Clarification: Autism Awareness (Part 1)

Friends, I have talked with a few people recently. The more I share this with others, the more I realize there is misconception about something that I feel is very valid and noteworthy of clarification. You can choose to read this post or move on, but I would rather ensure that there is clear understanding rather than preconceived notions, assumptions, or lack of clarity for that matter. I am finally in a spot as a mom and a wife, that I am addressing this from the heart, so please only take this as my way saying, ‘I care and I want you to know’.

Our daughter went through a rigorous process of being evaluated over the course of the last 4 months. As bright, beautiful, intelligent, and spunky as we see our daughter, there were a few minor delays we noticed and we wanted to ensure that if this truly was the case, that our daughter receive the additional support and resources she needed so that she could thrive and be the best her possible! We didn’t want for her glass to be half full so to speak, we wanted to see her full potential come out and shine! As it turns out, Michaiah does fall on the Autism Spectrum.

Autism Spectrum does not mean automatically that she is diagnosed with ‘Autism’ nor that she is non-verbal, moderate or severe. Truth be told, she tested high enough as either high functioning or possible Aspergers; this cannot be confirmed until she is older. She must first grow and develop further before the evaluation team can decide what and if that diagnosis will actually look like. Until such time, they did give her an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that goes over her goals and what they want to see her work on over time, which will be updated periodically as she meets various milestones and progression.

Here is the thing, when I have shared Michaiah falls on the ‘spectrum’, it is assumed that she is not able to be consoled, flails on the floor, and is obsessed with textures. Though these behaviors may happen with some children, Autism has many varying degrees and is one of the most complex disorders there are. No two children with Autism are alike. Children are not to be placed in ‘cookie cutter’ like patterns. Just because she falls on the ‘spectrum’ does not mean she is not ‘normal’. Michaiah and all other children that face this same challenge are perfectly ‘normal’ children. Michaiah when not getting her way does not ‘classically’ throw herself on the floor, she is actually easily able to be re-directed especially when given cues that she is motivated by (i.e. for her this is songs, stickers, and bubbles). She also does not obsess about textures. Michaiah is hypersensitive as many other children to various things and shows repetitive behavior at moments, but she does not go around compulsively doing things or saying certain words over and over either. The eye gazing is there, but it is inconsistent at times.

I fail as a parent and mother to see how she is more ‘special’ or ‘different’ from other children. Aside from the inconsistencies, she says words and is beginning to say sentences and she enjoys the same age appropriate toys and things as her peers. Her behaviors for the most part are age appropriate. She may be considered higher functioning and there is a chance she may even go on to outgrow her IEP altogether, which would mean eventually she is in a ‘mainstream’ not ‘normal’ classroom. I say this again because she is ‘normal’ she just needs additional support and assistance at this point to help unlock and foster the development on the few ‘gaps’ in her processing that she is having. We are aware of all of her potential and how bright she truly is.

Because of the length of this original post, we here at Tara Cherie have decided to extend this post to elaborate and provide awareness to Autism. Tune in later this week to learn how Autism Spectrum can be a blessing and our plans to help our daughter overcome! Stay tuned for next time!