In Their Own Words – The Spectrum
This “In Their Own Words” is written by Lou Tecpanecatl. Lou has a four-year-old son named Diego, who was diagnosed with PDD-NOS in August of 2008.
From the time we received my son’s diagnosis in 2008 I have spent quite a bit of time reading about and researching autism. One of the first things I learned was that this is a spectrum disorder which affects each individual in a different way. This also means that people on the spectrum have a wide range of abilities and many excel in their particular area of interest.
In our case I see how remarkable our son’s memory is and how aware he can be of his surroundings at any given time. He just turned four and while we are unable to hold a conversation with him, his spontaneous speech is picking up and he will request certain items throughout the day. In many ways our boy is just like other typically developing four year olds, becoming a little more independent as he gets older.
This brings me to the point I wanted to make on the idea of spectrums. Aren’t we all on a spectrum of some sort and not just individuals affected by autism? I have strengths and weaknesses just like anyone else and everyone has a unique set of talents. Once we start going to school we are graded on our performance and we all end up at different levels academically. Once we enter the workforce there are those that earn quite a bit money in their careers, there are some who earn very little, and many of us end up somewhere in the middle of the financial spectrum. The challenges that individuals with autism and their families face can be difficult, frustrating, and at times daunting. However, I feel that as a society we should really try and celebrate the many different contributions that we all make to this world. Instead of ostracizing groups of people for perceived differences we should embrace them. We are all part of one giant spectrum with many different abilities, beliefs, and customs. As a father to a child with autism I think it is important for others who are not really aware of the disorder to try and look through the diagnosis. My advice to them is to try and focus on the person and not just a behavior that may be seem odd or inappropriate. We want the best for our children and most of all we want them to be accepted by their peers. Whatever abilities a person has, he can find a way to contribute in a positive way that can enrich his life. We all learn at different rates, and we speak many different languages, and just because at this point in time my son is unable to carry on a conversation it does not mean he is unable to communicate with his family. He just does it differently than most.
“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.