I'm a parent of an autistic adult. My son, Nathaniel, was diagnosed around 3 years of age (he's now in his 30's), but as I look over some family movies (see March 30, 2011 post) I can see that he displayed many of the 10 signs of autism well before then.

His mother and I had only one thing in mind. What do we do?? In the early 80's there was little we could find about autism (no internet - what a lifesaver now!). We had his immediate needs to worry about. Was there a cure? Did he require medication? Childhood education had not yet come to mind. But with time, we needed to find out what resources were available around us.

Planning usually comes late for parents with autistic kids. We (well his mother and I) worried about his immediate needs and not the future. When Nathaniel reached 18, life as an adult posed many questions.

I hope that this can be a place where parents with autistic adults and children can communicate with those of us who have dealt with autistic adults. Yes, there are books and magazine articles about what to expect, and legal advice, but I have yet to find a place where experienced parents can share these experiences, give advice, and help parents of young children cope with the future of their child.

Mar 30, 2011

National Autism Awareness Month, April 2011

As I am sure that you are aware, April is National Autism Awareness Month. I wished that we had this back in ’81 when Nathaniel was diagnosed. Unfortunately we didn’t and those of us who now have autistic adults yearn for what might have been. Looking at the video I posted here (sorry for the quality, but it was on 8mm tape) it’s a wonder that we didn’t feel concerned about Nathaniel. It’s pretty clear which child would eventually be recognized as autistic. In ’81 we had to pass through hoops to get Nathaniel the proper education as mandated by Title 9. He was “special ed” but not necessarily autistic, so class sizes were not taken into consideration and teachers did not have the proper training. My wife and I ended up taking Nathaniel to the Kennedy Center at Johns Hopkin (yes, Johns) University. With the diagnosis in hand, we got the education he needed. All we needed was a trained teacher. For that, we obtained a grant to a special center in North Carolina and sent one of the special ed teachers. We were on our way.


That Man Who Lives in Diane's House said...

Dave ... seeing the video, and reading your post, certainly brings back memories ... of both much joy and high expectations and of course now, in hindsight, such heartbreak. I can't say I remember that specific day, but I can recall many others.

I know you've heard this from me before, but the work you and Shelley did, and continue to do, to get Nathaniel the assistance and support he needed, was to say the least, just superb.

Yes, as parents, we are "expected" to do all we can for our children but a child with unique needs demands SO much more and you guys were truly his advocates then, and you continue to be now.

I daresay that you guys were the model we followed as we went down our own path in parenthood.

If Nathaniel could say so, I am certain he would thankful for everything you have done to help give him a life, which for him, we hope is one of joy.

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