One of the most valuable, life-changing referrals I make for my patients with Autism Spectrum disorder is to the Developmental (or Behavioral) Optometrist. It seems to catch parents and teachers by surprise, and yet pays significant benefits for the child.
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Male children are over 4 times more likely to be diagnosed on the spectrum than females, a prospect which has baffled the general community for years. Why is it that one gender is better able to fend off a disorder? Does it mean that the mutation does not exist, but that it is so subtle, it is nearly impossible to detect? A study of late has proven the biological makeup of a person does indeed provide the means to protect one against the effects of certain mutations.
Fathers are as important in their children's lives as mothers, though should not leave off parenthood too late. They provide the role model for what their sons should grow into, or what not to, as well as being the image in which a daughter chooses her husband, or the exact opposite. A good father will have both genders of children striving to either be like or surround themselves with individuals who resembles him. However, the older the father gets, the higher the likelihood that his offspring may have some form of disorder affecting learning and behavior.
It's scary when our educational system cannot stick up for our children, autistic or neurotypical, and allows teachers and/or principals who stand idly by, taunt, and capture on camera a child's suffering, to remain employed by said institution. Justice needs to be served when such cases prop up. As a teacher myself, I abhor the human tendency to pick on the weak, find amusement in bullying, and enjoy random acts of cruelty. To be truly human, one must be kind, generous and always willing to give a helping hand. Otherwise, what is there left to celebrate in one's humanity?
Dance is an amazing therapy style that has benefited all, from the obese children to those with autism. It makes us get up, move the body, enjoy the exercise and make new friends. Dances have long been the medium for human relationships, from the classic waltz to the modern hip-hop and R&B.
Pica is a deadly disorder, one which is both standalone but appears also in individuals diagnosed with autism. One of the comorbid disorders related to those on the spectrum, it is a strange behavioural problem that is also defined as an eating disorder which has failed to subside in children older than 36 months. Many children on the spectrum are also diagnosed with pica, one which might be the result of an excessive need for sensory stimulation. This peculiar phenomenon dates back to the Greco-Roman civilization. Rather interesting, as deadly as it can be.
Talking about autism often means that one considers all the negatives, but the truth is that there are so many positive factors to consider that go unnoticed, it's quite simply a sad sight. Parents may see how special their children are, but an outside often cannot view past the meltdowns, strange needs and seemingly incomprehensible behavior. They forget that autism is a genetic disorder, which is caused by a mutation in one or more genes, though the exact "cause" is of yet unknown.
Autism is a disorder that often has parents and professionals working in the field frustrated, but the positives outweigh the negative by far. It may not be easy, and those who are not faced with autism in the family may not understand, but the truth is that a child with autism is pure delight for his or her parents, and often for his or her spouse and children. Fitting into the mold is not easy for anyone, and when one stands out so blatantly, it is quite hard not to applaud them for their brave attitude.
Autism is rarely a lonely disorder, often dragging a few other social-behavioral problems into the mix. When one looks at the diagnoses of autistic individuals around the world, there are usually 2-5 different labels that are placed over their heads. While it is a good thing to be able to identify all the possible disorders one might have their daily lifestyle hampered by, I find that too many diagnoses just complicate the situation and confuse the caregivers.
Being a mother is hard enough without adding autism to the mix. If the large amount of groups dedicated to parents of autistic children are any indication, there are many more of you than you realize. As an autism mother or father, you are not alone in your need for information, support, and people who truly understand your needs.