Not disabled, just different

27 April 2018 | People

April is Autism Awareness Month.

I recently attended an event where I found myself surrounded by children laughing, screaming and running around.

The majority of these children were autistic. I looked at the one boy, running and screaming, waving his hands in the air, lost in his own world, when I heard a lady behind me saying: “Why won't this child keep quiet?” She sounded annoyed. When the man standing next to her calmly told her that the boy was autistic it downed on me that not many know what autism is. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently than other people. Usually autism begins in the early childhood years. It is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Autism is regarded as a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic affects people in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop, and with the right sort of support, they can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.

Instead of looking at the perceived 'deficits', society should use the strengths and fixations of autistic people to teach coping techniques and skills. Many people with autism strive on routine and structure, visual presentation of materials and small groups. Often they have sensory difficulties too. Zanet Pieterse, mother of eight-year-old EJ, says that it's a blessing and also challenging to raise an autistic child.

“Every morning depends on how he slept the previous night, and he usually doesn't sleep that well. I sometimes struggle myself to get up in the morning, due to lack of sleep. After getting up I change his clothes while he's sleeping. Aside from this I prepare his meals and that of his older sister. He spends half the day at Stepping Stone School. After school he spends time on his own and prefers to watch YouTube videos or play internet games.

“EJ has food aversions and doesn't just eat anything. It has nothing to do with the taste of food, but simply the smell. He's currently still on baby formula, and he needs to drink about two bottles a day. The formula contains certain vitamins and minerals that he doesn't get through the food he eats. Every morning and evening he drinks a concoction of medicines, mostly herbal supplements, to help settle him. ”

Pieterse explains that EJ was a normal boy up until two years old.

“He stopped eating. We took him to numerous doctors in South Africa, but no one could diagnose him. It's been a challenging journey with EJ. It requires a lot of effort, but our efforts are always awarded. Autism isn't a time game, where you can measure certain development at a specific age.

“The general autism community doesn't want us to label children or people with autism. But personally, I'd like a label that says:'I'm autistic, be patient'. People aren't always aware of autism, and when they see how EJ behaves, they usually think he's misbehaving, but when I tell them he's autistic, they immediately change their tone.”

EJ has high functioning autism.

“He's verbal, and behaves like an ordinary boy, but he has trouble dealing with his emotions. He reads, and writes, and everything he hears and sees he soaks up like a sponge and can easily recite it again. Someone can have autism, but can be affected in a different way, and may need more support”

Pieterse says the main role of parents of autistic children is to sculpt their gifts and talents.

“These children have been sent to contribute to society. They are not disabled but simply just different. ”

Contact the Autism Association of Namibia via [email protected] or visit the social media pages Petra Autnam Dillmann, Ask me, I'm Autistic, Karla's ASD page and the Autism Discussion Page to find out more about autism.

Similar News

 

Matheus to launch CBK Safari line

2 months ago - 28 October 2019 | People

Swakopmund • Adolf Kaure Kaino Ipuleni Matheus (29), aka Kim, is taking the local fashion industry by storm. Kim is the creative executive at...

Onderburgemeester nou lid van Rotariërs

3 months ago - 27 September 2019 | People

Swakopmund • Iréne-Mari van der Walt Die onderburgemeester van Swakopmund, Maria Elago, is hierdie week as ‘n lid van die Rotariërsklub Swakopmund ingehuldig.“Die doel...

Purpose driven beauties

5 months ago - 11 August 2019 | People

Walvis Bay Leandrea Louw The reigning Miss Teen Walvis Bay, Dominique Bouwer, and the first ever Miss Pre-Teen Walvis Bay, Malinda Bam, discussed...

Alles wat mooi is

5 months ago - 04 August 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel As die ekonomie begin knyp, dan doen jy wat jy kan om ’n ekstra geldjie te verdien. Só het dit gebeur...

The heart of a champion

5 months ago - 28 July 2019 | People

Walvis Bay • Adolf Kaure At the tender age of 15, Delano Müller has conquered the world of martial arts. Müller, who is currently a...

Deur God geseën

5 months ago - 21 July 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel Nadat ’n ma self ervaar het hoe vinnig babas uit hul klere groei, kon sy nie help om te wonder...

The art of making real life baby dolls

6 months ago - 07 July 2019 | People

Walvis Bay Leandrea Louw Humankind never ceases to amaze when it comes to innovation, with the latest creation being real life baby dolls. Magdel...

Graduate shares her story

7 months ago - 26 May 2019 | People

Walvis Bay - Leandrea Louw Chloé Paulse (25), a graduate of the University of Namibia (Unam) medical school, grew up in the salty and...

Ouma Magrita a mother of many

8 months ago - 06 May 2019 | People

Otis Finck - Swakopmund The secret to a long life is having respect for your elders.Ouma Magrita “Mamas” Haoses, who is turning 103 year old...

Getting to know Miss Walvis Bay

8 months ago - 29 April 2019 | People

Walvis Bay - Leandrea Louw Julia Kandjimbi (21), a final year fashion student at the College of the Arts, is the reigning Miss Walvis...

Latest News

Genesa to wow the coast...

6 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

Swakopmund • [email protected] Germany-based musician Genesa Handrick is the star attraction at the Welwitschia Music Production (WMP) Social Responsibility Day taking place at the...

Nuwe skooljaar begin

1 day - 16 January 2020 | Education

Swakopmund • [email protected] Opvoeding in staatskole loop aanhoudend deur weens begrotings wat aanhou krimp en klasse wat aanhou groei.Vir die direkteur van onderwys in...

“Tides of Talents” to commence

1 day - 16 January 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Swakopmund • [email protected] The Tides of Talents group exhibition opening at the Fine Art Gallery on Friday (tomorrow), features contemporary works by young artists...

Gerugte van brandstigting onwaar

1 day - 16 January 2020 | Local News

Swakopmund • Iréne-Mari van der Walt Met ‘n eenvoudige “onbekend” as rede vir die oorsaak van ‘n brand wat Saterdag ‘n huis op Swakopmund...

“Tides of Talents” to commence

3 days ago - 14 January 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Swakopmund • [email protected] The Tides of Talents group exhibition opening at the Fine Art Gallery on Friday at 10:00, features contemporary works by young...

Interne veranderinge by Orano

3 days ago - 14 January 2020 | Business

Swakopmund Orano Mynbougroep se bestuurende direkteur, Hilifa Mbako, beklee sedert 1 Januarie 2020 die rol van uitvoerende voorsitter ná ’n dekade by die maatskappy.“Hierdie...

Residents discouraged to vote at...

3 days ago - 14 January 2020 | Local News

Walvis Bay • [email protected] Returning officer Jeff Manale told members of the public not to leave larger areas like Kuisebmond or Narraville to vote...

Adri toor met koekversierings

3 days ago - 14 January 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Swakopmund • [email protected] As jong meisie was Adri Myall (42) reeds dol daaroor om koeke te versier en het aandagtig gekyk hoe haar tannie Mienie...

Nuwe hotel vir Walvisbaai

3 days ago - 14 January 2020 | Business

Walvisbaai • [email protected] Die City Centre Hotel wat in die hartjie van Walvisbaai se middedorp geleë is, het onlangs sy deure amptelik geopen.Plaaslike...

Load More