Friday, April 1, 2011

On the Spectrum

(Or, Autism Awareness Month)

I was inspired to do this post by Kim at BookEnds, who posted the Five Things she learned from her autistic son on her blog this morning. It’s a lovely entry. Go read it.

Like her son, my son, Drew, is diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

So because today begins Autism Awareness Month, and because Drew will be four years old on Monday, I thought I’d share some quick thoughts. If you see anyone whose profile picture has been tinted blue, they probably know someone with autism.

I wrote a poem (posted below) when Drew was about fifteen months old, already fearing his diagnosis. I played some denial games with myself, but couldn’t for long. I’d already had two kids, you see, and he didn’t develop as they had. My child couldn’t communicate verbally or nonverbally. He didn’t respond when we called his name.

Doctors wouldn’t tell me that he was autistic until more than a year later, not even when I asked. I didn’t wait, though. I googled the signs of autism, read books, and watched youtube videos of other autistic kids. Then I got him into early intervention and did some interventions of my own.

And he’s doing much better. He still has a hard time initiating speech, but he can read hundreds of words aloud. He can point to a picture of a gorilla if you ask him to, and he can say, “umbrella” if you’re holding one. But he can’t spontaneously tell me things like his head hurts. Instead, he puts my hand on his forehead. He’s moving in the right direction, though. Before these past six or so months, I never knew when he suffered from a headache.

One day, he’ll just say it. Maybe sometime soon.

Autism Awareness Month means a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, it’s about encouraging parents to follow their instincts and get their kids into intervention as soon as they see something that can be helped, whether it’s autism, a speech disorder, or any developmental delay. Drew's wonderful therapists have made a difference for my Drew, and I'm so grateful to have had them intervene at such an early age.

If you know any family with an autistic child, don’t be afraid to go blue this month for them. Clap in their corner.

My Spectrum

Oh, there He stands
on the kitchen table
No, no, baby

He kicks as i set Him on the floor

Banging cupboards
close and open and close
without blinking

like He’s sleeping with His eyes open

Neeeeee  He screams at
an angel’s reflection
in the oven

i wonder if He knows who He is

circling the floor
on His tippiest of toes
clapping, clapping

i catch Him in a hug and let go

Clicks make him turn
but He hears not my words
nor sees my face

Did i did i cause his condition?

Maaa, He cries out
after He bumps His knee
Maybe He knows

that i will always clap next to Him


Marewolf said...

Oh, Mary! That's such a beautiful poem! You're making me all teary. :(

Give Drewbie a big hug for me on his birthday :)

Marybk said...

Oh, I will, Marewolf. :}

Anita said...

Mary, this is lovely. So touching. As you know, I sympathize. You're a wonderful advocate for your little one, and he's blessed to have you in his corner.

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