There are so many misconceptions about autism that I couldn't even begin to list them all here. Admittedly, when I first experienced my oldest being diagnosed with Aspergers, in 2005, I was full of misconceptions myself. However, seven years and a total of three autism diagnoses later, I have learned a great deal about autism from my kids. For this post I'm going to focus on my youngest son. When my youngest son was born, aside from severe jaundice, he was healthy and we couldn't have been happier. After a while before began to notice that he didn't seem to respond to noise. He was very young but wouldn't startle. I think my wife picked up on this first. We spoke to our pediatrician about our concerns and we began a long journey to discover what was wrong with our son. Emmett failed the next several hearing tests and my wife and I were heart broken but determined to help him in any way possible. Emmett hadn't even begun talking yet and so communication was a huge struggle. We began learning ASL and subsequently teaching Emmett. He seemed to respond well to this and slowly began using simple signs. The last test he needed to have done was called the ABR. Basically, they put electrodes on his head and measured how his brain would interpret the sound, if at all. As it turned out, Emmett could hear perfectly. What was happening was that he was filtering everything out. This is what led to out current journey don't the road to autism. Once Emmett was officially diagnosed with autism, he was considered to be preverbal. This meant that while he didn't speak, he could make sounds and had learned a handful of words. We were told that he may never speak and again, our hearts were broken. We continued working with ASL and Emmett began to make some progress. Eventually, Emmett said his first word doggie. I actually caught that on tape. It was absolutely amazing and easily one of the most amazing moments of my life. In the video below, Emmett says his first word ever. He says "doggie" at the 20 second mark. I didn't even notice it until I played it back later. Over the next few months, Emmett would learn a new word and then lose it again. There were many highs and lows along the way. However, fast forward to present day and Emmett has made so much progress that he actually, no longer needs speech therapy. He brilliant and I'm amazed by what he says now. I'm so proud of him and he's really proud of himself. He's not quite caught up but it's night and day, compared to where he was, even this time last year. My wife and I never gave up hope and Emmett never gave up trying to speak. We don't know why he couldn't speak or what happened to get things going. I personally credit Emmett for his never quit attitude and my wife who spearheaded the sign language learning and teaching process. This was a huge victory more my smallest minion. In truth, it was a huge victory for the entire family. I think that people make far to many assumptions about persons with autism. In my experience, most of the kids and adults I have met, are among the kindest, most intelligent people I have ever had the honor of calling friends. My son Emmett is the poster child for don't judge a book by its cover.
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