Mild, what do you think off when you hear the word “Mild”?
A mild curry, a mild headache, a touch of man flu (or so some call it)!
Maybe you think of a mild case of chickenpox or a mild amount of pain?
Now, let me ask you,
“When you see a child of… let’s say 11 years old, throwing himself aggressively around the local supermarket, red, hot and flushed, shouting & screaming obscenities, refusing to walk, with no apparent sense of danger, what do you think? Does the word “Mild” come to mind?
I didn’t think so!
If you were 100% truthful with yourself, my guess is, challenging, spoilt, dragged up, brat, may have come to mind! Although this is usually never truth, I’m not about to jump into a written description on the worlds misconceptions or that of the importance of ignorance (intentional or otherwise). I’ve done plenty of this lately. I will however agree that the word “Mild” is not one I’d chose to describe the above situation!
When you have a child with Aspergers Syndrome, who has displayed such behaviours..more than once, you deal with it, though when you turn to another and inform them of your child’s diagnosis, for that person to turn around and refer to it as “Mild” you can’t help but want to
This misconception has just got way out of hand. Whoever chose to describe Aspergers as Mild was basically of their trolley! You see Aspergers is only described in such a way as to highlight the fact there is normally no intellectual difficulties, however social difficulties are just as pervasive as those children with what some may refer to as “Classic Autism“ the difference being that those children with a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome are normally fully aware of their differences, some even referring to themselves as not “Normal” as has my own child.
Those with Aspergers are not oblivious to the world around them… OK, maybe while engaged in their “Special Interest” but other than this, the prospect that the child with Aspergers wants to engage with peers, having friendships like yours or mine, is always normally the case! The sheer frustration at not being able to always make these friendships or in many cases, keep them, is often too much for the child, hence the reason, so many children with aspergers find themselves diagnosed with depression or some type of anxiety related illness!
Now, I ask you again..”Does the word “Mild” spring to mind when you think of the above
explanation It’s not a competition, I’m in no way even comparing the different types of autism, it’s a spectrum, where no two cases are ever the same! I’m just merely pointing out that the term mild is not actually a suitable one, as it is of course, taken out of context, leaving
others (even teachers, and other professionals) expecting more than maybe they should from a child with Aspergers. It’s my belief, and that of many others, that this is likely the reasons behind high school exclusion rates, placement breakdowns in mainstream schools and
so forth. My child is very literal, yet despite his previous school’s awareness of this, metaphors were continuously used by staff, during conversations with my child! He was just expected to get these quirky little phases, such as “Has the cat got your tongue” or “The teacher can’t hold your hand forever” so, of course being adamant that he never holds the teachers hand, he quite rightly informs the head teacher, to which he is ordered to remove his sarcastic tone, that or stop being thick!
The child with Aspergers, has to continuously adjust ones normal behaviour, something they are most uncomfortable with, to fit neatly into the life, that society expects and accepts.
Its common for many diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, to receive a late diagnosis! This is true, but only due to the signs being suppressed by the child in question, as they either keep themselves to themselves, blending into the background or speak to one or two children, though not actually forming friendly relationships with them, yet teachers commonly mistake this as healthy peer relationships. What then will often happen, is once that child returns to the safety net of home, the bubble pops and like dynamite they explode letting go of a whole days bottled up frustration, becoming sometimes uncontrollable! Of course the parents reports such goings on, yet they are looked upon as one sided concerns! Teachers mainly assume the issues must be down to some problem in the home, why wouldn’t they considering the lack of challenging behaviour within school? This was certainly the case with Little man!
Suddenly something changes! As the child grows older, incurring a stronger urge for peer interaction, a low threshold for dealing with sensory inputs and lack of understanding of the social rules, Suddenly a flip in the childs behaviour may occur, one that to the school is that of a sudden change, to you, the parent…it’s been a long time coming!
The child may now stand out that bit more, maybe seen as a bit of a social odd ball as he goes about trying to socialise, they may then become targeted by the bullies! Sadly, due to the childs lack of social understanding, especially around the issue of friends, they may well find themselves as a target without even knowing it.
Little man is, once more a prime example of this….. He was seen by other children to be a child who would easily break social rules (only due to the fact he was unaware of there boundaries)! As a result, when the bullies befriended him, the popular kids, he was proud to finally have a group of friends.This started during his fourth year of primary school and by the end of that year he had already undergone an obscene amount of formal exclusions and when he was in, he was being taught in isolation, heartbreaking, referred to by staff as a health and safety risk! As for the bullies who he mistakenly was proud to name his friends, these would do a number of horrible things, then stand back and laugh as little man got into trouble. An example would be, getting him to slap a teacher around the back of the head with an orange glove, he believed it to be OK, as it was just a game, “The Tango Game” surly the teacher would know this right? You can only imagine the reaction of that teacher! Worse, her unexpected reaction would shock little man in such a way, it would trigger more challenging behaviour, most failed to make the connection between the two and of course his education and self-esteem suffered greatly. As his mother, I watched him slowly putting the pieces together, the children not knocking when they claimed they would, his invite to a party becoming lost in the post, the fact they were suggesting he do things that he was now learning were not acceptable due to the repeated reactions these caused! This is the point when your child starts to accept that his actually friendless, being used and laughed at too! You, the parent watch as your heart breaks, you ask yourself, maybe it would have been better if he never saw the light, he continued thinking peers were his friends.
I hear hundreds of horror stories mainly consisting of discrimination and misconceptions. Like my own child, the child is never allowed on school trips, coincidentally excluded on the day of a trip or that when OFSTED visited school. What was worse was those times he was sent to work in isolation, mother and child completely in the dark that a trip ever existed… well, that’s in till some other mother mentions it! You hear her words, you play along, yet inside your crying,you’re screaming, rage ripping your insides to pieces. Even worse your child finds out, unable to cope with more rejection so he hurts himself by throwing himself into brick walls, smashing his head, scratching his arms drawing blood, or worse still… threatening to stab himself!
Please, I ask you once again…
Would you use the term “Mild” in association with any of that above? Would you?
Myself nor my son, and countless other families like mine, are not asking for your sympathy, your kind words, your half smiles as we catch one another’s eye across a crowded playground, though those things are incredibly thoughtful, we need so much more than this to make a difference!
We, need you to take just a few short minutes having read this post, to process what you have read! If you agree and only If you do… we need your help! I’m asking that those parents & individuals who don’t have a child on the spectrum as well as those who do (and anyone else who’s reading) takes just a few minutes to help raise awareness for autism and aspergers, this “World Autism Awareness Day“ (2nd April 2012)
Bloggers… with the power of your influential voice, your blogs can reach a 1000 voices or more… Please Join me in creating awareness, by wearing something that resembles the colours that make up the autism puzzle or something that resembles autism. Maybe wear a T with the awareness ribbon or a puzzle piece displayed across your chest and back, paint your face, design an eye mask, just let your creativity run wild, then write on a large piece of card, “Doing it for World Autism Day 2012” hold it up, where ever you’re at and take a photo… the more funky and eye-catching the better! Post your picture to your blog adding a few words if you wish, state you’re raising awareness for world autism day and link your picture/post to the linky I’ll place on here on my blog!
You can tweet using hashtag #worldautism12 , post on the “A Boy with Aspergers” Facebook page and share any other way that grabs you.
Please it’s just one day, a few minutes of your time which will undoubtedly help spread awareness! I’m not asking you to raise money or even go to work looking like a clown! Like many other families all over the world, Its world autism day everyday in our house! I’m just asking you to make it yours on the 2nd April 2012 (if only for 10 minutes) your reward… you will help create a better world for children like my Little man.
There is simply no getting away from it! Simply do the above but instead tweet your pictures using hash tag #worldautism12, Post them on your own Facebook page and to make it count by posting them to “The Boy with Aspergers” Facebook Page.
Those who can’t post anywhere, email them to me via address in sidebar of this blog and I’d be happy to post them out there for the world to see.
The final part of the plan
I will then hopefully have enough to create a collage of pictures of all those that took part, whether they held their awareness board in Sidney, London or New York, it will count.This can’t happen with a collection of one or two pictures! We need a huge amount to pull it off!
I will open the Linky on my blog at 11.59 on the 31st of March.
So… There you have it! My plea for your help
Help me create the bigger picture, I can’t do it without you!