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Hooray, my child has auti.

Hooray, my child has auti.
Yes, I know the official term is ASD, autism spectrum disorder, but let’s be very honest, they are usually called : ‘the autistic one’, ‘rare’, ‘that annoying one’ or ‘he/she is quite special ‘. There is very rarely a positive reaction.

My daughter is besutiful, smart, fiery, enthusiastic and creative. My eldest son is handsome, intelligent and sporty, in short something positive is always found. With the son with auti, we get all the other comments from, ‘that must be difficult’ to ‘he will get there’, accompanied by a wary look. Also giving their additional thoughts on why he has autism (it’s the vaccinations, the diet, the air pollution) and asking if we’re sure – because you don’t see that in him and everyone knows someone who has a much worse  auti.  Which also calls into question your credibility as a mother! 

They’re special. I think they’re all fantastic. Do I know many? I know quite a few, about 30. Is that representative? Depending how you look at it, I think my friends are fantastic too so is that representative of the entire population? Probably not though I like to think that all people are fantastic.

Last week I heard from a psychologist that a study has shown that the number of children with ASD is increasing exponentially. It’s one in 20 now. That gave me such a warm feeling! Even given the fact that, in the past, fewer people were diagnosed, they have noticed a huge increase. That really makes me very happy.

Why, might you ask yourself? Let’s see – we are all trying to find is a little bit of happiness and peace. From mindfulness courses, yoga, being assertive, multitasking,  ‘ to  less is more’ and ‘take it easy’.  I come from the era when it was taught that a visit to the toilet was the best time to blow your nose and clean your glasses.  Multitasking  was what it was all about. Everything could be better and faster, courses in NLP (neuro linguistic coaching)and coaches who taught you to yell out ‘tsjaka’ and thus increase your energy to be able to do even better and more in less time.

Times are changing, we now encourage having more ‘quality time’ with your children and making sure we have enough ‘me time’. The expressions change; the pressure remains high in our current society. We pride ourselves on the fact that we are all unique, but medical science and schools think we should all be as equal as possible.

But our ‘auti’s’ truly are superstars in teaching us how to achieve a level of calmness They do not agree with stress. They have to learn to adapt – is a common comment.

But imagine being in an important meeting with your employer and you want to ask for a raise, for example.  It requires all your concentration to find the right wording, to remain calm and to make a good impression. If you can do all that but at the same time turn on the radio really loud, turn on the television really loud, and  play a video on youtube  (just as loud) with a flickering light and someone knocking on the door…. you  get  the  picture!  You are going crazy. However, this is everyday reality for our  auti’s. Cars speeding by, a radio playing, other kids talking, adults asking them questions, pencils scratching paper,  a pencil case being picked up, a book bag being shifted, all these outside distractions can make them freaking out and sometimes exhibit aggression but wouldn’t we too? 

My son is in dire need of rest. When he gets home from school he’ll lie on the couch for two hours with sound-dampening headphones on (a real must), then I might ask him what his day has been like, or ask if he has homework. Only one question is preferable, too many questions make him nervous.

We solve that by building a routine with fixed moments for eating and being together.

So we also learn to refocus on one thing and to do that one thing as quietly as possible.
According to  autistic people,  the “other” people lie. I asked my son to put on fresh socks each morning, three days later he had 3 pairs of socks on top of each other. I didn’t tell him to take the old one off. Obviously, for him it’s difficult. We were forced to re-analyse each assignment and were amazed at how many things we simply take for granted without clarity.

They have a heart of gold and absolutely can’t lie.  Our adolescent son would love to be able to do so, and every now and then he tries but he pulls such a crazy face and then bursts out laughing, ‘I can’t do it mom’. What a relief. ‘What you see is what you get’. – no hidden agendas,  no lying, everything out in the open. What a lot nicer and easier the world would be if this were always the case.

They can’t distinguish key issues from side issues, but who actually determines what’s important? Who determines that mathematics is more important than language? Who determines that having pain takes precedence over being sad? Who decides what and why. We, as parents, have to think about this very much, because half an explanation is not enough.

They recognize each other, without words and help each other. They are incredibly happy when they discover a bestie. They will defend him tooth and nail. 

The assistant teacher and psychologist (both more than 20 years of experience) also shared the fact that  autistics teach themselves English. They prefer to communicate in that language rather than in their mothertongue. Our son also taught himself English and can express some of his feelings, something that is not so easy in his mother tongue. In Portugal, they are now going to do further research into all these new discoveries.

We are learning more and more about these incredibly special children.
They understand better than we do what we need. During a moment when I was at my son’s school, I saw a math teacher lose his temper trying to explain a mathematical problem to an autistic child. I was totally shocked by the incident but the boy in question looked at me and behind the teacher’s back he smiled and winked at me, it’s okay I know him.

They have the phenomenal ability to like others, even if they don’t seem to. For us, to like is to make eye contact, a hug, a touch, for them it is to accept the other. Even though they have very pronounced preferences, they will not intentionally harm anyone else. Their aggression comes from overstimulation and impotence.

They live in the now. Our son had a very difficult time with the concept of time. Everything’s NOW, so if there’s is a test next week and I tell him, he’s panicking right now. Then I can’t explain that it’s not until next week. So I learned to say small pieces, that what’s important now and to leave the rest behind. A real challenge for a control freak :-). But what a wonderful lesson in ‘living in the now’ 🙂

Having a child with ASD is the best thing that could have happened to me. It taught me to distance myself from things which I no longer regard as important. It ha taught me to look at myself and face and address my causes of stress. It has brought me peace and an acknowledgment of what’s necessary. Very frustrating at first but but I am now very grateful for that. It taught me to be clear and to live in the now. It teaches me to love unconditionally and to go through life without expectations. To enjoy what is now and to spend hours watching a fly (although hours for me are excessive).
So let them be born in large numbers, those  special ones, for me they are very welcome.

This is as always, my personal opinion, with an a know and understanding of the opinions and experiences of others.

Greetings

Annelies

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