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Acceptance

Last February I posted a blog entitled “Autism Island”. In that blog I explained what it feels like to hear your child or children have autism. I wrote about being on an island, feeling isolated and alone, not knowing if I’d ever get off. I called “getting off the island” the “acceptance” part however now I’d like to change it to the “moving forward” part. Moving forward was necessary. It allowed me to provide Aden and Alex with early intervention, in other words, the opportunity for them to reach their full potential.

My Mom recently gave me an article from the Baltimore Sun entitled “Study tries to pinpoint why some kids outgrow autism”. I was intrigued. According to the author, Alan Zarembo, the study compared children who outgrew their autism diagnosis to those who did not. The two groups had similar communication problems and repetitive behaviors but it was the social aspect that seemed most relevant. The study was published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and concluded that children who outgrew their diagnosis were those who started out with milder social difficulties.

I immediately thought about Aden and Alex and their social abilities. Both have dramatically improved on social skills. Some of the social behaviors that sealed our fate with the autism diagnosis such as eye contact or reciprocity we’ve drastically improved on. I recently posted a video of Aden’s first social interaction back in the early Kennedy Krieger days. He continues to approach other children and attempt to engage, for him play is the hard part. Last week I had to pick up Alex from the nurse’s office. As we stood in the hallway, waiting for a line of older kids to pass, he started waving and saying “good-bye friends (crends)” over and over. The class of 4th or 5th graders looked at him like he was nuts but I looked at him and smiled.

After reading this article I couldn’t help to think what this means for Aden and Alex? At 12 months, Alex couldn’t make eye-contact, now he has almost mastered it. He waves to his friends and greets them by name outside the classroom. He is beginning to take turns and is even offering me toys without prompt which is a huge deal. Aden has always been a people-person. In class he loves to hug his friends, sometimes too much. So does this mean they have a chance, a chance to outgrow their autism diagnosis? More importantly what does this mean for me and acceptance? How can I possibly accept something when I’m still hoping it will go away?

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