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(Original article from https://laopinion.com/2018/04/27/superando-las-barreras-del-autismo/)
Mother shares the difficulties and advances she has had with a diagnosis that at first, she did not understand.
At 17, Karina Flores enjoys many activities during her last year of high school; the walks, the celebrations and in a few days the long-awaited gala graduation party.
However, Karina celebrates her way. The young woman, who suffers from moderate autism, faces her own communication and socialization obstacles since her speech is limited. The young woman barely says a few words, but not in complete sentences and repeats her mother’s words.
“She’s excited that she’s going to the prom,” said her mother, Martha Alvarado, 42. “And after he graduated, he’s going to Port View Preparatory in Yorba Linda,” which is a school for adults with disabilities.
However, the joy they enjoy today had a long process of acceptance and education for the whole family.
Alvarado said he noticed Karina’s condition when she was a year and a half old.
“She isolated herself a lot and liked to do repetitive things with her little hands,” said Alvarado, who then consulted with his doctor and told him that his daughter probably had autism.
“It’s an impact on your life but you do not know exactly what it is. And at that time the doctors gave you the diagnosis, but they did not tell you what to do,” recalled Alvarado, who is a single mother of three children.
For more than 10 years Karina received limited help such as occupational therapy and speech therapy.
Over the years, Alvarado was taught until becoming almost an expert in the issue of autism. She loads her “Special Education Rights and Responsibilities” books for the state of California and has appealed several times to the Montebello School District so that her daughter receives the same treatment as the other students.
“My daughter is the only one in her group of about 16 students who attends an elective computer class,” Alvarado said. “And of all [the senior students of the special classes] she is the only one who is participating in all the activities because I required it.”
Now Karina takes basketball classes, she can wash her own clothes, she knows how to use the money, and on Fridays, she participates with “Estrellas Brillantes“, a group of young people with disabilities that meet to socialize in South Gate. She also has a teacher after school that teaches her how to function in society, according to her limitations.
It is estimated that one in every 68 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum, which affects more boys than girls. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a wide range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and non-verbal communication.
There are three types of autism; mild, moderate and severe, said Pete Pallares, children’s psychologist with a focus on autism and CEO of the Center for Social Dynamics.
The doctor explained that the mild condition is what they used to call the Asperger’s symptom. “They are the individuals that only lack a push in the social life because they tend to be isolated a lot.”
These people can have completely normal lives. “They can go to college, have a job, families. Many times you do not notice that the person has autism,” added the psychologist.
The moderate level-which Karina suffers-is the one that sometimes has aggressive movements. “They find it difficult to socialize and have problems with language and communication,” explained Pallares.
And the severe level has aggressive behaviors making it difficult for the person to have an independent life, but it is possible, said the psychologist.
How to face autism
So far, an exact diagnosis about the cause of autism has not been found.
“Causes like mercury, vaccines, food have been investigated and nothing has come out conclusively,” said Pallares. “Now everything goes to the genetic part. And yes, there may be an interesting relationship between the child and the parents, but there is nothing specific.”
He added that many times parents ignore the condition of their children because they feel guilty.
“I call him the ‘Latino shame’ [shame of the Latino],” explained the psychologist, adding that sometimes parents prefer to hide their children in a room and when they ask for help it becomes more difficult.
Absence of education
Alvarado accepts that she was one of the parents who, because of the lack of education, did not know where to take her daughter to receive help.
“I worked up to 70 hours a week to pay rent, babysitting, and other expenses. I barely had any money left for me and my [three] children,” he acknowledged. “Now I know that [Karina] has problems going out into the community. If you isolate them, it’s worse. “
A few years ago Alvarado learned that he could work with his daughter and the government would pay him as a regular job. She immediately chose to do it.
Pallares recommended to the parents that if their son is diagnosed with autism they take him to receive the necessary help as soon as possible.
“Because if a child does not speak at 3 years of age, it is not the same as a child who does not speak at 11. The child at age 11 has already acquired a series of rituals so as not to communicate verbally when the 3-year-old child he’s just learning that, “said the psychologist. “Parents should ask and know that there are services that help them and many accept health insurance.”
This Saturday will be the “Autism Speaks Walk” at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena starting at 8:30 a.m., a fundraising event for people with autism. This is considered the largest walk whose collection helps improve the lives of people with autism through free innovative resources, scholarships, and trained personnel.
For more information and registration you saw, http://act.autismspeaks.org/site/TR/Walk/SouthernCalifornia?fr_id=3634&pg=entry