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I Say Your Kid May Be Austic? Be Happy – Autism

Can you imagine being happy to have someone tell you your child may be Autistic? If you hear that from me, chances are, you ought to be happy! Why?

Before I answer that question, allow me to tell those who don’t know me a little bit about myself.

Firstly, you should know that I’ve been a parent for over thirty years. Though I didn’t get the chance to see each and every period of life for each of my children I’ve had a good deal of experience nonetheless. By the way, I count myself as a parent to at least four children (arguments can be made for a couple of others). 

Secondly, the last of my four children is moderately Autistic (somewhere in the “middle” of the Autism spectrum).

Finally, I have been dealing with that level of Autism for the last seven (plus) years, and I spend much of my time with him alone. The result being that I have had a lot of experience not just dealing with Autism, but spotting it.

This is so much the case, that I have virtually never not been able to tell that an Autistic person who exhibits symptoms of at least moderate Autism, was Autistic. Obviously, I mean after dealing with my son, not before. Before dealing with him, I can only say that I don’t recall seeing very many Autistic folks—which probably means, I didn’t notice them.

What all of this means is, diagnosed or not, if your child is moderately or severely Autistic, I will very likely be able to tell that was the case. So if I say your undiagnosed child might be Autistic, it probably means they’re moderately so in the “worst case.”It also means they’re likely towards the “mild end of moderate,” again, at the very most.

By the way, that would be even more likely the case, if to this point, your child has not been diagnosed as beingAutistic at all. I think you would find that, most people caring for or otherwise dealing with at least moderate Autism would tell you that they had little choice but to recognize that their charge was different to an extent that required them to take action in behalf of the individual in question.

What that means is, if I am telling you it appears your child is Autistic, to begin with, it probably means they are truly most likely to be no more than mildly Autistic, though they may “qualify as” moderately Autistic (probably towards being mildly so).

Don’t get me wrong, even mild Autism is nothing to sneeze at. To say the least, it can be a very challenging thing for the Autistic individual and those helping to guide them through life. By comparison to more severe Autism though, most mild Autism is relatively easy to deal with in the long term.

The thing is though, when I say it seems possible your child is Autistic, not being a person trained to diagnose Autism, it’s also possible they’re not Autistic at all.

On the other hand, if I am correct, and the individual about whom I “make the guess” actually is Autistic, the fact that it was not entirely obvious to me, they were Autistic, the chances are good as I have said, they’re only mildly so.

That’s just a part of the reason you should be happy. Another piece, is that, if your child is Autistic, it may answer a bunch  of questions about apparent “bad behavior,” and potential learning issues. It may also explain some things you might not have expected, for example, you may be asking yourself, “Why doesn’t little Johnny or little Jane have any friends?” or “Why do people look at my child as ‘weird?’”

These are potentially things that—believe it or not—even a mildly Autistic individual may deal with all throughout life.

You may not be able to do a great deal about how other people view your child, though knowing they’re Autistic may actually help you learn or know how to deal with that to some degree.

Sometimes, for example, just being able to explain that your little boy’s or girl’s “brain doesn’t work like the brains of ‘normal’ kids,” can help parents of playmates, classmates or even total strangers to at least grasp the fact that your child is not “trying to be” weird or different. That alone may give your child enough “latitude” to make it possible for him or her to “make friends.”

In a more significant case, you may find that your child is struggling to keep up in school, doesn’t vocalize or verbalize well, or seems to be “off track” with those around him or her much of the time. Obviously, the aforementioned can be “combinative.” That is, “Your child may deal with more than one of the symptoms.”

This may be cause for either you, or the school or daycare in which your child finds him or her self to at least be dealt with differently for part of the day. It may even be a reason for your child to be in a “special classroom” (often only for a limited period of time). This may sound bad, but in reality, it can make it so the kid in question has a much better chance of living a relative “normal” life in future.

In the end, the point is, if someone like me (a person who has dealt with Autism for years, and relatively closely) tells you your child may be Autistic (regardless the “level”), it would probably be in your best interest to listen.

You’re better off heeding the statement of such a person and them being incorrect, than to ignore that person, and have them be correct.

So if I or somebody like me, tells you your child may be Autistic, my simple advice to you is, “Listen, but take it with a grain of salt, and seek to have it verified.”

Okay, I guess I’m about done yammering.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Desires and Expectations – Religion and Politics

There’s an old expression in English. The expression in question is, “Quibble terms.” It’s so easy to hear a word, and decide that its definition is something entirely different than what someone else looking at the same word assumes it to mean.

I want to be clear when I say that, what I am not trying to do with this article is quibble terms. Rather, I want to take the time to point out something that is very easily missed. I’m going to use  couple of terms to talk about this, realizing full well that the terms in question may well have different definitions to you than the ones I’m going to assign them.

Word one is desire. For the purposes of this article, we will use a relatively simple definition, “That which is wanted be it a person, place, thing, action or idea.

The second word is expectation. The definition we’re going to use for this word is. “What one thinks it likely will happen, be, or be thought.

The point of the defining of the two words, is to talk about an important distinction that people often fail to separate in their minds.

Let me attempt to illustrate. For a moment, assume that a part of what one desires in a mate, is someone who will at the very least take responsibility for his or her “creation of messes.” Another desire might be that the person in question is sufficiently adult to not assume “tit-for-tat” is a reasonable way to deal disagreement or conflict.

These may or may not be worthy desires. Nonetheless, desires they may be.

Now we should consider expectation. Over the course of sufficient time, one comes to understand that—desire aside—others may or may not be or do that which is desired.

Imagine an interchange like this:

A person walks through the door of his or her house. They greet the person with whom they are in a long term relationship. For this interaction, we’ll start with John and Jane.

John: “Hello Jane, how was your day?

Jane (throwing the packing from a mail delivery on the sofa): “Not too bad, a little tiring.”

John (wincing at Jane’s act): “Sorry to hear it was a little tiring. What do you want to do this evening?’

Jane: “I’m going to bed.”

John: “Jane, you may want to consider taking to somebody—maybe a medical professional—about the fact that you’re always tired.”

Jane: “I’m fine.”

John walks through the living room a week later and realizes the packaging is still there. He gets as well, that he could pick it up, but the problem is, each time he has done so, he has found Jane more likely than before to leave things where they fall or lay. As such, he decides to leave it where it is. On the one hand, he doesn’t want to do this, on the other, he has come to expect a pattern if he doesn’t.

John’s desire is that Jane will generally clean up after herself. His expectation though, is that she will not.

This is the distinction that I want to draw. There is a definite difference between what one desires and what one expects. This is the world in which we live.

When people talk about people “meeting their expectations,” or failing to do so, it should be understood that what is expected may or may not be what is desired. It should also be recognized that people will allow for their desires to go unmet in varying degrees.

I, for example tend to have very low expectations. That is in no way indicative of my desires.

Further unfortunately, my expectations often go unmet—much less my desires.

The point of all of this, is that you should understand that I think it likely there are a good many people out there just like me—people whose desires are seldom met, and even though their expectations are low, often find them to be unmet as well. This may even be more or less, the somewhat normal “human condition” where desire and expectation are concerned.

One way or another though, you might be surprised to find out just how many of the people you know (and maybe love?) are living with all but entirely unmet desires and are in fact, regularly see their expectations shattered (and not in good ways).

I get that you may be one such person, what I’m asking though, is for you to look outward. To think about how many of those around you may well be in this exact same place.

One of the funny things about this “discussion,” is that you may be tempted to look at people who seem to be “well put together,” well off (maybe even wealthy), and seemingly content with their lot in life, and come to the conclusion these folks are not amongst those who have largely unmet expectations, much less desires.

I assure you that making this mistake, easy though it may be to do so, would be no less problematic.

There’s a third consideration.  That would be that some of us have come to the conclusion that our expectations and certainly our desires may never be met. We have realized that we have a choice. We can either wallow in self pity over our lot, or we can choose happiness and live in the hope that the day will come when some one or ones will come closer to meeting our desires or at least, our expectations.

What’s the important takeaway? Just because those around you seem put together, or happy, or content, or well off in whatever fashion does not mean they are not dealing with things untold and unknown to you. Perhaps the burdens they bear are far greater than anything you can imagine or envision. Maybe they’re harsher than anything with which you have ever dealt.

It’s even probable that for one reason or another nobody’s path is as easy as some make theirs look.

As a parting thought, remember this, when you fail to meet my expectations you may rest assured you are far below my desires. In this I doubt very seriously I am alone.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Lots of Kids are Slow at That – Autism

Those who know me even a little bit, probably know a couple of things about me. The first is that I am the father of a moderately Autistic son, for whom I have cared for the last seven years. The second is that I am a father of children ranging in age from mid-thirties, to seven.

This puts me in a somewhat unique position, in that I have watched my older three children grow from babyhood into “full blown adults.”

All of my children—including the youngest (Autistic) one—are intelligent. I’m not going to tell you that they’re substantially above average intelligence (though I reckon it likely the case), but I will tell you that, up to the time my youngest came along, I never expected I would have major problems with any of them making their way past that “magic year” of twenty-one—much less past eighteen.

My judgement on this has proven to be pretty valid.

Further, I have had some small involvement with nieces, nephews, and the children of others. Enough such interaction have I had, as to be able to pretty readily tell whether a child was having issues with things they were expected to have mastered. To be honest, I can often tell well before whether or not a child is likely to have such problems.

Of course, it’s not always true that I can do that, but generally, you can see the signs pretty clearly.

What has this to do with the title and premise of this post? Simply this, when I tell you that my son is pretty substantially “behind the curve” in a variety of ways, Im not speaking from a position of naiveté. I have watched and dealt with any number of children who’ve had various kinds of concerns (often not really even understood yet to be so). I know pretty well what that looks like, and how to evaluate “where they live.”

So when I say to folks that my son really didn’t know his name until a bit over a year ago. Oh, he sort of answered to it, and to be fair, he knew it was his name (first only until very recently), but if you asked him, “What’s your name?” He could not tell you. It was even worse when it came to strangers, but to be fair, that’s to be expected, as he has tended to have “trust issues” to the extreme.

By seven though, most children know their address, one of their parents’ phone numbers, their name, often the ABCs, how to read at a very low level, and they have some idea how to write.

What if I told you that Garrett recognizes maybe two or three pieces of Roman writing symbology at age seven? He can generally  recognize threes, lower case Es and maybe one or two other letters or numbers. Real reading or writing is something to be hoped for in the distant future.

On top of this, there are many concepts you would mostly expect a child of seven to grasp. For example, the idea that, just because the sun starts setting slightly later in the evening doesn’t mean time changes along with it. I grant you that my son’s expectation is not entirely unreasonable. He thinks the Museum or the Zoo should stay open longer because, “The sun is still up Daddy.”

I won’t say either, that non-Autistic children around the same age may not have problems understanding this concept, but with Garrett, it’s a matter of some effort to accept that what he wishes to be true is not actually the case.

Some of the things with which he cannot deal, are more common among people his age. “You have a card, you must have money!” and “Why would you want to save money Dad? There are all these cool things we could buy with it!” By these childishnesses, I am not remotely surprised, nor do I consider them particularly abnormal.

The problem is, most folks hearing about the things that do concern me, appear to be unable to understand just how problematic they can be, and frankly, the level or abnormality for the “symptoms” in question.

It may come to pass (nobody quite knows for sure), that my son comes to understand those things that are mysteries to him today. I think we can be sure that will be the case for some of them at least.

Will he ever learn to read at any significant level? Will he ever understand writing well enough to master it—even in a rudimentary way? I and others responsible to get him there on these and other similarly grave issues, will continue to answer them with a resounding, “Yes!” if I have my way.

I know though, in the back of my mind will be a doubt until and unless he manages to master the things in question. Again, I will continue to work diligently to get him where I would have him be, doubts aside, but one can never entirely assuage those concerns, short of that moment of sufficient success.

Perhaps one of the most important hopes for me, is that I can help him to motivate himself towards  goals that seem insurmountable at present. How? By letting him dream, and giving him the idea that, if he’s willing to do the work, he can achieve those dreams. Desire can be an excellent motivator after all.

Today, Daddy bought his boy a simple “Lego pack.” Normally, I take the pieces out of the packages and put them together. On the Christmas break, he actually did a large part of a small set. Tonight, I insisted on eating before doing the build.

Garrett took it upon himself to start—without looking at the “instruction book.” The cool part? He was doing what the book said he should be doing, in order to complete the police car he started on.

I was able to use that to have him do the rest of the set. This is the kind of thing I want to do. To motivate him in ways he maybe doesn’t even realize.

A quick note though, when you meet someone who probably has experience and even years beyond your own, before assessing what they’re saying and assuming you can comfort them with “Lots of kids are slow like that.” Or similar, please think twice about doing so. Not only is it probably not comforting to hear that, it’s probably mildly annoying.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.