Autism spectrum disorder, generally referred to as “Autism,” is believed to affect 1 in 68 children and presents itself to children in assorted ways. The term “spectrum” refers specifically to the wide range of symptoms and severity that various children experience. What does this mean practically speaking? It means two kids who are both diagnosed with Autism may function at different levels of capability, may communicate with family or in social settings differently, and may have very different treatment plans.
Part of the difficulty with treating Autism is the uniqueness of each person and treatment plans need to vary to accommodate the variety of symptoms. Some children are quick learners in class, but have trouble functioning in social settings. Compounding social problems is often crippling anxiety. Some kids may shy away from anything from making friends to playing on a playground because of the anxiety.
This does not mean a child with Autism cannot lead a happy, well-adjusted, and productive life! Many children with Autism are very intelligent; they simply communicate differently. Part of my job as a parent of an Autistic child is to figure out how to effectively communicate with her and to help her learn how to bridge the communication gaps in her life. Although she is academically gifted, she struggles throughout many school days because the social aspect of school is stressful and exhausting for her. However, as we continue to learn more about Autism and the “conversations” about Autism continue to be part of our daily lives, we are able to spread awareness and that awareness helps to bridge differences naturally.