Five ways to damage autistic children without even knowing

Yep, uncomfortable title. But sadly, these are subjects that I feel we have a responsibility to talk about.

 

Today, I’m going to share some habits that I’ve seen in a wide variety of contexts: some of them in my career in education (mainstream and special), some of them from people dealing with me as a man with Asperger Syndrome, some of them I’ve seen in the form of internet comments, and so on. Although often done unknowingly- hence the article title- these habits have the potential to do harm.

This is a tricky subject, I know, but these are five mistakes that need discussing. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make them.

 

Rather importantly, this is not specifically a guide for parents. (Not being a parent myself, I don’t claim to have any insight specific to parenting.) It is a guide for anyone who has any contact with a young and/or vulnerable autistic person, whether they are parents, teachers, teaching assistants, family friends, and so on.

 

Five ways to damage an autistic child without even knowing:

Ok, deep breath.

1) Talk about them like they’re not in the room.

It really is surprising how many people I’ve seen doing this. The assumption is made, often without the speaker realising, that since the autistic person is looking away in silence, they must not be listening.

Which, of course, is quite a harsh assumption to make about people who simply communicate differently. Partly because it would be disrespectful to talk about any non-autistic person as if they weren’t in the room (and therefore, why on Earth would it be different for autistic people?), and partly because of the things that can end up being said if you think they’re not listening.

 

I’ll let this badly-drawn picture do the talking.

For the record, people do this with babies and very young children too. I would say the same applies. Even if they’re not talking to you, always make the assumption that they’re listening.

For the record, people do this with babies and very young children too. I would say the same applies. Even if they’re not talking to you, always make the assumption that they’re listening.

When I worked in special education, on principle I always talked to the nonverbal students. I never expected any kind of communication in response, because that wasn’t the point. The point was to give them the experience of social communication.

 

For example, one lunchtime I was sat outside with a twelve-year-old lad who I’m going to pretend was called James. I was talking to him, mainly about how much the weather sucked (being an Aspie I’d much rather talk about dinosaurs or Sonic the Hedgehog than endure small talk, but I’m British so the weather is our typical go-to conversation.). I was also quite sad that day for reasons I won’t go into, but I carried on talking to him despite not being in a talking mood. After all, his needs took priority over mine.

As I talked, he said nothing, did not look at me, and gave me no indication that he was listening. Nonetheless, at one point I simply said,

“I like you, James. You’re a nice lad.”

I didn’t expect him to go from staring-into-space mode to suddenly looking me straight in the eyes, grabbing my shoulder and laughing really really loud, but that’s what he did. Because guess what? He was listening!

 

Everyone communicates, some just in their own way. And listening is part of communication too.

 

2) Assume that most of their identity is down to autism rather than personality choices.

The phrase “yeah, that’s his autism” is one I have heard far too many times. Even in professional circles.

Yes, our autism influences us. Yes, it often gives us particular habits or interests unique to us. But to say it’s “just his/her autism” is implying that we don’t get any say in the matter.

 

I remember when I was running a chess tournament in a special school (it was amazing- the students got more from that one tournament than in any of the sixteen I’d run in mainstream). One crucial match was scheduled for a day when the school was doing a special event. Throughout the day there was only one opportunity for this game to be played… and ten minutes before the start, one of the students got a migraine and had to go home.

This stressed me out because I was relying on that match’s result so I could drive straight to the trophy centre after work and have the prizes engraved (and therefore get them handed out before the end of term). And I’m fairly transparent, so people could tell I was bothered by something.

When I told one of my colleagues I was feeling stressed, she immediately asked me “oh dear- is it because today’s been a break from routine?”

No, it wasn’t. (And speaking as a former primary school teacher, you should only be in the classroom if you can adapt reasonably well to unexpected change.)

Some other examples:

  • I’m good at maths because I put the effort into learning. It’s not “just my autism”.
  • I dislike small talk because there are more useful, funny, important or heartfelt things to talk about. It’s not “just my autism”.
  • I’m honest with people because it’s the right way to be. It’s not “just my autism”.
  • I love chess because… well, there’s a whole article about it here (opens in new window). It’s not “just my autism”.
  • And you know what, even my anxiety isn’t autism-related. That was done to me.

 

That said, there is a balance. Like I said, autism does have an impact on us. I used to watch Independence Day on video over and over and over and over again when I was twelve, and you could validly say that this habit was influenced by my Asperger’s. But the main reason it happened was because Independence Day was an awesome movie! (At least, to me at twelve it was.)

Moral of the story? Regardless of how strongly autism influences the child in question, don’t forget that they have a personality too.

 

3) Assume their perspectives are skewed and unreliable.

This is Morgan. Brilliant lad, and I promise I’m not just saying that because his brain’s so similar to mine. You may know him from the Facebook page Planet Morgan Aspie Superhero.

And yes, I got Morgan's permission personally for sharing this. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Disclaimer: I showed this section to Morgan whilst seeking his permission to publish it, and I asked him for no-holds-barred honest feedback about what he was comfortable with me writing. His only demand was that I change the picture at the bottom to something cooler.

Morgan’s Asperger Syndrome is, in my opinion, not a significant problem for him. In fact (although I may be biased here), I think his Asperger’s actually just makes him awesome.

Sadly, it’s his severe anxiety that presents him with his biggest challenge. He no longer attends school because the word alone makes him afraid. And, in a story all too familiar to parents of autistic children, the source of this anxiety was a devastating amount of bullying throughout life at one of his previous schools.

Unfortunately, this bullying was allegedly not addressed effectively. (And yes, I used the word “allegedly”. This is no indication of my personal beliefs, but simply mindful of the fact that- having a website as well-read as Autistic Not Weird [yes, if you’re not reading this article on autisticnotweird.com, it’s been stolen from there. Don’t worry, it happens.]- I have a duty to write responsibly.)

According to those closest to him, the bullying continued because each incident was seen as Morgan having a skewed perspective. After all, he had an autistic spectrum disorder and didn’t see social situations like the rest of the children. Therefore, the attitude was allegedly taken that if all the other children in the class were ok and Morgan was not, it was likely to be his ‘faulty’ perspective at play.

 

Let’s leave aside the little fact that children with special needs are significantly more likely to suffer from bullying by their peers. (And that combining this with repeated disbelief has caused untold damage in the past- damage that makes even Morgan’s experiences seem tame.)

And you know what, let’s pretend for a moment that people are correct in saying that autistic people are less reliable. (Spoiler alert: they’re not. When a crime happens, you want a witness with an Aspie memory close by! But let’s just pretend otherwise.)

Even then, the autistic person’s anxieties are still real, and they still need to be addressed.

Oh, and if bullying or abuse is reported by a distressed child- autistic or not- it must be taken seriously.

Britain is still dealing with the fallout of a whole generation of abused children who grew up being ignored: literally thousands of victims who had to wait until the twenty-first century to be believed. Things are a lot better now than they used to be, but disbelieving a child simply because of their neurological differences is not only damaging to their self-esteem: it’s putting them at very serious risk.

(Morgan is safe now, by the way, and he has been for a while. In fact, given time to grow up and the right opportunities to learn, he’ll be the perfect person to help and guide vulnerable people- and I’ve made sure to tell him so.)

I'm aware that point #3 may be better made if I didn't have such happy pictures of him here. But I won't have him here looking sad. Not a chance.

I’m aware that point #3 may be better made if I didn’t have such happy pictures of him here. But I won’t have him here looking sad. Not a chance.

4) Allow the world to teach them that autism is A Bad Thing.

Right from the moment we hear about it, we’re instructed to believe that autism is A Bad Thing. That’s why people like me get so many messages from worried parents, asking what they’re supposed to do post-diagnosis because they don’t know anything about autism.

But their worries reveal that they do know one thing about it: it’s supposed to be bad.

Speaking as an autistic man, my opinions differ somewhat. But I understand their panic completely. The unknown can be very scary if you feel something’s bad but you don’t know why. (For example, everyone feels a chill in their spine when their boss asks “can I have a word with you?”)

 

Now, non-autistic people seeing only the negatives is counterproductive enough. But imagine the damage that gets done when autistic people themselves are led to believe that their autism makes them deficient.

Heck, combine this point with #1 and talk about how terrible autism is right in front of them, and watch what happens to their self-esteem!

 

I’ll give two examples that struck me greatly. First of all, there’s Cadence.

For those who aren’t aware, Cadence’s family has their own Facebook page– and this picture below went sort-of-viral not long ago.

Cadence

You may have already spotted the most tragic sentence (in my opinion), but I’ll quote it anyway:

Grownups always say its hard being mum or dad if your kid is autism.

Looking at their page, it becomes obvious that Mum and Dad are doing a sterling job as parents. But other people- the TV, and perhaps even society itself- have led Cadence to believe that a large part of her personality is A Bad Thing. Which is absolutely not fair.

 

Secondly there’s the story about a six-year-old Californian boy being comforted by Santa, after asking whether he’ll be on the naughty list because of his autism. Given Santa’s reaction, most people thought of this as a sweet story when they read this. But me personally- despite my reputed positivity about pretty much everything- I shuddered.

I dream of the day when six-year-old children won’t have to live with the baseless assumption that having autism is enough to land them on the naughty list.

(Actually, wait- that assumption isn’t baseless at all. It’s based on what they’re made to feel by non-autistic people.)

 

And finally… a point which may rub a couple of people the wrong way, but it has to be said.

 

5) Let them find out that you “love them but hate their autism”.

This point is a step up from #4, only far more personal.

And yes, I am well aware that lots of people feel this way, parents in particular. Some have even written articles and blog posts entitled “why I love my child but hate his/her autism”. And I get it- watching vulnerable children struggle is a dreadful experience, and even more so if they’re your own. Hating the condition that holds them back is quite a natural response.

 

But bloody hell, it can be damaging.

Why? Well, imagine that a child’s mother makes the mistake of saying the sentence “I love my child but hate their autism” in a place where the child can overhear her. The child will take one very significant message from that, and one which will definitely stick with them:

“Wow… a part of me is so dreadful that even my mother can’t love it.”

Everyone struggles with their personal demons. Everyone. And some people only cope with their demons based on how well other people let them cope.

When someone knows you hate their autism, you are bringing those demons to life. You are giving their demons a name, and you are giving those demons authority.

More than anything, you are saying that the child is right to be fearful and hateful towards a large part of themselves.

 

Again, I get it. I’ve watched so many struggling children that I’ve had to learn how to steamroll over the physical hurt I feel for them (not that it always works, of course). And if there’s a stand-out factor that is causing them harm or lost potential, of course I want to address it. But I refuse to hate part of a child.

 

If you’ve reached the end of this and still “love the child but hate their autism”, that’s your right to do so.

But please, for the child’s sake, please never let them find out.

 

Conclusion

So to summarise:

 

Instead of talking about them as if they’re not in the room:

  • Remember that they can hear you, and always assume they are listening.

Instead of assuming a person’s autism defines their character:

  • Remember that they get to make personality choices just like non-autistic people.

Instead of believing that their perspective makes them less reliable:

  • Remember that you’re actually skewing your own perspective on autism by making this assumption.

Instead of allowing the world to teach them their autism is A Bad Thing:

  • Tackle the problem head-on and remind them how awesome they are.

Instead of loving the child but hating their autism:

  • Love the child.

 

Hope this helps some readers. Like I said, some of these mistakes are surprisingly easy to make- but then again, plenty of them are easy to avoid.

 

Chris / Captain Quirk

 

Footnote- people have offered other suggestions too, which are also good enough to share. I’ll list them below.

Additional ways to damage autistic children without even knowing:

6) Repress their special interests, since they often use these to communicate and cope with stress. (Stephanie Keyes)

7) Only focus on bad behaviour whilst ignoring good behaviour. (Stephanie Keyes)

8) Fighting all their battles for them, with the automatic assumption that they can’t do anything independently. (Adapted from a suggestion by Eric Van Gucht)

9) Leaving your child undiagnosed and refusing to get him the proper help he needs because of the stigma an autistic child will bring you. (Adapted from a suggestion by Kristin Pedigo)

10) Treat your child as if their autism-specific struggles are no different to what everyone else faces in life, which means that if they find their issues difficult it’s inferiority rather than difference. (Adapted from Audre C- more details in her comment below. Yes, autistic and non-autistic children have several struggles in common- more than we often think- but it’s so important to recognise when their issues need individualised help.)

11) Talk about a “cure” for it, implying that it needs to be cured, and because it needs to be cured, it is bad. (Pieter Dykhuis, age 14)

Chris Bonnello is available to lead talks and training sessions regarding autism issues. For further information please click here (opens in new window).

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Picture credit:

Cover photo: http://vector.childrenshospital.org/2015/02/autism-like-behaviors-impaired-nerve-tracts-found-in-institutionalized-children/

Leave a Reply

  1. As an autistic mother of an autistic child, I’ve never done any of these particular things…whew! However, like any parent, I’ve done things i regret: early on, I tried to teach my son to “pass” – because I knew how hard it had been for me. He wasn’t interested – and I am thankful now that the world is catching up to his self-acceptance…

    • I wouldn’t change a hair on his head. School is my biggest problem and my sons. It has literally caused my son to internalise and dis like himself. The root of anxiety is not inherently ASD but damage caused by teachers, peers, and by school environment itself. School sucks. Glasgow Scotland

      • Sadly that’s my experience with anxiety too. Although anxiety’s very prevalent in autistic people, mine was certainly done to me by life experience rather than neurology.
        All the best to your son- nobody should have to dislike themselves because of other people’s opinions. He’s more than welcome to read the Growing Up Autistic article if you haven’t seen it yet.

      • Pity schools don’t teach their staff about the issues an Autistic child has to face just getting dressed and leaving for school then arriving to heaving masses of noisy people and bright lights.
        . ,

    • 😃 Thank you for not being a hater. I am best friends with many of the autistic kids at my school and I know how hard life can be. I love it that some people can learn to accept the differences of others autistic or not.

    • From the other perspective i have to commend you on your self awareness. My family? aspie bullying scientific dogmtic father and pda autism pathologically lying machiavellian mother hav basically mind controlled my siblings into believing themsleves “normal” and trained them to hide , con and pathologically lie, not to mention a straek of sadism in all of them thats worsened over the years,
      Not only that but the institutions they have worked ofr over the years have benefitted greatly form their eager to please and impress behaviours at the expense of their family.
      very sad.
      i am disowned and disinherited for bringing up autism…and theyve closed ranks..
      pretty scary when yur the only one in the gang who cant see how bad their selkf confirming world of loneliness and lack of acknowldgement of who they actuyally are…
      they have pragmatic speech that has become a cult,m gamefied to deflect and confuse at which they delight.
      some of them are very empathetic too but my parents have tied their language upo and played on their neuroses so efficiently they are the clones they always wanted, modelled after my elkder brothers psyhe ,,,
      as they consider his sadism “witty”.
      animal obsessives they will spend a fortune on dog insurance but go to the nhs to be undiagnosed with genetic autism despite a whole family of medical professional in the extended bunch…all autistic too.
      they simply do not communicate and use pda autistic and psychopathic tactics to deflect from ever even noticing how they behave..
      narcissitic personality disoirder has spread though them like a disease.
      ALL TO IGNORE THE ONE WORD ..AUTISM..
      or asd or psychppathic traits or social communication disoder or pervasice development disoder or learning disoreder,,,etc etc depsite their apparent “high function”? insight is impossible for them as long as they turn to each othe to confirm their noiramlity/

  2. Autism I’d so integral to people’s personalities. If I could get rid of my bipolar, I would and I would still be me. If my husband got rid of his autism, he’d be a totally different person, I think. There are elements of our neurologically mixed marriage that are tough (like nt/nt relationships have no problems or differences, right? Lol), but I can’t imagine changing who he is.

    • You know you are not a unique couple? I know 2 other couples where the wife has bipolar and the husband is on the spectrum. Both have been married for over 10 years. There must be something about this combination that works.

      • As a mentally ill person with autistic friends and an autistic kid, I’ve noticed this too. I suspect that people with emotional/mood disorders, who are inclined to distrust other people’s intentions and are often hypersensitive to being lied to or not told someone’s true feelings, find autistic people “safe” because they are more likely to be blunt and straightforward, and not try to mask their feelings with social graces. As for the other side – just a guess, but maybe autistic people enjoy being around people who are open and passionate about their feelings?

  3. I love my autistic child as a whole. His autism is integral component of his personality and which contributes to making him who he is. I wouldn’t want him any other way. Sometimes, I feel I love him even more because of his autism. His autism makes him even more endearing, sensitive, entertaining, and humorous. We share a very special bond – the bond of autism. (from an autistic Mum with her autistic Son).

  4. I wouldn’t change my Autistic son for anything! He’s amazing & at 3years old he will only get more amazing! I learn something new from this beautiful child every single day!

  5. What about people who talk about curing Autism? My now 4yr old son was recently diagnosed and I keep reading people talking about cures. I’m not on the spectrum, so I don’t get a say, but I’ll admit, it rubs me the wrong way to hear parents/family members talking about curing their child. I could be completely in the wrong with my thinking, I am new to all of this I know.

    • No, Mama, your instinct is totally right. The vast majority of a/Autistic people are anti-cure. A cure is:

      a) impossible, autism is a structural difference in how the brain’s “wired up”.
      b) ethically troubling:
      bi) it implies that a difference in brain structure is something to ‘fix’ and thereby undermines the bit of the ADA that says that disability (including minority neurologies) is a natural part of the human experience.
      bii) fake cures take advantage of desperate parents, at their financial expense, at the expense of their relationship with their child, and often at the expense of the child’s health.
      biii) has some huge consent issues. While there might be a minority of a/Autistic people who would pursue a cure for their own purposes, the majority of people interested in this cure are parents who would consent to the cure on behalf of their children. Basically, such parents are saying “I love my kid, but if I could totally rewire their brain and make them a different person, I WOULD.” (spot the contradiction)
      c) philosophically worrying. As mentioned above, a cure constitutes completely changing a person. If you look at it from certain philosophical perspectives, that could be considered to be equivalent to killing a person (if you define a person as their personality), and replacing them with a new person in the same body. That’s several shades of horrific right there.

      You’re right to feel uncomfortable about it.

        • Autism and ADHD & SPD explain why our son does X or Y but that is it. We only use it to get services or as needed to explain why he does something different. We have raised him to know everyone is different and he has a handicap in some things and is awesome at other things. He is high funtioning now at 11 1/2 but was non-verbal at 3 so there are no limits and that is where we leave things. Let the child show you what they are capable of and let the sky be the limit.

        • it depends whether it’s true ABA or something being called ABA in order to be applicable for insurance.

          The original ABA was invented by a Dr. Lovaas, who originally used it to “cure” effeminacy and homosexuality in young boys. It’s based on the premise that by modifying behaviours to appear normal, the brain will eventually become normal. As you can see, this is definitely flawed.

          Most autistic folks will say that yes, ABA is entered into with the intent to cure.

          Let me pull up a few links on ABA for you.

          https://unstrangemind.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/aba/

          http://www.thinkinclusive.us/aba-and-the-thorny-problem-of-control-and-consent/

          http://www.emmadalmayne.co.uk/autism/applied-behavioural-analysis-first-hand-accounts/

          http://realsocialskills.org/post/124333076514/appearing-to-enjoy-behavior-modificiation-is-not

        • Also, big thanks to everyone commenting on this thread. It restores my faith in humanity that folks are starting to seek answers on these topics from a/Autistic people.

          • I get beyond angry when people talk about curing autism! My son is 8, and his autism is part of the resin he’s the INCREDIBLE little man he is. If someone gave me a cure- I’d toss it down the kitchen drain. I love my son’s brain exactly the way it is, and would never for even a minute think of changing it!

          • Hello, yes knowing there are many of us who feel this way about our children and the autism with which they live, is a wonderful feeling. The more we share to others it trickles through, creating a positive and fearless attitude and acceptance to autism. years of negativity and lack of understanding are now being healed and removed with the help of so many, parents stepping up and speaking out as well as people who are on the spectrum. The greatest teachers of all. to me it is like learning a new language, for both the autistic and non autistic person, we both are learning anew way to communicate, yet keeping our unique selves in tact. if you have the time or wish to please have a peek at my website, I have just created http://www.dazlious.org I am very proud of it and would be honoured to have you give me your opinion. lovely to read your blog and look forward to others. I write mine from my perspective and experiences with our son, sharing and learning its wonderful x

        • Hmm, looks like my first comment got lost. Most a/Autistic people will tell you that ABA is supposed to be a cure, or at least a step towards one in that it’s supposed to make autistic people “pass”, or “appear less autistic”. The stated goal of ABA therapy is to make an autistic person “indistinguishable from their peers”.

          ABA also comes from a very troubling place. It was invented by Dr. Lovaas, who originally used it to “cure” boys of effeminacy and homosexuality. It works on the faulty premise that by modifying the behaviour to become normal, it will eventually change the internal structures to become normal.

          This is possibly my best link about ABA and its problems.

          http://www.thinkinclusive.us/aba-and-the-thorny-problem-of-control-and-consent/

        • Yes, it does, because it tries to change the child’s basic behaviors-and without said child’s consent. A person is not an inherently bad parent for trying to do what they see as helping, but based off of the experiences of many autistic people who went through ABA therapy, it does more harm than good.

          Note- I am autistic, but I did not receive ABA therapy. I’m simply basing this on what I have researched and what other autistic people have said.

        • Good question. The autism community is deeply divided over this- largely because for every parent who will say it’s done wonders for their child, there’ll be another who says it was a destructive experience. It absolutely depends on the child.

          One striking quote (or close enough) that I read was “before you start ABA therapy for your child, ask why you feel s/he needs it. Are you seeking the therapy in order to enable them to learn new skills, or simply to change their behaviour to something closer to what you want to see?”

          I suppose the second one of those could be interpreted by some as an attempt to “cure” at at least remove autism. That said, there’ll be plenty of autistic children who is legitimately has helped.

  6. You should never talk about a child while they are in the room, regardless of autism or not. Any child will prick up their ears if you talk about them. If you say negative things about them they will live down to your expectations.

    • I’d amend that to “never talk negatively about a child while they’re in the room.” I talk about my kids “behind their backs” all the time … making sure to say positive things about them where they can hear me. I figure it reinforces what I tell them directly if they hear me telling other people how great they are, too.

      • That’s a very good point. I was talking to the mother of a troubled 11-year-old not long ago and was well aware he was secretly listing on the stairs. So I made sure to tell his mum exactly the same things as I’d told him face-to-face (as in, having huge belief in him and thinking he’s wonderful). I’d have told his mum those things anyway, but I wanted him to witness it to prove that I meant everything I said.

    • Well, we talk about both our kids when they are in the room all the time–we just assume that they hear us and, when appropriate–like “hey, I was just telling auntie about last time we went to the Anime convention, what was that character with the buggy eyes?”–we include them in the conversation. The point is that talking about a person as though they are not there is very disrespectful, rather than whether or not you talk about them in their presence. Talk about them all you want knowing and acknowledging by the way you are speaking that you see them and know they can hear you. I like to believe there is very little–maybe nothing–I have to say about my child that I don’t think she knows or could know. That said, we have an issue, she and I, that she does not want me to share any stories that involve her, regardless of their nature. Here, I firmly assert to her and all that it’s my story too. I get to share stories of my experience of motherhood. They involve my perspective on interactions with my kids. I get to do that. They get to tell stories that involve me. I’d rather speak openly about experiences–with compassion and kindness for all involved–than have some kind of “secret” conversations behind closed doors. The point is to assume and acknowledge that the kid hears you and to speak accordingly, don’t pretend or imagine that, just because they appear to be paying attention to something else, they won’t hear Every Word You Say.

    • The worst thing is when you have appointments with their consultants and you have no choice, you have to have them there, and it is difficult to explain exactly what the problems are.

  7. Thanks. My son has autism. I’ve often said that I wish everyone was like Travis and there would be no wars. People would all be nice to each other. I let him know every day that his mother and I love him. He is loving,respectful,and helpful. He is 23 now and works with children at the Boys and Girls Club. He loves everybody and every body loves him, from what I’ve heard. He never forgets a birthday. I wish I had his memory. I wish I had more time to talk about him but I have to get to work. I could go forever. He’s great. Thanks again for the article.

  8. Thank you, I love do this! We have always tried not to make assumptions about our son who is now 15, but the assumptions and expectations of others often come into play. Thankfully he can speak for himself and does very well. He has no real major anxieties either. By the way your little note about ” if you are reading this anywhere else…” is how I found your site. This post was scraped by mymedclinic.info and thst post is being shared on Facebook.

    • Thanks a lot for alerting me! I’ve taken some precautions that should hopefully stop this happening in the future.

      I *knew* putting that sentence in there was a good idea! 😉

  9. I don’t particularly know how prevalent my suggestion is, but it’s one that’s greatly impacted my dealings with life as someone who has both mental illness and autism.
    Treating your child as if they are ‘normal’- in the sense that any difficulties they face in life are no different from anyone else’s, and therefore any time they struggle with something they are made to believe it’s because they are weak or deficient, and not that they have unique problems of their own. Needs that not everyone else has. Treating your child as if they are the same as everyone else.

    As a fairly young child, I would hear my mom talk on the phone with friends an family about the son of a family friend who has Aspergers. I was able to relate to this, and asked her if I had autism. The response I got was “Do you want to be sick?!”. At six years old, this terrified me, and I clammed up about my ability to relate to those with autism until my teens. My parents would always make it very clear to me that I was a bad child for struggling with life the way I did. I had meltdowns, shutdowns. This was ‘because I was stubborn and unruly.’ They felt I was too loud, destructive, and unmanageable when I was enjoying myself. I was constantly met with punishment that I had no idea what I’d done to deserve. I was told that I must always smile, and be quiet. This was confusing to me- I could only smile when I felt happy, and felt like smiling. Forcing a smile was difficult, and the results were never satisfactory to my father. Even when trying to cooperate, I wasn’t enough. I was seen as being stubborn. Out of frustration, I would usually have a meltdown, and was told I was bad. Unruly. It was a harsh cycle in which I was never truly ‘allowed’ to be anything but emotionally unavailable and dead. My mom handled things a bit better, but after a certain age, she started to face judgement from many that she was ‘too soft on me’, and as a result I had grown up to be a monster. This wasn’t even the general consensus as I did well in school for the most part, most students liked me more or less (Most of the time people thought of me as “very friendly”, and “sweet”). My teachers adored me. But some still had problems with me. I was considered too emotional/sensitive, aggressive, and problematic. They felt that I was not at the maturity level that a 13 year old should be.

    In my mid teens, I was diagnosed with ADHD, GAD, and depression. My father blatantly refused to accept any of this, and insisted that it was because I wasn’t hard enough on myself, and essentially ‘made up’ these problems to gain attention, or just to make life harder on myself. My mom was more sympathetic, but usually tended to tell me that it ‘wasn’t an excuse’ for bad behavior. (Which could mean anything from having difficulty speaking to strangers, crying at ‘inappropriate times’, struggling to focus/forgetting to do homework/procrastination, and being sad for ‘unreasonably’ long. In other words, my mom inferred to me that I needed to suck it up, and that having added difficulty meant absolutely nothing.)

    Sometime around 17 years old, I revealed to my parents that I thought I had autism (for the first time in over a decade. I had been carefully researching, talking to those who were autistic, or had children/siblings who were autistic since I was 14) it was met with dismissal, even anger. However, my mom started to accept it more as time went on. She has even talked about it unprompted, and will relate things I do to autism.

    She struggles to show sympathy a great amount of the time still, but I’m not sure it’s for lack of trying. I’m 19 now, and things are getting better, but it’s long overdue, and I feel a lot of the reason was because they were unwilling to accept that I could have special needs. They were unwilling to take my needs into consideration because they wanted a ‘normal’ child.

    I’ve even had mental health experts (who did not specialize in autism and likely did not work with many on the spectrum) tell me that I was “being ridiculous” for bringing it up. They would use very stereotypical symptoms to ‘dismiss’ it on the dot without any further discussion. (Such as: I do not ‘speak in a monotone’, I can carry on small talk [forced to learn] and maintain some slight level of eye contact [uncomfortable, forced to learn].) Both were met in my late teens, some time after I had forced myself to be ‘normal’ enough to be able to find employment, and somewhat fit in to the professional world.

    I feel like a lot of people have a very black and white view of autism. I am usually seen as ‘eccentric’ or ‘awkward’ but not autistic because I have had to learn to hide things to fit in around others. (At home it becomes much more evident, even at nearly 20 years old I struggle to take care of myself on the level of a ten year old. I forget to feed myself or shower at times, I am bad at forcing myself to do housework, and often spend the time doing, as my mother would put it, “what Aubre wants”, much to her disdain.)

    Autism was always a comforting label for me, at the time in life when I started to accept that this is who I am. As a child and young teen, I felt weird, bad, different. I couldn’t relate to people, I was afraid of how others viewed me (I too suffered horrible bullying- kids actually would pick fights with me [I’ve always been a biggish person, I now stand at 6′ tall, and was bigger than everyone else growing up until my second year of high school or so- I’m still taller than most.] throw rocks at my head. Gang up on me and pin me down to listen to me scream and cry.), and I even got to the point of being suicidal because I felt like I was a horrible, damaged person who didn’t belong. A freak. I hated myself. I suffered with horrible self-image until very recently, and I still struggle to this day. When I started to learn about autism, it was a huge relief. I knew people viewed autism as ‘bad’, but I had always had a fair amount of faith in medical science, and it was comforting to know that there was a reason I was like this. That I WAS different, but not because I was ‘bad’. That there were others like me.

    In fact, interesting side story (that I will try to keep short- I apologize for my long-windedness) I actually got to see the son of the family friend that made me start questioning if I had autism. I was 17. (He’s actually higher functioning than I am, surprisingly.) We became best friends almost instantly, and later started to date. I have never been able to connect to someone on such a deep level. I feel truly blessed to have him in my life. It’s never been ‘easy’ to be together (he has a huge aversion to commitment, romantic relationships, etc. He also has, as he puts it, “difficulty projecting”, and seeing himself in the future.) however he makes me happier than anyone else. We have ‘been together’ (it’s hard to get feedback from him in the context of us as a couple) for almost a year and a half now, and while we have never been official in the sense of most couples (much to the disdain of my friends, who don’t understand, and tell me to leave him because of it) I feel it’s the most successful relationship I’ve been in. I was forced to tell his father recently (my parents have odd beliefs when it comes to dating, and don’t know. He prefers to keep our relationship quiet, and doesn’t really want his parents to be involved), and his dad also tried to convince me to ‘move on’ because of the way he is. (He explained to me many things I had already come to know. I had to explain that I am autistic as well, but I don’t think he still fully understands) However he has told me that if we can be happy together, he can be happy for us.

    As I enter adulthood, things are slowly getting better for me, as I learn how to manage being autistic, and as others become more accepting of my situation. However, I would’ve been spared a lot of confusion, devastation, and heartache if my parents would’ve accepted that I had special needs as a child, and didn’t insist that they made me a bad person.

    Anyways, thank you for reading, if you have. I’m terribly sorry that this is such a long comment. I was able to relate to this article a lot, and intend to share it with my friends and family.

    • Thank you so much for sharing (and I’m sorry it took me so long to see it!). I’m sorry you had such a rough time because people refused to meet you halfway.
      You make very good points, and I am definitely adding your suggestion to the footnote list. 🙂

  10. My next door neighbour’s son is 16. He is non verbal but makes clicking screaming noises, claps loudly and leaps in the air with loud whooping sounds 24/7. I can’t sleep. I feel like I have been given his life because it is so close to my house.
    What can be done for severely autistic children?
    I can’t see that the father or the son has much of a life. The father just looks exhausted. I know how he feels!

    • Perhaps someone can come and watch the young man for a few hours a day, so the dad can get out and get a break. Being a parent isn’t easy at all, and with a child with special needs it is draining beyond belief when their challenges are more severe.
      I am autistic, wasn’t easy to be with, and wore out and still wear out, friends and family. I sympathize with the young man too, but especially as parents get older, it is even more wearing on them.

      • I have a 21 year old son and a daughter who’s 18 an a12 year old son my 21 year old has aspergers and ADHD he was diagnosed when he was 16 I did everything since he was 5 as i was very concerned teachers telling me he lives in his own little world and he was boarder line dyslexia he used to draw and write up side down and did a test at lower school .there father is paranoid schizophrenia and was very challenging and dangerous to him self and others at times I thought for 11 years teachers telling me he was rude and naughty he won’t get a job or get anywhere in life got moved to a naughty school they couldn’t handle him so decide d to send him to a private school wear there was 4 kids to a class and had one sometimes two to one teaching social services was involved we had action for children working in the home to help and advise me parenting course s he got in lots trouble with police as he was hanging around with older kids And very vunerable .me and his dad split up everybody said it was learned behavior from there dad 4 years later he was diagnosed couldn’t get statement Ed to old my daughter has behaviour problems and got sent to naughty school and my 12 year old is very sensitive my son with aspergers and ADHD is now living in his own flat got entry level 1and2 in exams and is a very lovely careing young man he may struggle with day to day living but he has help I am so proud of him and all my kids we have been through a lot and feel the system let them down .

  11. I love my husband. I hate his diabetes.
    I love my son. But this condition that arrived, that would at another time been called Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, that robbed him of his language and his ease in navigating the world and planning his motor movements and seems to make the information coming in through his senses so often painful (I’ve seen his knees buckle at birdsong) … I’m not a fan. That said, I’ve no desire to get him back under the bell curve for its own sake, and your article was a good reminder not to gripe in front of him about those nights/weeks when his sleep is disrupted, any more than I’d let his siblings hear me complain about what’s going on in their lives.
    Thank you for a good article. Sometimes I wish autism wasn’t such a broad label.

    • You can wish individual symptoms and problems away without wishing your child was a completely different person. My autistic son is awesome, and his autistic brain is awesome. I love how enthralled he gets with learning lists of new information, and how he can give me lectures on the universe like a little scientist. I love how serious he is, and how straightforwardly he sees the world, and how bluntly honest he can be.

      But he and I both wish that he wasn’t reduced to sobbing terror by flashing lights; that he could relax more easily and sleep more, that he could tolerate distress without flying into intense rages. I tell him that brains are funny things, and that he’s great at some things (better than most other kids), but sometimes he has problems that most other kids don’t have, too. We all wish he could be happier and his life could be easier. That’s not the same thing as wishing I could wave a wand and make him a “normal” kid who points and makes eye contact and doesn’t memorize the periodic table, though.

      The problem I have with your comment is seeing his autism as a “condition that arrived,” a thing that happened to him, rather than as the way his brain was built in the first place. If he is autistic, then autism IS who he is, not a disease that changed him. It can be a disabling condition, and you can certainly hope and try to alleviate the negative aspects of it, but you can’t remove it from him; it’s a part of him that has always been there and will always be there.

  12. My babies deal with abuse from society on a daily basis and I fight daily to prevent the damage . Having a meeting on Monday cause I’m not willing to send her into a school situation anymore . Children are punished for what they do to her but how do you change society to accept her when they just won’t ..

  13. I love this.

    I have one question I’d like your perspective on. I have an autistic son who is 8. He is highly verbal and also brilliant. I was lucky enough to learn about neurodiversity before I even had kids (I had adult autistic friends), and I’d like to think I’ve always been positive about his autism.

    I have tried to be open and honest about the subject of autism, without pushing conversations on him. However, he is clearly uncomfortable thinking or talking about it too much. What are your thoughts on bringing up the topic vs. letting him avoid it? He’s been having a lot of trouble in school – as in, he’s in a special emotional disorders room right now because the regular classroom couldn’t handle his explosive rages – and I think he could benefit from reading and thinking more about how autistic brains work, in order to help him understand how to navigate the neurotypical world. But I don’t want to make him feel “different” either. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Saffi,
      First things first, really sorry about the delayed response! WordPress has randomly stopped alerting me to comments on here, so I’ve only seen it today.

      It’s a tricky one. By the sounds of it (although I don’t want to make assumptions about a child I don’t know), he doesn’t see his autism as positively as you do. I’d try and find out his feelings towards autism in whatever way you can.

      Learning about autism itself would be handy, although I’m tempted to say it’d be more beneficial for him to learn about himself first- as in, how *his* autism affects *him* (including the positives. Absolutely including the positives! 🙂 ) Once he’s comfortable with himself as a person and his perception of his autism isn’t negative, then the more general things about autism may come easier.

      As for him not wanting to talk about autism- I’d say that right now he doesn’t have to talk about it in order to learn and “make peace” with it. Yes, it would be nice to have conversation about it, and I’m sure those conversations will come when he’s comfortable with the subject. They’re most likely conversations that will be built towards slowly.

      Again, this advice is given without me knowing your son, so please pick and choose the bits of this that work for you and him. 🙂 All the best to both of you.

      Chris

  14. I’m a 79 year legally blind woman who never knew for sure I was an Aspie until finally going into therapy this year for flashbacks caused by lifelong PTSD that resulted from unremitting childhood emotional and verbal abuse. It came from both fellow students and also teachers at public schools that in the 1940s & early ’50s that believed that it was not their job to educate a handicapped (blind) child and parents who were determined, with the best possible intentions, that I should become “indistinguishable from my peers”, yet refused to send me to the State School for the Blind where I might have had more of a chance to do so. Why? Because they decided early on that I would be “just like everybody else”. My father announced on the day he was told about the congenital cataracts for which, in those days there were no replacement lenses, that he didn’t want me to learn to act blind and be uppity like my cousin Carl who did attend that school. My mother was told by the high school guidance counselor my senior year that if she didn’t want me on her hands for the rest of her life, she should marry me off because I would never be able to hold a job or live independently. Not to go into detail, she gave that a good try, but at age 21 I was finally allowed to go to college on a scholarship, already four years older than my classmates, which obliterated any chance of relating to my age group who were already seniors. Because in childhood everyone had expected me to learn by osmosis and often remarked on my stubborn refusal to do so, it was my college friends who taught me table manners, how to cross a city street, how to use public transportation, how to go to a movie or a concert on my own, how to actually organize my homework and get assignments completed on time, even how to manage my living space and dress appropriately.
    It took me more that fifty more years to learn that everybody who is nice to you is not always your friend and that sometimes a person who has never had a friend before doesn’t notice that someone pretending to be your friend is actually making fun of you or is just eliminating competition. I completed a BA in English, later an MS in Rehabilitation Administration, and much later completed the classwork in an instructional design Ph.D. program focused on Computer Assisted Instruction, the last two at various times throughout my working life. My employment was in order: English teacher, radio copywriter, habilitation supervisor at a sheltered workshop, and finally CAI computer programmer at a medical school. I left each of these jobs, not by my own choice, not because of job performance issues, but because of workplace social issues, finally retiring on disability when I finally began to practice fulltime what before had had to be only sidelines: folk music which had been my love since I was ten, and the more lucrative ghostwriting
    Despite everything, over the years, starting with college, life continued to get better. I continued to learn how to be in the world while still preserving my own personality and interests. But some part of the puzzle was always missing. So this past year I began therapy. At last I had found a professional counselor who was wise enough to just say “That’s awful!” or “They shouldn’t have done that” or, most important, “Yes, you were right and they were wrong”. We started with the pictures and stories of my babyhood where it became apparent that, though my parents did the best they knew how until they sent me to publc school, the photos showed a child who was not “just blind”. In all of the lovingly preserved photos of their baby through age 5, I appeared to be totally alone in a crowd.
    The therapist saw, as I had when I looked at the pictures during my Rehab Admin class on identifying anomolous conditions in photos of children, some sort of autistic in the making. So we did some simple tests, not the battery for formal diagnosis, but just a few indicators. When I asked her if we needed the more extensive tests, she said, “I’ve seen the pictures and heard enough of your stories to conclude that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. That’s a lot of expense just to agree with what we already know.” So I became a self-identified Aspie.
    We continued working through my story, including all the vivid flashbacks:
    SAMPLE: The first grade teacher who wrote 5 + 3 = on the blackboard. Another child shouted “FIVE”. I raised my hand and asked “Why?”
    I could name the numbers, but had no idea what they meant. My parents had been so impressed with the little genius who had stood up in her crib on her first birthday and recited 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10. But they never thought to check if I could count. They assumed that was the proof. So on the little questionaire they had assured the school that I could count and knew my alphabet, so was ready 4 months before my 6th birthday for first grade.
    What I needed was for the teacher to put five marks beside the five, three marks beside the 3 and then count them to eight. Of course Piaget was unheard of then. But the teacher had an answer for me. She strode across that wooden floor and slapped me hard in the face, saying “Don’t interrupt again.” From that day to the day light finally dawned in my Elementary Teaching Methods class in college, arithmetic was a magical thing that I simply could not do. Why? Because I knew intellectually that counting was the basis of everything numerical, but actual counting I had never learned to do.
    Every moment of those 1941 days rose up unbidden now and then in my grownup mind as vividly as the day it happened until the therapist and I finally laid it to rest in 2015.
    Finally, most of the trauma has been outed and named. The flashbacks have actually stopped (what a relief). We’re thinking the therapy is about over; but I’m feeling as if the work is not done yet. Until I read this article this morning, I thought the next part of the journey would be to write a book that might be helpful
    But no. It’s not time for the book yet. I still need to accumulate the data for the other half of the story which is the accomplishments, the victories, the many instances of resilience that were and continue to be necessary, the bullying that never stops but the boundaries I’ve learned to build against it, the increasing ratio of happy times over difficult ones as years went by and I took better and better control of my life, how my special interest sustained me through everything and is still my chiefest joy, and how society has changed over the years so society no longer seems nearly as obliged by tradition to stuff an Aspie into a traditional role whether s/he can fit or not.
    So thanks for this article. It has sent me off in a new and better direction.

    • Wow… there’s so much to take from that post. Thank you so much for sharing your story. 🙂
      I’m so glad that, despite the difficulties that were placed on you, you clearly have found places where you could play to your strengths, and it really made me smile when you write that life did get better as it went along.
      I wasn’t expecting that comment at the end! Thanks so much- it’s quite an honour to have had some useful influence over someone as insightful as you! 🙂 All the best with your new and better direction, and thanks again for the story you shared with us. 😀

  15. Thank you for writing this. I don’t think I do any of these things but it’s great to be reminded and have something to pass on to other people. – Dad to an autistic boy.

  16. As someone who also has aspbergers syndrome-thank you! My mom never actually said she hated autism but she has said she hated seeing me struggle like I have. But I will say I’m positive that it had to be hard on parents raising autistic children during a time when most of the public didn’t know about it/when it was never actually a diagnosis. Growing up it was thought I had add, it wasn’t till during high school that it was changed to aspbergers. Maybe it was the way they said aspbergers syndrome that made it seem bad to me and I’m finally becoming more comfortable with that diagnosis and with admitting that I have aspbergers.

    • I’m glad you’re seeing it all in a positive light, even if it was not that way at first. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  17. Thank you for writing this article (a friend shared it with me on Facebook), I found it both interesting and useful. As a high school teacher who has worked in several different countries, not a school year goes by without at least one student somewhere on the Autistic spectrum appearing in my class. I have genuinely enjoyed working with every single one of them.

    My main issue is ignorance – if I don’t know (from the start of the year) that a kid has Aspergers (for instance) then there can be some challenging moments, sometimes with me (“why the hell is this kid so stroppy”) and sometimes with other kids (“he’s different from us and it’s easy to wind him up”). Often this is because the school hasn’t passed on the information, but occasionally it’s because no one has diagnosed them yet. Like many, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of “labelling” someone, but for me as a teacher, I find it helpful to know, because then I can relax – a little switch clicks in my head and I know what kind of techniques to employ.

    For me, it’s then an interesting challenge – how to navigate through the layers until the student and I come to a point where we understand one another. It’s MY responsibility first to find that way in, the way that works for them, so that that they’ll trust me and know that I’m working WITH them. A few years ago, one of my 14 year old students was finally diagnosed as having Aspergers and we were given a few pointers on how to make her feel more comfortable (such as letting her doodle on a little sketch pad when she was feeling anxious), because she was certainly not enjoying school!. A little later I was going over her work and I said “I love reading your stories, you’re a fantastic writer and I really like having you in the class.” She looked shocked and said “but I thought you didn’t like me!” I was horrified! My ignorance about the layers of who she was as a person meant that my more strict reactions to her stroppiness and agitation made her feel that way! I apologised to her and then we discussed ways in which we could communicate without others knowing (that was her request), such as a signal when she was feeling particularly stressed, so she could go outside for a while to have a break. That experience taught me an awful lot about how to deal with each student as a complete individual, and I think it has made me a better teacher.

    Knowledge is power, and your suggestions are very helpful. 🙂

    • Thanks a lot for sharing. Very striking story about the student who thought you didn’t like her! Sadly that’s often the impression people get, whether we intend it or not. Very glad you had the opportunity to sort things out with her- I bet it helped her out a ton (and like you said, it definitely would have made you a better teacher!).
      Thanks for the compliments too. 🙂

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  19. My son is mildly autistic. He has obsessions and verbal ticks, little concern for social niceties a violent temper and overwhelming desire to control everything and everyone. That said, he is also more empathetic than I am, comes by his anxiety honestly (most of my family suffer social anxiety.) And is basically a very sweet 4 year old in a very agile strong sturdy 6 year old body. He goes to a private school that is specifically designed for autistic children and is making rapid progress. Occasionally I might let his autism define him, but mostly it just seems to me it is a part of the wonder that he is. All my other kids grow up like kids do and pull away from me with age. I’m selfish, I hate that he might suffer any stigma later and I fully expect he’ll fully integrate later, but for not I get more of the sweet (sometimes angry, or vulgar) baby that they lose so quick. He isn’t competing to grow up. He just does what he wants and he’s beautiful doing it.

  20. Thank you, thank you!! My darling son, age 7, was just recently diagnosed with Aspergers. All the information I’ve read has been overwhelming, and very clinical. Your words have soothed my heart!! My son is wonderfully loving and caring and compassionate. He is incredibly creative and intelligent. He is better than “normal”!! 🙂 Thank you for your support and love for our children! May God bless you always!!

    • Haha, lovely words- thanks very much! 😀 Very glad you’ve found this useful, and that you’re not letting any diagnosis get in the way of seeing your son’s real strengths. 🙂

  21. I have a 10yr old son with high functioning ASD. I am just so greatful that I was chosen as his mother and truely believe that his autism is what seals the deal on his undeniable AWESOMNESS !!!!

    Like many others out there, I would never even consider taking anything away that makes him who he is. How quiet and rather boring our life would be without have the chance to see life from the perspective of a child on the spectrum or the enjoyment we get out of regularly being blown away by the humour and laughter he provides.

    But most importantly, I know he would never want to loose any part of himself that is responsible for making him unique. He is totally aware of his autism and is so proud to be living his life on the spectrum. From day one I have discussed, taught and informed him of exactly what was going on and what it could all mean whilst assuring him he is and always will be totally awesome regardless of any diagnosis.

    So following his diagnosis when he was 8yrs old he was already so equipped with knowledge and many tools to place him in a position where he was comfortable to be himself and ready to accept his diagnoses

    Obviously this approach is not going to be appropriate for everybody & their families but I really believe that for us it’s what’s led my son to have nothing but positive experiences and thoughts towards himself and his awesome ASD.

    Really though, what more could a mother want for her child than to know that they are proud to be exactly who the are.

  22. I think we should look at those who are autistic the way we would a person speaking a foreign language…not inferior or damaged or weird, just a different way of communicating….the best way to understand them is to immerse ourselves in their way of communicating…we might be surprised to find they are not so very different after all…Thank you for being a champion for so many!

  23. I do not have an autistic child and am only an observer. However, I know of a family who has an autistic child and posted a photo of their child on the roof of their house on facebook. Is this an accepted practice of children with autism? And is it something parents are allowed to encourage? Apparently he does it frequently.

    • Tricky one- and one I don’t think I could comment on accurately without knowing the child. I suppose it would depend on the severity of the child’s needs, the child’s awareness of the risks s/he faces, the height and angle (and strength!) of the roof, the supervision of the parents, and more than anything else a safe plan to get the child down again.

      Personally, for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t encourage any child onto a roof unless it’s a very special occasion (watching fireworks for example) and even then they would constantly be under my supervision.

  24. Thank you!!! My 12 year old son has just been diagnosed after being DX with ADHD since he was 4. I always suspected there was something else . I think your article hits the nail on the head!! He is his own person and can make choices and that is what I tell him! This is not a Disability and I will not allow him to use it as a crutch. He’s a smart boy who thinks and worries like an adult. He will be a stronger person because he has to deal with more stress than other kids. Keep up the good work! Kim

  25. As an autistic person myself with Asperger’s, I know and understand how difficult it can be growing up. I am 34 now and I feel my autism does not effect me as much when I was a kid, but I do know It still effects me socially.
    Kids with autism now days I think have it allot easier cause autism is allot more known and been studied. When I was growing up as a kid, not allot was known about it.
    A few years ago I remember seeing and hearing those tv and radio commercials about “my kid has autism” and they were making it seem like a bad thing. Being autistic isn’t a bad thing, in fact I think it is an awesome thing at least for aspergers.
    I know I have always been allot more perceptive growing up and I am able to figure how to do things by looking at them. We are very intelligent and knowing likely we do not like doing bad things or even harming others.
    I know Kids will always still have a hard time with autism but it will get better as they get older.
    I was just lucky that I had a mother who spent allot of time learning about this when I was growing up, she fought hard with the schools I went too cause of the trouble I had in them. Yes I was bullied as well in schools but I was just lucky to have a mother who fought like heck with the schools to make sure I was safe.
    To this day, I still consider myself to be very lucky in how I turned out and I do thank my mother for helping me.
    I also hope my message will help parents of autistic kids to feel better about them. “Not saying they don’t already”.
    Just wanted to share my mind about this. Thanks for reading.

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  27. This is a well-written article to make people aware of how they’re unconsciously damaging children with autism (or other “special needs”…. ugh…. I hate that word…) I shared it on my Autimotive Facebook page. It’ll sure be of interest to my followers.

  28. I find parenting my teen with autism easy and fun. His personality and his autism are amazing. He too loves Sonic the hedgehog.

  29. Thanks for this wonderful article. It not only gives me clarity in what to say, it gives me clarity of purpose– to challenge these damaging statements, each and every time I hear them.

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  31. I have Asperger’s. I feel really bad when my stepmother denies it whenever she wishes, it’s really confusing. She even wanted a second opinion (which she got), and guess what? I am still an aspie. Nowadays she doesn’t do it as often, but it still hurts my feelings.

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  33. As a autistic mother my son did had problems with his hearing don’t u think he can still hear the things people r saying to him he brake out crying for no reason but this when he in school when he home I don’t have a problem with him

  34. Pingback: This world we live in – Elephants Remember

  35. Pingback: Voices from the Spectrum #10: Chris Bonnello on Understanding Different Perspectives - Learn From Autistics

  36. I think that my mom might have grown up thinking that autism is bad too. It explains why she’s been so strict about me getting medicine to ¨fix¨ it. I also think that, like in number 3, my mom thinks that my perspective is skewed, but maybe she’s right. It’s rather frustrating.

  37. I’m an undiagnosis Aspie (I fit every area of the diagnosis criteria). My parents avoided the fact that I was so different in school and once I got to an age where I figured out myself I didn’t want to make it official because I would have issues going into law enforcement as a profession. One of the biggest issues I had growing up is my parents would force me to be social on their schedule. They wanted me to talk when I would be working on something in my brain and not on paper. They don’t understand the way I think or how I obsess. On the job, I can function with anything, but at home I would like to but able to act like who I am instead of putting on a facade. It takes to much work to deal with people who can’t live with me without me having to change for them…that’s why I have a second job with a small company that includes another aspie and two very understanding nts. We travel my two off days… they are so much easier to deal with than my family. For me it isn’t even work. I wish people knew what it is like to live in a world where understanding the actions of others is a gift not a right where there are few people I understand at an emotional level, even fewer who I call friends. A world where I feel like an alien.