7 Things An Autism Mom Wants You to Know About Autism
In honor of Autism Awareness month, what everyone should know about autism.
-April Daniels Hussar
“Being a mom to a child with autism has inspired me in ways I would have never imagined,” says Denise D’Ecclessis, a mother of two boys, Angelo, 19, and Vincent, 13, who is on the autism spectrum. “Inspiration” and “autism” might not be words that you normally think of as going together, but in honor of World Autism Day and Autism Awareness month, we asked Denise, who is the founder of the Love for Autism Facebook community, to share a little bit about her experience with the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
Autism now affects 1 in 88 children (and 1 in 54 boys). When Denise and her husband first received Vincent’s diagnosis, she says they were devastated. “No parent wants to hear that their child has a developmental disorder,” she shares. But, she says, “I do not think our family could have ever known the blessing our son would turn out to be.”
Isn’t that how all parents feel about their children? That they are blessings — no matter what might (or might not) set them apart from other kids. Denise says that son has helped her grow as an individual, and learn to “embrace life for all its differences.”
Denise says that the hardest part, for her, about autism is her fear for the future. “Who will take care of my son and look out for him, and love him the way we do?” she asks. And, like all parents, she wishes she could help keep her child from struggling. “We just want life to be easier for them,” she says of both her children.
With the goal of making life for everyone affected by autism — parents and children alike — a little bit easier, here are 7 things that Denise wants to share with you. As Denise says, “Let’s shine a light upon this cause and help these beautiful, intelligent children feel accepted.”
1. No two children are alike
Remember: if you know one child with autism, you know one child. Autism is a spectrum that covers a range of developmental disabilities. I have worked with children in early intervention for more than ten years and no two cases can be treated the same.
2. A nonverbal child still has something to say
Just because some children on the spectrum can’t use their voices does not mean they can’t find ways to communicate. With all the technology out today, nonverbal children can hold a complete conversation with you.
3. Autism families don’t need pity — they need understanding and compassion
I never want anyone to feel sorry for me or my child. I have told people in the past that he is happy and loved. He understands how you react in front of him, so the more calm and relaxed you are, the more he will be. I also teach my children, in this life to be healthy and happy is everything, so do not pity anyone!
4. Autism in not the parents’ fault
Parenting has nothing to do with how your child got autism, but everything to do with how they develop and gain skills.
5. What you say matters
Just because children with autism may not speak or may repeat phrases, doesn’t mean they don’t understand you. They may not be great at social interactions, but they can understand more than they let on. On that note, please be careful what you say around them.
6. Your judgement can hurt
When you see a child acting out, please don’t stare and make the family uncomfortable. There are a number of reasons that child may be behaving that way. Sounds and noises can be very difficult for a child with autism. Staring at the parent and / or child is hurtful. What the family could use is a welcoming smile to let them know you understand.
7. Trust your instincts
If you have concerns with your child’s development please don’t ignore them. As scary as it may seem to face, do not allow fear to stand in your way. Having your child evaluated at a very young age will help you get the support needed through early intervention, which in turn will help pave the way toward your child’s success in the future.
About Denise D’Ecclessis:
I have an active role in spreading awareness and you can learn more about my dedication on my face book page at Love for Autism. Please take some time this month to educate yourselves on autism. There are many ways you can show you care by attending a fundraiser, reading a book in your child’s class, babysitting for a child on the spectrum to give the parents a break, or even just putting a blue light bulb from Home Depot on your front porch to let the autism community know you support them.