During our journey into Autism Spectrum Disorder, I met countless people who either have a kid during the spectrum or learn a boy on the spectrum. It’s mixed with hope so heartache. I am surprised and saddened to learn of parents who have been encouraged to seek their child’s evaluation, still refuse to will so, afraid their person can be labeled or stigmatized or simply hoping children might grow out of it. I’m forever grateful to our family doctor who was concerned about the child’s lack of speech growth at age 2. I might definitely describe it away, born into a talker family. He was “contemplative.” I still prayed for him to start communicating more, realizing that all might be a problem down the road, given how often his siblings communicate! However, after looking at the normal development of speech, talking to friends with professional experience in the education and mental health of children, I decided to why a speech evaluation. First came the diagnosis. That’d explain so much of his odd behavior.
All this got me curious about “stigma” definition and I looked up in the dictionary. It seems to have “a mark of shame or discredit.” So, I looked up “shame” and it seems to concentrate on the person’s conduct that causes one to have “the painful feeling emerging from the perception of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: it was overwhelmed with shame.” Initially, young children don’t know how their conduct affects others. It must concentrate on their nature’s ID component, which is growing. Children do, however, begin to understand how important others are and have needs as they continue to develop empathy. Now, it’s fair that an autistic child would only be motivated to control their behavior and develop social skills by having as much early intervention and therapy as possible. In my view, any “stigma” would result in encouraging a child to proceed, untreated, and then expect the child to “form” or “develop out of it” as behaviors are further reinforced.
I heard it repeatedly said, “Early intervention is the answer,” and they’re right! The brain grows rapidly in the first five years. Catching autism early will do nothing but profit for all treatments out there. Starting a child on a particular carbohydrate diet to support all work better is much simpler with a younger child. The kid is the healthiest of all and enjoys the therapies I offer him that decides with his diet.
Psychological problems are where we as parents still feel the “stigma” of autism. Mostly, the kid is a good kid. However, he drops books from shelves, runs in circles, and the most difficult thing I have to contend with is his propensity to like to lie down on the floor, wherever we are. Immediately, I saw him agree to lay down on the floor at Target, Church, and Library. I’ll tell him, “No, you need to get up” and stand up, but, lo and behold, he’s getting bigger and I won’t be able to do that for much longer, particularly with how he’s eating! This kind of behavior is bizarre. My goal is to teach him as manageable. But, I’ll need help with that. I’m not that tall, and I’m the primary caregiver as my husband has a challenging schedule for us. Due to his age, the kid gets away with this behavior to some degree, but it’s not acceptable social conduct and he’ll have to know when and where to lay on the floor. (Hint: not in the church foyer while Mommy is talking to other parishioners.) So, how do I do this? Will I think The Kid’s stigma? To be honest, I see myself as Kid’s advocate. I’m letting people know he’s autistic, but at the same time, I’m trying to train him how to act in public while also give him an outlet, trying to understand what he’s going through. If my kid had another illness, I’d want him to be the best he can be. For example, if he were confined to a wheelchair, I wouldn’t encourage him to be like any other kid and run and play on the playground, etc. Instead, I would expect him to turn around and engage in ways he could, in a meaningful way, be comfortable in who he is and who God made him be, giving praise and honor to God in everything he says and does. That’s all my men!
Something I’ve learned about this during my parenting: is the kid considered a parent extension? And, is this child a gift? I believed that when people understand my child’s autism, there will be compassion and understanding. There’s no obvious cause of autism; scientists try to find it out.