By Gina St. Aubin, Editor of Special Happens
Note: In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we are featuring several Autism bloggers. Gina St. Aubin is our second to be featured.
When we went gluten free, all I could think of was how hard it was going to be. Such a shift in eating. Not a choice, but a necessity considering with testing showing J’s allergies to gluten, wheat, malt and barley. I soon found out that this wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. The market has come a long way since friends had “tried” to be gluten free out of experimentation; the horror stories they passed along were non-existent for me many years later. Then we found the allergies to casein, soy, egg and peanut…that’s a whole other story.
Finding your child having learning difficulties, comprehension or language barriers, in many ways feels similar to the gluten free scenario. Obviously, there’s a lot more that parents of a newly diagnosed child on the Autism Spectrum…or with developmental delays, verbal aphasia, etc….have to consider; many worries that find their way into every minute of every day. But, similar to going gluten free in 2011 versus gluten free in 2007, it’s not as hard to navigate.
Technology seems to be on our side. Thousands of parents motivated by their children’s own journeys have invented, requested and sought out a number of tools to help our children succeed. Applied Behavioral Analysis has been developed, tested and shown to be successful in many cases of an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Computer keyboards have allowed some seemingly delayed individuals the opportunity to express themselves, breaking down their own doors and allowing their intelligence to shine through. PECS (Picture Exchange Communication Systems) have been established giving children the opportunity to strengthen their understanding of daily routines and more through carefully laid out sequences of events.
The technology doesn’t stop there. After the computer and smart phones, the iPad and alike sprung up. These devices have made the ease, accessibility and mobility of communication devices open up the world to our children and adults. The applications that go with these give our children additional opportunities to learn social skills through repetitive social stories on the iPad, help with sight words, reading, story telling, and comprehension. Developers such as Ruckus Media Group concentrate on developing quality apps that not only entertain but teach.
As April is Autism Awareness Month, there will be a number of writings on the difficulties, challenges and triumphs of those living with Autism and their caregivers. What may seem dismal can be seen through a brighter lens when we step back. So, while no one wishes their child to be challenged with Autism, we do have a few things on our side. We are able to use the technology around us, which far surpasses what was available 10 years ago, to help our children grown. Time only knows what the future holds, and what may be engineered to help our children develop to their full potential, breaking down the barriers that keep them silent.
Gina St. Aubin is a wife and mother of 3, one diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, PDD-NOS/Autism, Landau-Kleffner Syndrome (a rare epileptic disorder causing verbal aphasia), Sensory Processing Disorder and Developmental Delays. A former Victim’s Advocate turned advocate for those with intellectual and physical challenges, Gina believes being a ‘Special Parent’ means to Discover, Embrace, Educate, Advocate, Encourage, Treasure and Laugh. Read more on her blog, SpecialHappens.com.