"YOU'RE ALL WIERDOS!" Perhaps I should rephrase that from muttering to screaming as he heads for the nearest point of sanity. In a way Sam the Eagle would be quite right - two of us on this farm have an official looking piece of paper from medical experts with the very complicated sounding Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Oh what a tragedy! Poor people having such a terrible thing life will be so difficult right? I haven't found having Asperger's Disorder a tragedy - it's just a diagnosis telling me I'm a little wierd now and then. I have my quirks I'll admit but saying having ASD is a sad state of affairs - on that I beg to differ. For me it's just a diagnosis - I've had for years. I always knew I had it - all I needed was a Doctor to tell me that yes indeed I was in fact someone with ASD. Other than that I get on with my life and deal with any issues if they arise in a positive manner - woe is me gets put in the trash bin.
Reading up on Aspergers and Autism began when my youngest child Michelle was born. She wasn't doing the things most babies did. She just sat and stared most of the time. She didn't move and she was about impossible to feed any solid food to. Tell me about it. I knew she was Autistic but of course those expert who tend to ignore a mother's intuition were insistent that Michelle did not have Autism. Oh yes she did. Not just that the Autism Gene is prevalent in my immediate family. My dad was a little off the wall - he was never diagnosed but we all knew deep down Dad was also affected by ASD. He was a sucessful businessman, a great father and had a huge circle of friends. So much for the anti-social part there.
I've read all kinds of stuff on ASD. Different diets, blaming MMR vaccinations for ASD, name it I've read it and came to just one conclusion. Do what you know works best. Someone somewhere termed the purveyors of special diets, supplements and intensive programmes for ASD diagnosed children as Autism Nazis. I tend to agree with them. Subjecting your Autistic child to a regime of gluten free diets, intensive over the top therapies and endless diagnosis sessions just doesn't cut it and in the end does it really work?.
Here's how I view Autism. Think of a room with a huge pile of jumbled boxes - and each box represents the things we take as coming naturally - none of the boxes are in order. For someone with ASD learning to speak,climb a tree, acting in an appropriate way, emotional response, motor co-ordination, creative thought. The boxes aren't put together in the room right. Sending your child to a specialised Autistic school won't prepare them to cope in the real world. The real world is a different place and yes people can be cruel - but sheltering our ASD kids from the real world won't do them any favours. I view helping these kids as putting all those jumbled boxes back ont the right shelves and into the right order. A bit like getting the missing pages of an instruction manual and putting them back into the right page order. Fill in the gaps and connect the missing parts together one step at a time.
When I took Michelle at 2 years old to visit Dr Mike she had only just started to walk. Speech didn't exist, and her fixation on her hat and her plastic books were the only thing that existed in her closed little world. Dr Mike is an expert of Autism and instead of telling me I had to start some regime of special diets, intensive medical therapes and heck knows what else - he told me to treat Michelle as NORMAL just as I had worked my way through the challenges I had with my Asperger's Disorder so it was that day by day I worked with Michelle to start her on her own journey to overcoming her challenges and I was on my own without David (the girls dad) to help.
HELP. And it worked. If she was scared or unsure she would say Help. I taught her colours by walking along the road and saying this is a yellow car, this is a yellow flower etc etc. One step at a time this wonderful little girl of mine has blossomed. She still has her challenges but she's now learning to overcome those herself.
My one huge criticism of the support by our government in New Zealand for ASD diagnosed people is that there isn't any. What little there is of it is flawed, under-funded and in need of a huge improvement. The only decent organisation for getting any information and help from is the New Zealand Autistic Association but even they can only do so much to help. Where I live in Northland the nearest branch for the NZ Autistic Association is in Auckland. Not their fault - buildings and staff cost money to maintain. One thing that needs to be done and that is for the government to stop cutting the budgets of RTLB teachers, Speech Language Therapists, Child Physiotherapist and Early Intervention Teachers. If a child with ASD is caught early then they have the chance to have a great life without having to be trapped in that room of jumbled boxes for life.
As for yours truly? Well it's like this I've overcome my minor glitch - almost. Now I'm trying to avoid doing my landscaping in straight lines. I think the old hose laId out in a curved shape should sort that out. They say in some writings on Aspergers creativity is lacking....so why do I draw mad cartoons then? Must be copied from the mind of Gonzo the Great...
Sorry Sam we're all Wierdos here and loving every moment of it.