Autism is an odd thing; it changes day by day. From one day to the next, I never know what challenges I’m going to face or, in some rare, but pleasant, situations, how the different way of thinking my ASD lends me is going to help. One thing, I can safely, and unequivocally say, is that, yes, it does get ‘better’.
Obviously, things aren’t as cut and dried as they seem, and ‘better’, is a pretty subjective term. However, nowhere in the diagnostic criteria for either Autism or any related disorders does it say that a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder removes the ability to learn. Day to day, we are all learning as we experience new things, and we continue to do so. A child or adult with an ASD is no different.
Ben, my little brother, was diagnosed with the classic model of Autism, first drawn up by Leo Kanner in 1943. He was ‘classically’ Autistic – there was no eye contact there whatever, he was non-verbal, and at the time of diagnosis, didn’t communicate whatsoever. If he didn’t laugh constantly, or scream, kick and bang his head when things weren’t done a certain way, he would’ve been almost catatonic – he didn’t react to other people’s presence, didn’t recognise his own reflection.
Now, he’s finished an English Bachealoreate, having completely 12 GCSEs, with an A* in Business Studies and IT a year early. He’s going through college to complete his A-levels and is an avid climber. He’s funny, eloquent, and positive. Ben is a success story, sure, but he’s by no means isolated.
He’s a success story, sure. Ben has achieved some great things, but the one that will stick in my mind was when he spoke properly for the first time; ‘success’, too, is relative.
Take each day as it comes. Autism doesn’t ‘get better’ in the conventional sense, it’s not an illness, but as it ceases to be viewed as such, it has the propensity for improvement, as does any aspect of humanity.