Welcome to Autism Fundraising Guide. I focus on therapies, treatment, advice, trends and personal anecdotes based upon my experience as a parent of a sixteen year old with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I have seen this disorder go from relatively obscure when my child was diagnosed thirteen years ago, to a very maintream epidemic today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Children With Autism: The Importance of Grandparents

Children with autism are dealing with a lot each day as they interpret their environment. Parents of children with autism are often overwhelmed as they seek the best treatments and therapies. Parents are engrossed in their role as the leader of the child's therapeutic team. Parents have many jobs, as they must act as liasions among the various specialists and also advocate for their child within school systems. In other words, parents are very busy. This sets the stage for the spotlight to rest upon some very interesting characters in the autism family drama: the grandparents.

The role of the grandparents for children with autism cannot be overstated. In past years over diverse cultures, elders across every society and tribe held positions of great respect. This is because in most cultures elders are considered the keepers of ancient secrets or wisdom. In a disorder where both the cause and the cure are currently unknown, the best course of action is to give deference to the wisdom of the elder members of society.

The grandparents and great- grandparents of children with autism can provide insights into the child's behavior that parents may be too exhausted to see. Also, upon having a child newly diagnosed with the disorder, parents themselves go through the normal stages of grief. So, in a sense, parents need help too. Grandparents can provide help, unique perspective, patience and experience.

Upon the topic of experience, parents may feel that the grandparents have never before brought up a child with autism, so what can they know about it? Grandparents may not know autism, but they know children. Children are children, after all.

As a personal example in this writer's experience, my own grandmother was the one who taught her autistic great- grandson (my son) how to write. When he was three years old, my grandmother began patiently and painstakingly writing the letter"A" in shaving cream. She proceeded through the alphabet until he could write all the letters, then words. He is fifteen today and evidences no fine motor delay whatsoever. He writes well. She accomplished this during a time when he was completely nonverbal and the rest of the family was in shock, confusion and despair. Age brings patience and patience brings wisdom and results.

Grandparents and great- grandparents of children with autism should have positions of honor in any roundtable discussion that involves brainstorming. Their physical strength might not be great but their life experience is.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Children With Autism: Birthdays

I saw a post by another parent on a message board and it began this way "Today is my autistic son's birthday and I am sad..." I recalled all the many years past that I felt exactly the same way. This was a sentiment that it was impossible for many people to understand, but I bet other parents of children with autism do. The reason for the sadness is certainly not that you regret the day they were born! Parents of children with autism love them with one of the strongest, fiercest loves ever seen on this planet. The reason for the sadness is because a birthday represents a significant milestone- a date of importance that cannot be ignored.

Every year, at various times but certainly at birthdays, parents of children with autism face the indisputable fact that although their child might be twelve or thirteen chronologically, they are far younger than that developmentally. This creates an understandable pain and anguish in the parent. This highlighting of the differences inherent in the disorder makes it difficult for many parents to "celebrate" a "happy birthday." It takes time, and above all a very difficult spiritual concept called "acceptance," to actually have fun on the birthday of a child with a significant delay.

Today, my son's birthdays are a blast. I suppose this testifies to how far we have both come (more me than him.) He is fifteen now and doing much better than before but yes, he is still significantly delayed in certain areas, particularly speech. Interestingly though, I rarely think about the delay anymore. He is very happy and he is doing very well. His birthdays are joyful now- I guess celebrations of the absolute war I feel we have been through.

To those parents who are sad on their developmentally delayed child's birthday, to you I say I understand. I have been there. One day in the future you will be happy on his birthday, I promise it.