parenting

Autism: How to Live with and Understand Autism

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April is Autism Awareness month. It is a topic that hits close to home for me and millions of Americans every day. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the brain and causes peculiar behaviors. The spectrum is quite large, ranging from high functioning autism, known as Asperger’s Syndrome, to low functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, and everything in between. Autism is a sensory disorder and affects 1 in 6 people.

How to Live with Autism

Two weeks ago, I attended the Asperger’s and Autism Conference hosted by the Horizon Group, Inc. in Las Vegas, NV and it was very enlightening. Let me explain, I have a child that is almost 15 years old who is severely autistic. We have been living with autism for 14 years now, as he was 19 months when he was diagnosed. This conference was fantastic and I urge everyone to go to their website to locate a conference near you; it is worth the time and money.

While at this conference, I learned so many new things as to WHY my son does what he does. There is so much information out there as to WHAT to look for and the signs of autism, but if you live with it already, it’s so much more beneficial to know the "why."

Understanding Autism

At this conference I was privileged to hear Paula Aquilla, Temple Grandin, and Jennifer McIlwee Myers all speak about autism. Paula is an occupational therapist from Canada with years of experience working with children and adults with autism. Temple Grandin is autistic and her story is fascinating, I urge everyone to read about her. Jennifer McIlwee Myers has Asperger’s and she was able to tell us, from her perspective, why she thinks the way she does. For me, what Paula and Temple had to say really helped me to understand my son.

I have so much information to share that I am unable to do it all in one post. I learned that autistic children cannot learn in an environment that is full of chaos or stress; all must be mellow and calm for them to really understand any new concepts that you are trying to teach them. This may seem impossible at times, especially if you have other children living at home. Life isn’t always calm and serene. However, it is important to learn from this and try to make it happen. Even if it is just for a few minutes, this is something that should be a goal.

For my son, when life is too chaotic at our house for him to deal with, he usually goes to his room and shuts the door. He loves his room because it is all his. I will turn on a musical movie for him and he will lie down and watch it, when he is feeling better he will come out.

You see, it’s the small things we must celebrate in this journey. Stay tuned for part 2.

 Do you have a child with Autism? What teaching techniques have been the most helpful for you?

Picture courtesy of flickr.

Nichol Hardy has been married for 16 years and has three wonderful boys the oldest having severe autism. Nichol has had 15 years of experience with autism, because she lives with it daily. She has been an advocate for autism since 1998 and is very involved with ways to make life better for those affected by it. Nichol enjoys writing, quilting, and being with her family. Each new day is a bright light of hope that she can use to grow and learn from and along the way help others grow and learn too. She blogs at http://adesertquilter.blogspot.com and writes about autism at http://www.examiner.com/autism-and-parenting-in-las-vegas/nichol-hardy .

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