** This was submitted by a mother who's child is on the Spectrum. While not every child on the Spectrum will experience the same things, she wanted to share her story in hopes to shed light on what it is like in her family, and what it is like being her child's "person". She hopes to help raise awareness while also encouraging others to see the bigger picture of their life; the unseen moments that are part of their everyday. **
Most people have heard of Autism or The Spectrum but until you have someone in your life who is on the spectrum you truly never understand what that means. Autism is a development disorder that affects social skills, communication, and behavior. People with autism are not all affected the same which is why the term Autism Spectrum is used. My child is on the spectrum.
He is the sweetest boy. He loves playing outside, watching cartoons and playing with his toys; all the things most little boys enjoy, but unlike most kids he would rather play alone and most of the words he uses are phrases from a video or movie he has seen. He has no sense of danger, which I envy sometimes, but it makes it difficult to go places and have experiences as a family even with trips as simple as the grocery store. His meltdowns include hitting and biting either whomever is around him at the time or himself, and throwing or knocking over items. For me, as his mother, the worst part is seeing the sadness in his eyes after he has hurt someone or broken something he loves.
I am my son's person. I am the person he runs to when he needs anything. I am the person that can fix anything in his eyes. I am the person that best understands the way he communicates. It gives me such joy and happiness when I can help him and get him through whatever is going on at that time, but it also gives me great sadness when I am unable to help him or understand him. Being a parent you don't want to see your child struggle, you want to do everything to help them, but sometimes you have to step away for yourself and your child.
My husband and I have had to re-educate ourselves and the people around our child to have somewhat of an understanding of what he is going through everyday and how we can best help him. Most of the parenting skills we thought we had learned with our other children had to be thrown out the window and we had to reprogram ourselves.The greatest thing I have learned so far is patience. Having the patience to repeat every word he is saying or he will continue saying it over and over until I do. Having the patience to get him through a meltdown. But mostly, having the patience to get him the help he needs.
I knew at a young age my son's development was delayed. I asked his doctor at the time if we could have an evaluation done and was told, " Oh, they will do that when he starts school." I should have researched more and insisted on something being done then; but because I listened to that doctor and not to myself, my son's development was further delayed. We are just now getting the correct evaluations and referrals needed to be put on a waiting list. So, the best advice I could give any parent is if you think something is wrong listen to yourself, you know your child more than anyone.