Autism Is…

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**Originally written 3/31/15

Autism is a spectrum disorder. It means a lot of different things to each person affected by it, depending on where they or their child is on the spectrum. Some kids with Autism are brilliant, verbal, but slightly socially awkward; while other kids are non-verbal, low IQ, poor social skills, have severe behavioral deficits and are one hundred percent dependent on a caregiver. You will never meet two people with Autism who are alike. There is a saying “once you have met one person with Autism, you have met one person with Autism.”

Here are a few Autism fun facts: (taken from TACA )

  • Autism now affects 1 in 68 children (now, in 2018, it’s 1 in 42 boys affected by Autism, 1 in 189 girls)
  • Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of 3
  • Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities
  • Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls
  • About 40% of children with autism do not speak. About 25%–30% of children with autism have some words at 12 to 18 months of age and then lose them. Others might speak, but not until later in childhood
  • Autism greatly varies from person to person (no two people with autism are alike)
  • The rate of autism has steadily grown over the last twenty years
  • Comorbid conditions often associated with autism include Fragile X, allergies, asthma, epilepsy, bowel disease, gastrointestinal/digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, PANDAS, feeding disorders, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, OCD, sensory integration dysfunction, sleeping disorders, immune disorders, autoimmune disorders, and neuroinflammation.
  • Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet most underfunded.
  • Children with autism do progress – early intervention is key
  • Autism is treatable, not a hopeless condition

To me, Autism is NOT what defines Chase though. It is not a label, it is not who he is, it is not all that he is, is it merely a diagnosis, a road map of sorts, as to how he learns, interacts with and sees the world around him.

In the beginning, the word AUTISM was scary. Before we had the diagnosis I was terrified of it. I thought everything about Chase would change if he got that diagnosis. I was afraid people would only think of him as “autistic” and not see him for who he really is. I grieved the diagnosis when he got it. The dreams I had for Chase, the plans, the future. Nothing was going to be how I had imagined it would be, or had planned it out in my head. But that’s when my eyes were opened and my faith restored. Silly me for thinking I was ever in control or could actually plan out the future.

Shortly after Chase’s diagnosis I was doing my daily devotional and read this passage…

“I am leading you, step by step, through your life. Hold My hand in trusting dependence, letting Me guide you through this day. Your future looks uncertain and feels flimsy – even precarious. That is how it should be. Secret things belong to the Lord, and future things are secret things. When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at things that are Mine. This, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion: doubting My promises to care for you.

“Whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, repent and return to Me. I will show you the next step forward, and the one after that, and the one after that. Relax and enjoy the journey in My presence, trusting Me to open up the way before you as you go.”
Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalm 32:8

The things that Chase has taught me – I’ve elaborated on this before in a previous post –  are things I may not have learned without this journey. I began to see Autism as something more. Yes, Autism sucks, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. There are a lot of hard days. A lot of money spent. A lot of researching. And a lot of sleepless nights. But in the midst of all the struggles, my eyes were opened to what this journey was meant to teach me, us, our family. The relationships formed, the tears shared, the “club” of supporting moms, strangers willing to reach out and help because they get it. There are good people in this world.

I have come to learn and understand that Autism is not just a learning or developmental disorder, it is also a disorder of the gut, brain and immune system. My eyes have been opened to the toxic/GMO/processed/unhealthy world of food and drugs that we live in. I have learned so much about our bodies, how food/drugs/ingredients/environment/etc. can affect it, harm it, make us sick…and also how we can heal from it.

The people we have met, the connections we have made, the journey we have taken…it has all been because of something much bigger than ourselves or our sole efforts. God has had a hand in this journey since before Chase was even born. I know without a doubt He has big plans for all of us and I pray daily that He will use our experience to glorify Him and help others in similar situations or struggles.

April is Autism Awareness Month. I challenge everyone to educate yourself and others about what Autism actually is. Because with growing statistics like 1 in 42, chances are you or your children will interact with someone with on the spectrum at some point in their lives if they haven’t already.

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