Chances are high that you either parent a child with or know someone whose life has been touched by autism. Whether you are a parent seeking answers or you are a loved one seeking information, Autism Tomorrow is here to help by pointing out three questions we should be asking about autism.
What is Autism?
Here are some basic facts:
- Autism is a complex developmental disability that on average, affects one in 110 children. This disability is on the rise and has grown exponentially since the 1980s.
- Due to these numbers, almost everyone is affected in one way or another by autism. You might have a family member that has autism, you might work with someone that has been diagnosed with autism, or you might know the boy down the street that is on the autism spectrum. Regardless of where you fall in these scenarios, wouldn’t it be advantageous to know how to optimally interact with these individuals? They’re interesting. They have talents. It will benefit you to get to know them! If Einstein and Michelangelo were alive today, most likely they would be diagnosed with autism!
- Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and consists of a certain set of behaviors. Autism is a “spectrum disorder” affecting the ability to communicate and interact with others in varying degrees.
- Autism is a treatable condition. Early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. While these individuals will not outgrow their autism, they can still become functioning adults and contributors to society. Dr. Temple Grandin, the most famous woman in the world with autism, designed all the livestock handling facilities in the country and is a best-selling author many times over. A recent HBO series featured Temple Grandin’s life with autism. You can also read more about Temple Grandin here.
There are also many misconceptions regarding autism. Are your beliefs regarding autism accurate?
- When you think of autism do you think of children? Since autism started exploding in the mid-eighties, many of these children are now approaching adulthood. This results in a new myriad of questions for the parents of these individuals and for the community as a whole. As parents, you might wonder if your children can go to college (they can), if they can obtain/maintain a job (they can), and if they can form important relationships with the opposite sex (they can). As an employer, you might be concerned about hiring someone with autism. In what type of positions might the individual excel? The answer is simple–MANY!
- A child with autism can certainly benefit from homeschooling. This is because homeschooling allows for one-on-one interactions, the flexibility of changing subjects and teaching/learning styles to meet a student’s needs, and the ability to honor the sensory and dietary needs of the child’s environment (this is especially important). If your child is not on the autism spectrum, but you attend homeschooling support group activities, your child has probably come in contact with children on the spectrum. This gives you the unique opportunity to teach your child acceptance and empathy for individuals diagnosed with autism—and in fact, for anyone considered special needs. The following FREE book can benefit everyone, and in addition, it’s an interesting read!
If I Have a Child with Autism, How Do I Best Address His Needs?
If you’re the parent of a child that is on the spectrum, Autism Tomorrow answers such questions as:
- How can I provide a financially sound future for my child?
- What kind of work can my child do?
- How do I help make any job situation successful for both my child and the employer?
- How can I help my child’s employer and employees understand what autism is and how to use its gifts?
- Should my child go to college and/or get some kind of technical training?
- What do I need to know about independent living situations?
- What community resources are available for my child and family?
- What about my child’s care when I can no longer take care of her?
- What kind of long-term help will he need, and what is available?
- How do I help my child, of any age, deal with bullying?
- What should I know about fitness, reading, writing, and communication?
- How can nutritional choices and supplementation help my child reach his full potential?
If I Don’t Have a Close Familial Relationship with Autism, Does It Even Affect Me?
If you’re not the parent of a child with autism, but want to optimize your interactions with people with autism, Autism Tomorrow provides practical and helpful information on topics such as:
- Holidays can be very rough for a family with autism. Visiting relatives, schedules that are thrown off, chaos, noise, etc. can cause great stress. Well-meaning relatives can overwhelm the individual. Don’t be one of those well-meaning individuals who cause stress.
- Social situations can be very trying for people with autism. These individuals may experience speech and language difficulties as well as the inability to read social cues and body language. Be understanding and helpful. Don’t label or turn away.
- Most people with autism are detail-oriented and extremely focused. They make loyal and dedicated employees. If you are employing or supervising a person on the spectrum, let the individual finish a project before giving another. Projects can be difficult but they must have a well-defined goal/endpoint.
- Physical exams and interactions with first responders are extremely difficult for people with autism. Light, noise, touch, smells, or the feel of unfamiliar blankets may severely agitate the individual. Waiting in the emergency room is extremely difficult for a child with autism.