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The autism it is a neurological disorder that is usually detected before 3 years of age and is increasingly widespread. According to a recent report, in the United States, one in every 88 children has autism and has been declared a national epidemic. Working with these children from an early age is essential for them to enjoy full autonomy in the future.
Through this interview with Amaya Ariz, lawyer, mother of Mario, a child with autism and author of the book 'The silent joy of Mario', we all have the opportunity to see autism through the eyes of a mother, to learn much more about autism in the family, from the perspective of the first-person experience and from the desire to know and connect more deeply with the universe of a child with autism. A unique life experience that can help many people in your same situation and others who want to get closer to children with autism.
What does this book represent to you? A vent, a cry ...?
I started writing so I could scream. When you are given the diagnosis of autism in the child in whom you have projected yourself since birth, for whom you have dreamed of a future, that child dies and it is a long and hard grief, for the child that he is, but the adult that will no longer be. He was not able to speak and writing could channel what he felt.
I had no intention of writing a blog or publishing a book, but when I had been writing for myself for three months, I realized that everything I was doing to cope with the grief, to train and do therapy for Mario, could serve others persons. So I published the blog and it spread quickly.
Of all the definitions that exist about autism, which one would you highlight?
In a neurological syndrome (not a mental illness or an intellectual disability and here I plan to work hard to destroy the current myths that relate it) that affects three areas: socialization, communication and flexibility. People with autism, (especially if they have not had intensive therapy) have difficulty having relationships with other people. In the case of children, it seems that they do not show interest in relating to others, or if they try they find themselves with the great problem of not knowing how to do it. Sometimes they have trouble speaking (in Mario's case, for example) and in others their way of speaking is excessively pedantic or out of place.
What advice would you give parents to internalize and accept autism in the family?
Autism is very difficult to explain to those close to you because physically nothing differentiates these children from others. And in addition to accepting the problem of autism, there is another great problem in society which is what they will say, and this sometimes hurts us more than the grief itself. Therefore, it is important that they know how to put themselves in the place of their parents.
I also believe that it is essential to train as much as possible, change the way you relate to your child, always talk to him crouching, looking at him closely, that he feels that you understand him. It is not that he does not want to be in this world connected with us, it is that he has a hard time understanding it. There is also another very important book that everyone should read, it is the 'bible' for us families, it is called 'More than words', we have it translated in our association, in case someone needs it. Help them learn to communicate with your child and get the best out of him.
What have you learned from your son Mario?
That impatience does not exist, we adults make it up when we want to get angry and need an excuse. That Mario tries harder than anyone to please. That children with autism are very affective, but you have to get into their world first, otherwise we will not be able to attract them to ours. That we have to respect and promote their interests, and not only of children with autism, but of all children and not force them to be interested in what we want. Mario has given me the key to happiness, which has exploded within me after many months of mourning and now every day is a paradise (with its difficulties, of course, but a paradise).
How do you communicate with a child with autism?
There are teaching techniques and methods. They are visual learners. In our case we first had to work on the image-object relationship, because it did not speak in part because it did not relate. With alot of work, I did therapy to Mario every day 35 minutes, and was connecting. But before that you have to teach him to communicate and first, to be interested in communicating, which is the most difficult thing. To do this, you must first get into their interests. I put a silly example. If he is lying on the floor all day (it was the case of my son Mario) instead of scolding him and making him stand up, lie down with him on the floor and imitate him. Imitating is one of the best formulas for him to notice you in the end. If he is playing the drum, take another drum stick, or a spoon, lie down next to him and imitate him. Over time he will look at you and little by little he will show interest in interacting with you.
In my son's case, in addition to autism, had a motor planning problem that prevented him from speaking. We managed to unlock him by first teaching him to imitate syllables supported by signs, each sign meant one syllable. I learned the signs of support for the Monfort sound and we have been with it for six months. It takes 10 days for you to finally start repeating words. Hearing the sound of his voice has been touching the sky.
How can parents detect autism in a child? What made you suspect that your child had autism?
Now looking at it in perspective and seeing what our second daughter is like, the most typical thing about Mario was that we called him and he seemed deaf. But it wasn't very obvious to us either. I was in his world a lot, but being so small, it is true that it is not easy. Although now I am clear that for a specialist it had to have been more than evident. The diagnosis was clear, severe autism. In Mario's case, involution also occurred, that is, it seemed that he was evolving normally and at a certain moment, around 11 months, he stopped and began to go backwards, losing the words he was already saying.
As we spoke to him in two languages (I had spoken to him since he was born in French), the pediatrician attributed it to that. The toy cars did not use them in the normal way, making them roll. Also the tantrums and not knowing why, and then from the age of three, if there has been no therapy, some traits are accentuated, such as terror of cutting their hair (it hurts physically, they feel that it will not grow back) . In short, each child is different, because the autism spectrum is also very broad. But if parents have doubts, it is better to sin by excess than by default, that they insist on the pediatrician and that they value it, or go to an association to find out.
When can you say that a child with autism is evolving?
With therapy a child with autism always evolves. And a lot. Mario a year ago was lying on the ground all day, disconnected, turning on himself, looking at the lights. With daily therapy he has begun to speak, he writes his name, he knows the numbers, the letters, he fights with his little sister ...I will not stop screaming that therapy is essential, but before that the diagnosis or early detection. We lost precious time, a year and a half, because they told us that everything was normal. We must not look back, but I will fight because the same thing happens to no other child.
You can read more articles similar to Autism through the eyes of a mother, in the Autism category on site.