What a simple question, with a difficult and complex answer. The short and sweet version would be “yes and definitely no”, or perhaps rather “no and then maybe later yes”.
Let me explain. If you type in right now, “Autism Spectrum Disorder” in Google you will find the following:
Difficulty with communication and interaction with other people Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. Symptoms that hurt the person’s ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life.
The term “spectrum” can refer to the range of symptoms or their severity, leading some to favor a distinction between severely disabled autistics who cannot speak or look after themselves, and higher functioning autistics.
And the third website:
Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.
Okay, now that we have all the negative press out the way – back to why we usually ask our parents not to Google at first.
Do you believe that every person has their own strengths and weaknesses. Do you believe that your father or mother has/had some idiosyncrasies that frustrated you or hindered them from reaching some of their possible goals. Do you believe that you have strengths and weaknesses? I am fairly confident we are all aware that we are all unique and we have different things that we are good at and not so good at.
I can’t for the life of me understand why most women find cooking as easy as they do. Whereas most of my female friends have no idea how I can live in one country for two weeks while setting up children’s programs and updating IEPs. Packing my suitcase while writing reports and then flying to another country, while typing out my dissertation results on the plane. But give me a pan and some ingredients and I would opt out to create music rather than frying something up. My point is – we are all wonderfully unique and this is EXACTLY the same for ALL our children diagnosed with ASD.
The trick here is to let go of what you feel are “normal” interests and strengths. We have children that are absolutely fascinated by the workings of specific machines. Some therapists in the past would tell the child that they need to find different interests, but this is a dead-end we believe. We should utilize what our children enjoy into their “lessons” or just daily lives. If they like machines and the working thereof, becoming an engineer might be a distant goal as a career choice. If your child likes sorting, he or she might end up in the field of IT as this takes a very precise and systematic person to understand and persevere through sometimes redundant tasks.
So, I would suggest parents do NOT Google at first as the negative comments and prognosis of outdated websites or professionals that refuse to evolve with the diagnosis might get you down. Take a step back, observe your child and see what he or she loves doing – what “makes them tick” (yes, even stims as this shows great interest to some of our children) and then find a way to expand their current interests by engaging with him or her on their level (meaning: join them if they are lying down looking at trucks from the side of their eyes).
Once you know what activities or toys you should be looking for to engage more with your child, THEN you Google away. The internet has become an extremely easy way to share information from people, literally, anywhere in the world. You can find a bouquet of free material and resources to help you plan a day with your child, basing everything around his or her interests. Pinterest has some exciting and very creative material available. You can look for videos on YouTube that can help you with acquiring sounds or language from your child too. Again though, I would remind you that there is also a lot of mediocre material and videos out there – but don’t despair, we can also help with some quality free resources and videos.
We are also more than willing to guide you in the right direction if you are looking for something more specific that you can’t find on our website. Let us know – we are here to share as we believe that the more we connect on a global scale the faster we can all evolve with our children. In many instances it feels that individuals diagnosed with ASD has surpassed most “neuro-typical” people.