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Autism: Maintaining Hope Despite Skill Loss


Regressions and autism


After your kid is diagnosed with autism, there is something they don't prepare you for the ongoing loss of skills. We have been dealing with Charlie's severe autism a lot, and it hasn't gotten any simpler. Charlie works on various therapy goals every week, such as mimicking particular sounds or gestures, halting when we say "stop," etc. We define these skills as "mastered" once he performs them correctly more than 80% of the time for three consecutive days after exercising them daily. When Charlie excels at something, it always makes me happy. It represents progress and offers us cause for optimism.

Charlie, on the other hand, finds it extremely difficult to keep up with abilities he has previously "mastered." He will lose an old talent while gaining a new one. We are currently extremely pleased with him because he has mastered the ability to recognize five different colors—something we have been working on for ages! Sadly, Charlie hasn't been able to utter "mommy" for the past few weeks either. He struggles to make the sound of "mm," switching to "p." Although his tutors are still working on it, he is still having trouble. A few weeks ago, when I understood there was no significance to Charlie calling me "mommy," I can still recall being quite depressed. So there's no longer even a "mother" at all.



Autism and seeing the bright side


Keeping optimism alive is the best we can do. Since I have a positive outlook on life, I didn't trust the neurologists when they predicted that he would probably never speak. Was it innocence? Maybe.

Today, I don't think Charlie will stop here and that he will keep letting go of one ability as he picks up another. On the other hand, I have to defend myself, and I have to admit that I'm thinking about it as an option. I was told that we should pay attention to the here and now when I stopped hearing his sweet voice calling me "mommy."

There is no assurance that Charlie won't continue to lose the skills he currently possesses, and in the future, I might lament these skills.



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