Statistics are really just numbers until you experience it first hand… until the number becomes a person.
Looking back, I think I always knew that one day I would have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I know that sounds strange, but I always was amazed by the people who had ASD. I felt sympathy for them but there was something more that I could not put my finger on exactly. Almost like a kinship.
This was my preparation.
Despite what I consider to be God’s way of preparing me, I was stunned beyond words when we received Lira’s diagnosis. For years, I struggled and could never find the joy that other parents with children on The Spectrum would mention. I didn’t feel blessed. I felt… punished. Abused. Hurt. Abandoned. Confused. Angry.
Now, Bill and I look at Lira and cannot imagine life differently. Would we change her if we could? I don’t know.
The truth be known, Lira is quite unusual for a child with ASD. Her diagnosis of PDD-NOS means that while she has some characteristics of Autism, she is not the typical, textbook case. Some would say that her Autism is very mild. Some may not even notice.
I guess you could say that she is an atypical, atypical child.
God has done amazing things in her life but has done even more amazing things in me. Where I once wondered if she would ever have a normal life, I can now accept that her life is normal… normal to her.
What causes Autism?
While it is unclear if Autism is becoming more common or if it is becoming easier to recognize, the statistics are breathtaking.
No one knows what causes Autism, just as no one really knows what cause Attention Deficit Disorder.
The speculation for what causes Autism is clearly just a bunch of guesses but I have my own theories.
When you consider the increasing presence of toxins around us (especially the impact toxins have on the human body) and compare the rise to the increasing prevalence of the disorder, the probability of the two being unrelated… being merely a chance… is just not possible in my mind.
Think about all the chemicals present in our homes:
- Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, lotions, hairspray…)
- Cleaners (air fresheners, detergents, cleaning products…)
- Plastics (microwaveable containers, zip-top bags, lined aluminum cans…)
- Building materials (synthetic carpeting, treated lumber, insulation, paint…)
- Additives (processed foods, medications, vitamins…)
- Hormones (meat, milk, chicken…)
That just scratches the surface and doesn’t even consider the toxins in our environment.
By themselves, the dangers are considered small, but I wonder if these chemicals are ever considered combined with the toxins laying beside them in the cabinet or freezer?
Or, what about when these additives come into conflict with someone’s genetic predisposition to learning delays, disease, or other disabilities?
If you consider the possibility that additives *might* trigger Autism when in conflict with someone’s genetic disposition, then you would also want to consider the impact vaccinations could create.
Lira was properly vaccinated during routine check-ups with the pediatrician. I accepted everything the doctor told me as medical fact and held her down, cooing in her little ears, as the nurse injected her tiny body with serum.
Despite being advanced at reaching each new stage of infancy, Lira started missing milestones between her 12th and 15th month. If vaccines made that difference, I don’t know. But I will always wonder if I could have done something differently to prevent Lira’s Autism.
I will always wonder… but it is beyond my control.
Now, I just have to adapt to our “normal” life.
What are the signs of Autism?
My experience has shown that the signs of Autism are different for every child. With Lira, the symptoms were so subtle that the Early Intervention therapists said she didn’t have Autism.
- Failure to point with index finger (or any finger)
- Could not hold a pencil or crayon correctly (until age 5)
- Did not write or draw pictures (until we taught her)
- Would not make eye contact
- Loved spinning in circles
- Sensitive to loud noises and crowds
- Ran down the hallway and back, bouncing against out ottoman repeatedly
- Clapping quickly and closely although softly right in front of her face
- Slow to learn to speak (and we had to teach her)
- Requiring a very specific bedtime routine
- Communicating by memorizing complete episodes of Dora The Explorer
- Defiant meltdowns beyond the normal stubbornness of a toddler
However, Autism is a broad spectrum. And, despite a combination of the above symptoms, your child might not have Autism. Seek help from a Developmental Pediatrician who can do an extensive series of cognitive, developmental, emotional, and systems tests to give you a comprehensive diagnosis.
More about our Autism Journey
If you are interested in some of the other posts I have written regarding Autism or the things we do that help Lira, consider these:
- Wit and Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids book review
- Products for homeschooling a child with Autism
- The Ultimate Guide to Autism Home Therapy
- Homeschooling a Child with Autism
- Autism Therapy: Teaching Your Child about Personal Space
- Teaching Time Related-to-the-Day (Free Printables)
- Free Multiplication Worksheets & Fact Cards with Visual Cues
- Teaching Your Child to Multiply (More Free Printables)
- Teaching Your Child to Multiply on Their Fingers
- Teaching Anger Management to Children When They Hit
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