Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The "Umbrella" of Autism
When my oldest son was diagnosed with Autism, it was 1994 and he was 3 years old. I was so surprised at the diagnosis, because at that time "Rain Man" was the only reference to Autism I'd ever heard of.
It took a few months of acceptance, and then years of learning (I'm still learning) to figure out the best way to live with this diagnosis. Until finally one day I realized that I had to find a way to live with my child, not his diagnosis. Because after reading every book I could find on the subject it still came back to the same thing: my son and my family, trying to live happily ever after, just like any other family.
One of the first things you might learn about Autism is that it is a "Spectrum Disorder", much like an umbrella. There are many different forms it can take, and different degrees of functioning for each individual. My wonderfully talented son might be referred to as "High Functioning" or having "Asperger's Syndrome"...but to me, he's just a very cool guy.
Here is a portrait I painted several years ago of my first son, under his very own umbrella.