Friday, May 12, 2017

This Blog: Taking a Break

I have noticed that once again, just like last year, I haven't been able to update The Autistic Help blog as much as I feel like I should have. Aside from this blog I have another blog to take care of (a gaming blog) and my freelance writing work. I have a packed weekly schedule that involves me doing multiple things, either things that are just for fun such as learning new languages or more serious things such as getting in contact with people who could give me paid work.

I am sorry to report that The Autistic Help is officially taking a break, as in don't expect to receive any regular updates to this blog in the foreseeable future. 

This was not an easy decision for me to make, especially after I said at the end of 2016 that I promised to update this blog more frequently. Here we are in May 2017 and we still haven't gotten much material put up. Just a few posts and that's it. I take responsibility for not setting aside enough time during a week to type out a blog post for The Autistic Help. I'm sure there have been interesting news stories regarding people on the Autism Spectrum that have slipped through the cracks recently, and I haven't been able to find them.

I firmly believe this because I happen to have a love for the Word of God (Holy Bible), but I just think that God is taking me in a different direction in my life. What that direction has in store for me I don't know. I hope that new direction has something good waiting for me to discover. I won't know for sure until I pursue different things about my life. You know, life can be funny like that sometimes.

Have I enjoyed posting stuff on this blog about autistic-related topics? Of course I have. When it was really getting going I was enjoying the feedback I was getting. There's no doubt that this blog has helped me get the word out on what autism is and how people can properly deal with it. This ride has been fun for the most part.

However, there is also an ugly truth to things. Right now autistic people are being negatively shown in mainstream (or I should say "lamestream") media, and it's hard to get the word out on autism in a positive way if all you ever hear from both reporters and consumers of this kind of media is negativity. It's a sad fact of our society today that we're simply too focused on what's negative, and we don't take out enough time to focus on the positive things about a topic or situation.

Let me make this clear. The Autistic Help blog will not be going away for good. I'm only announcing that this blog is taking a break, and it will be back sometime down the road.

I need to take my focus off promoting Autism Awareness for now because it's becoming something that's anchoring me down, and not really helping me. I am still an advocate for Autism Awareness, but I feel that I can no longer be out in the open about it as much anymore, not with the way how society is treating autistic topics now. I have to be more of an "advocate in stealth". That's today's reality.

So for those of you reading this blog entry now, I encourage you all to stay tuned because I won't forget about this blog. I will find ways to (here and there) update it, but it just won't be frequent. I just can't promise that right now.

-Steven Timothy Vitte

Monday, March 20, 2017

Talking About Autism: What to Say

Here is the situation: You are a parent of a child whom you know has a form of Autism. You are well aware of the social challenges that your child faces. You know that direct communication is hard to come by with your child. You want to find a way to communicate properly with your child, but you're not quite sure how to go about it. You want to sit down and have an important chat about what Autism is and what you can do to help your child.

Where do you start? How do you start? What can you do to get a response from your child?

The link above takes you to an article where tips on talking to your autistic child, and I find these mentioned tips to be helpful. I especially like the "talk to your child sooner rather than later" tip because that highlights one of the most glaring problems parents have when addressing their child's condition. Parents choose to bottle up what they want to discuss with their children rather than just stepping forward and discussing what needs to be discussed.

Until your child can be made aware of it, he or she won't know that there are differences between that child and other children at school. Having your child be made aware of his or her condition, no matter what part of the Autism Spectrum it is, makes a difference. That difference is subtle, but as time goes on and reality sets in to your child that he or she really is different that other children, you will be thankful to let them know about those differences early on in their lives.

Let the truth be known as soon as possible to your child that he or she has Autism. If that is what the true diagnosis is, then let your child know. It's that simple. Having your child go through a part of his or her life not knowing what exactly made him or her different to begin with doesn't serve to help anyone. I would know this because I went through my entire childhood without knowing that I had Autism. I had no idea what Asperger's Syndrome even meant when I was a child. I never even heard of that diagnosis.

So what do you say exactly to your autistic child? How do you say it?

I'm not a parent myself, so I can't provide that specific perspective. However, from a casual and friendly point of view, I wouldn't do anything to make the situation alarming or dreadful for the child. You don't approach your child with a sour or grim look on your face. That's a red flag right away. Don't do that. You let your child know that there's nothing wrong, but do let your child know that you have something important to say.

When you finally spill the beans to your child and tell him or her that he or she has Autism, you never try to make it sound like your child has cancer. That's not what Autism is. Don't scare your child into thinking that Autism is something so harmful that they can't recover from. Autism is a gift in many ways, and not really a curse. Autism simply means that you are mentally rewired and you are capable of excelling in certain intellectual categories. Now that doesn't sound grim at all, does it?

Present Autism as an opportunity of sorts for your child. Make Autism sound like it's a badge of honor, as in "This is what you have, and you may be different than the others, but you are not worse off than them. You were meant to do something different, and that's what makes you... you."

Present Autism as a fun challenge of sorts for your child, as a motivational tool. Encourage your autistic child to go through life knowing that he or she will have a different set of obstacles waiting, but there you will be as a supporting parent to give your child that confidence to persevere and endure. Motivate your child and continue to motivate your child, through wins and losses. That's how you both succeed.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Assumptions: The Double-Edged Sword

Here is one topic I don't think I've really gone into on this blog. I most likely have discussed this in some form on The Autistic Help, but probably not as much as I should have. The topic is making assumptions. As autistic people we have to admit that we become prone to making assumptions where we feel okay with, but upon later examination we realize that sometimes we made the wrong assumptions. 

There are some things that we may have done where initially we believed that it was okay for us to do, but then after the dust clears we step back and think again. That's where we can get those gut-wrenching feelings of "Oh, what did I just do?" or "Why did I just do that?" These feelings occur often in us autistic people, and the challenge for us is how we deal with these feelings when we start experiencing them. Sometimes when we see the end result of an action we take, friends and family around us will remind us that we did nothing wrong and that everything will be okay. 

Making assumptions and how we deal with them is what I prefer to call a double-edged sword. Sometimes the sword swings in your favor, but other times it won't. Accidents happen and we need to learn how to sort out problems whenever they appear. 

For us autistic people it comes down to how we perceive an issue. How do we view a certain issue? Was it something that we felt we could fix? Would other people, who aren't autistic, view that issue the same way we viewed it, or at least view it in a similar light? It also comes down to the intent of a person, whether autistic or not. What did a person truly mean to do from the bottom of his or her heart? Were there good intentions? 

Mistakes are bound to happen in life. We all make mistakes. We are kidding ourselves if we believe that we'll never make any mistakes in our lives because mistakes are inevitable. We are only human. We can't really foresee how a certain issue is going to play out. We can process an issue in our minds (as in replay them) over and over again until the cows come home, but we'll never really know what effect an action will have until after everything settles.

I have been there, blog readers. I have made so many assumptions about actions I have took where I stepped back and went "Was that really the wise thing for me to do?", "Could I have done something better about that situation?" or "Did I do enough to fix that issue?" I won't lie. Some of the mistakes I've made in my life have truly bothered me, and to the point where I have felt regret and remorse. I'm just talking about accidentally breaking things or spilling a dinner meal, but I'm sure you get the point.

Be careful of this double-edged sword I'm talking about. Making assumptions can plant a seed of doubt, which leads to unnecessary stress and anxiety, and we don't need any of that in our lives.