Just a delay, or autism?
Posted on May 13th, 2015 by Aaron
Recently a large company invited me to speak at a neural diversity day. Speaking at corporate events isn’t something that I think of when I think of my job, but that’s exactly the reason that this avenue is so important.
The attendance wasn’t the greatest — in fact, at 22, it was rather low. The numbers are irrelevant, though. It’s the impact my presentation has on the people who are there that matters.
You see, for those already aware of what the autism spectrum is, there are plenty of places to look for information on the disorder. But what about a parent who thinks their child might have autism? For a person like this, it may be difficult to justify attending a workshop like mine, especially if they’ve been told by their doctor what my parents were told for so many years: “Oh, don’t worry about your child, he’s a bit delayed in some areas but that’s because he’s just smarter. He’ll outgrow it.”
Those words are exactly what a parent at this presentation had been told. I gave an abbreviated version of my presentation, and the 55 minutes flew by. I got plenty of applause when I was done, and as I was walking out with my Easter Seals Midwest coworkers, a woman from the audience stopped us and just broke down crying. I froze. I don’t really know how to react in this situation, so I just listened to her story.
The more she told me about her child, the more he sounded like me. Fixations, obsessions, and a fascination with anything that spins. The doctor had told her the same thing my doctor had told my parents, and for the first time in her life she had an answer as to why her child is the way he is. “Aaron, coming here was the most important thing I’ve ever done,” she told me. “For once I have hope.” Those are five words I will never forget.
If you’re curious about your child’s development, take the Ages and Stages developmental screening on www.MaketheFirstFiveCount.org.