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Hey there, friends and newcomers! Today, I’m opening up about our family’s journey with autism, specifically through the experiences with my son, Devon. He’s 18 now, a milestone that reminds me of all the challenges and joys we’ve encountered since his autism diagnosis at the age of five.
My journey as a mom took a turn when Devon, at just 1 1/2 years old, lost his ability to speak. He had been hitting all his developmental milestones early, but suddenly, words eluded him. This change was the first signal that our path would be different. The ensuing years brought their own set of challenges, from intense tantrums that went beyond the typical ‘terrible twos’ to nights haunted by terrors, leaving both of us exhausted.
Yet, amidst these challenges, there were moments of pure joy. Devon’s smile, rare but radiant, could light up the darkest room. His laughter, a melody in our otherwise quiet home, was a reminder of the simple pleasures in life. These moments, fleeting as they were, became my lifeline, a reason to push through the hardest days.
As a parent, there are milestones you look forward to celebrating with your child. For us, many of these remained unachieved. Devon isn’t potty trained and likely never will be. At 18, I still change his diapers. But here’s the thing – it doesn’t bother me. Not one bit. Devon is my child, my heart, and caring for him in every capacity is something I do with love, not resentment.
What many parents take for granted, we see as blessings. Every small achievement, every moment of connection, is cherished. This journey has taught me the true essence of unconditional love and the beauty of embracing life’s unpredictability.
So, what’s life like with Devon? It’s different, but it’s our normal. We’ve come to accept that the typical milestones – sports, college, first love, marriage – might not be in the cards for him. And that’s okay. Our dreams for Devon have shifted to fit his unique path, filled with special achievements and moments of triumph.
But let’s talk about autism itself for a moment. It’s a complex developmental disability, usually appearing in early childhood. It affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is a spectrum, meaning it impacts individuals in different ways and to varying degrees. There’s no single cause, but awareness and funding can make a huge difference for families like ours.
Early identification and intervention are crucial. Children with autism don’t “outgrow” it, but early diagnosis and support can lead to significantly improved outcomes. Look out for signs like delayed speech, repetitive behaviors, limited eye contact, a lack of interest in peer relationships, and persistent fixation on object parts.
Through our journey, I’ve also learned a thing or two about how to approach families dealing with autism. First, avoid suggesting simple fixes or questioning their child’s behavior. Autism is complex, and what might seem like an obvious solution often isn’t applicable. Also, refrain from pitying comments. They’re not helpful. Instead, offer genuine support. Listen, engage, and if you can, offer practical help. It means the world to us.
Lastly, never underestimate a child with autism. They might have different abilities and challenges, but they are not lesser beings. They have their unique strengths, talents, and ways of experiencing the world. Embracing these differences, rather than lamenting them, is key.
In closing, Devon has been my greatest teacher. Through him, I’ve learned about resilience, patience, and the boundless nature of love. Our life might not be what I initially envisioned, but it’s filled with its own kind of beauty and wonder. So, here’s to celebrating the unique, embracing the unexpected, and finding joy in every journey, no matter how different it may be.
Here is some information about Autism:
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.
In March 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 88 births in the United States and almost 1 in 54 boys. The spotlight shown on autism as a result of the prevalence increase opens opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve these families facing a lifetime of support for their children.
Know the Signs: Early Identification Can Change Lives:
Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.
Here are some signs to look for in the children in your life:
- Lack of or delay in spoken language
- Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
- Little or no eye contact
- Lack of interest in peer relationships
- Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
- Persistent fixation on parts of objects
The information above came from The Autism Society.