Coping with Autism

How do we cope with Autistic Spectrum Disorders? The short answer is, not alone.

Through tears running down his face, Andrew tells his mom, “I can’t think when I’m angry, it is just like a big rocket blasting off!” His mom’s heart breaks for her child as he struggles to make sense of the world around him. Andrew, like an overwhelming number of children today, has Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder sometimes called High Functioning Autism.

According to the Surgeon General, Autism is the most common of the pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) and is characterized by severely compromised ability to engage in, and by a lack of interest in, social interactions. These types of disorders come in many names and labels, all of them with their own defining characteristics – yet most of them presenting similar challenges and the need for a plethora of therapies. Similar disorders include ADD, ADHD and Sensory Integration Disorder.

According to the Autism Society of America, its prevalence rate now places it as the third most common developmental disability – more common than Down’s syndrome. Autism Spectrum Disorder occurs in about 1 of every 500 births, four times more often in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic, social or geographical boundaries.

In Andrew’s case, he looks and often appears like any typical 9-year-old boy. His challenge with language and social delays are often misinterpreted as disruptive behavior by those around him, which only adds to his daily struggles. As hard as he tries, the subtle social cues that come instinctively to most children elude him.

Making friends is what he desires most and yet is the most difficult skill for him to learn. The confusing daily interactions can often lead to frustration and outbursts. For kids with Asperger’s Syndrome, they must learn social skills much in the same way as we would learn to play the piano. Therapies may include teaching facial expressions and social cues to help them navigate the world around them.

It seems almost everyone knows someone who fights the daily battle of seeing the world through such a filter.

Programs and support groups are springing up from schools, parents, doctors and professionals. As the professionals continue to research and look for answers, parents everywhere are getting together in chat rooms, on group email lists, in homes and on the telephone. The parents of these special children have had to become advocates of education, nutrition and therapies

. Constantly educating themselves and searching for answers, these parents can tell you what has worked for their children and some can even tell you what they believe is the cause. By coming together they find understanding and a sympathetic ear as they work through the daily challenges of raising a special child. As they seek answers for their kids, these parents and their grassroots efforts are changing the face of how we feed and educate our kids. The time has come, our kids are requiring doctors, teachers, professionals and parents to stand up and take notice of educational and nutritional systems that are not working and they are helping us to define the one’s that do.

Many Brevard County families have banded together to provide a safe haven for their kids. Brevard Families Of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (BFOCASD) offers play groups, Girl’s Night Out and Guy’s Night Out. They provide meetings with educational speakers offering information on topics ranging from behavior strategies, educational plans to nutrition. Among their dreams for the future is a building with toys and equipment where the kids can play without worrying about being disruptive, support for siblings of afflicted kids to air their frustrations, as well as summer camps and professionals to provide therapeutic options.

Brevard Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (or similar disabilities) is a support Group for families, educators and therapists of children and adults with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, PDD-NOS, SADD/ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder or similar disabilities.

Post Facto: BFOCASD is no longer in operations.

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