Autism. We have all heard about it and most of us most likely know someone with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
But what is it? What does it look like? Who does is effect? And why are so hung up on having the “label”
When I google Autism it came up with a pretty lackluster description and honesty it sounded a bit scary! If you have never met someone who is on the spectrum, then after reading this description you probably would avoid all people with ASD and have a preconceived idea of that person. One that you may not like at all.
A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.
Autism spectrum disorder impacts the nervous system.
The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests and repetitive and challenging behaviours.
Behavioural: inappropriate social interaction, poor eye contact, compulsive behavior, impulsive, repetitive movements, self-harm, or persistent repetition of words or actions
Developmental: learning disability or speech delay in a child
Cognitive: intense interest in a limited number of things or problem paying attention
Psychological: unaware of others’ emotions or depression
Also common: anxiety, change in voice, sensitivity to sound, or tic
Children with ASD may lack empathy and be volatile.
If ASD is not diagnosed or not supported in their everyday environment this can lead to a challenging future and also develop into other disorders such as depression, OCD, ODD, severe anxiety just to name a few.
The list goes on and on, a never ending list of problems and issues they may have.
After reading that what is the picture in your head right now? Is this someone you would like to meet and be friends with? Or have your child play with? Or to fall in love with and maybe marry one day even have children with?
I have a sister and a brother who are both ASD and high functioning and unique in their own way. I can tell you they are so much more than the list above, they are more than their ASD. Life has been challenging for them in many ways and it’s easy for people to judge them from a distance. In the past people would often comment on their behaviour and put them both down to being naughty children that just need to learn a lesson or two. Many times my Mother has had to deal with meltdowns at the supermarket and too many times people watch in disappointment or suggest a good smack would do the trick!
Too many times my mother has had to defend her children, fight for equality and put up with judgmental comments from the general public…
And too many times she has had to tell a white lie to them when their friends mother’s does not want their kid to play with them any more.
Now as a parent… How does that feel, how does that sit with you?
I write this blog in hope it may change one person’s attitude and perception of people and children living with ASD.
What ASD looks like to me:
Someone that has an amazing way of thinking, someone that thinks in such depth it can not be explain, someone that really does have super powers.
My sister, Briley-Rose can smell certain things depending on how she is feeling she told me the other day that she could smell my tooth paste as I walked passed her. If that is not a super power I do not know what is?!
Briley has this amazing skill to draw and create such interesting characters in fine detail. Her creativity is something to be admired.
She also has a beautiful way with animals, she is warm and caring and adores kittens!
Briley has a memory like an elephant! Nothing gets past her! She is the one that makes me laugh the most she has a wicked sense of humour a very dry one indeed!
My brother Brenen is one to watch (and our family call him Houdini!) You don’t get a name like that for nothing! Brenen can get out of any situation! Give him a lock and throw away the key he has cracked the code within minutes! We have MANY 21st stories to tell and he is only 7 years old! – Please no more Brenie!
Brenen thinks on a much deeper level. He can feel your emotions before you do and he is highly sensitive to how you feel and he cares about how you are much more than you think. He feels huge amounts of emotions and though at times this can be overwhelming for him to feel with such depth it can be a blessing. To love, to laugh and to be loved for Brenen is something no one else can describe.
Brenen has ears like a dog and can hear things at certain frequency that others do not even notice. He has great rhythm and has a musical talent!
He is pretty cheeky to say the least and he has some pretty crazy adventures, he is the wild child and pretty sure he was the one to turn mum’s hair grey!
Brenen has a wonderful way with younger children, especially babies his maternal instinct kicks in to overdrive when he is around younger children. He will look after them and mother them like they are his own. It is beautiful to watch.
My sister and brother are more than ASD they both have talents that others do not, and even though living with ASD can be difficult for them and their family we celebrate their strengths and are grateful that they are who they are and what they bring to this world.
They have both taught me to be a better person. They have taught me to be compassionate, understanding, patient and loving. They have made me be a better human and definitely a better mother.
By writing this I hope to bring awareness to people that ASD can affect anyone, it’s not a scary thing and it can be a beautiful thing! It doesn’t all “look” the same and it can come in many forms.
Though some people’s talents are different, they are no less important than your own. Embrace it. Accept it and enjoy it.