Awareness is the Key!

Hello everyone,

I am Jim Monroe—the proud parent of a 7 year old non-verbal Autistic son.  I am not an expert by any means about Autism or in childcare but feel I have a lot to add which would help with the overall awareness of Autism.  My son, named Evan is almost a text-book case as he had some, albeit limited, words up until 2 years old and then the words basically disappeared.  Other developments were late in starting as well.  He loved to spin and would flap his arms or clap when excited. Doctors were weary of calling it Autism but finally when he was 4 the diagnosis was confirmed.

Evan was on the spectrum!  We were ecstatic to finally have the diagnosis so we could then start treatment.  The treatments are varied; some related to medicine; some related to food intake; along with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) which is the choice of treatment we chose.  For as many “causes” that we hear about, there are just as many “solutions” and choices.

Evan has been in an ABA center for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for over 2 years.  Results have been very good.  Evan is much less anxious and frustrated now then he was.  Vocabulary is still really not evident but he can communicate better than most people by using available software on his ipad and ipods.  Not everything is successful, but today is usually better than yesterday.  One day at a time, one challenge at a time!

We tried PECS and signing but have had exceptional luck with the electronic methods.  Is it right for everyone?  No, of course not as just like the saying, “if you have seen one child with Autism, you have seen one child with Autism”.

Do we have a pity party sometimes?  Of course we do and for all the families facing this diagnosis, it is not the end but truly an unexpected beginning.  Evan teaches us every day and he teaches the people around him as well.  My hope for this blog as well as the way I run my life is to try to make as many people aware of autism and how it affects us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year.  No vacations from the spectrum. 

Awareness is the key!  Whether it is for the father at the “Y” who couldn’t answer his son’s questions after he interacted with Evan; or my own brother in Phoenix; even to neighbors and their kids, awareness and knowledge of the Autism Spectrum is extremely important and desperately needed. Daily events can be widely different from one day to another, even the same events can illicit a different response.

What child doesn’t like cookies, cake and ice cream?  Not mine!  We have tried and tried to get him to try these but won’t even think about it.  Evan just pushes it away.  His therapist once wanted to use cookies for a reward and even tried to “force” him to try one but no luck.  The day-to-day struggles and successes are many.  Autism is 24-7, 365!

Future blogs will talk about potty training, haircuts, nail cutting, traveling, dining out, throwing themselves down, clapping, Disney World, politics, insurance issues (oh what a nightmare), and the ups and downs of daily life.  “Normal” people may not understand that something as simple as a haircut or a short walk in the mall can be very traumatic to kids on the spectrum.  That is going to be a blog soon as some actions can be misconstrued as “bad behavior when in reality it is just the mechanism.

Let me know what you have an interest in and I can talk about it=== We are in this together and together we will be successful.  Awareness is the key!