April is Autism Awareness Month. My goal is to spread awareness to everyone about this developmental disability, known as ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism affects 1 in every 68 individuals. More boys are affected by this disorder than girls. Research shows that it is four to five times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. Currently, there is no single cause or known cure for Autism Disorder, just as there is no one type of autism. Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. A small number of these are sufficient to cause autism by themselves. Most cases of autism, however, appears to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors.
Autism varies in degrees of functioning - from severely low functioning to very high functioning. Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music, and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. You will find that many people on the spectrum takes pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world, while others with autism have significant disabilities and are unable to live independently. Nevertheless, what classify all autistic children and being autistic are the following characteristics:
Difficulty in social interaction
Difficulty with verbal and non verbal communication
Repetitive behaviors (which some would call OCD).
Sensory Processing Disorders
My son, Josiah Montgomery, received his diagnosis at age 4 right before entering kindergarten. He began receiving early intervention services at 18months when I notice some signs indicating that he was not developing typically, for his age. Although my son is considered to be high functioning, as he is an extremely gifted reader, a wiz with numbers, he has a photographic memory, and an awesome personality, he still struggles with the characteristics that defines Autism: difficulty with social interaction, difficulty with verbal and non verbal communication, repetitive behaviors, and sensory processing issues, on a daily basis. What's really challenging for me as a parent of an Autistic child, is how some people may treat him, look at him, or even respond to him simply because he tends to speak, act, and think differently than a typically developing child.
In closing, please understand that this is my life, and this is my story. I live it, and I deal with it everyday; and I wouldn't have it any other way. My son is special and unique to me (as any child is to their parents). He has been perfectly designed by My God. I love him with all my heart and I want the world to know that I love someone with Autism. So, given what I have shared here today, please, help me spread more awareness about Autism. I am teaching my son to be proud of who he is, to embrace his uniqueness, and to never let anyone, or anything stand in the way of him accomplishing his goals in life. I love my Autistic son. #TeamJosiah #AutismSpeaks