Monday, November 18, 2013

This is Autism (Lisa Jeanne Graf)

Written by Lisa Jeanne Graf

My 5 year old daughter has has had a PDD diagnosis for about a year now. She is also thriving- so sweet, fun, smart and confident. So I often think about how autism is called a disability. I really wish it was called a learning difference. My daughter speaks well because she was taught language through reading since she was an infant. She taught herself to read at age 2.5 and has good comprehension. She cares deeply for family and friends because she has been loved and appreciated for who she is. She has sensitivities to sound and touch which I respect and try to make life comfortable for her. She also needs time to process all the information and sensory information that she takes in. I give her time and space to do that. No rushing is a mantra for us. She hates unexpected changes to plans- she likes to know what to expect. We let her know what to expect and let her make tons of choices so she can create a life that fits her needs. She is very skilled at that.

As my daughter learns social skills to connect to the world she lives in at some point she might lose her diagnosis. But she would still have the same brain wiring- so wouldn't she still be autistic? I am trying to find a way to say to the world that yes my daughter is autistic and that it is possible to both thrive and have autism. If she loses her diagnosis I am not going to say she is "cured" or "fixed". She will be thriving and learning and connecting because she is being supported and appreciated by working with who she is. We have no desire to turn her into someone else. She is amazing.

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