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The Call to Advocacy for Your Child with Autism

Accepting that your child has autism takes courage and a strong dose of faith — the ability to believe that the four-year-old who is completely nonverbal today will one day learn to communicate.

Based on my personal and professional experience, I can tell you with certainty, you will be amazed at the progress your child makes. I have watched nonverbal children blossom into conversationalists and uncoordinated children participate in Olympic games. You must learn to walk a fine line, to be as realistic and as flexible as possible. Keep in mind that some of the greatest success stories in history took a lot longer than expected. Don't ever give up on your child. Don't be deterred for a minute if he is not acquiring a skill as quickly as you would hope. It's to be expected.

As a parent, you will gradually make the shift from accepting the diagnosis to "living with autism." This means being able to adjust to the child who refuses to get on the school bus; unclogging your sink ten times in one week after your child has stuffed it with every imaginable object, including small plastic toys; leaving your sister's wedding early because your child can't tolerate the noise from the band; and packing extra clothes for every outing because your child can't resist jumping into any water he sees.

The good news is that a child with autism is constantly changing. Many of their early behaviors evolve or disappear entirely as they receive interventions and the environment around them changes. Children with autism have many strengths and unique characteristics. Parents must learn to identify and cultivate those traits in their children, while guarding their exceptional vulnerabilities. This challenging task is best addressed by mastering the skills of advocacy.

More on: Autism


Excerpted from The Everyday Advocate: Standing Up for Your Child with Autism or Other Special Needs.
Copyright © 2011 Penguin Group.
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