I started this blog for a few reasons; to document Jake’s life, to share our life with friends and family as well as those that are going through similar struggles and to bring awareness to autism. Being aware of what autism can look like is important especially now as we all probably know someone or know of someone who is on the spectrum. But there is something I need to say to those that no nothing of this disorder…
Please don’t be afraid!
Don’t be afraid of Jake or someone like Jake.
WebMD uses this definition of Autism: Autism is a brain disorder that often makes it hard to communicate with and relate to others. With autism, the different areas of the brain fail to work together.
Autism is a processing disorder. Autism makes it harder to understand and process all kinds of things.
Because of the way an autistic persons brain works it is often hard for a person on the spectrum to see, feel or hear social cues. It is hard for an autistic person to understand certain things.
Don’t be afraid to approach a child on the spectrum as you would another child. The autistic child will usually let you know what they can or can’t tolerate.
Don’t be discouraged when you say “hi” and get no response. Don’t get upset or allow your feelings to be hurt.
Don’t be offended when you ask for a hug and you get no response. Don’t allow this to affect your relationship with a person on the spectrum.
Allow yourself to be open-minded. Allow yourself to be willing to talk and share with that person on the spectrum as you would with someone who isn’t on the spectrum. They hear you, it is just taking them a bit longer to process all that is being said.
A person on the autism spectrum most likely hears you, they most likely see you. So do your best to give this person the space they need to understand and eventually look at you or in your direction and respond to what you have just said.
But most of all, don’t be afraid of the unknown. Ask me and I’ll share with you my experience. Ask me anything you want if it helps you better understand this disorder. No question is off-limits.
It is a complicated disorder. No two people on the spectrum share the same “disabilities”.
What I experience might be totally different from another’s experience with autism. This is a fact and does not mean we are wrong, it does not mean that we are putting a “label” on our child for pure convenience of explaining why he does what he does.
Autism is a very broad spectrum. What Jake does versus what another autistic child does can look similar or totally different.
There are similar signs of autism; low to no eye contact, toe walking, not responding to their name, might not smile when you smile at them…the list goes on (click on the link to learn more).
If I could share with you one thing and one thing only it would be don’t be afraid!
My boy is just that, a boy. He is not unlike any other child, he needs love and compassion. He needs to be cared for and taught daily lessons. My boy loves and is loved. My boy is happy and wants others to be as happy as he is. My boy is rambunctious. My boy loves to be played with and enjoys talking about subjects that interest him. Currently we are back on Thomas the Train. He loves anything that moves whether it is a car, truck, train or airplane. He loves watching the wheels move slow and fast. In so many ways he is just like any other child.
The difference with Jake is he needs extra help and extra time to learn any new task. When I say the word any I mean any and everything that is new. It takes him a bit longer to process the request that is new to him. Sometimes there is ‘fright and flight’. He can’t understand the “new” and gets scared and runs away. This is something we are working on currently. How to deal with the “new” and how to use our words to express how we are feeling.
We have had to teach Jake what emotions are and what they look like. This doesn’t come to him naturally. We have to teach Jake how to express his emotions in the most appropriate manner.
Recently I posted on my Facebook page how Jake’s yogurt packaging changed. It was a minuet change, nothing huge but he saw it. He didn’t like it and cried, threw a fit and ran away saying his new yogurt was “scary”. Jake notices everything even as small as the change of the characters shirt on his favorite yogurt. I didn’t understand, I didn’t see it. I told him it was the same yogurt he always eats, I showed him the package that it comes in and he looked at it and cried. This is where it gets tricky with Jake. I don’t get it, I don’t understand how a small detail can change the whole experience for him. But I don’t have to understand it to help him learn and grow from this experience. I told him how he could tell me what was different, how he didn’t have to cry and run away screaming. Finally after about a week of him looking at this new container he was able to tell me that he wanted the one with Dora’s shirt (the one with the spoon) and not the new scary yogurt. Ahhhhh, the relief I felt. Although I don’t understand it all fully I was happy that he was finally able to tell me so I could understand a little better. I am sure the next change will be just as hard, but over time he will learn how to use his words to tell me what’s going on versus running away.
This is a very small tidbit of what we go through with just about everything. From new clothes to new cups to even new decorations in his room. I do my best to understand how his brain works. I read as much material as I can to understand because by trying to understand I become more aware and can help him through whatever “new and scary” situation that arises.
We all have our own “ways” of doing things. Some might call it quirky while others think it is just dumb. But it is what it is and somethings we just can’t change fully. It is how we do things from cleaning to organizing or how we prepare our food. It is what makes us individuals, it’s what makes us unique.
We were not all created the same, God intended it to be that way. We are all diverse in our ways of doing things and the way our brain works. It is no different from Jake. One autism quote I like is “different not less”. Truth be told we are all different but not less. God created us in his own image so to ridicule or to be afraid of someone because they are different is just not right.
This boy is just that…just a boy. Yes, he needs some extra help but he loves and wants to be loved just like you or me 🙂
Editor’s note: If you have any questions or need assistance of any kind please feel free to reach out to me. You can find me on Facebook ~ Our Journey with Jake ~ or you can message me here. Thank you for reading this important message from me and thank you to those that support us every day! We love you ❤