The Strengths and Struggles With a Child on the Autism Spectrum
Being the mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum is not always an easy job. Before my son was diagnosed, life was very difficult. I had a two year old daughter to care for and he cried a lot and nothing we did seemed to soothe him.
We really noticed something wasn’t quite right when our third and youngest child started to make strides in communicating sooner than he was. We spoke with our pediatrician about our concerns and she was able to help us get him enrolled into an early intervention program.
An education specialist and a speech pathologist came to our house weekly to teach him and our entire family how to better handle his communication issues and his developmental delay. At the age of three he was put into the public school system and going to school for half a day, four days a week. We are lucky to live in an area where this was an option. Ever since he started school, he has improved immensely. He used to have several tantrums a day and each week there seemed to be a new trigger that would set off these tantrums (e.g. putting his shoes right foot first, making sure his socks were on before his pants, having the right blanket at bed time). He is still very much a creature of habit and routine and when there are changes to the routine it shows in his attitude and behavior. Not every day can go as scheduled and something we all are having to learn together and how to cope with it when things go awry.
My son is going to be six at the end of the year and I couldn’t be prouder of him. He is reading at or above his grade level and he loves to draw and to spell. There are still days when we face challenges and are constantly working on different ways of expressing himself when he is unable to communicate what it is he needs or wants. I encourage all parents with children who suspect something may not quite be right with their child, to talk to your pediatrician. They are a great resource for helping parents and our children grow to be the people they are intended to become.
Resources for children on the Autism Spectrum have grown by leaps and bounds over the past years. There are many early intervention services and programs to help children get started on a path that will help them to succeed rather than have to be under the care of their parents or others for the rest of their lives. Not only are these programs great for the children, but they are also great for the parents and other members of the family.. They teach you different forms of communication; pictures, songs, sign language, etc.
They give you ideas on how to handle tantrums. They even helped my other children to better communicate with their brother and teach them tolerance of his differences. They offer information about support groups so that you can meet with other parents who may be in your same situation. All of these things have been a life saver to our family. Children with special needs are like a delicate piece of crystal. You have to handle them with great care and be ready to help pick up the pieces when they break down.