article
Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month

By Anonymous Contributor

In Australia, this April is busy. You may have played a joke on your mates for April Fools day, you will be gearing up for Easter and Anzac day, both of which fall this month and perhaps planning trips or time away to coincide with the abundance of public holidays that are crammed together. But over the coming weeks perhaps we should also spare a thought for the fact that April is Autism Awareness Month. For me personally this issue is one close to home. A good friend has a son who is autistic and I’ve seen the struggles and pressures that it has put on my friend and her family first hand.  It’s taken its toll in more ways than one. It’s created financial pressures, been an emotional roller coaster for all the family- immediate and extended, incredibly time consuming and most of all a learning curve that was steeper than she or her husband could ever have imagined.

But she’s not alone. Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) has estimated that about 1 in 70 Australians are on the autism spectrum; that is around 230,000 people. It is four times more common in boys than girls[1].

 The main areas of difficulty for people with autism are in social and communication skills and restricted or repetitive behaviours.[2]

I won’t pronounce to say I know much about Autism or the symptoms or the diagnosis or the long term outcomes associated with it. What I will say are borrowed words. They are from my friend who lives and breathes it every day alongside her 3-year-old son who is autistic. Today I received this message from her. It read:

 ‘Friends, it is autism awareness month and as such firstly I wanted to thank you all for supporting us in the last 6 months. I have felt lost, devastated, highly stressed and rudderless. You have all been amazing. I thought I would share some of my thoughts 6 months in for awareness and, most importantly, acceptance of autism.

1.   Wording matters: Henry is autistic, he doesn’t have autism. The second infers he has a disease and can be cured. The first makes it part of his identity and who he is.

2.   I have come to accept that autism will increase our challenges but it has also given us so many positives. My focus on the family is my absolute priority, my acceptance of diversity in the community has increased and I’m so much more aware of a variety of communication options other than verbal.

3.   Not judging children or families. Everyone is doing his or her best. If Henry has a meltdown he can’t help it. I would hope other families don’t judge Henry or me when we are out and he loses it- we are doing our best and luckily I don’t care what others think.

4.   I am no longer devastated. I have a beautiful boy and we will discover his strengths and support him to be the best person he can be and supporting his autistic traits like stimming (repetitive behaviours like shaking hands, running up and down that help calm him and make him feel good).

Thank you all again for your support. You have all been amazing’.

No, my friend. It’s you who have been amazing and to all those families out there who are somehow touched by autism, no doubt you are all amazing and, like my friend, doing the best job you can. 

[1] www.autismspectrum.org.au
[2] www.autismspectrum.org.au

Anonymous Contributor

Related Articles

Mens suicide-more common than we think

Mens suicide-more common than we think

We may groan and complain about them. But at the end of the day we love them dearly and we wouldn't do without them.

Read more

How do women shape up as we mark Women’s Health Week?

How do women shape up as we mark Women’s Health Week?

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes it’s easy to let the basics slide, particularly when it comes to health and wellbeing.
If that sounds like you, this week is Women’s Health Week, an important opportunity to reflect on our wellbeing and take some time out to tend to our physical and mental health. It’s also the chance to note some interesting women’s health statistics, while looking to the improvements we can make.

As we walk, run or Zumba our way into Women’s Health Week, here’s what you need to know…

Read more

Don't ignore your bowel

Don't ignore your bowel

I’m a gastroenterologist, it would be professionally embarrassing to be diagnosed with bowel cancer.  So I dutifully fronted up for my second colonoscopy recently, and I bought my sister along with me to support her through her first time.  She can’t quite reconcile that I work and socialise with the doctor who performs my colonoscopy, that I have the procedure performed at the endoscopy unit where I work each day, or that I return the favour every 3-5 years for several nurses, doctors and friends when they are due for their colonoscopy.  She feels the same way about my GP who is a good friend and doesn’t turn a hair when I turn up for my PAP smear. 

Read more

COMMENTS

Please login or sign-up to add your comment.


Comments (0):

There are no comments yet.