Voices of Autism: ‘Extreme Sensory Issues’
Every day throughout April–Autism Awareness Month–we will be featuring a different reader-submitted story about living with autism. Today’s story was written by Lou Tecpanecatl, father of Diego, 5, and author of the blog Our Life With Diego:
Imagine that you and your family are planning a trip, either for a few days or for a week. You may even be flying to your destination. What do you do to prepare the kids for their upcoming adventure? How about when your son or daughter is sick and has to visit the doctor? How do they feel about going to the doctor and then how well do they handle taking antibiotics? Suppose your child seems upset about something that happened in school that day. How would you go about discussing expectations or comforting them in any of these situations?
Now, imagine that your child is 4 or 5 years old and does not possess many basic concepts of speech. His or her language is mostly one- or two-word requests or responses without any conversational skills. In addition to the speech delay, there are extreme sensory issues that cause intense fear of physical exams at any doctor’s office. The child refuses to willfully take any medication and has to be held and have it administered by two adults, fighting the whole time. The fear of high pitched sounds is so pronounced that your child will not even enter a public restroom because there may be a hand dryer in there that will go off at any second. How will you be able to tell them that this visit to the doctor is just a simple check-up? These tests are not painful. No one is going to turn on that machine or vacuum cleaner. Those people are not going to touch you or ask you any questions. How do you feel about being able to comfort him now? A little apprehensive, I would imagine, maybe even a little confused.
Our son is 5 years old and he has autism. Diego is a very bright and charming little boy who continues to impress us with all that he has overcome. The speech delay, sensory issues, and fear of the doctor are just some of the challenges our family faces on a daily basis. You may be thinking that just having the doctor look in your ears, nose, and throat is not painful or that having blood drawn is just one little pinch and then there is no more discomfort involved. That may be true for many people, but not for our son. The sensations involved are just unbearable for him. Even the loud, piercing noises I described above cause him pain, and I have witnessed the anguish on his face when confronted with these situations.
As the parent of a special needs child, I encourage everyone to learn about autism and how it affects the individual and their family. Due to the fact that not everyone develops speech, motor, or cognitive skills exactly the same way, we as a society need to move past the rigid thought processes that assumes a uniform development of these abilities.Add a Comment