Gavin and Emmett are both on the Autism Spectrum. Both are considered Autistic but have profoundly different symptoms. I think it’s important that people see kids on the spectrum as individuals.
It would would be irresponsible, not to mention inaccurate, to lump them all together. As special needs parents, Lizze and I have to focus in two VERY different directions in order to help Emmett and Gavin to reach their potential. Here’s an example of how the same traits have very different symptoms. Language, speech and communication in general, are typical struggles for kids on the spectrum.
Gavin, for example, NEVER stops talking. As bad as it sounds, I wish sometimes he had a “mute” button. The other problem is that he talks so fast and it’s already very difficult to understand what he is saying at times. I find myself frustrated trying to understand what he means by the context of the conversation. The really crazy thing is that, at school, the speech therapist says Gavin doesn’t need speech. I’m not real sure what child she is listening to but Lizze and I are probably the best judge of of this because we have the most experience trying to decipher what the heck he’s saying. If we can no longer understand him, then there IS a problem. In fairness though, Gavin’s speech is regressing. So where he was then and where he is now are two very different places.
When it comes to Emmett, we have the opposite problem. While we wish we could sometimes drown out Gavin, we are desperately trying to get Emmett to learn language. Emmett has come a very long way so far but “real” effective communication is still next to impossible. For example, I posted yesterday about Emmett being sick. He has been in pain but could tell us what hurts because he doesn’t know how. It’s a helpless and heartbreaking experience to see your child in pain and have your hands tied by language and speech delays. Again the same Autistic trait but VERY different symptoms.
I didn’t mention Elliott earlier becasue he doesn’t experience any of these problems. Elliott on the other hand is beyond an excellent communicator. His vocabulary, as with many Aspergers kids, is through the roof. Elliott struggles a bit with anxiety and “possibly” ADHD. However, the ADHD symptoms that are VERY clearly there, could very well be anxiety related and not actually ADHD. We have an evaluation coming up this month. Again, the very same Autism spectrum. The very same “a-typical” speech and language skills common to the Autism spectrum, however, VERY different symptoms.
This is just ONE example of these differences. As I said, Gavin and especially, Emmett, struggle with speech and language, just in different ways. While Elliott is “enhanced” by his speech and language abilities. Does this make sense?
My hope is that at some point we can ALL view kids and adults on the spectrum as individuals with “customized” versions of Autism. I know many of you out there are already cognizant of this. However, MANY others, especially the general public, teachers, school administrators and even other special needs parents…..aren’t.
This will need to change if we are to better isolate and accommodate the needs of these very individualized kids. Autism is not one size fits all.