Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Autism

Today starts the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, where thousands of bloggers are beginning a month long challenge to blog six days a week basing the blog on one letter of the alphabet. We blog for six days a week and Sundays are a "free" day.

Today, April 1, our blog posts are to about a topic beginning with "A". Tomorrow, "B", and so forth.

Blogging about A for Autism is a natural for me.

I am the proud sister in law of a man in his 50's with autism, a developmental disability that impacts the ability of a person to interact socially and communicate with others.  Autism is a spectrum disorder - some individuals can live lives with less help than others.  Many never live up to their full potential, although there is increasing hope for good jobs.

Sign in Charleston, South Carolina, March 2015
Autism has been in my life for almost forty-five years. It entered my life almost to the day I started to date my spouse.  It entered quietly in the form of his younger brother. 



The world my brother in law grew up in influenced a lot of his life, as it does for us all.  It also influenced the choices that were made for him - both in childhood and adulthood.  That world also shaped his personality and how he behaves now.  This was a world without early intervention, without special education programs.

Last year, my spouse gained guardianship of his brother.  That does not make my spouse the boss of my brother in law - no, far from it.  Rather, it makes him his brother's advocate.

For his entire life, "B" has lived with his mother in New York State.  My father in law passed away over 15 years ago. Since then, it's been just the two of them in a house that once was the home to an entire family.  "B"'s siblings, including my spouse, grew up and left.  B grew up and is still there.  He has lived in the same house for almost his entire life.  He has his own room, and his own bathroom.

People with autism do not cope well with change.

Some major changes are coming to "B"'s life as his mother ages.  We know he is aware of that on some level, but his thoughts are unknown to us.  Autism makes it so difficult for him to communicate with us. We suspect he has a rich inner life, but it will be forever locked away from those of us who love him.

Do you have an individual on the "spectrum" in your life?

13 comments:

  1. A very informative and thoughtful post. It is so true that change is one of the most difficult things for anyone with mental challenges. True for them and for those who are their guardians/advocates. We, too, must help and support them while they adjust as well as cope with their health and happiness and know that we are doing the right thing for them. Yes, I am my sisters guardian.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal
    AtoZ 2015 Challenge
    Minion for AJ's wHooligans

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments, and your support. I am on the road right now, but will be reading A to Z posts either tonight or tomorrow.

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  2. There is so much that most people don't understand about those on the Autism spectrum. One such thing is that most think they don't feel anything but on the contrary, they feel more than the rest of us. My young granddaughter I believe is on the spectrum but hasn't been diagnosed. If she is it is high functional. From birth she has been very sensitive. Clothes, food, changes, all can cause havoc in her world. Now that she is five years old she has learned to express herself better to us so that we can understand how to help her. We have learned over time how to make her life not quite as difficult by making sure to tell her far in advance what is going to be happening that day, week, month.

    Much love, light, and hugs to you and your family. I hope that this transition for him is as smooth as can be. !

    Morgan,
    A Poet's Kitchen
    Playing with Words
    StoryDam

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    1. Thank you, Morgan, for stopping by. And may you find the best ways to support your family and your granddaughter. I love to hear when grandparents are involved. I also feel my brother in law feels a lot he just can't express. I am on the road right now but will be reading A to Z posts either tonight or late tomorrow.

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  3. Change is difficult enough for us all, Alana, and I've read how much people with autism like sameness and order. Sending a prayer your family's way for the difficult days ahead.

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  4. This must be a very challenging situation for all concerned. Thinking of you and your family as you deal with the upcoming life changes.

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  5. I do hope your brother in law gets the strength to adapt to the changes that are coming to his life.

    A Stranger In The Mirror

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  6. An excellent start to your "A to Z" challenge and on such an important subject that touches the lives of so many. Your empathy and advocacy for your brother-in-law shine through.

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  7. My 20 year old niece has Asperger's. She is thriving in college now, but without the early intervention she received, that might not be the case now.
    We have a fabulous autism center where I live, and over the past few years,I have had the privilege to have had five pre-k students from there in my class over the years (I teach at a private preschool). These kiddos had done so well at the center that they were able to use my class to help them transition to kindergarten (each of them came to class with a behavior therapist in attendance as well). I loved being part of that transition for them.
    I don't envy your family the changes that will eventually be in store for your brother in law, but I feel as though you will have him as prepared for them as possible.

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  8. Very Informative post. I will not deny that i have lived in the fringes of autism ..my knowledge being based on what the media or what they teach in the school. Your post is the voice of the experience.

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  9. I am a proud cousin to someone on the autism spectrum. Great post!

    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

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  10. My daughter and husband are both severely dyslexic, another 'disability' that people do not understand. I occasionally find it hard because I'm a writer and neither of them can read my books. The trick with it all, though, is to remember that just because someone is marching to a different tune to you, it doesn't mean either of you are singing the wrong song! Thanks for sharing - I'm A-Z Blogger number 596 Leaning On The Gate - and having great fun so far!

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  11. Autism is one of those disorders that still doesn't have enough awareness. You sound like you're quite fond of your brother in law and are worried for his future. Change will not be easy, but you and your family will get through!

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