Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spectrum Saturdays

You know, I'm still learning about this crazy thing called Autism. It came into our home last Spring. Or at least, that's when it formally introduced itself. And we're still getting to know each other. We're not exactly friends, but we're not exactly enemies. Autism has it's own language, and I'm still learning all the lingo and the catch phrases. So, every week, I'm going to try to find one thing to talk about in relation to what Autism is, what it means, and how we live with it.

I was looking through through the wonderful Autism tags over at Autism Graphics and I found myself getting choked up. I have the most amazing kids, Autistic and NT (neurotypical). But sometimes it upsets me how hard I see my boys having to work to do things that come so naturally to other children. I sometimes don't realize how much Autism has changed our lives. And then it hits me and I get angry or sad. Most of the time, though, it's really just part of who we are and what we do. We don't walk around all day and say "look at us, we have Autism!" Then again, sometimes I wish we did. Then maybe people wouldn't look at Ciaran funny when they realize how little he talks, or how much he moves. Maybe I could carry a sign in my bag to be pulled out when necessary. "Don't mind us. We just have Autism." And yes, I say we. Because, frankly, right now, this whole family has Autism. We're connected like that, and this doesn't just affect Reagan and Ciaran. It's up to all of us to learn how to live with it and hopefully how to completely kick it's tail. In fact, it's my hope that these boys are going to do amazing partly because of this really close knit family they come from. Sometimes I think it's why God put them here with us. And we absolutely, 100% believe, with all our hearts, that God knows exactly what He's doing. We firmly believe that He has a plan, and will somehow use this, use them, use us, for some purpose. I find a lot of strength in that.

As the tag above says, some Autistics love water, others fear it. Autism is not a one-size-fits-all neurological disorder. My Autistics love water. Ciaran, especially, finds water irresistable. Many Autistics have sensory issues. For Ciaran, he's just not wired to feel things the way other kids do. While some kids are a bit over-sensitive, Ciaran is under-sensitive. As a result, he doesn't always know where his body ends. He can't sense himself or where he is in space. For him, water allows a ton of sensory input all over. Whether it's a bath, a shower, or even a spray bottle, there is something about water that touches his senses and allows him to connect.

So, we use water a lot. He'll laugh contagiously if you spritz him with a spray bottle, and the child would live in the tub like a fish if I'd let him. I have to let all the water go before he'll get out. Reagan used to be like that, but he's 11 now and has gone all pre-teen, non-bathing boy on me.

It's estimated that about 1.5 million people in this country have Autism. And the disorder not only affects them, but everyone who loves them. But this condition is livable. It is treatable. And I have a lot of hope. Especially for my two incredible boys who make me smile every day. Even if Ciaran's latest thing is to get naked constantly.

Mostly, I don't want people to be afraid of Autism, or of Autistics. My kids are awesome. Different, sure, but still awesome. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'd better go put my son's clothes on. Again.


  1. I am not nearly familiar enough with autism, but the more people talk about it the more I realize that is something that is very difficult to become familiar with.

    Thank you for the very eloquent comment on my blog by the way!

  2. It is very tough to become familiar with, even when you're living with it. But with the numbers of Autistic children growing every day, the better we try to understand it, the more helpful and supportive we can be to those families.

    As for the comment, any time. I'm really enjoying your blog! =)

  3. Thank You for this entry, it is just what I needed today. My son is 4 and has PDD-NOS. I can relate to what you said and I could not have said it better. Thank you again, and I look forward to reading more.

  4. Hello,

    I am an almost moderate-intensive SPED teacher (graduating May 9) and I'm forgetting exactly how I was linked over to here (communicating partners maybe?) but I just wanted to leave you a quick comment. I really like how you explained how everyone in your family is effected by Autism...not just those with the clinical diagnoses. Anyways, I guess that's really all I had to say :)


  5. My twenty-year-old autie falls into both camps: she loves water when she is in the bathtub or wearing a swimsuit playing with the hose or in the pool--that is her idea of heaven. However, if she gets a little bit of water on her street clothes, off she sprints to her room to get changed!

  6. Hi Anne,

    You are so right - Autism and conditions like it affect the entire family. I thought you might be able to relate to this article I wrote about my daughter, Abigail, last year.

  7. Stacy, that's a truly beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it. =)


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