Being a mom of three with autism has some irony. Confession Number One: I have a big fear of being misunderstood. Since autism is a communication disorder, opportunities present for personal fear mongering. Exposure to optimism training, through Dr. Carolyn Kessler who was at TEACCH, has helped me look at things differently, including people-pleasing tendencies. I hope it somehow contributes where it matters the most- in communication efforts to help my sons understand and be understood.
For the past 2 1/2 months, I’ve written about a few phases on my journey. I’ve given one parent’s perspective on some current issues the autism community faces. I’ve been fortunate to share choice experiences about life in my house.
“CELEBRITY GOSSIP COLUMN” was not received as I had hoped. Coincidentally, after that post, one child said to me,
God didn’t make me like Frederick Douglas, when he was born in his time. I don’t know if it’s a gift to be an individual experiencing life and the world itself by myself. Is it a gift from God for me? I don’t know.
Confession Number Two: I remembered what I wrote about autism being a gift and felt conviction. I said, “I don’t have your answer. I do know YOU are a gift. I love you.”
The label of high functioning autism is sometimes misleading. There isn’t one gauge for autism. Actually, there are two, who knows, maybe more. There is an autism gauge and a cognitive gauge. When I make assumptions about a child based on just one of those gauges (or one gauge for any person) I find that information unsatisfying. A person can be anywhere on the spectrum of both gauges and have the autism diagnosis. Some people can have average to high intelligence and also have a lot of autism.
One of my sons is like this. On school days, a bus takes him to and from the other side of the city because he doesn’t fit in a self-contained classroom. There is no situation on this side of town where he can be functionally and academically successful without specialized autism supports. We had to advocate extensively for this to happen. He would have fallen through the educational crack between Aspergers and classic autism.
High functioning autism is a partial myth because some children and adults struggle, while society assumes they are able to get along because they are smart. If they fail, people are surprised or even angry. My son struggles with communication, although he has language. He has great difficulty navigating. For example, he joined the cross-country team. His coaches couldn’t understand why he kept getting lost on the course. It’s that executive functioning part that people wrongly assume is intact.
Some of us may not see eye to eye on the difference between being “stuck in the anger phase of grief” and righteous anger. Confession Number Three: For years, I was caring for an elderly relative with high needs plus three small children with high needs, all under one roof. That would have been an algebraic reality show ( “95 + [Autism x 3]!“). There wasn’t always space or time to process my own feelings in a typical linear fashion. Perhaps I have had both types of anger. Like the “Don’t Spill the Beans” game, the partial truths are a balancing act.Tags: Alison Davis, autism, momof3au