I consider myself to be a pretty intelligent person. I love to read and I adore writing. Whenever I come across something new that I don’t understand, I dive head first into research. The more you read, the more you know, right?
Autism is a word that was never in my vocabulary until,..hmm , I’ll say around 2005. I don’t believe I’d ever even heard the word up until that year, when my sis said it to me, during I guess what had to have been a pretty intense conversation. I can’t even remember what my reaction was, because to be honest I had no clue what it was, so I didn’t know how to react. I immediately went into research mode, but it was as if the more I read the less I understood. I got the basics, that it was a neurological disorder, I got that there are various degrees in terms of the level of severity, and I got that there were lots of controversies surrounding the causes.
The reason why autism was now apart of my vocabulary was because Salma, ( my sis, my best friend, my confidant) told me that her son is Autistic. Finally there was a word. We always knew something was different, but spotting Autism is like finding Waldo. Physically, autistic children will blend seamlessly. Also, (depending on the severity of their diagnosis), if the child is only mildly autistic, their behaviour in certain situations may only be viewed as a bit quirky, which is nothing really, because all kids are quirky in some way.
Now, as many times as I’ve spoken with Salma about autism, I feel as if I ask the same questions over and over, because it is a lot to take in. She is very patient with me though. 🙂 What I have personally gathered about autism is that it is a type of social un-awareness on the part of the child / person. Things that the ‘normal’ sector of society deem as respectable, responsible, reasonable behaviour, is not a part a part of the psyche of an Autistic person. Things that most children would find embarrassing and hide to do, an autistic child would do right there in public, because to some degree there is no shame. I have been told many a funny story about, body functions being done or body parts being pulled out, much to the horror of someone who is unaware of her situation.
Autism is a topic that is being talked more about now, due to more diagnosis, and that we are becoming more aware that there are far more people affected by it than we may think.
I take mental back steps at the amount of children I may have dismissed as being rude or not well-trained, when this could have been the issue. I feel that there are many children that slipped through the cracks, because back then, there just was not enough information, or options in regards to help for such a child. Again they were dismissed. We are a society very caught up with the physical appearance of something, so if it looks ok on the outside, then it should be fine. I think because autistic children do not have easily seen physical deformities or the characteristics of lets say a child with down syndrome, it’s easy to think that their issue is not that bad, or being blown out of proportion, by over zealous parents.
Salma is an excellent mother, who is patient beyond my scope, and I aspire to be more like her. Because of her diligence, she was able to not only get a proper diagnosis for her son, but get the kind of treatment necessary to train him, to become the wonderful independent kid that he is today.