If you have come here expecting to learn something, there’s a good chance that you will. But, don’t expect me to teach you. While I am the one with the higher education degree and professional training, I am but a student, Lia is the teacher.
This site is dedicated to Lia, and people like her, who depend on professional caregivers, and count on them to know what the heck they’re doing. For the sake of privacy, I have altered the identities of Lia, Lia’s family, and anyone directly linked to her care.
In order to try to understand and master new experiences, my creative brain tends to use analogies – a lot. It helps me process. And I write. For me, writing is a critical tool used to facilitate problem solving.
Speaking of analogies, many of the problematic behaviors I see manifested in Lia remind me of similar behaviors in people with dementia and bipolar disorder. And, there is also the occasion where she reminds me of a sociopath. Not that she is one, but her behaviors conjure up visions now and then.
For the record, I have decades of experience as a Registered Nurse and Certified Educator. I am not the parent of a child diagnosed with any form of Autism. I have not been diagnosed with Autism. There are members of my extended family, diagnosed and undiagnosed, who occupy space on the Spectrum, but my interaction with most of them has been limited.
“Lia” is an acronym for Lessons In Autism.
My primary inspiration comes from a young lady that I frequently care for, but some of the “Lessons” are based on an aggregate of people on the Spectrum with whom I have interacted over the years. They may appear individually for comparison, or as a composite to illustrate the lesson being presented.
Lia is in her early teens, and currently experiencing many of the changes associated with being a young woman in bloom. She was diagnosed with Autism at the age of eight. According to her most recent evaluations, she is “severely autistic with extreme developmental delays”. She has been described as a toddler trapped in a teen’s body. She was also described as being nonverbal in her initial diagnoses, but currently has a limited vocabulary that consists of assorted words and phrases. On special occasions, she strings her words together to make full sentences. Oh, I should probably mention that Lia has Down syndrome as well.
Lia is complicated.