When he was three years old, Mark Macluskie was diagnosed with autism. At the time, his parents were told that their son would one day need to be institutionalized. Instead, the 19-year-old is now majoring in mechanical engineering and doubling minoring in electrical engineering and mathematics at Arizona State University, where he is attending college on a full ride scholarship. Plus, based on research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Macluskie no longer meets the criteria for an autism diagnosis.
While each person's autism journey is unique, there are several lessons parents and individuals dealing with autism can learn from Macluskie's story.
- Celebrate the victories. For each person, victories will be different. For one family, having their child gain verbal skills might be a huge victory. For another family, the child showing positive emotions could be a huge step in the right direction. For others, no longer meeting the criteria for an autism diagnosis might be a big victory.
- Do not compare your victories. No matter how hard people work, not everyone is going to have the same result as the Macluskie family. Do your best, and accept that a victory is a victory, no matter how small.
- Avoid discouragement. Changes, especially big ones, likely will not happen right away. Do what you can to help your child to make changes in their life. If something is not working, try something else. As you see success, even small successes, you can better understand what will and what will not work in your individual situation.
- Do not accept limits or the worst-case scenario. In Macluskie's case, his mother easily could have accepted that her son would eventually end up in an institution. Instead, she decided to do whatever she could to prevent that from happening. Do what you can to help your child achieve that child's potential. Then enjoy the results of your labors.
To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health section of our blog.
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