According to the center for disease control and prevention 1 in 110 children have some form of Autism. Autism is sometimes difficult to identify to an untrained eye. Autism is marked by varying degrees of difficulties with social interactions, communication and repetitious behaviors.
Have you ever been in a grocery store and seen a child have a complete melt down, screaming, hitting, and throwing things? Then to your disgust the parent gives in and gives the child what they want? It is possible that child was on the Autism Spectrum and on that particular day that parent was not up for a two hour tantrum. It is common for children with Autism to have very long and elaborate tantrums that could wear out the best of us.
One child I worked with was not in the mood for therapy one day and yelled and screamed for the entire two hour session. His parent later told me he finally stopped yelling at 8 pm. This was four hours of screaming that his parent endured.
Autism can create an isolating effect for parents because they have a hard time finding a qualified babysitter and it can be very stressful for them and their child to be taken to certain public or social outings. For parents out there of typically developing children do you remember when you could not hold a conversation in a public setting because your toddler didn’t want to hold still but if you let them go they would run away or get into something dangerous? It was so much easier to just stay home but staying home was also draining. For a parent of a typically developing child this stage only lasts a few years. For a parent of a child with Autism this isolated stage can lasts past teen age years or longer.
Having a child with Autism can also come with heartbreak. I worked with a parent of a child with Autism who was 5 years old that could only say a few words. When sitting down with his mother to set goals for therapy she stated, “I just want to be able to ask my son how his day was, and for him to be able to respond.” Another mother shared with me that her heart broke when her typically developing nephew got a prom date. She stated, “My son doesn’t even have one friend. I don’t know if he will ever have a prom date.”
If you know someone affected by the Autism spectrum please find a way to be a blessing to them. So often people judge their parenting, call their child a brat or just avoid them all together. If you are a parent of a typically developing child please cherish the conversations you have with your child. Cherish their ability to interact with you and others. We are blessed in ways we often do not see.