I have to admit that even before Will was diagnosed with ASD, I wasn't even completely sure of what Autism is or what signs or symptoms accompany it. Ashley and I have spent a good amount of time the last few weeks learning about ASD and one of the most helpful resources we have found comes from Autism Speaks, which is an Autism advocacy group.
The "100 Day Kit" produced by Autism Speaks helps parents of children diagnosed with ASD to navigate the first 100 days after the diagnosis. I really recommend that anyone who wants to know more about ASD read this document as it touches on many different aspects of ASD, how it is diagnosed, what therapies are commonly used, what family and friends of children on the Autism spectrum can to do help, etc. A link to the kit is here.
Towards the beginning of the "100 Day Kit", there is a very a concise definition of Autism:
Later, the packet describes how Autism may affect different individuals in very different waysAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
At this point in our journey, we have only received a diagnosis of Will having ASD. None of the professionals involved in evaluating him have even come close to qualifying his level of function and I am certainly not qualified to do so myself. We truly are at the beginning of this journey and I expect that we will continue to learn more about where Will stands as we start to involve more experts in his care. That may include additional diagnoses of behavioral, emotional, and medical conditions we are not yet aware of.Symptoms and their severity vary widely across these three core areas. Taken together, they may result in relatively mild challenges for someone on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. For others, symptoms may be more severe, as when repetitive behaviors and lack of spoken language interfere with everyday life.
My next few posts will talk a little more about what Will is like, how he fits the diagnosis of ASD, and what some of his strengths and weaknesses are.
In the meantime, enjoy this video of Will riding off into the sunset, dressed as Woody from Toy Story: