Today is an important day for many people I know, and for millions of others around the world. Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and April is Autism Awareness Month.
This is the reason why this month is so important to me. My teenage son has Aspergers Syndrome which is a form of Autism.
We were very lucky in the way we found out. He qualified for Early On services at 2.5, for early childhood delay. At 4, we moved to a new town across the state because of a job. Just a few weeks after starting to see his new therapist, she told me she thought he had Sensory Intragration Disorder and recommended that he be tested. I did not know anything about sensory issues, just what I had read in a magazine. When he was tested, right away we knew we were on to something. His gross and fine motor skills were behind, but his cognitive skills were way above his years. He qualified for occupational therapy because he definitely had S.I.D. and was possibly on the spectrum. Finding that out was a relief. It explained so many things that had been going in his first few years of life. It explained why he would often run when he was scared. (sometimes in places he shouldn't!) It explained some of his epic meltdowns if his routine was changed. It explained why he would shake his arms and legs when he was overly excited.
At this time, he was going to a regular preschool where he sometimes struggled. His S.I.D diagnosis meant that he could also go to the special ed preschool class which was in the same building. We decided to have him go to that class on the days he did not have regular preschool to keep change at a minimum. When he went to kindergarten he qualified to have a parapro in his gen ed class. The OT told us that year that she was seeing signs of Aspergers, and she wanted to let us know so we could read more about it. I am grateful she did that, because when we found out that he did have it for sure at age 7, we were well informed.
We were lucky ones though. Since Kyle qualified for extra help at an early age, he always had the help he needed in school. That doesn't mean he didn't struggles though. There were situations at school where he would have difficulty and major meltdowns would occur. He is extremely stubborn, and at times that has caused extra stress. A plus of having Aspergers is he is gifted in math, and qualifies for Mensa. He already has two years of high school math complete as an 8th grader. I knew early on that math was his thing. In kindergarten I caught him doing his 2nd grade sisters homework for her. He would also amaze people by multiplying in preschool even though no one taught him to do it. After his Freshman year in high school he will know more in math than I do!
Now that he is a teenager, we have some new challenges to face. He is starting high school this year. There will be driving lessons, dating, and all the issues that come with being a teenager. He already has the "leave me alone" and stinky feet part down pat! One thing that I have really been encouraging in recent years is his love of cooking. This is a life skill that he will always be able to use, no matter where his life takes him. I know we have not had a Cooking with Kyle segment recently, but I hope to have a new one soon. Until then here are a few of his older recipes you might want to check out.
Wow, looking at his old recipes sure made me hungry. Maybe I can talk him into making in dinner tonight.
Here are some interesting facts I found on the Autism Speaks website.
Autism effects 1 in 88 children, 1 in every 54 boys.
It is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
Boys are 5 times more likely to have Autism than girls
There is no cure
Mostly like you know someone who is affected with Autism. I have several friends who have a child diagnosed with a form of Autism. Most of them were already my friends before we had children. If you do not know anyone personally, you now know Kyle. Today on this World Autism Awareness day people are asked to wear the color blue in support. So if possible today would you wear the color blue and support millions of children and adults who have Autism.