I really found this conversation facinating. My son Jake, age 4, is Autistic. We had many similar experiences with Jake as these two had with Morgan. For example, Jake is our only child so our frame of reference is limited regarding typical childhood development. However, what really inhibited us from recognizing his problems was the sheer abundance of his attributes both physically and mentally. Jake is so sharp. His memory and how observant he is always amazes us. For example, as a two year old, he would notice who wore which shoes and he would return the right pair to each visitor (we don't wear shoes in the house) when they were ready to leave. In addition, he would watch where items that he wanted were placed so he could go retrieve them when no one was watching. Also, he would memorize the books that he liked so that even though he couldn't read, he could say the right words and could "read" ahead without even turning the page. We could neglect a book for a long time and he could still pick right up with his memorized lines. He learned how to operate the dvd player, the iphone, the computer and the microwave right away. In so many ways, he figures things out very quickly. Physically, he has great balance and is very quick. He also has a great sense of rhythm and will dance to and "punctuate" the lines of music with amazing precision. We kept thinking he was just a late talker and that since he lived in a two language home, English and Vietnamese, that it would take longer. Speech and language seem to be his main problem. He does have some strange interests such as watching automatic doors open and close and riding escalators and elevators. He also likes to watch specific parts of dvds or videos over and over.
Other similarities that I recognized from the radio program included how much Jake likes Thomas the Train. He also loves the metro and the bus. Both me and his mother are accountants and my brother is extremely accomplished in the Computer science field. Jake goes to Pre-school Autism Class and his teachers report that he is happy every day. We are always commenting that he is such a happy boy. Jake loves to watch Utube videos on the iphone. Jake uses words and phrases in other situations to help him communicate his thoughts and desires. For example, he had a big wheel type tricycle with turn signals that when activated actually vocalize the words, "turning right" and "turning left." Jake started using those phrases in the same tone to direct us from his car seat to where he wanted to go. For example, as we would approach a Starbucks, he would direct his mother into the parking lot by saying "Turning Left" and "Turning right" all because he wanted a frappachino. He would do the same approaching McDonalds because he wanted a Hot Chocolate. He says "Turning Right" as I approach an Arby's because he wants a Jamocha milkshake. We didn't recognize it at first but any time we "missed" the turn he wanted us to make, he would get so angry that it became clear what was going on. He remembered where he had gotten the drink before, so he wanted to go again. He also speaks to himself with the words that we use. For example, he will put himself in Time out and he will say things like "stop or I will take it away." For weeks, my parents had been trying to get him to jump out away from the pool deck when he jumped in the water but he just kept having near misses and the lifeguard was really concerned. Then one day last week, he said, "now Jake, jump out away from the side" and he actually did that from then on.
I could go on an on but I just wanted to say thank you for such a great program. There are still so many mysteries about Autism. I hate that so much time and energy gets expended on the vaccines, heavy metals, chelation and gluten free diets. I would prefer more emphasis on helping autistic people cope and helping "typical" people to understand the spectrum. Finally, I love looking at what my son has instead of what he doesn't have. It is a nice break from worrying about what his life is going to be like, how frustrated he will be and how difficult things could get for him. It is heart breaking for me to watch him want to play and interact with other kids at the playground and at the pool. The other kids initially want to play and interact, as well, but his speech, language and other things always seems to get in the way. I needed this reminder of his uniqueness and special qualities. It helps me to understand him a little more.
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