Well, Autism Awareness Month has come to a close. In the end, I opted out of writing posts that were specifically about autism this month, because instead I found that I was thinking more about what is, for me, at the heart of the matter: acceptance. Acceptance of each and every beautiful child, no matter what. You can read what I had to say on this topic here and here, if you missed the posts.
I was asked this month to write a piece for Trusera.com, a social networking website that focuses on health and wellness. The topic was, “What is one thing you want people to know about autism?” I will share it with you tonight, as we say goodbye to Autism Awareness Month:
“If there is one thing you should know about people with autism spectrum disorders, it is that autism is not one thing.
Just like any other two people you would meet, no two people on the spectrum are the same. It is referred to as a “spectrum” disorder for a reason: the possible combinations of strengths and challenges are endless. Knowing one child (or adult) with a spectrum disorder does not prepare us to work with (or parent) another. Each person must be respected as an individual with his or her own unique sensory profile as well as motor and communication strengths and needs.
If we begin with the assumption that autism is not one thing, it stands to reason that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment method. Although this is often cited as a complaint – “Which is the best methodology to use with my child?” – I believe it’s beneficial that there are many options for families. Some children flourish with Floortime, while others do well to start out with a more structured approach like a contemporary ABA program in conjunction with some less structured playtime. Some families are able to embrace Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), while others are better suited to a more therapist-directed program. Some have benefitted greatly from use of the SCERTS curriculum in their school programs. Furthermore, despite what Jenny McCarthy is preaching, not all children on the spectrum show a dramatic change in behavior with biomedical interventions; but some do.
I have no doubt that in the years to come, we will learn to characterize autism spectrum disorders differently, to better capture the different types of autism we see. But even then, I have no doubt that this statement will ring true: there is no one autism.”