Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition that is usually detected in children when they are between the ages of 2-3 years. It is usually identified by challenges with verbal communication, social skills and repetitive behaviours. Parents of children with autism, as with parents of other special needs children, suddenly find themselves thrown into the deep end of a condition they only ever saw on electronic media or they observed from afar. As if that were not bad enough, we belong to a part of the world where sensitivity is not a common enough value.
It is not uncommon for them to be told, with barely masked irritation, to ‘control’ their child. They endure the rolled eyes and looks of distaste whenever they go out, and put up with people who don’t understand that their child lives in an entirely different world and does not see or process things the way the way we do. READ: [7 Things To Know About Autism]
It is easier said than done but, it is not the end of the world. Life is filled with high and lows; days where you celebrate breakthroughs, days with meltdowns and why-me moments. However, beneath the tantrums and moments when the child is struggling with simple commands, there is a child fighting to be understood but who doesn’t know quite how to reach out.
How To Reach Out to an Autistic Child
The trick is to keep trying. Keep experimenting and trying out different things. Stay interested in their activities and take notes of things that they are interested in and see it as a potential way of reaching them. The movie ‘My name is Khan’ was about an autistic child whose mother discovered he had a love for fixing things and he grew up to have a chance at normal life. READ: [Autism – All Your Questions Answered]
Why is reference being made to a fictional character? Then let’s look at the very real life character, Tito Mukhopadhyay born in 1989. He was diagnosed with severe, nonverbal autism in India in the 1990’s. His mum discovered he liked to look at calendars so she took it upon herself to teach him numbers and alphabets. Tito did learn to read and although he still doesn’t speak well, he has not only learnt to communicate excellently through writing, he has authored a book of memoirs and poems. His poems give insights to what children with autism are really experiencing.
Poem by Tito Mukhopadhyay
Men and women are puzzled by everything I do
Doctors use different terminologies to describe me
I just wonder
The thoughts are bigger than I can express
Every move that I make shows how trapped I feel
Under the continuous flow of happenings
The effect of a cause becomes the cause of another effect
And I wonder
I think about the times when I change the environment around me
With the help of my imagination
I can go places that do not exist
And they are like beautiful dreams.
But it is a world full of improbabilities
Racing towards uncertainty.
Under all those complex layers, autistic children are capable of expressing themselves intelligently with loving and proper support around them. For parents of autistic children, it helps to try to find support groups (both online or physical) of parents with autistic children and learn with and from them.
No matter what, never give up. And if you ever come across a parent of an autistic child, show some understanding and be kind.