Hi! My name is Charity and I am a wife and a mom to four crazy kids! My firstborn, Logan, made me a mom in 2009, and I could never have imagined the journey the two of us would go on. I had no idea what motherhood would look like for me.
Logan was diagnosed with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when he was four years old. He was my first child, so I wasn’t aware of all the red flags and what to exactly look for. I had never heard of autism before he was diagnosed. My mother was the first one to see signs. She has previously worked with special needs children in school, so she was much more aware of autism then I was. As a young child, Logan was unaware of dangers, he had difficulty with balance, and his depth perception was off. He always lined up his cars so they faced the same direction. He thrived on routine, was non verbal and was sensitive to loud sounds. He also had a very limited diet that consisted of a handful of foods. He was not able to make eye contact with someone when corresponding with him/her.
When Logan started school I had to learn to be his advocate. Trying to get the proper support he needed was no easy task. I was met with resistance and roadblocks. Because he is high functioning, a lot of the time educators do not see where he needs the support and therefore they think that it isn’t necessary. With high-functioning ASD your deficits are ignored and students with high-functioning ASD fall through the cracks. I had to learn about individual education plans (IEPs) and assistive devices. When the school or school board said no, I had to learn to push back. I had to remember that there is no one else on this earth who will be a better advocate for him then myself. This journey was not an easy task. I left many meetings in tears, mainly from frustration–from having such a difficult time trying to get my son what he needed and deserved to be able to get through a simple school day.
Logan struggles a lot socially in school. He does have friends, but only a couple of close ones. A lot of people don’t understand that he is a very literal child and that he has a difficult time realizing when someone is making fun of him. He becomes an easy target for kids to pick on — both physically and emotionally. Logan also has to be his own advocate at school because when he is overstimulated in class, the teacher may not be aware of it as Logan is so good at holding it all in at school until he gets home. The noise may become too much for him or there might just simply be too much going on in the classroom, and he needs a break to just take a couple of laps around the school.
Logan has three siblings, and there are things that Logan gets to do that the others don’t. The biggest one being that he gets to eat whenever he wants. Logan doesn’t have a regular diet. In fact, he is missing complete food groups altogether. So we allow him to eat when he wants, whereas his siblings need to wait for a snack or when it’s time to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. This is a struggle in our house as our younger child doesn’t understand this, and there are plenty of meltdowns from it. Our second oldest has finally come to terms with it and fully understands the circumstances.
I have learned a lot about myself on this journey and how strong of a person I can be for my kids. I have learned that I have to move outside of my comfort zone to be the best advocate for my son. And since my husband and I decided to have more kids after Logan, I have always kept in the back of my mind that they may also have ASD. In fact his siblings have a 2-18% higher chance of having ASD.
What people need to keep in mind about an autism diagnosis is that there are no two people with autism who are truly alike. Autism looks different in each person. It is important to educate yourself on autism, because the child who may look like he is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the store is possibly overstimulated and not able to cope like you and I could. That child that is just eating fries for dinner and possibly nothing else has sensory issues with food and they are not capable of eating something else. Autism is not always a visible disability. I have more often than not have heard the comment “Oh he has autism? You would never be able to tell he has autism.” Not every disability is visible. Lastly, people with autism just simply want to be accepted. They are pretty amazing people with pretty amazing ways that they see the world.