Saturday, April 1, 2017

Autism #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the Unknown Journey Ahead. If you have a family member or a friend who is impacted by autism, or are interested in the topic for any other reason, you've come to the right place.
 
My theme for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge is - Journeying Through the Unknown.   Because that is the theme of my life.

What is autism?  Even trying to explain autism can cause some controversies.  There are those who consider it a disability and seek a cure for their loved ones.  Others consider it as a difference, with the disabilities belonging to society as a whole and their attitudes. 

According to the organization Autism Speaks:

"Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.".  They go on to point out:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
  • Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
  • Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
  • Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.
Autism is a "spectrum disorder".  This simply means that there is a wide variation in how individuals with autism and related disorders "present".  So when I write about my brother in law, please keep in mind that no two people with autism are exactly the same.

I have a brother in law with autism I call "Bil" in this blog.  He has been in my life since the 1970's.

"Bil" is now in his late 50's.

I hope, one day, to turn these experiences into a book, because there is an epidemic of young people with autism, and now the oldest of them are reaching adulthood.  Their loved ones need a road map. Perhaps I can help with that.  Actually, I could use one, myself.

My brother in law was born back in the "bad old days" before there was early intervention.  He went diagnosed for almost his entire childhood, and my mother in law was blamed for his differences.  Today, that's hard to believe, but it's true.

It is hard to communicate with him.  Meanwhile,  I am, by nature, a shy and reserved person.  Being with him can be frustrating, to say the least.  I may not always like him, but I've learned you don't have to like someone to love them.

But I fight for his right to live with dignity and full potential.  And I fight for myself and my right not to be swallowed up in his life.

 I hope you will join me on this Journey Through the Unknown.  And while you are at it, I hope you will join a link up at a blog called It's All a Matter of Perspective.  

That blogger is opinionated, and you may not always agree, but you will always get something of value from what she has to say.

This April, I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  Today, April 1, my blog topic starts with the letter "A".   On Monday (we have Sundays off, except for April 30) my blog post title with start with B, and so forth, ending with "Z" on April 30.

19 comments:

  1. Blown away by the courage of your MIL - so tough her journey must have been! and also by yours. Hope you and your cause get the exposure and awareness and support they truly deserve.

    All the very best,
    Nilanjana.
    Madly-in-Verse
    Theme : Arabiana

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    1. My mother in law was years ahead of her time. And yes, I plan to blog about her later in the challenge. We've had our differences, and she sometimes frustrates me, but, yes, she was years ahead of her time.

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  2. "That blogger is opinionated, and you may not always agree, but you will always get something of value from what she has to say." LOL - thank you! (I think.) :D

    Great intro to autism and your personal experiences/journey forward with someone close to you who's on the spectrum. I wonder, sometimes, how the distinction is made between "autism" and those of us who are introverted, socially awkward on occasion, have odd anxieties/phobias, communicate well in one area and poorly in others... you know what I mean? Being such a broad spectrum, I wonder if the only real distinction is whether a person functions in society without help. I have a young friend who is autistic; almost non-verbal, but very bright, academically. The trust we have in each other, though, the sort of instinctive and intuitive bond we had on meeting, is amazing.

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    1. That is an excellent observation, Holly, that the only real distinction might be whether a person can function in society without help. Bil can not, and that is a lot of our difficulties with him. On the other hand, there are individual such as Temple Grandin, who has achieved amazing things, but even she says that autism affects every aspect of her life. And yes, I did mean what I said as a compliment. None of us can ever agree with another person 100%.

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  3. I was diagnosed as being an Aspie at age 29, after years of my mother and I suspecting it. Since I was born in 1979, we never got an answer for what was causing my unexplained issues in childhood, and I had to learn to pass for "normal" on my own. I view it as a beautiful blessing and gift, without which I wouldn't be myself. I can't imagine being neurotypical, since I probably wouldn't have the kinds of interests I do, and I wouldn't be the writer I am. I'm definitely anti-"cure," pro-neurodiversity, and pro-identity-first language. Most of us in the neurodiversity movement prefer identity-first language, and don't exactly have the most positive feelings towards Autism Speaks. We support groups like the Autism Self-Advocacy Network and the Autistic Women's Association (formerly Asperger Women's Association). Today, most people probably would never guess I'm an Aspie unless I told them, but that doesn't change the fact that my brain will always be wired a little differently.

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    1. Thank you for letting me about other support groups. I am so happy you stopped by and commented. I will be checking out your blog.

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  4. Your journey with your BIL must be difficult! I commend you for writing about and shedding light on Autism in general. During last year's A to Z Challenge, I met a Dutch blogger with autism who was educating the rest of us about it. Her English was perfect and she was obviously highly functional, yet confined to an institution. Looking forward to learning more!
    P.S. I'm a fan of that 'opinionated blogger' too! ☺

    Debbie @ THE DOGLADY'S DEN
    Latest post: Azzurro: Going AWOL in Switzerland

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    1. If you ever remember the name of that blog, I would love to know. I would love to check it out. Thank you for stopping by, Debbie D!

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    2. She's at https://bloggingastrid.com/ and I see she's doing the A to Z Challenge again this year, talking about autism. Excellent material!

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  5. I have always been challenged socially, except in small groups where I'm comfortable with everyone. I avoid shopping in big departmental stores on weekends because crowds freak me out. Loud noises, shouting matches, heated TV debates, all these turn me into a nervous wreck. I have GI disorders, ADHD and anxiety issues. But I have beyond normal logical/analytical abilities and strong instincts.

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  6. Oh! I notice in your sidebar that your BIL enjoys shopping and going to the mall! My God! These are my personal nightmares!

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  7. I've known about autism only through movies. But here you have shared a really great piece of writing!

    Cheers
    BoisterousBee

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  8. Hi - It will be interesting reading your posts - I enjoy the learning ... I know of people who have autism, and other blogging friends ... it just makes me more aware. Thanks for this great idea - cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/a-is-for-aurochs.html

    Today’s A - Z Challenge 2017 post

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    1. Thank you for visiting- I'm going to be reading to some of your posts, too!

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  9. Hi, I found your blog through the A-Z challenge. I am a little dismayed to see you starting with a quote from Autism $peaks but Carrie-Anne has already addressed that :-)
    The "epidemic" is merely a sign of better diagnosis and understanding of autisitc people. I am sure if you look back through your in-law's family there will be many "quirky" undiagnosed people. Since my son's diagnosis we have been able to spot which family members (on both sides) have "The Traits" as we call them.
    Does your BIL do guest-spots on your blog? That would be really interesting reading - to see his interpretation and your's of the same event. Maybe a trip out from each of your viewpoints to contrast how an autistic person and an NT person view the same situations?

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    1. Bil has never shown any interest in the Internet other than the Weather Channel, and I've tried to interest him through his love of weather with out success. He doesn't write, that I am aware of. But it would be most interesting to have him guest-blog, wouldn't it? I will give it serious thought. Thank you for stopping by.

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  10. Interesting topic you have chosen, I look forward to your posts.

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  11. Great topic for your A to Z posts, and I'm glad you came by my blog so I found you. Autism spectrum disorders--mostly on the mild Asperger's end of things--seem to run in my family. I'll be interested to read what you have to say, as my oldest son is moving into adulthood, sometimes with a frustrating slowness that is at least in part born of his Asperger's.

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