Image via WikipediaCurrently, 1 in 110 kids are affected by autism. It is even more prevalent in boys, with 1 in 70 boys being impacted with some form of autism. My 16 year old son and my 22 year old nephew are two of them.
Each child is unique and the impact of autism is different for each child. With my son, it has been a mixture of joy and frustration. There are some aspects of his autism that make dealing with him very difficult, and other things that make living with him an absolute joy.
On the positive side, there is an absolute joy in watching him play. He loves video games, but he doesn't always play the games in the traditional way the game was meant to be played. Instead he does things that I would never do while playing a video game. For instance, if he is playing a football game, he will use all his time outs right away, and will always go for it on 4th and long. However, he has an absolute joy about him while playing, and in the end, isn't that what it really is all about?
Then there are his dealings with my wife and I. At the age of 16, he still likes being with his Mom & Dad. It is not uncommon for him to sit on the couch next to me to watch a ball game or to sit with our laptops and watch videos on YouTube. Frequently while we are sitting together, he will still lay his head on my chest, or he will give me his hands so that I can rub his hands or arms. Having his hands rubbed comforts him. No matter how old he gets, these things just don't get old.
On the other hand, life with an autistic child comes with it's share of challenges. A couple years ago, my son started having bad anxiety attacks on top of his autism. For months he did not want to do a lot of the things that he used to thoroughly enjoy, like going to baseball games. We also ended up having issues because he would not go to school on a regular basis. We found a doctor who was able to prescribe some medications that helped some, but not completely.
As he has gotten older, and bigger, it has become increasingly difficult to deal with some of his troubling behaviors. Whenever he doesn't want to do something, or if he doesn't get his way, he his likely to drop to the ground and refuse to get up. Now that he is as tall as I am and about 170-180 pounds, I can no longer physically move him like I could when he was younger. Recently, it took us nearly an hour to get him to leave a Border's Book Store because they didn't have a DVD he wanted.
Until recently, none of his behaviors have been particularly harmful or life threatening. That is, until the last month or so. Over the past two months, we have been unable to get him to go to school at all. On those occasions when my wife has been able to get him in the car, he has started a rather dangerous practice. On more than one occasion, he has unlocked the car door and tried to get out of the car while it was still moving. Fortunately, he has not gotten hurt. Unfortunately, the other day, he laid down in the street for several minutes before my wife was able to get him to get up and go home.
For obvious reasons, I am the only member of the household that is working. His actions of late have taken a particular toll on my wife. Since I am at work, she has had to deal with the brunt of his behavioral issues. Needless to say, things have been particularly stressful of late. We are trying to deal with a bunch of issues with him and the school system, but we are hopeful to get some relief soon. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.