Thursday, 29 September 2011

Trying to learn about autism.

You may have noticed the book I am reading at the moment. You may not have noticed, but bear with me! My friend at work lent it to me. I have only just started it, but already it is a book that is hard to put down. It is called Multicoloured Mayhem and its by Jacqui Jackson. If you click on my GoodReads section on the right hand panel you can find out more about it.

It deals with the family of Jacqui Jackson, a remarkable lady who has 7 children, 4 boys and 3 girls. All the boys are on the autistic spectrum. As a person who does occasionally come into contact with autistic children through my work I am eager to discover more about autism and its many 'colours' as Jacqui would say.

From what I have learned it would seem that there are as many colours of autism as there are autistic people. Each person has their own very special traits which can make their lives both very difficult and very different to those of us in the 'normal' range. I have to state here that I consider myself very lacking in knowledge when it comes to autism. It is a mystery to me and that is why I want to find out more. Our reactions to children with autism although well meant can often be completely the wrong thing to do. Putting an arm round an upset child seems to be a natural reaction, but to an autistic child the action can feel threatening, the touch like fire.

The last thing that I want to do is hurt or upset a child through my own ignorance. This book speaks from the point of view of a mother and a remarkable mother at that. Her patience is incredible. When realising that one of her sons was unable to follow her finger to where she was pointing she began a long process of training him by colouring the tip of her finger red and attaching a length of red ribbon from her finger to the window where she had placed a red smiley face. Over time she got him to follow the red ribbon to the face and then she slowly shortened the ribbon until he understood how to follow an imaginary line from her finger tip to where she was pointing. Now that's dedication.

Understanding an autistic child's literal view of things is essential too. To a child with autism 'crying your eyes out' is a scary thought. I have a long way to go in my understanding and I have to admit that I find understanding autism very difficult. For me body language and facial expressions are easy to understand. For me approaching life with a sense of humour is second nature. But in my job I have to think more and more about how I speak, the language I use as autistic children do not have the same understanding or outlook on life. For those of you who know about these things please don't worry - I am only a small cog and am not connected to any autistic children right now. I just want to learn for when I do come into contact with them so I can give them my best care.

When I have finished reading I will write a more thorough review, but for now if you are interested I would say its well worth having a look at.

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