Autism has touched so many of us it seems. The debate is still raging whether it affects a higher percentage of children or whether we’re just better at diagnosing it, but there is no doubt that it’s a growing issue.
My own life has been touched closely as my daughter, Kayleigh Anne has autism. She’s an absolutely amazing little girl who has her daddy completely wrapped around her little finger. I’ll admit it. I’ll also admit that my wife, Annette and I are incredibly fortunate that she’s as outgoing and interactive as she is. So many parents face the challenge of raising children that seem enveloped in their own world and rarely venture into our own.
Perhaps that’s not a bad way of looking at it, actually… enveloped. There is a common, and frankly infuriating, misconception that children with autism have no emotions, display no affection, and have no interest in interaction. But at least in my experience I’ve seen children that are every bit as playful, every bit as loving, every bit as… well… kid-like as anyone else. They just seem to be enveloped in this shell that they have no control over.
My daughter loves to laugh and play. She loves to go new places and see new things. She runs around the house like a little steamroller and gets jealous when she thinks her little brother is getting more attention than she is. She hates broccoli, loves macaroni, laughs until she can’t breathe when she gets tickled, seems to think sneezes are the funniest thing in the world, has her stuffed puppy that’s the love of her life, and when she wants something she wants it NOW! In almost every way, she’s a very typical three-year-old.
Sure, there are real challenges. At three years old, she still doesn’t really talk more than a couple of very inconsistent words. She has a hard time knowing how to play with other kids. Most frighteningly, if she was to run off she would just keep going, completely oblivious to our absence.
Since April is Autism Awareness Month, I thought it would be a good time to share a little about this wonderful little girl and hopefully let the world see how these children are very much typical kids who are simply enveloped. All the emotion, all the excitement, all the affection is there, just sometimes locked away where it’s hard for the rest of the world to see.