By definition, Autism is: a condition or disorder that begins in childhood and that causes problems in forming relationships and in communicating with other people.
Simply put: Their brains are wired a little differently than most.
Autism is a communication disorder! My son is non-verbal. In his case, when people do not understand him and his needs, frustration sets in, resulting in a meltdown. He is not acting up like some people assume it to be the case (which I hate). Imagine, you are a tourist in a foreign country. You don’t know the language and you desperately need to go to the bathroom. Being unable to find someone that either speaks your language or finally figures out what you are saying, frustration sets in. After a while, you are bound to lose your temper. Were you acting up? Of course not! Now, imagine being in this situation every single day of your life.
Autism is different for everyone involved. Autism is a disorder that has a spectrum, which means that symptoms, their severity and their displays are different for every person living with Autism. For Dawson, he would probably land somewhere on the lower functioning end of the spectrum due to his specific behaviors.
Autism and communication challenges go hand in hand! While communication is an easy skill for most people, when someone lives with Autism, it is like facing a puzzle that contains a million pieces. That person doesn’t know how to begin a conversation and interact appropriately with others. This is why play and social interactions tend to be repetitive or imitated.
Dealing with hypersensitive issues, every minute of every single day. Most people are sensitive to certain tastes, noises or touching certain things. Have you ever heard nails on a chalkboard? How about the thought of eating glass? Are those thoughts driving you crazy? Well, for my son, touching a soft fuzzy blanket is torture and trimming his nails is a sensory nightmare. Are there some meltdowns? Yes, too many. Unfortunately, until I explain it to them, people tend to misjudge my child’s reactions.
Most easy things for you are challenging for people with Autism. Wouldn’t you feel frustrated if you had to do a task that was so easy for everyone but you? Walking, talking, sitting and eating are a few “simple” things that are very difficult for Dawson. Do you understand how frustrating it can be, especially if people are making comments and passing judgment on top of it?
These are only some of the issues that, when explained, help people to have a better understanding of what Autism is and how challenging it can be when your life is affected by it. So, the next time you see a child displaying some frustration in public, please don’t judge as you never know what this child may be going through…it may be Autism!
If you can be anything…be kind.