Autism research is gaining popularity. It’s treated as a rather new disorder with very little insight into what causes it. Is this a personality trait? Is it caused by vaccines? Is it caused by processed foods? Can autism be cured?
The truth is that autism isn’t something new. It’s just that there are so many more efforts these days to pigeon hole various traits that may differ from the norm. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had autism and still carry some of the traits. Only, I wasn’t treated with medication, but strict discipline instead. I wouldn’t use the methods that I had used on me, but I will say that for the most part, they worked.
As a child, I was very unsociable. I could not stand the feel of food in my mouth. Every meat but chicken felt like sawdust. My vision and hearing also have some of the traits that are found in children with autism. Of course, no one knew that then, but I have to admit, it makes me feel better to learn of it now.
As a child, dinner time was a regular nightmare for the whole family. Everyone knew I didn’t want to eat. Everyone knew I was going to be at that table for hours. We didn’t have microwaves, so nothing was going to be heated up. Imagine being a child as your pork chop cools and becomes all that much more disgusting to you. My mother even went so far as to instruct my baby sitters to shove my face in the plate if I wouldn’t eat.
So, how did I manage to grow out of this? I used a trait that is known to autism. It’s a focus that very few people master without some sort of instruction and it’s something that has helped me my entire life. I pretended the food was something else. I would literally envision another food, one that I could stomach. I would mentally feel the texture of the food that I could stomach. But, if I lost that focus, up came dinner.
It’s not really so much that autism can be grown out of. It’s the fact that autistic or not, we all have to learn to deal with certain things in society. The child with autism faces very specific issues. These issues have to be dealt with in a way that is productive to the child. It is a mistake to think that society as a whole has to change in order to deal with a specific disorder or type of personality. It’s also a mistake to think that a child can change the core of who they are.
Like any other issue, autism is something that parents will need to accept about their child. That doesn’t mean that they have to change the world to suit the child, but they do have to help the child adjust. I fear for those that rearrange their entire world based on this disorder. Part of a being a parent is teaching our children to adapt and adjust. This cannot be done if the child becomes accustomed to the world changing to suit their needs.
Should you force your child to play with others or eat things they dislike? Of course not. But, you do need to help them to develop the skills they need to cope with the world outside of their own home. Anything else would just be irresponsible. Please remember that your child is not autistic. Your child has autism. There is a vast difference.