspergers syndrome type,PDD(NOS), mild retardation. That blew my mind. How could he know that my son had all of this? He's only 14 months old! He assured me that he has seen this many, many times in young children, even toddlers. How can I deal with this? I needed to know what to do and where to find help.

As soon as my son was 3, he went back to the specalist. He did some tests, asked me questions and then he determined what he had. Same diagnosis as last time. He suggested I put him in a pre-school for handicapped children. So I did just that. I was reluctent to let him go, but I knew deep down in my heart, he needed this.

After about a couple of weeks of school, my son was talking and he was trying to memorize our telephone number. In less than a month, he had it memorized! I was so proud of him! He stayed in that school until he was 5 1/2. When he turned 6, he was off to kindergarten. I was hopeful he would do well and in the process make alot of new friends. He did fine! His teacher didn't even know there was a "problem" with him and thought he was just shy. It took her 3 months, at his IEP meeting when I told her. She said she couldn't tell by looking at him.

All the rocking and staring had completely stopped. When he got to jr. high school, things changed. He got called some very harsh names. That's when he sucluded himself in his room all the time and played Nintendo games. He asked me one day why he was different from the other kids at school. I explained to him what he had and just because he had this doesn't mean he isn't smart. My son talks slow. He was diagnosed with aspraxia. Thats where you want to say something but your brain "stumbles" and it won't come out. So he has to think about what he's going to say before he says it. His speech teacher showed him how to use a computer. This was the turning point in my sons life. When he was in grade school, then up to jr. high, he had the hardest time doing simple things. Things that we do everyday, like reading, writing and simple math facts. But he knew how to work the computer, take apart toasters and put them back together and do things I can't even do. It seemed that aspergers syndrome is a high form of autism. Intelligent.

Now that he's in 10th grade at the high school, He still stuggles with ignorant people, and not just the kids. Some teachers have this problem where they think he's just lazy and won't paticipate in the classroom. He has friends, all types, but he knows that when he graduates in 2 years he'll be dealing with some people that will discriminate against him. He will either have to live with me and his dad, or live in a group home. He doesn't understand how to use a stove, not even a microwave. He has to be told to take a shower, brush his teeth, put deoderant on, etc. This is just a brief look through my eyes to yours. There are many more stories to be told about my son. Struggling through the "system" just to have parental rights and student rights for the disabled. I found out about parental rights when he was in 8th grade. I should have known sooner, the school should have told me.

As I end, I do need to let you know that I have 5 wonderful children. Only 2 of them are autistic. I only talked about one because I thought that he was easier to discuss about. My other son is a "high functioning" autistic. He's in 7th grade and only goes 1/2 a day. He's another story in itself.

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