I have a close friend whose child was diagnosed with Autism when he was in preschool. Over the years I’ve learned a lot from this family, but one thing has made the biggest impression on me both as a mom and a child psychologist. It’s simply this: There is no way for any of us to truly understand what it is like to have a child with Autism unless you actually have one.
With the incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) recently changing from 1 in 88 to 1 in 50 children, it’s likely that all of us know someone impacted by this disorder. Given that likelihood, what can we do to support children with Autism and their families? I guarantee that if you walk in their shoes for just a little while you’ll have a much greater understanding and appreciation of both the joys and the struggles of Autism. Here’s how:
First, educate yourself about Autism. According to the Autism Speaks website, Autism is “characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.” Boys are four to five times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls. Despite difficulties with social interactions and communication, many individuals with Autism “excel in visual skills, music, math and art.” Websites like AutismSpeaks.org and Autism-Society.org both offer reliable and up to date information about Autism. Also, NBC’s hit show, Parenthood, features a boy named Max who is diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. This show offers a realistic portrayal of Autism Spectrum Disorders and their day to day impact on families. [Read more...]