Autistic Child: "Mommy, I hate my brain, I just need a new brain"
Being the mother of a child with autism, I describe my experiences with noticing and denying my child had autism, difficulties with communication, getting services, and how the family coped and improved our lives.
I knew something was wrong even before she was a year old. She had many of the warning signs of autism. But I was in denial. I did not want to admit that my child may have autism. I think I thought that if I denied it long enough, it would go away. Even so, I did realize she needed to be tested for a disability, so at age two I took her in. The fact that she could not communicate made it impossible for testing to occur. For reasons I do not understand, we were told they denied her placement in the county preschool for children with disabilities. So, a few weeks later when she turned three, I had them try again. This time, she qualifed.
At this point, she still was not diagnosed with autsim and I was content that she was getting services. But the word autism rang through me each time she would have a meltdown because she could not communicate with us. She would cry and throw things, such as Christmas tree decorations. One year, she destroyed a large part of the tree ornaments. As I watched other children in her class who were autistic, I think it slowly crept into my mind that my daughter needed more help. I began to accept that autism was not necessarily a bad thing. The day she bolted in front of a large bus in the road, I knew I had to get her some help. She was diagnosed with high functioning autism soon after.
She did not begin to talk until she was four, a common sign of autism. The school had been teaching the children how to use sign language and this was the major starting point for her. We wanted to learn sign language of course so we could work with her at home, but no classes were offered for the parents. We found this to be the case with many struggles that she had. No insurance also meant that fewer services would be available to our daughter. Many of the ways we adapted was through reading books, talking with friends who had disabled children, and sometimes begging for help from the public school system. One psychologist spent his own time to teach us some skills to use with the many different behavioral issues that come up with autism. I will forever be thankful for that man who offered his help without compensation.