Friday, April 2, 2010

First Friday Health Corner

First Friday of the month = breast self exam, so hop to it ladies!

(see, look, I was funny there, I made a bunny reference around easter time, did you notice?!)

Today I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk about autism.Today, April 2, has been declared "wear blue for autism awareness" day. I have no idea who declared it, but I'm wearing my blue because autism has recently entered my personal life in an unexpected way. A young person that we're close to seems to have many of the 'markers' and the family is starting the process of having a formal evaluation done. This young person is very bright and "high-functioning" but some things are just a little "off-kilter" so to speak.
Autism was always something that was out there but it was never part of my life. Well, now it may be part of my life, and I'm realizing that most of us probably know someone who has autism (to some degree), and we just may not recognize it.
As I've been reading up on aspergers and high-functioning autism in particular--trying to understand this young person better--I've realized that this is not a 'disability' so much as just an entirely different way of perceiving the world. We hear about how diagnosis rates are increasing, and I wonder if that is due to increasing pressure from our culture to 'fit in', rather than from an actual change in the incidence of autism. We live in a fast-paced and no-excuses kind of world, and for someone who needs time or space to be a little different, it is hard to just go with the flow. It's a good reminder to all of us to be patient with people--all people--and to accept that everybody is a little bit different, and that's ok. In fact, it's good to be a little different. Who would want to live in a world with a bunch of clones anyway.


sara said...

I have heard some people say that the reason rates are increasing is that more people are aware of it. I know autism has been around for a long time but I've been working with children (professionally) since I was 17 and I have seen the problem get worse. In the first kindergarten class I worked in there were no children with ASD markers. I knew one person growing up that had autism. In the second school class I worked in there was one child with "issues". I know SO many children now that have an ASD, my son included. In my previous ward there were about 10 children. I have talked to older adults about it who are interested in this as well and they all agree that there have always been children with special needs, but not the way things are today.

I agree that it's fine to be different. My son's behavioral problems might be the death of me. I've been sitting here almost in tears for most of the day today because I can't deal with it. And there is nothing to be done. His quirks are fine - he's a lovable sweet child. I'm just tired and it's depressing to think it might not ever get better.

There are millions of families who feel this way and are in the same situation - worse situations than I am in. My son is high functioning. I don't know what the answer is - but something is wrong with our world and it needs to be fixed. It's just getting worse.

BonnieKaye said...

I substituted in a few special needs classes in the past year or so and met a number of children with varying degrees of autism. Some were actually scary to be around because you didn't know what they would do next and they were strong, others weren't as drastic and were progressing. I, too, wonder why it seems there are more children diagnosed. It is sad because I can only imagine the challenge the parents are facing, like Sara who commented. Anyway, thanks for bringing this up on your blog.

Mallory said...

I once had an autistic young woman living with my family for almost a year (while my father was the Bishop in a very small ward, and her family was not providing her with a suitable place to live). It was extremely difficult for me, as a teenager, to learn how to deal with her.

I have also had autistic primary kids in my classes. So, I've had a lot of interaction with them now. I sometimes feel like Heavenly Father is preparing me for something. It is a trial to learn how to be patient with people who are different.

Suzanne W. said...

Oh Jenni-thank you for bringing more awareness to this!
My DD is an "Aspie". DS is now showing some signs of traditional autism as well but no official diagnosis at this time. Asperger's and other forms of high functioning autism are just as you stated..."not a 'disability' so much as just an entirely different way of perceiving the world". I've told people that for a few years now when we discuss DD.
I hope as time goes on more people will understand this and accept our quirky family members. They have so much to contribute if we can just try to see things from another point of view.

Brandi (Maxfield) Morstad said...

My best friend Amy has a son with Aspergers and is high functioning. He is a great kid and has a lot to share with anyone who will take the time to listen. His aspergers does present challenges, and I respect any mother or friend or person who has been patient and helped to raise these children. Thanks for writing on the topic.

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