What are the questions that come to mind when you think of autism? Steve and I have been asked so many questions over the years. And isn’t this what helps spread awareness? So what are the questions I get asked most about my son?
1. Does he have a special talent? You know, like Rain Man?
Brandon has a lot of special talents. He knows every single animal at Cabelas. He knows what color fur they have. What color their noses are. He knows where they live. He knows which ones like to fight and which ones live in the water. But does he have a savant skill? No. Nor do the majority of folks with autism. Brandon cannot count cards or the number of toothpicks in a box. He is not good at math. He doesn’t speak several languages. One source says about 10% of those with autism may be considered a savant. And that percentage drops considerably if there are intellectual, language, or other deficits.
In my opinion, Rain Man was a pretty good portrayal of some of the other aspects of autism. The need for routine and structure is really important in our house. Brandon needs to know what is going to happen. Every night, we have the same conversation….”you are going to go to bed, have a quiet body and quiet mouth, go to sleep, wake up, go to day program, and when you get home from day program, you can stay home.” Every night. Sometimes 3-4 times per night. Of course, I change it to match whatever we will be doing tomorrow, but the conversation must be had. If not, tantrums and/or meltdowns occur. And the conversation has to be with me. Not Steve and not his brothers. It is always with me.
2. Was Brandon vaccinated?
Yes, Brandon received all the vaccinations his pediatrician recommended. So did Alex and Josh. So did Steve and I. In fact, Steve asked the doctor to separate Josh’s vaccines after Brandon was diagnosed with autism. Josh received the measles vaccine separately. After that, the doctor said the other parts of the MMR could no longer be separated, so Josh got the full MMR. He received the measles vaccine twice and does not have autism. Personally, I do not believe vaccines are the cause of autism. And there is a whole bunch of research, studies, tests, etc. that have debunked this theory.
3. Are you able to take him into the community?
This is the question I struggle with the most. Of course we take Brandon into the community. Why wouldn’t we? Have we had challenges with doing this? Of course, but who doesn’t. When Brandon was much younger, it was a bit harder. There were many tantrums and meltdowns in the grocery store or at his brothers soccer games. We did short trips out for awhile and would gradually increase the time. We learned to ALWAYS make sure the iPod and headphones were with us.
How does any child learn to be out and about, whether they have autism or not? Practice. Practice. Practice. It just may take more practicing with a person with autism.
Steve and I also realized that sometimes it is just better for everyone if one of us stays home with Brandon. So we tag team. And we switch off who gets to go and who gets to stay home. And now that Josh and Alex are older, they will stay with Brandon so Steve and I can occasionally get out by ourselves. We actually had a grocery store date a couple days ago!
What questions do you all have about autism? I am an open book. Ask me anything you want and I will do my best to answer.
Stay well everyone!!!