(Victor with cousins Amber and Jessica)
Autism is the disability/illness I chose to do my assignment on. When I found out we had to do a paper on some sort of disability there was no doubt in my mind that Autism was the disability for me. My cousin Victor is Autistic, before he was born I hardly knew what Autism was. With something like Autism you don’t really look into it until it is knocking at your front door. At a very young age Victor opened my eyes and my world to the fact that not everyone is the same, and that people with disabilities are still people, this gift is something I will never be able to repay Victor for and will always be extremely grateful. After researching Autism and looking back everything I was unsure about with Victor growing up all seems to make sense now, like how he would hardly ever make eye contact with people or how he would always run around with an oversized cowboy hat on his head (It was sort of like his security blanket). Growing up I was told he had Autism and that’s what made him a gift to our family, but that always left me with what question. What is Autism?
Autism is a general term for a group of complex disorder of brain development. It can by characterized in different degrees; such as, difficulties in social interactions, verbal and non verbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Similar to our experience with Victor Autism appears to begin in very early brain development, and signs of Autism start to emerge between two and three years old. Victor started regressing around three years old and stopped talking by age 4.
When Victor was born he was referred to as a “blue baby”. He was full of amniotic fluid and they had to do CPR on him the first and second day of his life because he stopped breathing. The clearest evidence of the Autism risk factors include events before and during birth, such as, maternal illness during pregnancy, high age of the parents at the time of conception (either mom or dad) and difficulties during birth, particularly difficulties involving periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain (like what happened with Victor). Now do not get me wrong, I am not saying 100% that this is what caused my cousins Autism, I am just saying research says it is a possibility.
The Autism umbrella covers a huge spectrum, and each person with Autism is unique. If you have met one person with Autism, then you have only met ONE person with Autism. Because the spectrum is so large and everyone is completely different just because they have Autism does not mean they are all exactly alike, just like me and you are different, they are different from everyone else as well, we are all unique and none of us are exactly alike.
There are many types of treatments for people with Autism, and many people improve radically, however as of right now there is no cure for Autism. Depending on the person, certain treatments can be more successful than others and people with Autism can increase their skills, but they are still Autistic and will always perceive things differently from most people.
My family is blessed to have Victor in our lives, and I will end this paper with a quote from my Aunt Suzy, Victor’s mother, “Our family has learned to be better people getting to know Victor. Most of us are naturally selfish, like material things, gossip about others. People like Victor do not know what “gossip” is so they don’t do it. He is happy with simple things and does not care about the material things we desire. The things that make him happy don’t cost anything such as laughing together, spending time together, sitting on a rock enjoying a view and singing.” I think if we all could stand to learn something from Victor and if everyone could see through his eyes, the world would be a much better and happier place.