Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

5/3/08

Kids' Autism Awareness

I recently purchased this book, The Autism Acceptance Book which I think is a really great book (workbook as well). It's really wonderful for siblings, the first book that lets them "step" into their sibling's experience. For example, the book discusses that some people with autism may have a hard time talking. For each section like that, they have a "Walk in their shoes and see how it feels" part. For the talking section, they recommend this:

"Pretend you are in class and you can't talk. You have to go to the bathroom, but the rule is that you can't go unless you ask the teacher. How would you ask the teacher without using words?"
and then further down after listing examples like gestures and drawing to express this,
"If the teacher did not understand you or got impatient with you, that would be pretty frustrating, wouldn't it? Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to know what you want, but not able to say it?"
This was something that really helped my oldest. The book is very positive, and these "walk in their shoes" parts further a kid's understanding. I will add, as I've done before, that we always start our conversations on autism with our oldest as "well, you know any little brother or sister is a pain in the butt to their older sis or bro" and we recommend she just ask her (my husband and I both have older siblings) aunts and uncles about that. I think parents must be careful of "dismissing" every issue as part of autism. Granted, there are things that are, because my child is autistic or has other special needs. We openly address those. But, to harp on about how all the issues siblings may face are autism's "fault," is not proper.

The book is geared toward "being a friend" to autistic kids. At the end, this is written:
"Now it's your job to spread the word! Tell your friends and family how important it is to try to understand, accept, and include everyone."
My daughter has done more for "Autism Awareness" than most people I know. It's her simple kid-approach that is endearing to watch. It's the "yeah, my sister's autistic and has a mic-key on her stomach--so?" viewpoint of hers that is just awesome. She tells her friends "yeah, she gets really shy" explaining why her sister won't even look at, let alone speak to, any of her friends (as they all call out & wave to her). She tells them "she has a hard time eating and drinking, so her mic-key helps her do that." I have no doubt that as she goes through school and enters into adulthood, my eldest will have educated and opened more than a few minds. She is quite the advocate in her own right, and I could not be more proud of her.

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