Today, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day. In late 2007, the United Nations decreed that April 2, 2008 would be the first World Autism Awareness Day to coincide with National Autism Awareness Month, which is recognized every April. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 110 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum. I am the mom of two of these children.
I was an attached parent prior to the time that my children’s autism symptoms presented and I’m an attached parent still today. I actually thank my attachment parenting style for helping me understand my children a bit more. Now this is not to say that mothers of children on the spectrum that don’t practice attachment parenting don’t understand their children but for my children, and me, my parenting style has been a tremendous help.
I’ll be sharing more of my story in an article that will appear later this month on The Attached Family online but I also want to share a bit of it here with you, the readers of API Speaks. My youngest child, now six, was diagnosed with classical autism the day before her third birthday. She had very little language and most of what she had was echolalic and not functional.
As is typical with children on the spectrum, she also had difficulty with gestures and so could not use nonverbal means to communicate. However, because of our strong connection, I was able to figure out how she communicated and anticipate her wants and needs.
My oldest child is going on nine and he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome approximately a year after my daughter received her diagnosis. Contrary to my daughter, my son had a massive vocabulary at a very young age. However, he has a difficult time in social situations including transitions. Again, the close connection he and I have has enabled me to figure out when he’s uncomfortable even if the situation has him to the point of being mute.
Both of my children have had major problems with sleep. Had I adopted a “you sleep in your room and I sleep in my room” philosophy, their nighttime anxieties would have been completely unmanageable. Instead, my husband and I are there for my children at night.
Three weeks ago, my six year-old daughter declared that she wanted to sleep in her room (the one with the purple walls and her clothes in it) and so we moved her bed into her room. Guess where she’s been almost every night since then? In her room. Had we forced her into her room before she was ready I can almost guarantee you that we would have seen a developmental regression.
These are just a few examples of how I believe attachment parenting has been an absolute blessing in our family. I feel that by taking an AP approach to parenting, I have enabled my children to grow and thrive both socially and developmentally. My children are happy. My children smile. My children have fun. My children are also on the autism spectrum.
This is just the first of many autism-related posts, articles, interviews, etc that you’ll see on the Attachment Parenting International family of sites this month. Keep an eye on the API Homepage or the API Facebook Page for more details.