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Autism: Through a Mother's Eyes

What comes to mind when you hear autism? People tend to say disease or condition. Numerous people have associated different words with autism; some are incorrectly appointed. In terms of a mother with an autistic child, it is “not a disease but a neurological condition.” 


This topic is extensive and can be researched, discussed, and examined in various ways. I had the privilege of interviewing a mother with an autistic daughter. This mother shared with me what autism means and her thoughts on it. She spoke openly and energetically with me, demonstrating excitement about sharing a commonly misunderstood topic. The quote I previously said is her definition of autism. When I asked her, she added that the cause is unsure, so there is no cure. 


During the interview, she frequently said that there is an autism spectrum, and regardless of how many people you may or may not know who have it, each one is unique. Autism does not accurately represent one story when there are millions. 


“If you have met one individual with Autism, you have met one individual with Autism.” Dr. Stephen Shore, an autistic professor and author at Adelphi University, said this. Shore illustrates precisely what the mother I spoke to said. Each human being has their own experiences, life, and personality. Autistic people do too. She could not stress the importance of understanding this enough.


Rochelle Estrada, a writer and editor for TheSocialTalks, has a younger brother who falls into the autism spectrum. She explained what the spectrum is. This spectrum represents individuals with “a mild form of autism (or Asperger syndrome) that may influence their internal and external behaviors in socialization and communication, but they are overall higher functioning and very independent.” The other side of the spectrum is individuals with “severe autism, which can be permanent and influence their inability to handle independent tasks, have limited speech and little to no socialization skills.”


In the interview with the mother, I asked questions ranging from what her life is like to what she thinks the world could do to better support and aid autistic people. Some questions I asked were, “what is the most misleading concept that is shared about this community” and “what is the best way to support individuals with Autism.” Her responses to both of these questions were as follows.


She highlighted the numerous series and movies in which there is an autistic character. In these films or series, they are typically showcased as geniuses. She said that the percentage of autistic individuals who are as bright as the ones seen on television is relatively small. 


She believes autistic people can be brilliant and capable, but it is rare to see a level of intelligence as the one shown in the entertainment industry. She talked about a series called The Good Doctor. In this show, there is an autistic surgeon. She disagrees with this series because it shows unrealistic scenarios. Although she said autism does not mean a person cannot be smart, it is infrequent to see someone as smart as the ones portrayed in that series. She said she has never met an autistic person who was a “genius.” 


Moreover, she discussed that one of the most significant things people could do to help is offer adequate jobs. She repeatedly said that people need to remember that there is a spectrum and that being on it does not mean someone can’t work in a job. Based on the people she knows and talks to, she believes autistic people are great with dogs, children, organizing and filing, computers, and retail. Any jobs in these fields would give autistic people a great opportunity. 


“They are special but not incapable,” the mother said while explaining how important and beneficial creating job opportunities for autistic people and all disabled people could be. Some autistic individuals are very independent, and she said that some are very high functioning and can live alone.


She illustrated that although some are independent, they struggle with balancing a checkbook, exercising, and more. Discipline is hard for some individuals to maintain, which is another reason they need help.

The interviewee also said that people are usually surprised at how “normal” they can be once you talk to them.​​ A typical interaction with autistic people can be great if you keep certain things in mind. Some individuals do not like people to be physically close to them and touch them. So, it is essential to recognize what the individual likes and does not like.


“Speak with clarity, address the individual by name, and make gentle eye contact” are only some of the many tips that Calver Trust lists that can allow for effective communication with someone with autism. 


Being a mother of an autistic daughter taught this woman that you need a lot of patience and repetition, but love is the most important thing. She learned a lot from her life and was happy to share it with others. 


The last thing she told me, and she believed was crucial, was that each year there are more and more autistic individuals. Before, it used to be 1 in every 59, but now it affects 1 in every 44 children, and boys are four times more likely to have it. 


The National Autism Association (NAA) shared facts that can put some of the ideas mentioned into perspective. “Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet most underfunded, autism greatly varies from person to person, and children with autism do progress – early intervention is key.”


The NAA states that autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability, and it can interfere with “normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.”


Nonetheless, Therapeutic Pathways shows how people with autism can be independent, have a job, and more. They stress the importance of early intervention and treatment than can profoundly help and allow autistic people to have a “normal” life.


Our behavior analysts and therapists at Therapeutic Pathways will help your child or family member develop the skills they’ll need to make decisions and take care of themselves, their space, and belongings, as well as interact with others at home or work.”


The purpose of all of this information is to give you a refreshing and accurate perspective on autism. No one autistic individual is the same as another. They can lead fulfilling and promising lives and are capable of much more than society believes. Autism does not define someone; it is only a part of a human being with the same heart, flesh, and soul as everyone else.

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