I was just thinking. We always talk about how #Autism has affected our kids. We talk about the challenges, victories and heartbreak. These are all important things to dialog about, however, I have another question.
How has Autism changed you?
This may seem like a silly question but it really isn’t. Let me share my feelings and then I would love to hear yours.
While I’m not personally Autistic, I’m profoundly affected by it anyway. My 3 boys are all on the Autism Spectrum, along with my wife. So I’m basically in the trenches each and every day.
Autism has proven to be exhausting for me because with so many people with Autism under one roof, things tend to be rather chaotic. I think many of you out there understand what I mean by chaos, so I won’t focus on that so much in this post.
Despite all the exhaustion, frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed, Autism has changed me in quite a few ways.
I don’t personally define my kids or wife as Autism. They are first and foremost, my wife and kids. However, there is no denying that them being on the Autism Spectrum provides life with many unique experiences, that I wouldn’t likely have otherwise.
I think that my kids being diagnosed with having Autism, has taught me just how patient I can actually be. I have learned that sometimes the little things mean the most. I have learned to appreciate my family and never, ever take them for granted.
When my youngest gets himself dressed, I’m as proud of him as someone else would be of their child scoring the winning goal or touchdown. A victory is a victory, matter how big or small.
One of the most amazing things I have learned is just how many different ways there is to see the same world.
These are just a few ways Autism has changed me…..
Your turn. How has Autism changed you?
Having a daughter with aspergers has taught me how much 'normality' is just a social construction, how judgemental people are towards 'children behaving badly' and their parents, how not to judge that mum in the supermarket with the screaming kid, how to advocate, how not to be interested in other people's opinion on raising children, and how to challenge medical and educational 'professionals'.
Oh E – that's so sad to hear. My 7 year old daughter has Aspergers and it would break my heart if she ever felt like you. We love her, with all her quirks and stims. She is so special, so so special.
What has autism taught me? Infinite patience. Love beyond belief. Tolerance (not for her, but the idiots who set out to bring her down through ignorance). Compassion for others. Empathy for that mother in supermarket with the child having a melt down.
I am a better person for being my daughters mother.
Crystal – I should say, my parents hated (and would abuse me for) everything that was “Autistic” about me. They loved that I was smart, but if I began to talk about my special interest, that would set them off. They appreciated that I could keep quiet when there were other adults around, but stimming of any sort (even if it was something as small as twiddling my thumbs, or tapping my fingers together silently) was NOT tolerated. I wrote a pair of posts on my blog, discussing my parents’ response to my Autism if you’re interested. It is sad, and it’s the reason that now, as an independent adult, I do not interact with my parents very much. But it’s also a sign of how times have changed even since I was a little child 15-20 years ago (I’m 22 now). And honestly, I think my parents are proud of me now when they are able to step back and see how far I’ve come. But it doesn’t change the fact that I spent my childhood believing I was broken and would never be able to do everything that my parents wanted of me.
E- I don't know how any parents can hate their kids just cause they are different..I love my son no matter how different or similar he is.. It makes me so sad to hear how a lot of autistic kids are treated and what they have to go through specially from their parents… Parents are suppose to love their kids no matter what the circumstance is..it's just soooo sad…
I guess I come at this from a different angle, in that as an OT, I'm choosing to have autism as a part of my life (although I guess I am on the spectrum to a certain degree myself). Autism challenges me and makes me passionate about helping 'my' kids succeed. I can still clearly remember by first encounter with a child with autism, I was probably about 11 and was on a camp supporting children with special needs. I sat down to talk to this boy and he said "what's the boy's name? The boy's name is William" (he was William) at the time, I didn't recognise what I was experiencing but by the time I finished uni, I knew it was children with autism that I wanted to work with. Each and every child (and family) I work with brings their own special something and teaches me something new.
Autism changed me, because before I knew I was Autistic, I knew I was a failure, broken and defective. I knew there was something “wrong” with me, and that nearly everyone (especially my parents) hated me for it. I knew I wasn’t like everyone else, and I thought it was due to great personal failings, and that it was all my fault, and if I just worked harder, I would be better. Now I know *WHY* I am different. I have a toolbox that I am able to access and work around things with. I know that it’s not my fault when I can’t keep up with a conversation, or look someone in the eye. I know that there’s nothing wrong with me, but that I simply process the world differently than most other people. And more importantly, I know that I *can* function, in my own way, and do what I need to do in the world. My expectations for myself changed. They didn’t get lower – if anything they got higher. But they also became more reasonable. My goal now isn’t to look at someone in the eye when they spoke to me. It is to listen to the person, and give an honest, polite, and respectful reply. I can honestly say that learning about my Autism diagnosis saved my life, because it taught me that I am not broken, but it also gave me the self-awareness I needed to function in the world.
p.s. I’ve been lurking here for many months, but this is the first time I’ve left a comment. Thanks for such a great blog!
Sorry it took so long to respond to this. You are most certainly not broken or defective. I'm so sorry that you ever had to feel that way. I'm honored that you read my blog and I'm glad you finally posted.
Thank you for sharing that because I think it's so important that we as a society realize what other people are going through. You have made me more aware and I thank you for that. I'm so glad you have found yourself and you have found your way here.
That was an incredibly honest and courageous post. Thank you so much. 🙂
I feel the same way you do..I have a 3half year old son with autism and a 14 months old typical son and they are my world… My son is non verbal but definitely let's me know what he wants… Autism has made me appreciate all the little things in life… Every little new thing my son learns is like Christmas morning when I was little..he is sooo amazing and I could not imagine my life with out him..I do not like his autism but we get through it one day at a time… He is my baby and I do everything I can to help him try and live a normal life..hopefully someday he will be able too…