Its hard enough raising healthy children, so when I think of parents who raise children with disabilities with much more patience and creativity than I can even hope having, I am filled with admiration and inspiration.
I read somewhere today that Autism in the US has increased by a shocking 172% since the 90’s, making it the fastest growing developmental disability where 1 in 166 children are affected by some form of the disease.
How true that it does seem to have gone mainstream these days. My cousin, who is 18 years old, has Aspergers, a high-functioning form of autism. He was able to go to mainstream schools (albeit with difficulty) and now attends University, able to take the subway on his own to and fro school – but he has never had any friends. Also, it is virtually impossible to have a “normal” conversation with him. Sure, you can talk to him about something he’s currently “obsessed” with, but if you try to talk about something else, he’ll act like he never heard you – or simply walk away.
In my daughter’s pre-school, she has a classmate who is much bigger and obviously older than all of them. Last year, he wouldn’t even look at you and would get very upset during school performances. He always tapped or smelled my daughter’s hair (she didnt seem to mind much and was always very kind to him – something I am very proud of) and really didnt make any proper friends in class.
I’m not quite sure what form of autism he has, but it seems to be one that is improving, because he actually smiled and said his poem in front of all us parents at this year’s show without too much fuss – an amazing improvement. It was wonderful!
Even this book I’m reading now by Nick Hornby was made to raise funds for autistic children ( I didnt know it at the time of purchase, but am pleased now that I bought it). Why? because his son is autistic and sadly not like my cousin or the boy at my daughter’s school, but whose case was much more severe.
Anyway, Nick found a school in the UK called the TreeHouse and it helped his son tremendously. The book, entitled “Speaking with the Angel” is a collection of short stories by slick contemporary writers from both sides of the atlantic . Aside from profits of the book going to help children with autism get proper help, the back of the book gives useful information on how you can help/find more about these great organizations in London and New York.