My Atypical Son

My second son, Ethan, has a different world or I can say, has a different perception of the world. When he is in a crowded place he feel overwhelmed and anxious. Whenever he sees a television he is so scared especially in one particular channel or  TV program. He usually has a shorter temper and he feels frustrated every time even for a small thing or a normal situation where in he doesn’t know what to do or how to properly respond. This is just a few behavior of a child on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He was properly diagnosed with ASD when he was just three years old.

1 month old Ethan

What is it?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that impair someone’s ability to socialize and communicate. According to the PreventionCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, ASD affects 1 in 59 American children.

These neurodevelopmental (brain) disorders are sometimes detectable before one year of age, but they often go undiagnosed until much later.

Most children with autism are diagnosed after the age of three. Early intervention is the most effective treatment, so any signs of autism in three-year-old children should be evaluated by a professional.

The symptoms of ASD vary from person to person, falling along a wide range of severity, known as a “spectrum.” Children with ASD typically interact and communicate differently than others.

They also learn and think differently than others. Some are greatly challenged, requiring significant assistance in daily life, while others are high-functioning.

There is no cure for autism, but with treatment, symptoms can improve.

Autism disorders fall along a spectrum of mild to severe. Some children with ASD have advanced learning and problem-solving skills, while others require daily living assistance. As for Ethan , his Developmental Pediatrician assessed him that he has mild ASD.

Here are some of the behaviors that I observed with Ethan :

  • shows little interest in social interactions or social activities
  • has difficulty initiating social interactions
  • has difficulty maintaining a back and forth conversation
  • has trouble with appropriate communication (volume or tone of speech, reading body language, social cues)
  • has trouble adapting to changes in routine or behavior
  • has difficulty making friends
  • is able to live independently with minimal support
Ethan on his first day of summer class

It takes a village to raise a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Being a parent of a child with ASD has been a struggle for me. It was difficult to understand him at first, especially when I found out about his diagnosis. Acceptance is the most essential in that situation so I can move forward to the things I need to do to help him. With the proper information about his condition, a lot of support from other parents like me,   and I seek out professionals and expert for ASD (Developmental Pediatricians, Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist, and Special Education Teachers) I learned how to handle Ethan and facilitate him. He is my child and what the most important is the love and care that I should give him as a mother. As I read from most of the articles in the internet, they say “ It takes a village to raise a child with an ASD”, it means I need help and ask for help. There are a lot of  blogs and articles available online to research about this condition. There is also a support group of parents on Facebook where parents share their real experiences with their ASD kids. 

Presently , Ethan is now 6 years old. He somewhat reaching his milestone and  attending regular school. He is now in grade 1. His ASD symptom still there, but he has improved a lot.  He is my little intelligent sweetest boy. He has made me a good mother and a good person that I never imagined that I can be.

With this blog, I hope that I can give some information to  other parents like me whose child has ASD and for those parents that worry their child has some symptoms, I encourage you please fill up autism questionnaire available online. Like the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) is a screening tool that parents and doctors can use to help identify children who are at risk of autism. Organizations like Autism Speaks offer this questionnaire online.

Children whose scores suggest an elevated risk of autism should make an appointment with their pediatrician or with a specialist.

Next steps

Signs of autism are typically apparent by the age of three. Early intervention leads to improved outcomes, so it’s important to get your child screened as soon as possible.

You may want to begin with your pediatrician or make an appointment with a specialist.

Specialists who can diagnose children with autism include:

  • developmental pediatricians
  • child neurologists
  • child psychologists
  • child psychiatrists

Catherine P. Milan, Author

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