Autism comes up on The Mother Rogue because it was a key factor in my choosing to become an NCM. My son needed the house, the stability, and the support system he had with TheEx. I could not provide that at the time.
Autism is technically classified as a Neurodevelopmental Disorder. Google it, and it comes up as “A serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.” While Autism can be disabling, and is considered a disability, in reality, the neuroscience of Autism translates into a different way of seeing and interacting with the world: a way that is outside “the norm.”
Whatever “norm,” short for “normal” is. The world is populated by over 7.7 billion people. It is utterly impractical to expect us all to think and perceive the same way.
Autism becomes disabling when the inability to interact with others, the delays in speech development, the inability to respond appropriately to social cues, and the anxiety autistic individuals feel in response to change gets in the way of learning, making friends, and being able to work. Autistic individuals are also more likely to develop mental health conditions. Mental conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia (not to be confused with multiple personality or dissociative identity disorder), and generalized anxiety disorder are all relatively common in autistic individuals.
Autism also becomes disabling – or at the very least, frustrating – in the face of sensory overload. Most people can choose which parts of their environment to pay attention to without thought. Right now I am sitting in front of my computer. My computer is whirring. My keyboard is clacking as I type. My husband has been outside for the last 45 minutes with an electric sander. I can smell the coffee in front of me. I can see the birds outside my window. Yet the only thing I am paying attention to is the words on this page.
To be Autistic is to be unable to choose what, in your environment, is important at the moment.
As an Autistic Child’s Parent…
To be a parent with a child on the Autistic Spectrum is to watch your child struggle with these things every day, knowing there is nothing you can truly do to help. It is to watch your child try to interact with other kids and either witness at worst, their cruelty and at best their polite distance. It is to see your child in the throes of a meltdown and be unable to prevent it or stop it. To be a parent with a child on the spectrum is to fight through an endless sea of psychologists, psychiatrists, and education professionals not in search of an end or a cure, but simply in search of ways to mitigate these things.
To be a parent of a child on the spectrum is exhausting, and challenging, and can often impact an entire household.
Life on the Spectrum
To be on the spectrum itself is even more so. You are at ground zero for your meltdowns, inside your own mind, trying to exert control and repeatedly failing. You see your parent’s exhaustion. You witness your siblings reaction to you. You see the people you would like to be friends with back away. You hear the snickers behind your back. You wonder constantly why you just can’t “fit in”. You struggle to be heard. Often you struggle just to get out of the house.
To be autistic is exhausting, and challenging, and sometimes outright emotionally painful.
Autism is Brilliant
As tough as the spectrum can be, it is, more often, brilliant, funny, and refreshing. Being aware of your entire world opens you up to it. Autism allows you to see things you might not have. To feel things you might not have felt. Autism’s blunt honesty is refreshing. No one wants to hear “that dress makes you look fat,” but would you rather leave the house without your Spanx on and have everyone at the party think it?
At times Autism can be disabling. At others, it is a secret superpower. Maybe, at all times, it’s both.
For more information on Autism from an Autistic Individual’s Perspective, Click This Google Search Results Link.