This is 6 and a half year old Isaac and his twin brother Jacob. They often flap their arms or clap their hands, and suffer frequent tantrums.
What’s the matter?
18 months ago aged five they were diagnosed with autism.
I think most people just think they are naughty children and you’re a bad parent, but they’re not bad boys they are good boys it’s just that they have a different agenda to everyone else. And they’re quite happy to go into their own little worlds and sing their own little songs in their head or shout and they don’t think anything’s wrong with that.
And eat, yum, yum, yum.
Autism affects 1 in 100 children in the UK. Social situations, body language and tone of voice are hard for a child with autism to understand leading to difficulties with expressing emotion and empathising with others and they often feel vulnerable if they don’t have routine or structure in their lives.
They’ve got what is described as classic autism, which affects all their ability to learn and integrate with the world and other human beings. They don’t learn like normal children learn.
They don’t fully understand emotions, you know happy and sad, they only have those extremes they don’t seem to have anything inbetween. And you try to explain something you might as well be trying to explain nuclear physics.
He can stay doing something for a quarter of an hour. Just pressing that button and seeing the repetition, over and over and over again. If we stop that now, or stop the computer now, he would burst into tears.
There’s nothing bad necessarily about the computer games, for autistic children it stimulates them probably a wee bit too much and you have to restrict to the point of a good three-quarters of an hour or half an hour before bedtime you have to calm things down in order for them to be able to go to sleep at night.
Isaac and Jacob display other autistic traits, such as sensing their environment in extreme ways.
He will sniff his own feet, lick his own feet, suck his own feet, and given half a chance he will do it to yours as well.
Sometimes I will come home from work and he will take my shoes and socks off, and he loves the smell of my feet, literally smell smell and you feel the breeze coming through your toes. It’s like a drug.
Although communicating pain and when they want the toilet remains a problem.
Come on, let’s go do your bum bum, come on.
(shouting and crying)
Oh it’s alright, come on let’s go do your bum bum.
We can sit them on the toilet but they don’t actually associate it with going to the toilet, they just sit on it, like it’s a seat. And they haven’t got the ability to sort of associate it with their bodily functions.
When you take them out or the changing tables are designed for babies, nobody’s thought that a 6 and a half year old child needs their nappy changed. Nine times out of ten most mothers do it on the floor of very dirty toilets or the back of their car.
They can’t tell you when they’re hot, they can’t tell you when they’re cold. They can’t tell you when they’ve got a headache, if they’ve got a stomach ache, they’ve got absolutely no sense of danger at all, so when they’re out in the street they could walk into the road if they weren’t held and just walk in front of a car or a bus and splat. That is one of my biggest fears.
We’re not young parents, it does worry me what will happen to them in the future. We have got an idea of sort of what we might do. They will need when mary and I are gone, a carer, they wont be able to live by themselves I don’t think. We’ll see, you can’t pre-guess the future can you, it comes and we do our best basically.
If you see a child actually strangely, then try to be a bit more patient with the child and hopefully with the parents and ask them questions.
Autism is a life-long, developmental condition but with special schooling and rest bite care, Isaac, Jacob and Mum and Dad are happy with their progress.
Each year, all the time it gets easier and easier.
“Can mummy have a cuddle?”
Slowly but surely, we are getting more and more cuddles out of them.
“Aw, good boy, aww.”
Getting a cuddle from an autistic child feels like you’ve won a gold medal.
It’s a huge battle, you know.
They’re happy, they’re not nasty children, they’re just different.
Our ‘Living with’ strand features 6 year old twin boys Isaac and Jacob who suffer from autism. Autism affects 1 in 100 children and maniests in several ways; difficulties in social situations, reading body language and tone of voice, trouble with expressing emotions and empathy and disliking change of routine. The boys, who were diagnosed 18 months ago, suffer from classic autism, which means the disease affects all there ability to learn and interact with other people. They have trouble going to the toilet, as they cannot connect what their body is telling them with needing to sit on a toilet. Isaac’s and Jacob’s parents are finding it easier to manage the condition and look forward to the cuddles.
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