Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Autism Blog Hop

People with autism may experience sensory sensitivity in one or more of the five senses. A person’s senses are either intensified (hypersensitive) or lack sensitivity (hyposensitive).

My daughter was four when she was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum, specifically with Asperger's. What followed was a deep sense of fear, uncertainty, and even grief.  I had to let go of all of the expectations I had for my 'normal' little girl.  She's thirteen now and I've learned so much (and still have so very much to learn), and have embraced a new set of expectations and dreams for her that are no less than what I originally had; they're just a little different.

One of the very first things I had to learn and adapt to was that Autism really is a spectrum disorder.  While children who are severely autistic share many common traits, and children who are considered 'high functioning' like Asperger's kids share many common traits, there is no one-size-fits-all description or treatment.  As a parent I've had to take what information I've been given and make it fit through trial and error.  For example, some kids don't like to be touched at all; they're simply too sensitive.  My daughter loves to be 'squished' and sleeps each night under a fifteen pound, weighted blanket.  Some kids flap their arms/hands as a way of self-regulation.  My daughter has never done that; instead she 'chirps' or clears her throat excessively.  These are the types of things that make it difficult for people to understand and react appropriately to situations with Autistic kids.

My daughter has always been very sensitive to sound.  When she was a baby the sound of the hand dryers in public restrooms would send her into hysterics (one of the first big clues we had that we didn't realize at the time was a clue).  The vacuum cleaner, car horns in a big city, passing emergency sirens all cause an immediate flinch and covering of her ears.  We've learned to never go anywhere with out ear protection, and as she's gotten older she's started to be able to tolerate more and more.

She has a very limited diet because she has a problem with the texture of a lot of foods.  I also have learned that she doesn't taste things the same way I do.  Something I think is sweet, she could very well identify as sour.  

Learning her tells and adjusting to her sensory needs has made life much simpler for our family.

Early intervention is very important with these kids, and is becoming more and more common.  This hasn't always been easy for us, and I know it's the same for many, many other families.  Our area didn't offer much in the way of services for Autistic children, though that is improving.  Another serious problem we've faced is that our insurance doesn't cover anything.  She sees a counselor on an as-needed basis (not covered); she's in a weekly social group with an Autism behavioral specialist (not covered); she could benefit from more occupational therapy (she's been in it off and on over the years), but that's not covered either, and it's simply not affordable.  There are other things that we'd like to do for her but that we just can't fit into our budget.  Ironically, we were able to afford more of these things when I was working full time.  However, my job was very demanding, with long hours, and my husband works over thirty minutes out of town.  Getting her to and from appointments, and being available to drop everything immediately when the school would call got to be too much, and I had to quit.  Now that I'm a full time, stay-at-home mom I can get her to all the appointments she has, but we can't afford many extras.  I never pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom, but it's been the best thing I've ever done for my family.

My daughter is creative, intelligent, kind, and funny.  She has so much to offer, and I know that she's going to make the world a better place.  I just hope that people will be willing to look beyond her 'quirks' and accept what she has to offer.  

Thank you for reading!  Leave me a comment by April 10, 2014 to be entered for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.  Also, be sure to check out the other entries in RJ Scott's Autism Blog Hop here.

4/16/14 ETA:
Congratulations to humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com for winning the $10 Amazon gift card.  :D

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

I'm not really a resolution maker, but I do have some goals for 2014.  They're not original by any means, but they are at least realistic.

1. Write.  Write, write, write, and then write some more.  I'm planning to schedule actual writing time into my days, which I think will help me increase my productivity.

2. Get healthier.  I started working with a personal trainer a few weeks ago, and I'm going to try to create a meal plan for each week.  That should also help with #3, which is:

3. Budget.  I'd really like to take a family vacation later this year, and that means cutting back on unnecessary expenses, like eating out/ordering in.

Here's hoping that you will all have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014!