When you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism
I can vouch for this, I have three autistic children and they are all very different. As it’s Autism Awareness week I would like to share my stories.
Number One Son
Many years ago I was told that my son was autistic. I had seen the film Rain Man, and that was about as far as my knowledge of autism went.
I went to the library and armed myself with reading material. I researched remedies and hoped there was some cure. Yes, I went down that path! I didn’t want a son with autism, I just wanted my son back.
Then I realised, he was still my son. He hadn’t changed just because he’d been given a diagnosis. Yes, our lives changed, especially where school was concerned, but we carried on and suddenly it didn’t seem so bad. We could do this!
It may or may not come as a surprise but Star’s real name isn’t actually Star. When I started writing this blog she was five years old. I asked what I should call her on my blog and she said Star. So I did, and she has proved to me time and time again what a little star she is.
Star’s autism was picked up much earlier than my eldest son. She was first assessed at the age of three, but not given her diagnosis until she was six. Some girls are able to mask their differences, but Star has always embraced hers and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Apart from her autism she has had other physical difficulties that we are still trying to get to the bottom of. She has been in for surgery five times, and had to wear a halo vest twice for a total of seven months.
But, although she lost an entire year of school, she is still on par with her peers and attends a mainstream school. She’s about to start choosing her options for her GCSEs and is not fazed at all.
The Little Man
We’ve known for a while that The Little Man has had problems. (Just to clarify, his name is not actually Little Man either.) Right from when he was very small he was different. He didn’t walk or talk until he was nearly two years old. As a baby he liked to lie flat all the time, he hated being sat up. There wasn’t anything wrong with him though, he was just doing it all his way.
He has always had difficulties at school, he gets into trouble for not listening, not concentrating or doing his work.
He has been bullied a lot because he doesn’t know how to interact properly with other children. I’m not saying it was his fault that he was bullied, but young children do tend to pick on kids that do things differently.
This week we have been working with his school on getting him assessed for Autism. He’s already on the school’s Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) register.
The Truth About Autism
Quite simply, autism is different for everyone. My three children are different with similarities. My experiences with all three of them have been different. Other parents of autistic children will have very different experiences too.
Autism Awareness is necessary for people to understand these differences. But most of all, we should understand acceptance. Autistic children and adults just want to live their lives in this world like everyone else, but they may perceive the world differently. A little more understanding and acceptance is all they can ask.
Star is in a very accepting school. The teacher’s understand her needs and although some students might tease her, she has support in place so she doesn’t get upset or overwhelmed by school life. Because she is accepted she is doing really well, she knows what she wants to do after school and I can see she will have a future. It’s not like that for all autistic children, but it should be.
Lovely to hear that Star is getting on so well. So much to think about with autism isn’t there?! x
I took a great interest in Autism when my youngest was being assessed and it really surprised me that Autism can be so different for different people.
Star is doing so well and good luck with the assessments for your Little man. x
Hi Anne, I do like that quote. The problem of getting a diagnosis is the fact that each and everyone with autism is different. It took nine years from the time autism was mentioned until we got a proper diagnosis. The delay stemmed from Gregs having other physical issues. I totally agree with the ‘we can do this’ trail of thought although now he’s an adult we do find it extra difficult, but things could be worse!… Society must learn to accept and tolerate everyone, quirks, differences and all. People are more aware of autism, but there is still a long way to go. Being an ‘invisible’ disorder makes it all the more difficult too. I’ll admit that sometimes my son does look very shifty when in a situation where he’s unsure what to do.
Oh yes, my eldest looks shifty sometimes, I’m sure he scares some people when out too. It’s not that he stims or anything anymore (you can tell when he’s stressed he’ll either talk non stop or find a toilet where he’ll hide for an hour!) but he does look ‘different’ and being 6ft and big built kind of scary. xx
Great post, Anne. Different and similar, it seems they have one thing in common, crucially: a perceptive and embracing mum.
Thank you Enda. I hope things are getting better at your end.