Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents often notice signs during the first three years of their child’s life. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges.
Autism is accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.
It’s important to recognize and continue efforts to spread awareness, promote acceptance, and ignite change in relation to patients considered to have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Things You May Not Know About Autism:
By: Isela Coronado, Socius
My oldest child failed his first year of kindergarten. Up to that time, he had hit all his milestones. There had been no complications with the pregnancy and he was always a healthy boy. The following year a different teacher who worked him suspected there was more going on. Upon further testing he was diagnosed as being Autistic (Asperger) in 2001.
The system is not set up well to deal with Autistic children. Many of these kids need advocates for them. In the schools, I kept on working with my son, staying on top of his teachers, principal, and special ed department. So many of these kids have potential but are put in special ed classes and left there until they graduate high school.
In my son’s case, we paid for tutoring outside of school and enlisted him to play sports. We found coaches that showed him compassion and encouraged him to participate, and in turn pushed his teammates to encourage him and embrace people with special needs.
In junior high, my son was re-evaluated and we found that he was more in the category of High-Function Autism, enabling him to spend 75% of the day in normal classes and 25% in special ed for support. We kept up with the tutoring and started him in therapy for emotional support. It was a constant challenge and I found myself calling and emailing his teachers and principal daily because the teachers and staff did not always hold up their end of the bargain.
By the time he got to senior year of high school, we ultimately decided the school was providing what he needed, and upon further discussions with his counselor explored the idea of Job Corps so he could graduate and learn a trade. We reached out to Job Corps and he enlisted for one year and received his GED and Security Guard Certificate.
Prior to graduating Jobs Corps he advised his counselor and us that he would like to enlist in the Army. We helped gather all his information and encouraged him to take the test and he passed the written, physical and interview, as well as boot camp. No was never an option, we always taught him to try and we always treated him like a normal kid.
He completed his 4-year term last year and re-enlisted for another 4 years. He is currently an Army Specialist E-4.
Arab American Heritage Month is a time for celebrating the history, contributions and culture of the diverse population of Arab Americans.
In the United States, there are heightened hate crimes, bigotry and misunderstandings towards the Arab American community. It is more imperative than ever to use education and information to eliminate stereotypes, embrace the culture, and empower the next generation.