Over the years, the way I talk and think about Jake has changed. Siblings can sometimes feel like the forgotten carer and so I was recently asked by Ambitious About Autism for tips and tricks for siblings growing up with someone with autism. Here are my top picks:
Being autistic, like being left handed, says very little about who we arewe still often have an instinctive wariness about difference -- especially when we are in groups and when we are still developing our own identity. Our own insecurities can limit us.
No one envies a soldier's mother. The worry. The sleepless nights. The fear that your child will suffer harm, both physical and psychological. Especially in Israel, where I live, military service is tough and dangerous. So, how is it that I find myself envying parents whose children are soldiers?
She talks pretty much non-stop. Sometimes, it drives me crazy and I feel immediately guilty for thinking that, because some of you have yet to hear the sound of your child's voice -- some of you might never hear that sound.
Some people support corporal punishment in schools. These people think physical discipline is the only discipline that works on some children. However, virtually everyone can agree physical discipline should not be used against disabled children.
Living on the spectrum comes with daily challenges for the child, his parent, and his teachers. Here are some tips that can help a child on the spectrum experience less anxiety in their day and feel calmer inside.
Teachers are trained in a definition of autism that is incorrect. A definition that includes and assumes intellectual disability, which is connected to an inability to make oneself understood, low IQ, problematic behaviors and social impairment.
Is it really that hard to write a female character who is brilliant at her job but mentally sound? And if you need to make her interesting is it too much to ask that you simply write a back-story for her?
Shouldn't we accommodate all people whether the devices they use are to communicate -- eyeglasses to see, wheelchairs to move, hearing aids to hear, service animals to guide or calm or, as is the case with Neil Harbisson, the device he created to hear color?
Barb knew some would doubt the words she typed were hers, because she needed a facilitator when she first began typing. Undeterred, she spent the next 10 years learning to type independently, one index finger jabbing at a letter at a time.
It is my hope, for those of you who may be at the beginning of your journey with an autistic child, that these things might help you avoid some of the many, many mistakes we made and a great deal of unnecessary pain.
Imagine that who you were, the way you spoke, moved and behaved was seen as wrong and in need of fixing. Just try to imagine what that must be like. Try to imagine what it might be like to be autistic.
A year ago, I found Julia Bascom's blog, and it changed my life. Within the last year, Julia created the video "The Loud Hands Project." This video, together with Julia's blog, is mandatory viewing for any and all who are even remotely interested in autism or know someone on the spectrum.
It is important you understand the ramifications of connecting autism with murder. It's important to understand why the words we use, the constant stream of negativity in relation to autism, is causing untold damage to my child, to your child, to all autistic people.
Landon Bryce, teacher, writer, artist and animator, has written a terrific book about what it is to be autistic. His characters, each very different from one another, discuss their strengths and challenges while stressing self-respect.