The Faces of Autism: Meet Ben
Meet Ben, a 6 year old affectionate little boy diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Ben was diagnosed with Autism at 4 years old. He had hit all his milestones and was on track all the way up to 2.5 years old. At that point he seemed to developmentally stop progressing. He had delayed speech and showed no interest in toys or peer interaction.
Ben has a very strong memory and attention to detail. He can be very affectionate. Ben has to work harder than his peers on developing his fine and gross motor skills. He doesn't seek out peer interactions. He continues to work through his difficulties by attending Speech, Occupational and Physical therapy as well as play therapy appointments.
Ben's parents on raising a child with Autism:
"We have learned that Ben doesn't experience the world in the same way that we do. His highs are higher and his lows are lower. He laughs harder and hugs tighter. His interests are more intense but he doesn't always express it. Being a parent of a child with Autism can be isolating because not many people can relate to the experience. There are times you feel like you have to explain their misbehavior or temper tantrums. It can be emotionally and financially difficult. We would encourage patience and love with a child on the Autism Spectrum. Ben has made great strides. We are excited for his future.
Prior to becoming parents we didn't realize that some children having public meltdowns might have more to their story than just having a bad day or a temper tantrum. We have learned that Autism truly is a spectrum. We would read "symptoms" online and talk ourselves out of it because Ben didn't shy away from being affectionate. We took anecdotal evidence like "my nephew acted like that and he grew out of it". If you have any suspicions with your child we would encourage you to seek a diagnosis."
HERE is a little extra reading for you, it has signs and symptoms to look for and a few myths about Autism, including the myth that people with Autism don't show affection or emotion. I really enjoyed the article, as it broke things down in a easy to read way.
If you suspect your child may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are great supports in the community. One of my favorites is BisMan Autism Families on Facebook, the people there can help guide you in the right direction, through the process.