Meet our dear son, Jace. Jace has Autism.
Autism has no boundaries, has no cause, has no philosophies nor has very much patience for that matter. If you know a person with Autism, you'll understand this. If you don't, well... it's very difficult to explain to you, but I'll try with my not-so-poetic formality.
A typical day requires heavy routine with lots of recourse and repetitive reassurance. Every move has to be planned with Jace, whether it's a pick up from school, a trip to the store, or a meal, he MUST know "what happens next?" or he simply falls apart. Falling apart can mean a repetition of vocal actions paired with physical outbreaks (known as "stemming") or with him withdrawing or screaming "no-no-no-no-no!". Often times, he talks to himself or starts preaching a tale he has stored in his tiny memory-bank, which at times seems to be an endless vault of fairy-tales (He can recite Green Eggs and Ham page by page by heart). Jace functions well within our family. He can dress himself (somewhat), he feeds himself (often times a LOT) and entertains himself with even the simplest things such as his siblings (which get too close). His social reign seems to be improving, though he hit's his "reset" button often and just shuts down. Actions such as these, push him into the general category that the public call "special needs". I have a love-hate relationship with that term because of the audacity that comes with it and sometimes the blatent selfishness or un-willingingness to care that others often portray. At any rate. We think he's pretty special and quite frankly, aren't bothered by what others think about him anymore.
Is it hard to raise and child with Autism? It certainly isn't easy, but I can tell you that it allows a person to stretch patience in places you didn't think you could stretch. It teaches respect and compassion to all that live with it, and it brings a certain innocence and the realization that we are all human that makes us unpredictable yet sustainable human-beings.
There are no answers, there is no cure, but new findings and information continues to help us understand Autism.
This Saturday Morning, we will be joining the Walk Now for Autism Speaks in their yearly Walk for Autism as Team FlapJacked. Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
If you know someone, or a family that has a child/adult with Autism, we encourage you to be mindful, supportive and understanding. It's touched our lives and is one of the reasons that we live and breathe FlapJacked.