This month has been amazing. Not only have more people been aware of Autism through the news and events, but my son's life has been significantly changed this month in my eyes.
First, the news. I have posted many times my assertion that Autism is caused by genetics, and that the genetic link will be established. Well, as of this week, the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania, along with UCLA, Penn State, and a number of other institutions, reported two papers that has found one specific genetic marker that is common within autistic people, and another paper marking 13 other more rare genetic markers that are also strongly linked with Autism. I was previously aware of 10, but it seems that another 4 has been added to the mix.
It's great news, because now perhaps the Autism community can unify and become strong enough to get proper legislation through Congressional Committees. It also means that genetic therapies may be coming down the pipe sometime in the next few decades.
Also in the news, celebrities have been spreading their opinions regarding the causes of Autism, and how they feel the community could be best served. I'm glad they feel so strongly regarding the theories that have been thrown about by people with no medical or neuropsychological backgrounds. It's a great opportunity to learn and share, perhaps to get them on the side of Science and research instead of anecdotes and unproven therapies.
But now to the more important detail (for me at least): My son's progress. To date he has been reluctant to be verbal, preferring to communicate through looks and by independently working out a solution for himself. While I'm proud that his brain works so well in the problem-solving area, I would like him to start focusing on speaking.
Just last night, he was playing with some plastic golf balls. I wanted me to pull them out for him, so as I did I would hold one up and say "ball". I then made a song out of the one word while bouncing the ball in the air, to help him connect the word with the object. Within a few minutes, he said "ball", prompting excitement between my wife, my son, and me.
Later that night my son decided to undress himself. This usually means that his pull-up has been soiled, and he needed a change. But the pull-up was still clean and dry, so I took him to the bathroom and stood him in front of the toilet. It took a couple of tries, but he used the toilet, shut the lid (a little loudly, but I'll take what I can get), and flushed. I was so proud! He is in the process of being potty trained, and I think we may have him trained by the time he starts Kindergarten.
These are all really huge events in my son's life, both the scientific discoveries being made for Autism, and his progression to mainstreaming within society. He will always be apart from society at some level, and I'm fully embracing that fact. He will instead have a different way of approaching ideas and concepts.
So that is the news for the end of the month. I had hoped that some serious Autism legislation would have come from the US Congress, but it seems those bills are all still in Committee. It's disappointing, because with the growing need for real action in helping parents manage autism in their lives during this critical time, Congress hasn't acted soon enough. Well, there are more months in the year, let's see if anything does happen.