Autism Reality

Autism – Parents Can Be Prisoners

Her autism often prompts Kristi Jansen not only to bite her own knees, hands and feet but to pinch and bite her mother Sandy. She would pinch or bite Sandy up and down her arms ‘really hard,’ her mom says, and even while her mother slept.
Glenn Baglo, Vancouver Sun

The following excerpt from Part One of the Vancouver Sun‘s six part series Faces of Autism portrays the realities of life for many parents of autistic children. Sun columnist Peter McMartin, and photographer Glenn Baglo, are painting a graphic picture of the realities of life with autism. For doing so there will be outrage from the joy of autism crowd, as there was following release and showing of the Autism Every Day video, but Mr. McMartin is speaking the truth and painting an accurate picture of autism realities. The biting and other experiences described in this article have also been part of life in our household and in that of many other families with severely autistic family members.

Parents can be prisoners of child’s condition

Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, April 20, 2007

Marriages and friendships come under great strain as the family’s time and energy is gobbled up by the disorder’s demands. Parents of children with autism are not like parents of typical children.

This truth is easily said but not easily understood.

Depending on the severity of their child’s condition, parents are prisoners to that condition just as their child is.

Their other children suffer unintended neglect because the child with autism commands so much of their attention.

Autism also puts its own unique strains on marriages. ….

April 21, 2007 Posted by | autism awareness, autism disorder, autism every day, autism reality, family | 2 Comments

Emotional Roller Coaster – Living With Autism

The following excerpts are from the first of a six part Vancouver Sun series Faces of Autism by columnist Peter McMartin and photographer Glenn Baglo. The author is correct to point out the uniqueness of each person with autism. It is also true though, that life with an autism family member and loved one, is an emotional roller coaster with considerable stress. Parents of severely autistic children will be able to relate to much of what is portrayed in this article.

Autistic 14-year-old Kristi Jansen swings from crying to laughing to screaming in a matter of seconds. Her body, home and family members — especially her mother — bear the scars of her violent outbursts that have only been calmed through years of expensive therapy. Kristi isn’t a typical autistic child — in fact, there is no such thing, as Pete McMartin and photographer Glenn Baglo discover. What families struggling with the disorder do have in common, however, is intense physical, emotional and financial stress.

t is 3:30 p.m. on a Tuesday and Kristi Jansen, 14, of Langley, is just home from high school. She is tall and blond, with the long-limbed athletic build of a middle-distance runner. She is wearing a short jacket, leggings and a camouflage print skirt — an outfit of combat chic that gives her an artful, edgy look, as if she were the kind of young woman who would gravitate toward the high school drama club. Her mother, Sandy, gives Kristi a Popsicle. Kristi settles on the den couch to watch television and Sandy turns on cartoons for her. Her mother and I go into the living room at the front of the house to talk.

And then, without warning, Kristi is screaming.

That is not quite right. Kristi is screaming and laughing and crying, one outburst after the other. They come within seconds of each other, intermingled, without pause, as if she were channel-surfing her emotions. …… …..

April 21, 2007 Posted by | autism awareness, autism disorder, emotional, laughing, screaming, vancouver sun | Leave a comment

Vancouver Sun – The Many Faces of Autism

One fundamental point which is repeatedly ignored in discussions, debates and arguments over autism is that “autism” as discussed in the media is a spectrum of disorders which includes autism disorder and other related disorders eg. PDD-NOS, Aspergers. There are many faces of autism, many different characteristics. The Vancouver Sun has published a balanced and understandable overview of autism disorders and promises to present a series of stories portraying different aspects of the spectrum of autism realities.

To understand the many faces of autism, first consider what it is not

Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2007


Simply put, there is no one profile that fits those diagnosed with autism. So, to define what autism is, it might be best by pointing out what it is not.


It is a neurological and, ultimately, a biological disorder that affects the normal development of the brain in areas of social interaction, communication and sometimes cognitive skills. Usually, that disorder manifests itself before the child reaches three. (More on those symptoms and their diagnosis in a later instalment.)




It is a spectrum of disorders. On that spectrum are five related disorders, the three most common of these being classic autistic disorder (AD), pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger’s syndrome. They share some behaviours but not others. Those with AD, for example, are often withdrawn and can be completely non-verbal, while those diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome can have normal verbal and academic skills but have extreme difficulty interacting socially with others.


Some have below-average intelligence, some are average and some are above average.

Additionally, mental abilities can be uneven. A person on the autism spectrum might be able to do complex math but be unable to tie his or her own shoes.

Some are capable of holding jobs and of living independently or semi-independently; some have the intellectual capacity to work but not the social skills to make their way in the work environment; some must receive 24-hour care their entire lives.


It is a life-long condition. As one parent of a 12-year-old girl diagnosed with severe autism said:

“Parents have to understand:

“This isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.”

The initial symptoms, however, can be ameliorated through a combination of intensive early childhood therapy and, it has to be said, the fierce and protective love of parents and family.

See for more from the six-day special feature


The story of a severe case, and life at home with an autistic child.


Two mothers, their tears, and the sacrifices they must make living with autism.


How the health care system discriminates against those on low income.


Immigrants and the special challenges they face in dealing with autism.


The high cost of therapy, and a mother’s determination.


Two autistic teens and their families face an uncertain future.”

April 21, 2007 Posted by | Aspergers' Syndrome, autism awareness, autism disorder, autism interventions, behavioral intervention, PDD-NOS, the rain man, vancouver sun | Leave a comment