Friday, April 02, 2010
World Autism Awareness Day
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). (Source: Autism Speaks) It's basically neurological - their brains are wired differently, and each person is affected slightly differently and to different extents, hence the term "Autism Spectrum", as it is seen as a spectrum of symptoms or traits rather than a single common identifier.
Sienna was been diagnosed last year with Asperger Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
In Asperger Syndrome there are severe and sustained social impairments, but impairments are not as severe in the language and communication area. Speech usually develops within the normal age range, but the ability to communicate effectively (known as language pragmatics) is impaired. The impairments seem more subtle in the very young child, and become more apparent as the child reaches pre school and school age. The Asperger person is usually in the normal intelligence range. (source: Autism Victoria)
The Raising Children website is a really good source of information, though as long as we are going ok I tend to take information in small bites and take breaks from it now and then, as there is a lot to sift through to find things that are actually helpful.
With Ash being in early intervention for *some* similar traits and development delays, but without any definitive diagnosis , it just means things can be a bit different around here! The most obvious thing is that their reactions can seem completely out of proportion to the situation, as the stimuli that overwhelms them is not immediately obvious to NTs (or Neuro-typicals). So mostly it just requires awareness and patience, and most importantly a realisation that these sensory issues and neurological quirks are both part of who they are but not the definition of who they are.
And besides the details of diagnosis and whatever, they are awesome people!