My family

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Autism Awareness

Imagine if you will that you welcome a new puppy into your home.  You quickly lay down the ground rules of where it will eat, sleep, play and relieve itself.  Hopefully within a few months the puppy learns how to get your attention to get its needs met.  It goes to the door and either looks at you, scratches or barks to be let out.  It stands by it's food bowl to let you know it's hungry.  It comes over to you and puts its head on your lap when it simply wants attention and love.  Our pets learn our language and can get it's needs met through time and observation, eye contact and gestures.

Now, you bring a new baby home from the hospital.  Every baby has certain cries to let you know (eventually), what it needs.  To be fed, to be changed and so on.  Over time the reflex cries of the newborn subside and you learn what they need through their actions and again, like puppies will learn how to get your attention by eye contact, gestures and verbally.  The baby will grow and adapt to its environment, imitating their parents, the sounds it hears and eventually us as parents learn how to interpret our children's actions.

Now we have a break down, we find after a couple of years that our children are not responding to their environment.  The do not give us eye contact or gestures or verbal information to get their needs met so us as parents play a guessing game as to what they want or need, just like we had to when they were infants before we knew their cries.  Our children seem stuck and we have no way of reaching into them.  They might not respond to touch, we can't hold them to comfort them, we can't talk them through a problem because they do not understand.  They don't know how to use gestures or any forms of communication to get their needs or wants met and we parents have no idea of how to interact with our own children.

Now if a break down happened with your dog and you needed help, what would you do?  If we had access and the money we would hire a professional dog trainer to help us and our dog communicate better with each other.  The dog trainer teaches us the dogs language, shows us how to motivate our dogs to do what we want them to do through praise, food or play.  The dog trainer explains the importance of  timing, consistency, and motivation and eventually we see some slow improvements.

The only proven form of therapy approved by our government is ABA, Applied Behavioural Analysis or IBI, Intensive Behavioural Intervention and it's very much like dog training.  They get them to work for what motivates them and gives rewards when they do what is asked through a lot of repetition.  There are only so many PAS's, Preschool Autism Specialists for each area and there's a growing number of children being diagnosed.  Our government is willing to give us help but we have to wait for it, wait for our child's name to come up on their list.  How would you feel if you were just told to wait while your child screams for attention but can't tell you what they want?  Some children wait two years or more for their name to come up and that's precious time lost during the most influential years. 

1 in 110 children are diagnosed with Autism, this is the last day of Autism Awareness Month in Canada.  Are you now aware?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm Back!

After a couple of months of silence, I finally feel like writing again.  I don't really know what happened, just got out of the habit, I became really busy and overwhelmed there for awhile when Amy returned back to school and we had to adjust to a new schedule.

I've been depressed as well, overwhelmed by the thought of knowing that I have two children with an ASD (Austim Spectrum Disorder) and wondering how I'm going to help them grow into productive, self aware adults.  I took Amy's diagnosis harder than I took Ian's.  With Ian he was younger when we noticed things weren't quite right with him, and then when we knew what we were looking for, we jumped on it right away and tried to do things to help him while waiting for a diagnosis.  With Amy, I've been struggling for years with her, not knowing what was wrong and what to do about it.

My anxiety and depression got so overwhelming that I've had to go on antidepressants.  My stomach was tied in knots all the time, I couldn't stop thinking over and over about my kids.  I even thought of what the point of living was when my life is a whole pile of crap.  So finally, I had to admit to myself that my thinking wasn't healthy and went to the Dr. who prescribed medication for me.  I've been doing alright, having my ups and downs, my stomach doesn't hurt anymore so something must be working.

I think the biggest thing that started changing my thinking was seeing on Facebook that a girl I used to go to Diabetic Camp with as a teen has a son who is Ian's age and he's just been diagnosed with Leukemia.  When I read that I immediately thought how lucky I was that all of my children are healthy and home with me everyday.  She and her little boy are a long way from home, stuck in a hospital getting treatments and tests almost daily.  Even though my life is difficult with my children, it's not as heartbreaking as watching your child sick in a hospital bed and not being able to do anything to make it better.

So, I know I have a long road ahead of me with these kids but I'm determined to do everything I can for them and just live one day at a time instead of worrying about an uncertain future.  I'm so lucky to have them!