Monday, October 26, 2015

Awareness, Understanding and Acceptance

I was talking to an acquaintance the other day about Dominic.  This gentleman knows that he has Autism.  During the course of our conversation he said, "so, he's a genius, right?" All I said back was, "well, he can play the piano!" Yikes, looking back on that conversation, there were so many things I could have said instead. Like, how about Autism is not the same for every child or adult?  Lately, I feel like I'm in "unchartered territory" with Dominic. Given that he is well past 11 years old, I am almost 100% sure he is going through puberty. So many emotions and hormones are swirling around these days around Dominic that I feel like I am caught up in a tornado! We work all the time on getting him to tell us his feelings. This morning he kept saying, "James got stung on his nose by a bee!" I asked him to show me in the Thomas the Tank Engine book he was looking at where in the story James got stung. Sure enough, there was a part in the story where a bee stung James on the nose. Dominic said, "he needs a Band-Aid!" For Dominic to recognize that James was hurt and needed a Band-Aid was HUGE. I then said, "how did James FEEL after getting stung?" Dominic said, "sad." A common misconception about children and adults with Autism is that they have a hard time with emotions, both regulating and recognizing them. Yes, some do, but not all. I love that Sesame Street recently introduced a character with Autism!  I also love that Dominic's school is again having a peer-to-peer program this year. It warmed my heart when I got an e-mail from Dominic's teacher telling me that over 100 children wanted to sign up (for the second year in a row)! How cool is that? If even one child goes home and tells their parents about the children in Dominic's class that in itself is helping to start the "conversation." No one in either my family or my husband's family has Autism. My own dad has gone from not really knowing how to talk and act around Dominic to becoming one of his biggest supporters.  It has taken years, but I know that they both have a lot to "teach" each other. It has been almost nine years since we were given the diagnosis of Autism for Dominic. Do I think I know everything there is to know about Autism? No, I do not. Are some days more challenging than others? Yes, they are. I do know this though. With awareness, comes understanding and with understanding comes acceptance.

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