Raising children – with or without autism

by beagooddad on March 6, 2007

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This site gets found in the search engines for a wide variety of queries involving autism. Some recent ones include “autism and bear hug” “autism and dads” “autism brushing teeth” “autism potty training” and “autism social” just to name a few recent ones.

I may be the worst prepared person to deal with autism because I don’t know which vitamins are supposed to be good and which minerals are supposed to be bad. How much TV is too much? Should Pookie be in a special ed, blended, or regular class room when he gets to kindergarten?

I’m not really qualified to professionally answer any of those questions. I have my opinions, but they are all based on my family. We all do these kinds of searches to learn new tricks and tools for helping our kids. I think we should all remember that every kid with autism is so very different that you can’t expect to find any hard and fast rules. But, if you think about it, what hard and fast rules do you know that work with all non-autistic kids.

The more research I do the more I realize that I think a large number of people take a really sad approach to handling autism. Take a look at this taken directly from the Cure Autism Now website:

You are never prepared for a child with autism. You will gradually come to believe it, but never fully accept it, get used to it, or get over it. You put away the hopes and dreams you had for that child – the high school graduation, the June wedding. Small victories are cause for celebration – a word mastered, a dry bed, a hug given freely.

What? Who writes this stuff?

For the record, I fully expect both my kids to graduate high school. I fully expect both of my kids to get married, if they so choose. I have fully accepted that Pookie has autism, gotten used to it, and gotten over it. Small victories are cause for celebration…WITH ANY KID. I’m just as tickled and amazed when Geetle learns something new as when Pookie does.

So, after four years of parenting, 2 of which Pookie has officially been classified as autistic, here are my words of wisdom.

Raise your child like he is your child whether he has a special need or not.

You don’t think he can clear the table? I bet you’re wrong. You don’t think he can learn to hug his sister? I bet you’re wrong. You don’t think he can learn to feed the fish? I bet you are wrong.

The more fears and doubts that you have, the more you are going to limit what you expect from you children. The more you limit what you expect, the less they are going to be able to do.

Virtually everything that we expect out of Geetle, we also expect out of Pookie and vice versa.

Sometimes we all have to find more creative ways to find a way to connect with our autistic children, but that’s our fault not the kids’.

We recently had trouble when Geetle switched to afternoon preschool and started riding the bus. Her bus comes before Pookie’s. We had a few days where he got really mad when he could not get on the bus. He was afraid that he was not going to get to go to school. We couldn’t figure out how to explain to him that his bus would be coming in less than 10 minutes. Then we got a tip from his teacher, implemented it, and suddenly Pookie understands and has no trouble letting Geetle and her bus leave without him. He didn’t have trouble learning how to deal with the situation. We had trouble teaching him how to understand it.

Feel free to search the internet for tips. Some of them may just work. If it doesn’t, try something else.  Never give up and never assume that your kid cannot learn something; whether they have autism or not.

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