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Here are some of the many life lessons autism has taught me so far. I hope to share these lessons with others who share this journey or are just beginning this journey. Why my sweet child? Why me?

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How could this possibly happen? Where did I go wrong? Is this my fault? How will I ever get through this? How will I juggle it all? When my husband and I began our journey as autism parents, every single little thing felt like a battle, from making simple everyday choices without meltdowns to navigating large, overwhelming family functions to sensory overload just about everywhere we went.

There was no one-size-fits all solution. Every autism diagnosis is different. The truth is I had no idea what was best for my child. Should I be giving him B12 injections? Do I really need to completely change his diet to eliminate gluten, casein and artificial flavors?

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Where should we send him to school? How in the world are we going to afford all of this? I had practically everything mapped out, from career, to motherhood, to what I had hoped and dreamed my children would accomplish. I had mapped out my career ladder and was working hard at the time to make the climb. I had mapped out our plan from moving from cozy starter home to dream home complete with wrap-around porch, huge backyard and luxury basement fit for entertaining dozens.

I had mapped out our plan to have three children all three years apart. I had mapped out my plans for them to work hard, be kind, set ambitious goals, achieve said goals and serve as examples for others. Ann Hewetson's moving and thoughtful account describes Mark's communication problems, sensory integration and food allergies, shared by many people with autism, but also tells of Mark's associated problems like rheumatoid arthritis and bipolar mood swings.

The author recounts how she dedicated her life to finding out more about autism. Aided by her background in research and biology, she delves into the available literature and interweaves the narrative of Mark's life with illuminating pointers drawn from the work of Leo Kanner, Hans Asperger and Carl Delacato among others. Cutting-edge developments in the field, for instance co-existing psychiatric disorders, cognitive behaviour therapy and brain research, are also explained in a way that will be easily understood by any parent.

Ann's journey from initial incomprehension and a desire to find a 'solution' to her son's autism concludes with a resolution for both Mark and Ann as they arrive at a deeper understanding of autism and an appreciation of its strengths. This book will be indispensable to both parents and professionals in offering a unique, reflective account of Mark's exceptional life and also a wide-ranging exploration of useful and innovative approaches to autism.

As I struggle through the mists of sleep, rising, slipping back, clawing my way upwards to the noise — to the now familiar rhythm of the metal wheels of the cot grinding on the bare linoleum of the floor, I focus instantly. Slipping noiselessly out of bed, I move silently down the corridor to peer in at the door. Little Mark, just ten months old, up on all fours with palms and knees firmly pushed down on the cot blanket, rocks rhythmically back and forth, moving to some internal clock, responding involuntarily to the commands of some innate brain waves.

I watch, holding my breath, as he works out this cycle and flops motionless on his tummy — silent again. This is the second time tonight that I have come to keep this silent vigil. Will he rock again before dawn? This sound may not be noticeable or bothersome to others, which may make their behavior seem odd. We noticed this early on in our daughter. One day at age 18 months, we noticed that she was quite fussy while riding in the backseat of the car. After several trials, we realized that she was quite irritated by the clicking sound of the fingernail clippers that I was using in the front seat.

Another early example of the differences in our daughter "Amazing Grace". Research shows that most individuals with Asperger's Syndrome are identified during the early school years, as the social demands of life increase. However, many adults are now discovering the diagnosis for themselves. Are you considering a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome for your child?

Are you an adult considering this diagnosis for yourself? Here are a few resources: 1. Attwood, ; autismspeaks. Do individuals with Autism often secretly run away to get married? Alas, that is not the case.

The original definition of elope is to run away and not return to the place of origin. However, as defined by the National Institute of Elopement Prevention and Resolution NIEPR , elopement refers to an individual with cognitive challenges or special needs who wanders, runs away from or otherwise leaves a caregiving facility or environment. Most parents of Autism are all too familiar with elopement. In my observation, no matter where on the spectrum, children with Autism tend to stray from their caregivers; some only occasionally and others quite often.

VOLUME 3 NUMBER 11, 2005

However, we noticed this behavior in her early on, around age two. Whenever we went to the grocery store, she would somehow find her way to the produce section and to the broccoli. She would talk about the broccoli and touch it, becoming as excited as most children are about ice cream. A study in conducted by Autism Speaks and the Interactive Autism Network found that nearly half of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder ASD at some point attempt to wander or bolt from a safe place. Using parent surveys, the researchers studied over 1, children with ASD ages years. They found that these children demonstrated much higher instances of wandering than their neuro-typical siblings.

Why Elopement? So, what makes children with Autism wander from safety? Given the study in , parenting style was not the culprit. Instead, the more a child was impacted by Autism the more instances of wandering were reported by the parent. From the parents surveyed, most remarked that their child wanders because they just like exploring and running. Others mentioned heading to a favorite place or escaping too much sensory stimulation as reasons. Help for Families As imagined, elopement causes stress and concern for parents and caregivers of those with Autism.

One consideration in reducing elopement is to look at the function of the behavior. For example, if the child is wandering to escape an overly stimulating situation, they may benefit from training in self-advocacy. The child could be encouraged to use a specific gesture, word, picture card, etc. References : www. Have you ever wondered how you can help your child become a better reader?

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Is your young child highly interested in letters, sounds and words? My daughter was. At age 17 months, she could already identify all letters and sounds. However, she was delayed in her fine and gross motor skills and had just started walking independently.

This is when my suspicion of an Autism diagnosis began. It was initially identified by Norman E. Silberberg and Margaret C. Silberberg , who defined hyperlexia as the precocious ability to read words without prior training in learning to read, typically before the age of 5. However, she continues to struggle with making meaning from what she reads and responding to more open-ended questions about grade level text.

How can you support children who struggle with reading comprehension? There are certain strategies that work and are truly beneficial for all kids as they mature as readers. Ask your child questions about the text that requires them to think deeply. WH questions who, when, etc. Example: How do you think this character is feeling now? What do you think will happen next? Model your thinking for your child. I often stop and ask my child questions as we read together. Then, I provide my response Ex: I like your ideas. I think that the character is feeling sad because I see a tear on their cheek. Building good reading skills is one way to do that. Feel free to contact me for more information on this topic. References: Think and Speak Successfully by C. Dunaway Photo: Lee Live-Photographer www.

Could an adult actually be diagnosed with Autism?