Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What is Autism?

How do you answer this? Of course I know what Autism is, I just have a hard time explaining to anyone that asks.

Last December we went to my Aunt's house for the family Christmas party. We did not have a diagnosis yet, even though we knew what diagnosis we were going to receive. Most of the family members at the party did not know anything was wrong with Connor other than a speech delay. So as Connor was more disregulated, we got those looks that said, You need to control your kid. and He sure is high spirited isn't he? We didn't stay too long as it was just too much to handle for all of us. We went through and said our Good byes and my uncle chimes in, "Dortha, he reminds me why I don't have anymore kids at my age."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah, I wouldn't have the energy, even when they weren't being bad."

Fast forward to now. My uncle lives in another state but has come home for a funeral. It was just my Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle and Mother in the car and evidently he had been clued in to what was going on.
"So what is wrong with Connor?" he asks.
"He has autism." my Mom explains. Thinking that that says it all.
"Yeah, but what exactly is Autism?"
She was lost for words on how to explain, just as I find I am at times.

My uncle isn't a mean person and didn't mean to hurt any ones feelings with what he had said at the party. He honestly did not understand and I didn't take time to explain. My Grandmother found an article in People magazine about a celebrity that has an autistic son and has some idea now. However, I can't throw an article at everyone who asks.

I wonder how to explain so as not to use words like, receptive, proprioceptive, vestibular and modulation. Also how do I explain without it sounding like I'm singing that old Hee Haw song;
Gloom, despair and agony on me,
Deep, dark depression, Excessive misery,
If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all,
Gloom, despair and agony on me”

So long explanation made into a short question. How do tell people what Autism is?


Self employed mum said...

That is a hard question you need a short snappy answer to throw at people and I don't mean snappy as in cheeky, but quick.
My friend as I've mentioned before with the autistic son who comes to play at our house, the way she made me understand it was, he doesn't understand things he can't see so for example God, he has no believe because he can't see him, he is very litteral, it's time to put your coat on, so you put your coat on and leave, no delay. The problem is as you say how do you put this into words, how do you make people see through the meltdowns? I don't know, perhaps you should use the dictionary version to throw at people

Casdok said...

I too have the same problem, and was going to blog on it!!
It is a difficult one, and im still thinking on it!

Jeni said...

I don't think there is a really definitive answer because it is so different and yet the same, in so many ways, from individual to individual. Maybe the best thing to say is that the child's wiring is a little crossed up and we're working on finding ways to "uncross" as many of the wires as we can find. Or you know the child's mind is there, functioning, but not quite on the same wave lengths as most children of this or that age -or adults too -and it's like the person is kind of locked away, waiting for someone to find the right key -or keys - to unlock the gates and be able to process information correctly. You've got all the various spectrums plus the levels in each spectrum so no one cure fits all. Let him read more, explain a little, bit by bit, if you have to but as long as the love is there for your son, he'll most likely figure out some things then for himself too. But it really is a very difficult thing to try to explain -even to ourselves at times and we're dealing with it 24/7.

Suzy said...

I always thought it was a person with special needs who sees things differently than most people.

I just don't know many people who don't understand what autism is or I choose to surround myself with people who accept the person or child for whoever they are, meltdowns and all.


Casdok said...

I came back to see if you had found any answers yet??

This is how i explained it on my blog (but its not something you can tell to people when they ask you on the street!!

Prisoner on Mars

You’ve landed on Mrs
Way out in the stars
You meet strange little men
You try and communicate with them.

But they don’t understand you
So what can you do?
Their body language is different
They laugh instead of cry
Male funny noises instead of sigh.

You try and learn their ways
Instead of them learning yours
You don’t fit in
They just point and grin.

Sometimes its so hard to get through
You bang your head or arm you chew
You stamp your feet with a high pitched squeal
None of this can be real.

Mars can be frightening as it is weird
For humans it is not geared
You have to learn the basics, to eat, sleep, go to the loo
As a non Martian, not easy to do.

Nothing makes sense
You hide the anxiety inside - the best defence
To keep your sanity you stick to routine
And put up a smoke screen.

There’s so much new info to store
Its easier to withdraw.
You live in your own world to feel safe.
Mars is a very strange place.

dgibbs said...

Self Employeed Mum, Yes snappy would be the ticket, but even the dictionary form of the answer is too long and not descriptive of every autistic person.

Casdok, Sorry no answers, but I'm working on it. I saw that post on your blog, I really like it.

Jeni, There isn't a one size fits all is there?

Suzy, That is the answer really, but people really can't grasp it with out more detail. Know what I mean.

Thank you ladies for your suggestions, I should have something up soon.

Momo Fali said...

I found this at http://www.faqs.org/health/Sick-V1/Autism.html

You could say that he "has brain disorder which interferes with a person's ability to understand what he or she sees, hears, and touches. For this reason, a person with autism has very difficult problems knowing how to behave properly and how to interact with other people".

Either that, or just tell people he has problems, but he's perfect in your eyes!

dgibbs said...

Momo Fali - You are absolutely correct, to me he is perfect!

merry weather said...

I don't know - but I'm with Momo Fali - he's your lovely son, he walks a different path and he's brilliant. Anyone that fails to understand that needs to consider getting themselves retrained I reckon :)