Today is World Autism Awareness Day.
Our eldest son, now 9, was diagnosed with autism at age 5. This was young enough for him to benefit from early intervention support which has made a huge difference to his life. It was not, and cannot be, a cure. There is no such thing, nor would I want there to be one. Being on the autism spectrum is part of what makes him, him.
Yet if you suspect your child of having autism, push for an early diagnosis because it unlocks help and support pathways. Most of all, it helps build an understanding of what is going on with your child’s lived experience.
Autism doesn’t go away. My boy continues to face struggles. Likely, these struggles will impact him throughout life. The effects often appear cyclical. We have good weeks and bad. The last few weeks have been tremendously difficult for him. It has been hard for him getting through a school day, without a rift appearing. It’s hard for us as parents to get the loving and supportive parenting right all the time. It’s not easy for anybody. For our son, emotional disregulation is a daily challenge. We have learned to always be on the lookout for triggers. That might be a loud environment, or too many stimulators inputs, or the need for him to make consecutive decisions.
We are sure to get through this current difficult phase, but we have the knowledge that this is a challenge that will always be present for him. Our job as parents is to equip him with the skills and tools necessary to be able to have a good life, whatever the definition of that might be for him.
We keep working at that. Days like Autism Awareness Day help remind us of this important task.