The picture above is my family at our local autism society's recent autism awareness walk. It is a wonderful event that we have participated in for the last 3 years. April is autism awareness or acceptance month, whichever you choose to call it, so I decided to write a post about a few myths you may or may not know about autism. I guess I should also say these are things that my family has experienced that may not be true for everyone.
1. Myth- People with autism do not interact with others, don't look you in the eye, and do not like to be touched. This is certainly not true in our case. Yes, it is difficult to get my son to interact with others and look us in the eye, but he will do it and he likes people. He is very interested, just doesn't quite know how to communicate with you. As for not liking to be touched, he loves hugs and snuggles.
2. Myth- People with autism don't understand you. People with autism can hear you and can probably understand everything you are saying. When I ask my son a question, he probably won't answer me. He might just repeat what I'm saying, but he understands everything.
3. Myth-"Kids with autism just need some discipline.", or "He'll grow out of it." I've heard this time and time again. Yes, I'm sure we could all discipline our kids a little more. No one has the perfect child. On our first visit to my son's pediatric neurologist he said, "You have to pick your battles.". So true. My son is disciplined when he is doing something wrong, but this will not make him not have autism.
As for growing out of autism, I know my son will always have autism. I don't believe he will just grow out of it. He may learn to communicate more as he gets older, this is my greatest hope. But, because he will always have autism, does this mean he is doomed for life? Absolutely not. This is what I would like people to become aware of during autism awareness month. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that raising a child with autism is easy. It can be difficult, stressful, and requires more patience than you can imagine. I'm sure there will be stages we go through as he grows, that will not be fun, to say the least. There are days when I worry, and days when I lose my mind. But, who doesn't have days like that? I just won't lose hope that my son and family can lead a happy fulfilling life. It might be different from the norm, but just as worthy.