Some of you may know already that our eldest daughter is Autistic. I wanted to share a blog post with you that's from the heart during Autism Awareness Week.
Our eldest daughter has always marched to the beat of her own drum. A brilliant sense of humour, kind & loving, she has a strong sense of justice, adores books, science, baking and riding her bike. She is also Autistic! You see she doesn't "have" Autism, it's not like a virus or a bad cold that will one day go away. She is Autistic and it's something that is intrinsic to her. As she grows up I want her to be ok with this.
Part of her being ok with it will be down to everybody else too. Kindness, acceptance and a smile!! In order to get to that point us as parents of Autistic children need to be their advocate though. So I'm chucking myself out of my comfort zone with this blog post.
I've known since she was 3 that she was Autistic. People didn't listen, you see I was just a Mum, a Mum who was seeing things that others couldn't. I often got told "well she's not like the Autistic boy I taught, she doesn't line things up" and "she doesn't have meltdowns in class."
You see everything you read says "Autistic girls aren't like Autistic boys" ....... now that's a phrase that bugs the sh*t out of me. Girls and boys are dissimilar anyway let alone chucking Autism in to the mix too so why say it. Evidently though we still compare Autistic girls to the Autistic boys when it comes to diagnosis. My eye roll couldn't get any more pronounced ....... sorry Mum!
So this my friends is what Autism looks like to us.
“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” Dr. Stephen Shore
You see our super star has awesome powers, yes that's right I call them awesome powers. Here are just some, some of which you will identify with I'm sure.
She has this incredible sense of smell and could happily sit smelling something gorgeous for ages. The smell of baking, freshly washed clothes, flowers, anything from Smiggle and perfume all make our girl happy.
She has this super sense of touch. Certain clothes feel really good and the texture gets compared to silk.
She can make the most incredible amount of enjoyment from food that pleases her senses.
She can take a subject and learn every tiny little detail about it.
She is inquisitive about everything.
Now the flip side to this is the bit that maybe you can't identify with.
She doesn't cope with change very well, conversations can be tricky as she doesn't read social queues and will talk over adults. Kids can really confuse her with their behaviour, high levels of anxiety, loud noises scare her and she is often happiest with a hood up over her ears. If something smells bad then she won't go in to a room. That same sense of wonder about the softness of the fabric or the beautiful scent can lead to repetitive behaviour. The same people who make the lovely soft clothes also go and insist on sewing the most gigantic scratchiest labels known to man inside them!
She gets very, very tired. Why? Because Autistic girls mimic to fit in with their peers. Imagine how tired you would be pretending to be something you are not for the whole day.
So this is what Autism in girls looks like to us. It's inquisitive, frustrating, eye opening but most of all it's opened up a world to me that I never knew existed. I smile often, not because I'm laughing at her but because I'm looking at the world through her eyes.
I'm going to leave you with this question. She asked it me when she was 4 ...... yes, 4 years of age. When you look at the world through Autistic eyes you see a whole lot of puzzling things!
"Mummy, why is the Queens husband a Prince and not a King?"
Let me know what you think.