Affecting millions of people all over the world, Autism Spectrum Disorder is the most prevalent developmental disorder in the United States. A person on spectrum may display a variety of symptoms, such as repetitive behavior and play, stimming (self stimulatory behavior), thriving on routine, be over responsive or under responsive to certain stimuli, and have a hard time self regulating feelings and sensory input. While autism has several overlapping symptoms, the severity that a person is effected, varies person to person. That’s what makes autism such a vast and unique spectrum.
My daughter Olive is our spunky six year old, who is on the spectrum. At a very young age, it became apparent something was different about her. While she was generally a happy baby, she wasn’t responding to her name, had no interest in speaking, and began engaging in repetitive behaviors. Olive thrived off routine and would become upset when that routine was broken. Things like a sudden change in her environment would send her in a screaming mess. At 18 months old, she began speech therapy, which later lead to occupational therapy. Soon after we had an autism diagnosis, at the age of two. Around the age of four, Olive began finding her voice, and is now verbal. She enjoys going to school and learning new things about the world around her. Olive loves L.O.L Dolls, coloring, playing at the park, and being a big sister.
Olive also has Sensory Processing Disorder, which is a disfunction in a part of the brain, that controls how a person receives and processes certain sensory stimuli. This means a person might hear, feel, taste, and see things more than the average person. This can be painful and also cause a person to become overwhelmed, even inconsolable at times. On the flip side, a person can be under responsive to sensory input and crave things like compression. A person on the spectrum can experience both. Olive is a “sensory seeker”, she craves jumping, and crashing into things. She loves bright lights, loud sounds, spinning herself, and going upside down. This disorder also causes her to have a low sense of body awareness. This causes her to be a little clumsy, chewing and swallowing all her food, struggles with overstuffing her mouth, and sometimes unresponsive to pain.
There is no early detection or medical test available to diagnose ASD- just a series of testing through evaluations, usually performed by a trained psychologist and series of specialists. Autism has no “look”, it effects both boys and girls. There is no cure for autism, just various resources and support for those who’ve received a diagnosis. The longer a person goes without help, the harder they may be to reach. I am a huge advocate for early intervention, because I know my daughter would not be where she is today if other wise. Waiting or prolonging a person’s diagnosis could be detrimental and limit their future potential.
Early Signs of Autism
Early tell-tale signs to look for are limited eye contact, not responding to their name, limited or repetitive speech and behavior, rocking/flapping/spinning oneself or objects, lining up toys, becomes upset when changing environments, delayed speech, delayed motor or fine motor skills, problems regulating feelings and sensory stimulation. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, it’s important you contact your child’s doctor, and ask for a referral for available resources, and to be screened for ASD. Unfortunately, getting a diagnosis isn’t that easy, especially if your child’s symptoms are less apparent. I went through this first hand with my child’s doctor. We were told “she is fine” and “she will talk when she is ready.” If something is telling you something isn’t right, don’t ignore it! The fight for getting your child the support and services they need, it is a battle worth fighting. Your child’s future depends on it. If being an Autism mom has taught me anything, it’s to celebrate the little things, and always trust your instincts. At the end of the day, no one knows your child like you.
Autism is constantly being portrayed in the media and in the entertainment industry, as the same flat one sided role. In this day and age, society still seems to be riddled with false stigmas and myths about autism, leaving a lot of room for misconception. I am one person, with one story it tell. By sharing other people’s stories and experiences, I hope to paint a more accurate portrayal of what it means to be on the spectrum. It’s so important for people to see just how diverse and unique the spectrum is to help eliminate these negative stigmas. I hope this can be a safe place for people to share and gain a new perceptive on autism. And for other people on this journey to know they are not alone.
Share Your Story
Are you or a loved on on the spectrum, and want to tell us about your autism journey? If you’re interested in contributing to this project and submitting an Autism Story, please e-mail me at AusomelyOlive.gmail.com.
All submissions are welcome.
Privacy is respected, anonymous submissions are welcome.
All submissions will be pre-approved by you before being made public.
If you wish to have your story removed, no problem. This will be done with no questions asked.
This is creatively up to you. There is no set topic on your Autism Story. You’re welcome to share as little or as much as you’d like.