We attended our first Autism Spectrum Disorder coffee morning at Dragonflies today.
Over the next six sessions, we'll be discussing various aspects of living with autistic children and some strategies we can employ.
Today's session was more of an introduction, including a quite handy "what is autism". There's three main factors that are used to determine the spectrum, with a fourth - sensory - coming into play more and more.
Having attended, I think Sue and I are more confident with how we can handle Emily's disorder. It was good to hear other parents concerns like "is she being bad, or is it just her"? things that Sue and I keep asking.
I know normal kids push boundaries to see how far they can go, but I really have no idea with ASD kids.
One thing we took away from this morning was an interesting stat - 1 in 100 "normals" are so focused that they could be considered experts on a subject - whether it's jam jar labels or quantum physics. For people on the autism spectrum, that number is closer to 1 in 10. Emily's gone from having a 1% to 10% chance of being brilliant with a certain subject.
At the moment, that would be recitation of Dr Seuss and Hairy Maclary books, but feeding on this, it could bode well having an innate attention to detail, a good memory and a love of books... as they could be text books.
We also discussed the iceberg effect - where the displayed actions of a child aren't always cut and dry and there's usually quite a bit more under the surface to explain why they're doing what they're doing - be it a tantrum, staring into space, or anxiety about being in a new situation.
We mentioned Emily's compulsion to uncross peoples legs and the leaders of the group were quite mystified as to what the motive of this action could be.
Looking forward to attending the next few sessions.