A Mother’s Account of Autism

By Melissa Lake – Guest Contributor

“Autism is a developmental disability resulting from a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.  Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.  However, autism affects each individual differently and at varying degrees.” (Source:  HBO Miracle Project)

Logan is a nine year old child who is living with autism.  He’s also my son.  To look at him, he seems like a completely normal, good-looking boy, with handsome features, a perfect complexion, and an olive skin tone.  He loves his family very much, especially his older sister and her brand new baby.  Of course, as his mother, I see his good qualities first and foremost, and he has many of them.  But anybody who has dealt with this disorder firsthand can tell you that the challenges are just as plenty.  I want to give you my personal perspective of what it’s like to raise a child with autism.

Let me first tell you a little more about Logan.  Like most kids, he is easy going at home and likes to play with his toys (but fights for them at times).  We have made a park in our yard where he swings hard with joy.  We had a trampoline until he started getting the urge to push others off the edge of it.  When Logan’s happy, he slaps his belly and laughs as he runs around in a small circle or jumps and waves his arms wildly.  When he’s in anger, he hits his own face and makes a loud, disturbing noise, kicking and screaming like an infant.  This can happen at any time.

Logan has gained weight from his medications and craves food upon seeing McDonald’s when we go into town.  As far as he’s concerned, that’s the only reason for our drive because he loves it so much.  This can cause a violent outburst if we don’t stop.  I must tell him what we are doing, in what order, and how he needs to earn the privilege to have his happy meal.  If I am off even a little bit, he will say “I NEED,” or “BUTTON, BUTTON, BUTTON, BUTTON, BOO, BOO, BOO” repetitively before his fit turns into a rage.

I want to talk mostly about public places, as that is where we experience the most difficulty.  Many people mistake Logan for being stupid or spoiled when they first encounter him.  Actually, he could read before he could walk, and can figure out how to program a DVR or DVD player within seconds.  Although he knows most of the rules of society, he doesn’t understand why they’re important.  As for spoiled, my son is not that either.  It’s just that in his sense of justice, he doesn’t comprehend, for instance, how other people can eat before he’s even been given a drink when we’re at the restaurant.   On a recent trip for ice cream, he threw a huge fit because he wanted his treat before we had paid.  I always need to attend to him before my other children to put out these fires.  Someone who witnessed the incident gave me a confused look.  My quick and safest response in those situations is “he is not spoiled—he has autism.”

I have been able to educate a decent portion of my community about Logan, and how he deserves equal respect and treatment.  As such, we have been met with a lot of support.  One example of this took place at one of our local restaurants that Logan likes because of its low lighting and friendly staff.  Another customer who knew nothing about him wondered if she needed to give him a whooping to fix his behavior.  The server politely intervened to inform her that I was the only one there who would be able to calm him down.  The lady was then thanked for coming in while being helped to the register.

I love my son and try to be patient with him, although it doesn’t always work.  I know that I could’ve given up hope a long time ago, but with the support of those around me, I am striving to make his life the best it can be.  In addition to raise awareness in my community, I want to do the same for the general public so it can become better equipped on how to treat autistic children, men and women.

I will write more about my experiences in the future.  But as a final note to this introduction, I want to say one more thing.  The next time you see someone who is a bit different, perhaps crying over a piece of gum, please kindly smile and offer him a piece if it’s acceptable to the adult caring for him.  Most likely, you will get a great response and a brand new friend. 

12 thoughts on “A Mother’s Account of Autism

  1. Wow, what a great story! I have a son who also suffers with autism. His particular diagnosis is Asperger’s Syndrome with ADHD. I understand all too well the difficulties of being in public, not only because my son doesn’t understand the “rules” of society, but because he is also missing the “off” button when it comes to thinking before saying things. I support you completely in educating people about this disorder, as well as helping them understand how to handle situations with your child, rather than accusing you of “spoiling” him. These kids are definitely not spoiled! Keep your chin up and always remember you are doing a wonderful job!

  2. I feel like there is so much we can learn and share with the public, these children are our blessings, with that said, I would like to know how your son reacts to school authoritie and does he end up fustrated at small things more on the school nites than the weekends? What are some of his favorite things to do on his own or with min. supervision, I find Ted my older son is a computer fan, has been since he could slap the keys on Reader Rabbit Toddler and he is an 11 year old that can make a grown man cry at WII LOL… BTW Ted has Pervasive Developemental Disorder NOS, also under the Autism Spectrum.

    Thank you Connie, I hope to hear more from you.


  3. Connie!
    Wish I could find the radio show for this but I think it comes out shortly….Again, was not co-incidence that I was’nt your first BFF in 5th grade! 🙂

    You are a great friend to have, and know it must be one of the worlds greatest settups ever:)~ Talking about the ginger bread house u all lived in, I was like “oh howw cute” I loved it right off…….

  4. I am so happy my friend shared this on his site. I have a 16 yr old son who has non verbal learning disorder and OCD which run right with autism. He still acts just like your son. His school told me for years that I was spoiling him and causing him to be this way. I went to many doctors with him and still go. 2 years ago I switched him to a different school, a smaller school even but public still. They bend over backwards to meet his needs. He does so much better, the kids and teachers accept him and he has friends which I am so grateful for. It is hard to keep patience some days and expecially when people do not understand the way things are with these children. Nick has an awesome memory and has it all up in his head, just cannot seem to get it out the proper way. His doctors are even amazed at his memory skills. My heart goes out to all these children!!!

  5. Kelly I to changed schools, smaller town, people really understand, and if they dont, I educate them, or the teachers do… He is only 9, and starting to dress up for the girls fighting over him, One girl can barely speak a full sentence, but clearly says “Logan is handsome”…

    I cannot imagine what you have been through, this must get better in time, I know my older sister was really hard to deal with as a teen (also Autistic, but diagnosed generic MRDD)…She still is a teenie bopper and is 40 lives on her own with 24/7 Trainers.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and feel free to elaborate!

    Melissa Lake

  6. Melissa-
    I am proud to know you. Keep up the good fight and educating all of those around you. I have learned a lot about Autism just from being able to frankly ask you questions. Your honesty and intelligence on the subject is refreshing, as is your ability to see the good in your son’s situation. I know feel people who count themselves as blessed as you do and that makes me feel very humble.
    All the best and thank you for your brave spirit!

  7. Lavonne~
    Thank you, I am honored to know you as well, asking questions is what gets answers, and answers are what make people understand how hard this fight can be.

    This is not a deadly disease, there are hardly ever deformaties, the biggest problem is jst that. When I told my family that Logan had Infantile Autism, they told me, “Oh he will grow out of it”, and some were pleased that he did not have a life threatening disease. Thats it!

    The doctor said take him home and teach him Behavioral Therapy, talk to him, look him in the eye and make him look you in the eye. Read this book, and this one, fill out this form for the CDC, as he also has on his MRI a brain annomolie which is Arnald Chiari Malformation, and sometimes one thing can cause another. Such as his speach and balance, etc. So I did, and I read a lot! Of good, bad and really bad books.

    He is developing at a much slower rate than the average child, but he has not stagnated his developement, that to me shows he has a future maybe brighter than anyone ever imagined, deep down I knew it all along.

    Hugs to the furry babies,

  8. I appreciate your compassion. I know that you have acquired much over time but you were most likely already equipped to provide this compassion…that means that you were chosen to provide for Logan. Even for those of us that have not had extensive experiences with these special individuals, your advice allows us all to be more understanding and less judgemental. Bless you and your family.

  9. Thank you Missy:)
    Yes you are right I have acquired patience, kindness and compassion over time, those of you who really have known me all this time, definately understand the road was not always this easy, and times when I just wanted to throw in the towel. Just as a shock of any diagnosis, I was more content with his first diagnosis which was “Hypotonia” as he could not walk at 3 years, I thought, this is fixable, do the exersizes and Sooner Start helped a lot with teaching me how to do his Occupational Therapy with him daily, and they came in once a week. He was walking at 3 and a half!!!Until he seen another Dr. who asked me “has this boy been seen for any of his delays” sending us to Tulsa Pediatric, and finding out his diagnosis was, absolutely a bomb shell.

    Bless you Missy

  10. You are doing so well with Logan. I miss him so much what a greate boy, all of the boys. What an awesome job you did on this mom, go you!!! I love you very much.

  11. I love you too, Chelsea I could not have done it without your uplifting encouragement and strength. He is doing so well, the McDonald’s thing is going away, Bob bought him a burger and he ate two bites and had fried nuggets instead. We alwas have baked nuggets at home, so this should be helpful. Since Daddy has been home a month now, Logan is enjoying kitchen time watching Daddy cook makes him hungry for whatever creation was made…. Oh and he is loving his trampoline, cannot wait for you to come star gaze!

    We love you
    Mommy n Logan

  12. Very good story Mel! It is probably the most misunderstood disability out there, and your doing for so many people a great deed. Please keep up the good work!!

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