A family's story

Spreading Autism Awareness

This year our PTO decided to do a walk-a-thon for our Fall fundraiser. I loved the idea, and offered to work one of the shifts during the time that Cole was in preschool. My shift was yesterday, and luckily, it was a gorgeous day outside–sunny, low 70’s, and breezy.

When I arrived, I signed in with the office, got my visitor sticker, and found the event organizer outside. She debriefed those of us who were working, and assigned our positions around the building where we could help the students. I got to remind students to walk and be quiet around the corner, as the 2nd grade classrooms were there with windows open during instruction. I could handle that!

We also got the procedure for aiding an injured student. Yes, even though it is a walk-a-thon, elementary students manage to get injured. Usually scraped up knees occur. She was saying how she was relieved that we all showed up for our shift, because the early shift was short 2 parents, and a child got injured, and it was chaos. A brief discussion ensued, and during that discussion, the identity of the  accident victim came out. Three of us knew the child, and also knew of a condition that this child has, which causes poor motor control and clumsiness.

One of the moms mentioned that she knew the child as a toddler, and that the delays were evident then, and that the child did do Early Intervention (EI). It took forever for the child to get diagnosed, apparently. The pediatrician kept insisting that the child would catch up…it was “just a boy thing”. That mom, who has a neuro-typical son, said she hates it when anyone says something is a “boy thing”. I agreed. I mentioned my frustration with our pediatrician when Tate was young, and we were voicing concerns about his lack of speech, lack of coordination, his meltdowns, his inability to sleep through the night, his lack of socialization, etc, etc, etc.

I went on to clarify that Tate has Autism, and is currently in the instructional first grade classroom. The event organizer, whose son is in Jake’s class, looked at me wide-eyed. She had no idea that Tate is autistic. I mentioned that Tate didn’t talk until he was three, and that he was completely dysregulated until his EI speech therapist put us in touch with an OT who specialized in sensory disorder. One of the parents interrupted me.

“Oh, your son has Asperger’s.”

No. He has classic autism.

(Look of confusion.) “But he talks.”

Children with autism can talk. My son struggles with pragmatic language and using language appropriately, but he talks quite well. Too much sometimes. (Little laugh…and smile.)

(Blank/startled stare) “Oh..My nephew has Asperger’s, and we were told it was Asperger’s because he talks.”

There is a lot more to it…that’s why it’s a spectrum. My son functions well in a controlled environment, but he had delayed speech, social issues, sensory issues, motor delays, no pretend play, and so on. He does plenty of therapy to help him learn how to navigate in the typical world. This is why he’s in the instructional classroom…you know, self-contained.


Luckily this conversation segued into a conversation about the instructional (self-contained) classrooms at our school, and I felt less awkward as we discussed the different classrooms and how our district handles the self-contained program. The mom who tried to correct me about Tate’s diagnosis did apologize. I told her not to worry about it…that misunderstanding happens often. I wish I had encouraged her to read more, but I didn’t. Next time.

But, I will give myself a little credit. In the past, the people-pleaser in me would have let her just correct me and we’d go on. Not any more. Autism is so misunderstood, and as a parent of a child who has it, I want to make sure that I don’t allow those misunderstandings to continue. I will always speak up for Tate and for the other 1 in 88 children who have autism. They deserve no less.


Comments on: "Spreading Autism Awareness" (3)

  1. You are awesome! Love the little lesson that occurred spontaneously. Every step we take is a step up for our kiddos! I applaud you, my friend. 🙂

  2. It is great that you spoke up and helped dispel some of the autism myths….so many misconceptions! The belief that an individual on the spectrum must have asperger’s (not autism) because they talk and/or are not cognitively impaired drives me crazy. That mom walked away understanding just a little more about ASD……hopefully 🙂

  3. Good on you! I think you did an excellent job of explaining the difference!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

Mama Is Only Human

my journey...

Zero Exit

by Sara Jagielski

Musings of an Aspie

one woman's thoughts about life on the spectrum

Finding Cooper's Voice

An honest and real look at nonverbal, severe autism.

Emma's Hope Book

Living Being Autistic

Carrie Cariello

Exploring the Colorful World of Autism


A redheaded dad writing about parenting, autism and the odd thing here and there.

Grady P Brown - Author

Superheroes - Autism - Fantasy - Science Fiction

Swim in the Adult Pool

Finding humor in an ADHD life without water wings

Who Am I? Why Do You Care?

I am a woman on a journey. Where I'll end up is yet to be discovered.

Organized Babble

Babbling in the most coherent way possible

Addicted to Quippsy

In the not-so-distant future, you'll wish you wrote down everything your kids said. Now's your chance!

Filtered Light

“Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.” ~ Alice Sebold

that cynking feeling

You know the one I'm talking about . . .

Run Luau Run

Run Committed

beyond the stoplight

sharing resources to create caring classroom communities for all children

The Domestic Goddess

Marj Hatzell Has Been Giving Stay-at-Home-Moms a Bad Name since 2005

%d bloggers like this: