The Media's Portrayal Of Autism & The Truth The Media's Portrayal Of Autism & The Truth
Over time I've come across a number of professionally made documentaries and news reports about Autism. In these programs, the host or narrator tends to emphasize one of two things: the savant skills or unique 'coolness' of the Autistic person being highlighted. They may touch on what makes them 'different' and then show some that are rather articulate and can pass for 'average'. That is fine, but there is another part - the one that is more common and not seen as often: the parent or guardian dealing with the Autistic person daily
The general public assumes that Autistic children may have some little oddity and that's it - life goes on because eventually they'll out grow it, but it is not like that. Autism is a life long challenge
. There is no cure for autism
They have no empathy - so if you are sad they may laugh, if you are angry they might smile and conversely you may be happy and laugh and it might make them angry. When an Autistic person learns the correct approach to an outer emotional expression it is not because they have a natural feeling to do it but they learn how to react
similar to how you would teach a robot. For instance: When daddy is sad he will shed a tear or look like 'this', you should not laugh at him.
Autistic children and the adults too demand
that certain things go exactly the way they feel it should. If they do not get their way then they go into what people will consider a tantrum, however it is more than that, it is a meltdown, but I like to refer to it more like a "Hulk" Phase
. Someone from the outside will believe your child is spoiled and wants their own way - that is not the Hulk Phase, during a meltdown the child is inconsolable and ignores reason for a period of time.
You know how the cartoon character of Dr. Banner turns into the green monster and when he does his logical perception becomes limited and he starts mashing up things, yelling and so forth? Well, that is what it can be like with Autistic children. You cannot reason with them and when they are in this phase they sometimes have to be restrained so they do not hurt themselves or others. Now you're probably thinking that's a worst case scenario - no it isn't. This Hulk phase can be a daily thing
hence most of your day to day routine involves sweating bullets trying to fulfill their expectations in order to keep relative peace. Just like the Hulk - you won't like to see them when they're angry.
The most basic elements of life that we do each day without a second thought like: bathing, using the toilet, brushing teeth, eating and so forth are major daily events for Autistic Children (Some Autistic Adults as well). When it is time to do any of these things you have to walk over egg shells to ensure that the little green monster does not rear his ugly head. Now you are probably wondering what could be the big deal with those regular aspects of life... Let me give you a few examples:
At the dinner table probably the cup was not placed in the precise spot for them. The plate was given to 'X' person first instead of 'Y' person. You did not say a particular word before giving them their food. Yes, it can be ritualistic and if you get it wrong - trouble. What is more is that most times Autistic Children cannot communicate
very well but the media tends to feature the ones that are more sociable and able to converse in complete sentences or even attend public schools. For the vast amount of cases I come across this is the rare minority. The majority have lots of life skill issues
and can barely form whole sentences. Now imagine an Autistic child with communication issues trying to convey to you their need and you cannot understand. If you don't get it within the first 10 seconds from their limited vocabulary or hand signals then you know what happens - that's right - Mr Hulk appears!
Now, even when you think you've fulfilled all their wishes you're in for a surprise (Not really because you expect it). They start analyzing you - what you wear, how you dress, where you go and at what times. If they feel anything is not right based on their perception they may go into the 'Hulk' phase again. Therefore to do simple things you have to literally 'sneak' around your own home to get it done.Autistic children and some adults cannot be left unattended at anytime.
In many cases you cannot find anyone willing or capable to 'babysit' either so you must be with them at all times and in everything. In our own particular situation we have three Autistic Boys and though they are varying ages they all have the same traits as described within my Post. My purpose in writing this was just to give you a glimpse into what it is like to raise an Autistic child and in our case three Autistic children.
in another part of this Thread so you can know the other aspect of Autism most people like to hide. Do not ignore this, watch the video - you will then understand what many Autism Parents go through and what my life is like!