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Dragonfly Dreamtime - May 22, 2012 - St. Croix Courier

posted Aug 24, 2012, 6:57 PM by Dragonfly Centre for Autism Inc


 Dragonfly Dreamtime May 2012


We had our first family support session at the Dragonfly Centre last week, and the poignant theme that came out of this great afternoon was how difficult it can be looking after a young person or adult with autism and how this tolerance, strength and unimaginable test of parenting skills can be made so much harder by public reactions and judgements. We had a great time of sharing stories of difficult, highly embarrassing moments when we have been in a public place with a young person with autism and their behavioural outbursts ranging from full temper tantrums in stores to shouting out “paedophile” and “I’m being attacked” as a means to gain attention or simply cope with a significantly challenging situation for them. As a professional working with young people with autism for 9 years and having a younger brother with autism, I understand how important it is to share and laugh at these taxing moments as a means to cope but I can only imagine the significant effects on parents when they then share stories of members of the public reactions of pre-judgement and assumptions that their child’s behaviour is a consequence of terrible parenting and lack of appropriate boundaries.

However, as we stated in the last article; autism is a hidden disability. Unless you are aware of some of the characteristics and classic behaviours, how are you to know whether the child having a tantrum in a shop, hitting his mum or dad, or screaming at the top of their voice is not just simply being badly behaved? There is no easy answer this other than to raise people’s awareness and understanding of disabilities. However, next time you see some challenging, odd or inappropriate behaviour exhibited by someone, think twice about whether the person may have a disability and perhaps ask the parent/caregiver if they are ok and need any help.   Why not try and put yourself in their shoes.

The first difficulty that we are going to look at that people with autism face is an impairment in Social Interaction, which means the ability to get along with other people. People with autism, partly due to the problems they have with communication, have difficulties developing friendships and playing cooperatively with others. Despite the challenges children with autism face with social interaction, they still have the desire to interact. They may just need direct instruction to learn what others pick up by observation. Imagine not knowing how to develop and keep friendships, to know how to resolve issues, to know what is and isn’t socially acceptable to talk about in public or at the dinner table. People with autism struggle with the things that we ‘just know’ how to do. You do not need to be an expert to help a young person with autism develop and maintain friendships, help them with conflict management or educate them; understanding, patience and a desire to help will help build better futures for these individuals.


·         According to Statistics Canada (2006) 17.2% of the population of New Brunswick has some kind of a disability

·         Autism doesn't just affect children. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism

·         Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.

·         There is no blood test, no scan, and no image that can detect autism. Diagnosis relies on behavioural observation and screening.

Please drop into the Dragonfly Centre to learn more about autism and the services we offer.  Our next Family Support meeting will be at 12:30 on Wednesday, May 23 at 36 Milltown Blvd., St. Stephen.

Claire Bryant
Autism Therapist
Dragonfly Centre for Autism Inc