Growing Up Autistic: 10 tips for teenagers with Asperger Syndrome or “mild” autism


Teenagers and young adults, this one’s for you.

 

I was the weird kid.

More specifically, I was the boy with Asperger Syndrome before anyone knew what Asperger Syndrome was.

 

When I was ten, an educational psychologist came to assess me. Today, one of those assessments would give me an immediate diagnosis, and my parents and teachers would be offered advice on how to help me where I struggled.

But of course, it was 1995. So this professional psychologist wrote down “slightly odd personality” on his form and that’s where it ended. (I’m not kidding, that is a literal quote from the report he wrote and submitted.)

This blog was almost called

This blog was almost called “slightlyoddpersonality” for that exact reason.
And yes, that’s me aged 7.

 

Growing up on the autism spectrum can be difficult. Especially if, as I’ve described before (point 6), you’re on the “mild” end of the spectrum- ‘normal enough’ for people to have high expectations of you, but just ‘autistic enough’ to really struggle to achieve them.

 

If you’re growing up on the spectrum, this article was written for you. I grew up with autism myself: I struggled with isolation, I struggled with understanding other people, and I struggled with other people not understanding me.

So, from one autistic to another, here is my honest advice to you.

Top ten tips for growing up on the autism spectrum

 

1. You are not alone.

Yes, it feels like we’re alone at times. A lot of the time. But we’re not.

I was an adult before I met someone with a brain like mine. Given that 1% of us are on the spectrum, I’m amazed it took so long.

(By the way, 1% sounds tiny, but it’s actually pretty big. Are there 100 people in your year group? Then you can expect one to be on the spectrum. Are there 1000 students in your school? You can expect ten of them to be on the spectrum. Do you live in Britain, a country with 70 million people? Then you share a country with 700,000 other people on the spectrum.)

 

I give the ‘you are not alone’ advice to several people: those who have lost relatives, those who suffer with depression, and just about anyone going through a hard time.

Why? Because the advice is always true. And it helps so much if you can find others who are going through the same as you. I promise they’re out there. Loads of them.

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In fact, you’ll find loads of them online. There are more autism/Asperger’s online communities than ever these days. Since I wrote this article, Autistic Not Weird’s Facebook page has become huge (opens in new window). I’ll leave a list for you at the end.

 

2. Don’t let other people decide who you are.

Everyone should know who they are. It’s an important part of being at peace with yourself. But if your self-image is negative, that can be quite damaging and totally false. (I’ve been through two bouts of cognitive behavioural therapy. Trust me on this.)

It’s a sad fact- for everyone, autistic or not- that if you hear people criticising you for long enough, you start to believe they’re right.

 

So, if you’re not happy with who you are, my advice is to ask yourself this question- am I actually unhappy with who I am, or am I only unhappy because of what others are telling me?

I realised this for myself when I remembered how happy my childhood was… until people started telling me I was different. So, when I think about it, I became unhappy when other people told me I needed to be.

 

Don’t fall into the same trap that I did. You are your own person, not everybody else’s.

 

3. Use your own methods, and go at your own pace.

I’ve known for a while that I work differently to others. And that’s fine- I tend to succeed anyway if I try hard enough. Unless I’m following other people’s methods, or going at someone else’s pace.

 

For example: I played in a football match when I was eight (soccer, for any American readers), and I was in goal. This meant I was the only one in the team allowed to use my hands, and I was expected to use them.

Except, I didn’t. I kept the ball away with my feet, time and time again, and learned I was pretty good at it. I ignored the people at the edge of the pitch telling me I had to use my hands because that’s what goalkeepers are supposed to do, and kept on defending with my feet.

0-0 with five minutes to go. I was doing my job perfectly. And then I was taken to one side by an adult, and ordered to use my hands, because that’s what goalkeepers are supposed to do.

I used my hands. Five minutes later, we lost 4-0.

...And guess whose fault it was?

…And guess whose fault it was?

 

If you need to do things differently to others, then do it. (But be diplomatic. People often think you’re rude if you don’t listen to their advice.) Where possible, surround yourself with people who understand why you need to do things differently.

If you need to go faster than other people, do it.

If you need to go slower than other people, do it.

And it is definitely not your fault if you try doing it someone else’s way and it doesn’t work. Because let’s face it, they wouldn’t succeed doing it your way.

 

4. Secondary school/high school means less than you think.

Sounds difficult to believe, but trust me.

Back when I was at secondary school, it was the biggest part of my world. I was there five days a week, with people I liked and people I hated. Bullies don’t need much ammunition, and I gave them loads. And when you’re at school, each year can feel like a long time.

 

Then I left secondary school.

I never met the bullies ever again.

And I never worried about how crap I was at subjects I didn’t care about.

And, best of all, nobody in the real world cared whether I was cool in Year 11.

 

I’m serious! Those ‘cool kids’? Those ‘popular’ guys who seem to love hurting people? I almost feel sorry for them. They had no idea that once they left school, that ‘coolness’ would mean absolutely nothing.

I left school and eventually found my dream job. They left school and… well, I actually don’t know what they did. Couldn’t give a crap, to be honest. They might as well no longer exist.

 

I know that if you don’t get on well with school, it can feel horrible.

But it does not last forever. And once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

 

Edit- two months after uploading this, I wrote an article specifically devoted to bullying issues. If you need advice in this area, you can find the article here: 8 Tips for Coping with Bullying (Opens in new window).

 

5. Whatever you do in life, find a place where you can play to your strengths.

People with autism have more in common with others than we think. One major thing is this: if we get the chance to play to our strengths, boy can we play to our strengths.

aspergers

 

It’s easy to believe that in order to succeed anywhere, you have to get good English and maths grades.

(I won’t lie, English and maths are fairly important life skills. But nowadays there’s plenty of support for adults who struggle with these. If that’s you when you leave school, maybe it’ll be a good idea to take some of these classes as an adult.)

But it’s a mistake to think that ‘academic’ strengths (English, maths, science) are the only strengths that matter. And your value as a person does NOT depend on how high your grades are.

 

There are more important life skills than academic subjects.

Are you an organised person? Then do a job that only organised people can do.

Are you a patient person? Then do a job that only patient people can do.

Are you a hardworking person? Then do a job that only hardworking people can do.

Are you a [insert strength here] person? Then do a job that only [insert strength here] people can do.

 

People can throw phrases like ‘special needs’ or ‘learning difficulties’ around as much as they want, but autistic people can be bloody good at stuff. (Heck, even I became a teacher. Nobody on Earth saw that coming when I was thirteen.)

 

6. Not everything is ‘Your Fault’.

In one of my favourite posts, “50 important facts about having “mild” autism”, I detailed the great number of things that are interpreted as Our Fault. Take a look at #7 to #10.

7) If you don’t notice that a girl is interested in you, it’s Your Fault. Not theirs for not bothering to actually tell you.

8) If someone drops an extremely subtle hint and it goes over your head, it’s Your Fault. Not theirs for not bothering to actually tell you.

9) If you ask people whether they want the last potato and everyone says ‘no, that’s fine’, it’s Your Fault if you take it. You should have read them correctly and interpreted their ‘no’ as a ‘yes’. Because that’s what normal people do, apparently.

10) We find it difficult to read people, and that’s Our Fault. Meanwhile other people find us difficult to read, and that’s Our Fault too.

 

So, allow me to show the difference between what is actually our fault and what is not.

 

It IS NOT your fault if people misunderstand you when you’re trying to be nice.

It IS your fault if you choose to be deliberately nasty to people.

 

It IS NOT your fault if you’re quiet around people because you are honestly uncomfortable with them.

It IS your fault if you don’t talk to people because you can’t be arsed.

 

It IS NOT your fault if you find other people difficult to like because they’ve made you feel like the odd one out.

It IS your fault if you choose to hate other people just because they’re different to you.

 

It’s important to take responsibility for your actions.

It is also important not to shoulder the blame for other people’s mistakes.

Make sure you get the balance right!

 

Important extra point: it’s often the case that people think they’re being blamed for something, when nobody else has even noticed. This is especially the case when people are anxious about something. A lot of the time, other people aren’t even paying attention!

 

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

And by ‘ask for help’, I don’t just mean in lessons. I mean with the really serious stuff too.

 

Mental health is quite a focal point right now, and professionals are treating it more seriously than they’ve ever done before. Especially with teenagers and young adults.

If you need guidance or counselling, ask for it. (If you have a diagnosis such as autism or Asperger’s they might even see you as a priority.) If you don’t feel comfortable asking your doctor yourself, ask a parent to do it for you. Those services exist for a reason- if you need them, use them!

Random note: placed here so it can only be seen by people actually reading this. This article has been stolen from Autistic Not Weird too many times to count, so if you’re reading this anywhere other than its original source, they have stolen it without my permission and are tricking readers into sharing it. Please find the original at this link. http://autisticnotweird.com/growing-up-autistic-advice-for-teenagers-with-asperger-syndrome-or-mild-autism/

 

8. Other people find stuff hard too.

This is an extension to ‘you are not alone’. Finding things difficult isn’t just an autism thing. It often looks like other people aren’t struggling with anything, but a lot of those people are acting. Many, many people are so good at wearing a brave face that it’s difficult to tell what’s actually going through their head.

Because let's face it, often we don't like talking about our problems either.

Because let’s face it, sometimes we don’t like talking about our problems either.

 

9. If you have the choice between being normal and being happy, choose to be happy!

The most depressing years of my life were my early adulthood years- just before I discovered I was autistic. Up until then, I went to so much effort trying to look ‘normal’. And I lost such a huge part of myself. There were even people in my family telling me they didn’t recognise me anymore. It was horrible.

 

As a friend once told me (metaphor alert), “if you wear a mask for too long your face changes to fit it.” If you spend too long pretending to be ‘someone else’, one day you’ll wake up and find that the real you has vanished- and the ‘someone else’ is all that’s left.

You don’t want to waste time being ‘normal’. You’re already normal in your own way, and everyone else is weird. (I often think that Asperger’s is only called a disorder because there’s more non-Aspies than there are Aspies. If it were the other way round, they would have the disorder, not us!)

 

Be yourself’ is common advice, and it’s common for a reason.

To those who don't know, this was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Anyone who can kill a witch with water is enough of a legend to listen to.

To those who don’t know, this was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Anyone who can kill a witch with water is enough of a legend to listen to.

 

10. In all you do, remember how much you’re loved.

This is another bit of advice I’d give to anyone going through hard times. If all else fails, remember the people who value you. Because their love for you is so, so, so important.

Anyone who really values you will offer you a shoulder to cry on when you need it. Find the people who are there for you, the people you know you can trust, and don’t be afraid to rely on them.

 

Not everyone will say how much they care about you, of course. Some people only save those words for special occasions, or others are just too shy to say it. That doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you. Different people express their love differently, but mean it just as much.

 

(If any readers are parents or teachers of youngsters on the spectrum, take note of this. There is a huge and important difference between being loved, and knowing that you’re loved. If you care about people going through a hard time, actually let them know!)

 

By the way, if there are any readers here who honestly don’t think they’re valued, not even by friends and family, don’t lose heart. There are thousands and thousands of people out there who would care about you if they knew you. The secret may be finding new people. As tough as you might think that is, there will be good people out there. Maybe try a club that you’re interested in (chess, karate, book clubs, the list is endless), or even your local church if that’s your kind of thing.

 

And one final important point:

You may have noticed, a few of these tips are about doing things your way and not everybody else’s.

But it’s important to remember that you should still listen to advice from other people.

The person who told me to use my hands in that football game (point 3) has given me a lifetime’s worth of good advice too. Not 100% of it has been perfect, but my life has been far richer because I’ve listened to them through the years.

Not everyone will give perfect advice. But anyone who honestly cares about you deserves to have their advice listened to. It doesn’t matter whether they’re autistic or not- my parents weren’t, my teachers weren’t, my friends weren’t, but they all gave good advice.

 

Take people’s advice or leave it, depending on what’s right for you- but at the very least, listen to advice and take it seriously.

 

You could perhaps interpret that as point #11. So sue me. (Since I first wrote this article I’ve had my fair share of snarky comments about this not being a “pure” top ten list!) But truthfully, that last one exists because so many of the other ten encourage you to be your own person regardless of what other people say. I don’t want people to interpret that as an excuse to not listen to advice from trustworthy people.

 

So, the points in general:

  1. Whatever you’re going through, you are not alone.
  2. The only person who can decide who you are is you.
  3. Sometimes your pace and methods will be different, and that’s totally fine.
  4. Once your school days are over, they’re over forever.
  5. Find the places where you can play to your strengths.
  6. Don’t blame yourself for things that aren’t your fault.
  7. If you need help, ask for it.
  8. Everyone else finds things difficult too.
  9. I’d rather be happy than normal.
  10. Remember how much you’re loved.
  11. (Yes, this one goes up to 11.) Finally, listen to other people’s advice.

 

I wish you all the very best in your journey growing up on the spectrum. Leave any comments you want, let me know whether this has helped or not, and if you have a question you don’t want to ask in public, feel free to send me a message through the ‘contact me’ page or through Facebook.

 

Wishing everyone who reads this all the very best,

Chris Bonnello (Captain Quirk)

 

PS- a number of parents have told me they want to print this off to show their children. I’m more than happy for people to do this, but I’ve had to disable text highlighting after my work was getting stolen by scraper sites literally daily. If you want a printable version of this article, send me an email or Facebook message, and I’ll send you one.

(And while you’re reading this- since this was written, I’ve also literally turned Autistic Not Weird into a career. If you’d like to support my venture (whether you want the supporters’ rewards, or whether you simply think my writing is worth a cup of coffee once a month), feel free to visit my Patreon page! 🙂 )

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Chris Bonnello is an autism speaker, available to lead talks and training sessions from the perspective of an autistic former teacher. For further information please click here (opens in new window).

 

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Copyright © Chris Bonnello 2015-2017

 

 

Online communities which may help you:

Ambitious About Autism: http://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/talk-to-others

Wrong Planet: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/

National Autistic Society (UK) forums: http://community.autism.org.uk/discussions

 

 

Picture credits where known:

https://www.facebook.com/autismeffect (Incidentally, it’s that boy’s birthday today! Happy 14th Quinn, and I hope you have an awesome day!)

Mum, who was right at the forefront of my “weirdness” over the years and let me be myself anyway.

http://izquotes.com/quote/343093

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251 Comments

  1. nothing wrong with a slightly odd personality LOL and for us non-autistics, this was a really long read! so long in fact, that I skipped (browsed) some parts 😉
    I do love that sweater.
    and the fact that you’re sharing to help. <3

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    • Haha, nor is there anything wrong with actually being *diagnosed* with a slightly off personality! 😀
      Well, thanks for your honesty about the length. 😛 Gah, I even made paragraph breaks every sentence or two so people wouldn’t skip too much! The truth is I could write a book on this. Maybe one day, I might actually do so!

      Thanks for the visit! Hope all’s well at your end. I know we rarely talk as much as we used to but I follow your Twitter and blog as closely as ever. 🙂

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      • Don’t worry if a few think it was too long. What matters is that you wrote something of great importance that we all need to hear, ‘Normal’ or not and you did a great job. Thank you and keep on writing.

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        • A lovely compliment. 🙂 Thanks a lot.

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      • The length was perfect and the summary at the end was even more perfect. I’m a mum and I’m SO glad that another mum shared on FB. This is about the best thing that I’ve read on autism. Very well done. x Please email me with anything new that you write.

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        • That’s quite some compliment! Thank you! 😀

          I update ANW’s Facebook page whenever I publish an article, but there is also an option on this site to get email updates: if you look at the right-hand column there’s an option called “Subscribe to Blog via Email”- just type your email in there and you won’t miss a thing. 🙂
          Thanks again!

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      • Thank you for every word. It was helpful to me even though I have no diagnosis on the spectrum. Great insights. Good advice on any day, for all sorts of people -with a variety of strengths and challenges. ?

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        • Thanks a lot for the comment- glad it’s helped! 😀

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      • If you wrote a book on this, you know I’d be all over that like sugar to bees.

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        • Thanks! 😀 I really really hope to do so one day. 🙂 Sooner rather than later!

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      • As always, wonderful article~! It always makes me smile that there’s someone else who understands. It’s 100% true. You are never alone ^^

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      • This was a great article!! My son was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome when he was 7 years old, he is 11 going on 12 now. I guess I can correct myself by saying he is in the spectrum now or has high functioning autism. He also has ADHD. We are living thru much of what your family must have gone thru. We love our son with all our hearts and he is a loving boy. You have a great outlook on life and I hope our Ethan can continue to live and learn at his own pace and love what he is doing.

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    • My son sounds exactly the same as you….was ‘diagnosed’ in 1995 as well, and the ed psych’s evaluation (idiot was retiring that year and didn’t give a crap!) was unrelentingly devastating…..so I never even told my son, he is now in his 3rd year of an HND in computer graphics and is an awesome man of whom I inordinately proud. Yay!! for quirky people….
      I’ve just sent this article to him,
      Thank you so much for posting.
      xx

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      • Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂 I’m glad to hear your son’s doing so well!

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      • My son is having a hard time making friends and I wish I knew what to do about it… he does have autism and adhd, I feel like I did something wrong I wanna beat myself up for this … what do I do??? And also he is always alone he rather that if he is not around me or his sis …

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        • First things first, there is NOTHING you did wrong. It’s a common thing for parents to feel when their child goes through a difficult time, but it rarely has a foundation. You literally did nothing wrong and it’s only going to damage yourself if you start telling yourself you did!
          Secondly, know that your son (and you) are not alone. Ever. There are a load of people in your position, and giant online communities made up of people in similar situations to yours. 🙂 As for making friends, I’ve always found it’s good when you notice something in common you have with another person. If (for example) he’s a Minecraft fan and someone else in his class is as well, there’s a starting point.

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          • Thanks for writing this! My son was just diagnosed with mild AST(at 10 yrs old). He’s been having a hard time keeping a connection with his friends and I believe is starting to feel left out. We haven’t yet discussed his diagnosis with him and I think at that point I will share this with him.

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            • Thanks! I really hope he gets something from it. 🙂 All the best to you and him.

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    • thank u!!!

      It IS NOT your fault if people misunderstand you when you’re trying to be nice.

      It IS your fault if you choose to be deliberately nasty to people.

      It IS NOT your fault if you’re quiet around people because you are honestly uncomfortable with them.

      It IS your fault if you don’t talk to people because you can’t be arsed.

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    • diagnosed or not we all deserve to be happy…
      Being disabled should not mean being disqualified from having access to every aspect of life : )

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  2. This is beautifully written! As a mother of a child on the spectrum I appreciate all of what you have said, and will share it with my amazing Son. Thank you!

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  3. My niece is on the spectrum, and she is both very smart and quite quirky. All of her family know she’s an Aspy, and we all make it very clear she’s loved for who she is, not *in spite of* who she is. That’s important, not conveying a “we love you anyway” tone, I think. Certainly Asperger’s puts some hazards in the path, but we all have hazards. Just enjoy the whole person and adjust to their quirks like they adjust to yours. I’m grateful there are many articulate, outspoken people like you to help her and us put Asperger’s in proper perspective.

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    • “We all make it very clear she’s loved for who she is, not *in spite of* who she is. That’s important, not conveying a “we love you anyway” tone, I think.”

      That is so, so important. It’s great to read sentences like that. 😀
      And thanks for the compliment! 🙂

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    • Thank you so, so much for understanding and accepting. It means a lot.

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  4. I’m just now learning that I’m on the spectrum too. I’ll be 30 in May I don’t have an official diagnosis yet but I will soon if I decide to peruse it. just knowing what’s going on makes a world of difference. I was bounced around in 3rd and 4th grade everyone searching for a diagnosis to give me and then they said ADHD which ok is part of me but it didn’t explain the rest of me. I’ve felt defective my whole life. Outcast and alone if it weren’t for church friends I wouldn’t have had friends but I’m so thankful for the girls in my “group” who rallied around me and made a place where I fit in. I only wish they could have been at my schools. I am so glad they diagnos this now I feel if I would have had this knowledge sooner Id of been more ok with me and felt less like a misfit. I’m glad I read this article I’m so glad my friend (she’s helped me come to terms with me while advocating for her son with autism) sent it to me and made me read it. Thanks for sharing these I struggle with more than half of them.

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    • Welcome to the spectrum! I’m glad you’re finding so many answers now. It sucks that people our age grew up without the knowledge (I turn 30 this year too!), but it’s comforting to know that today’s kids have an advantage. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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  5. This is the best advice! Thank you for making it very clear to understand. I hope someday I can have my autistic son read this. He is 15 and so very lost. He won’t even accept that he has mild autism. 🙁

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    • I really hope he finds himself as he grows up. Quite a bit of this advice is relevant to non-autistic teens too, so I hope he finds it useful despite his lack of acceptance.
      Is he refusing to accept his autism because he doesn’t want to be seen as different/inferior? It may help him to have exposure to successful autistic people out there (there are plenty in everyday life as well as online). Maybe the quicker he learns that being on the spectrum is not always a curse (in my case it’s often been an advantage!), the less resistant he may be and the sooner he can find an identity he’s comfortable with.
      Wishing you both all the best, and thanks for reading.

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  6. Very interesting read for someone who is not autistic (though sometimes I do wonder!). A great insight, and hopefully I’ll have a better understanding and be able to empathise and communicate in a better way with some of my friends.

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  7. I have printed this out so that my 14 year old Aspergers to the infinity +1 degree son can see that he is quite fine really. I as the mum/home educator [long story] do sometimes need to be informed when he is feeling these things so that I can help rather than react to the nasty, ferocious, furious behaviour. I remember Nigel Latta’s advice: All Behaviour is Communication! This also works for my NT son who only has ADHD!! Carole

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    • People can easily forget (or not realise in the first place) that behaviour is communication. Glad you mentioned it. 🙂
      I hope your lad finds ways to control his impulses, and I really hope this article helps him. It can feel pretty lonely when you think you’re the only person with your type of brain. But he is far from alone. 🙂

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  8. Saving this also for our daughter with mild Asperger’s that is 16. She is struggling over how others view her and internalizes a lot of negative thoughts. This may help her out. Thank you kindly! Her Mother.

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    • Thanks for the comment. 🙂 I really really hope she finds some helpful advice here.

      I often find that the biggest factor for low self-esteem stems from feeling like you’re being “instructed” to see yourself negatively by others. I think #2 may be the most relevant point to her: “am I actually unhappy with who I am, or am I only unhappy because of what others are telling me?”
      Take care, and thanks again.

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    • Great article – my son is on the spectrum and I recognise his personality in much of what you say. I spent a long time trying to get him to “fit in” so that he wouldn’t be bullied. I then realised that he could take care of himself in his own way and that he didn’t care what other people thought of him,he was true to himself.I let him be and he has flourished. He is 10. I still feel pressured to protect him against those that don’t understand his behaviour and give me so called behaviour management advise but those people don’t Understand and I just smile. I had to learn not to take their advise to heart, I wish they could read your article.

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      • Thanks for the reply. 🙂 I’m glad your son can take care of himself and is strong enough to not care what others think of him. Wish I had that!

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  9. Thank you so much for the article. I am trying to educate myself about autism and aspies. You have given excellent advice for everyone, you might be surprised how “normal” people have experience the very same things. I especially liked what you said about the “cool people” in school, not being a cool kid, or pretty or smart I was picked on and bullied and thank goodness school finally ended! Back to your article, it is great, it also helps to understand what may be happening and how to react or not react as the case may be. Thank you and please keep sharing! You have so much to offer the world, a real gift!

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    • I wrote this thinking about how much of it applies to non-autistic teens too. 🙂 It’s nice when autistic people realise how much they actually DO have in common with others!
      And thanks particularly for that last sentence! That’s quite a compliment. 🙂

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      • I shared this as a column EVERYONE of EVERY age should read as it does apply to all very well. I believe that approaching everything and everybody with respect, including yourself, and being able to back off of emotional reactions – practicing ‘Mindful’ discipline is alot of the key to happiness. Being able to absorb positive experiences and let the negative ones go. Great job writing, and obviously great job with life in general having such great outlooks 🙂

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  10. You are my new hero. Thank you. Sending a link to my 17yr old son who started Uni in March.

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    • Wow, that’s quite a compliment! Thank you! 🙂

      And your son started uni at 17? 😀 Is he a wizard?

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  11. I read it all….a first for me. Thx for sharing and your advice was listened to lol….

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    • Glad to hear it! Honoured to have been your first start-to-end read. 🙂 Hope it helps!

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  12. What was your dream job,?

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    • At 4, it was a train-track layer. I thought people who designed the routes were the same people who built them!
      At 6, it was a palaeontologist. I got tired of having to explain to so many adults that it meant digging up dinosaurs.
      At 8 is was a videogame tester, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t happen.
      At 11, it was a pilot. Just because it would be awesome.
      At 13 it was a writer.
      At 14 it was a teacher, right up until I was in my late twenties.
      Now, at the age of 29, it’s probably a writer again. 🙂

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  13. I believe my husband to be on the spectrum. At 32 years of age, there was no testing for Aspergers. He was (and still is) very good at acting normal, so he easily slipped through the cracks unnoticed by teachers and other professionals who he interacted with as a child. He has always struggled with depression, and anxiety because he just did not feel “normal” The more and more we consider Aspergers as a possibility for the struggles he has with things that seem easy or simply possible to other adults: staying on top of a schedule, making phone calls, meeting deadlines…basically anything that does not interest him, the more it explains the difficulties he has with these tasks.

    The one thing that does not fit the description of someone with Aspergers, is he can be a very social person. (though this was not always the case) He is incredibly empathetic, and works to connect with certain individuals. He often feels like a failure as a friend when he cannot make time to be there for friends who are in need, because of his family which demands much of his time. He is an emergency room nurse, and is AMAZING at what he does. He shows more compassion toward his patients than any of his other “normal” peers. He is also an AMAZING father, being able to connect with his children and his wife. (A seemingly natural connection) He is a very passionate and devoted father and husband. I sometimes feel that I do not connect with him as much as he needs me to, and do not work to connect as much as he works to connect with me, but maybe this is because it has always been something he has had to work on, where to a “Normie” it is something that I have never felt the need to work at.

    I wonder if it would be worth talking with a psychiatrist and getting an official diagnosis. I am a very supportive wife, we have found a way to make things work. Are there treatment options out there that would help him find ways to ease the anxiety he feels when he needs to do a difficult uncomfortable task like for example- talk to human resources on the phone about setting up a flex spending account for daycare? This is just one of many things that we just don’t do because it is such an uncomfortable thing for him, and some things I cannot do for him.

    I struggle with it at times because I want to be a supportive wife, but at the same time, I worry about being an enabler by doing these uncomfortable tasks for him.

    I could use some advice from other “Aspys” on how to be a good wife to an “Aspy”

    -I apologize for the length! 🙂 Thanks for reading

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    • Well first of all, congratulations of marrying an Aspie! 😀 Aren’t we an interesting people?

      I’d say that his social skills and love for others don’t count against his Asperger’s. As a teacher I had to develop a ton of social skills (e.g. how to talk to adults- I mean it, talking to the kids was easy compared to that!), but I managed it. And as for empathy, I had a load of it. I’ve always cared about others, I always genuinely adored the children I’ve worked with and was always rooting for them and trying to do right by them. But to say that compassion is a “non-autistic” trait… No, absolutely not. We all know how to love and be loved in return, even when we express it differently. 🙂

      And for the record, I hate talking on the phone too! He’s far from alone with this.

      A diagnosis may help him, as might therapy if he’s anxious enough to need it. It depends whether he wants it.
      If a diagnosis is what he wants then I wouldn’t hesitate. If therapy could help then I DEFINITELY wouldn’t hesitate- it’s not just for people going through immediate term troubles. As for which services are out there, depends where you’re from. If you’re not British then someone else can help you far better than me. 😉

      As for being an enabler, I’d think about it case-by-case. Sometimes doing things for your husband will be a genuine help that he needs. Sometimes allowing him the experience of stepping out of his comfort zone might build him up. It’s often difficult to tell which one’s the right decision, and it’s probably different depending on each case.
      Vague answer I know, but it’s difficult to be specific when the answer isn’t black and white! 😉

      But (and this is an important point) by the sounds of what you wrote, you’re already doing the most important things. You’re there for him, you support him, and you love him. Every single thing you do as a “wife to an Aspie” will have a much greater impact since this is the foundation behind everything. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment, hope some of this helps!

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      • Every Aspie is different.Some have no social skills,some limited ones,some have great ones.My son has awesome social skills,We were told it is because he is hyper-aware of social norms.My nephew is totally different.Now that he is grown though,he seems more comfortable in social settings than he was growing up.You cannot go by just the list when you are trying to figure out if someone might have Asperger’s.They might have all,they might have only some,and not every list is 100% correct.In fact I have yet to see one that is.I don’t think they have fully realized what ALL of the possible indicators are( I hate to say symptoms;that makes it sound like an illness,and it definitely is not).Bottom line,Every individual with any form of Autism is unique.

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        • I don’t like the word “symptoms” either. 🙂 Indicators is a nice word- my personal favourite is “traits”.
          And yep- it sounds so obvious, but we’re all different to each other. You know, because we’re people. 😉

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    • That is so nice to see. Since being diagnosed with HFA my partner has said she doesn’t go in for all this absolving of responsibility. Just becsuse I have autism doesnt mean I can do what I want or should be pandered too. Not that I wanted those things but would be nice to know there is a willingness to understand.

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  14. This was very helpful, my son has aspergers , we treat him the same as our other child , no exceptions just lots of patience and understanding x

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    • Patience and understanding goes a heck of a long way. 😀 And I’m glad to hear you treat him the same. We hear so much about how refusing to individualise things for people on the spectrum can be harmful (and that’s often correct). But it can be equally damaging if we treat them *too* differently from everyone else.
      In my experience it’s a case of meeting us halfway- allowing us to be ourselves, but in a framework of expectations that doesn’t let us fall into the trap of thinking the rules don’t apply to us. I guess there’s a difference between “treating someone as an individual” and “treating someone differently”. 🙂 I’m very glad my parents let me be an individual whilst keeping me within the same rules as my sister.

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  15. What I loved most about this piece was that the advice rings true for all kids, not just those on the spectrum. Proving once again that people are people first, labels are secondary. 🙂

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    • Absolutely right! 🙂
      I wrote this thinking about how much of it applies to non-autistic teens too. In fact, I made sure to say on some points that “I’d give this advice to anyone”.

      It occurred to me for a split-second that maybe the advice here should be more exclusive to people on the spectrum since this is an autism blog… but I decided that the advice would lose a lot of honesty if I took out the parts that applies to everyone too. After all, why should I *not* give the advice to autistic people just because I’d also give it to others?

      Besides, it does help when we find out that others have more in common with us than we think. I hope this article helps a few people realise they’re not so different. 🙂

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      • Excellent, I have two sons with Asperger syndrome. xx

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        • Are your two boys different on the spectrum? My grandson is high functioning autism (diagnosis) but he is bullied every day at school by boys and girls, sometimes skips lunch, goes to the bathroom and calls his Mom instead of eating. He is very knowledgeable, but about things and games, but his father refuses to play with him,so I do. But my main concern is bullying at school, they even tore pages out of his beloved Pokemon book the other day, but Alex doesn’t tell the teacher because then he thinks he is the one who gets in trouble.
          Why are teachers more aware of what is REALLY going on.
          Alex’s grandmother Ann

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  16. I loved this article
    I think it applies to ( normal) people as well
    I loved the way it’s written and the passion about the subject
    I would love to read more from you
    Thank you
    Maha abu hamad

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  17. Brilliant, I didn’t even know I was an aspire till I gave birth to one at the ripe old age of 44. Instinctively I knew what I had to do to raise him. He is a wonderful caring 22 yr old. Feels deeply and is a gifted musician in his second year of his music degree.

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    • I wouldn’t be surprised if his Asperger’s actually sparked or helped his ability as a musician! 🙂 I’m afraid I play the drums, so I just like hitting stuff. 😉
      Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you were able to instinctively get your boy as he was growing up. 🙂 Must have helped him a lot.

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  18. I did not skip any parts and thank you for sharing your thoughts. I do encourage you to write a book as it will help so many people. My son is 7 and has Asperger’s, so the teen years still lie ahead of us, and of course there are worries. I will share your insights with him. I am just wondering about your opinion on when I should tell my son he has Asperger’s – so far it is not a conversation we have had, nearing the end of grade one. He is receiving loads of help and love at school and everywhere we go. We feel fortunate about that.

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  19. This is great. I will be showing my daughter this to help her understand a little more that what she feels is perfectly normal. We have never labelled her with her issues and have always told her she is perfect the way she is and that being a little different to everybody else is fine. She’s 11 now and dealing very well with it although some days are harder than others.
    This helped me also as it’s given me an insight as to how she may be feeling at times, something she finds difficult to put into words.
    Thank you.

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    • I’m glad it’s helped you. 🙂 I really hope it helps her as well, especially since she’s just on the border of being about to grow up. Great that she’s got your full support- that may be why she deals with it so well!
      Thanks again. 🙂

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  20. A really insightful article. My son is 13 and was diagnosed with ASD when he was 10 after many years of anxiety & false diagnosis (we really had to fight our case for the ADOS test). As he is what is described as a ‘high functioning’ child on the autism spectrum he often struggles with his difficulties. To many people he is (on the outside) just like any other 13 year old boy and their expectations of him are way beyond the capabilities of his inner autistic self. It’s their reactions to his quirkiness which cause the most damage to his confidence & self esteem and reading your article will hopefully help him to realise that their opinions really don’t matter! Keep up the good work.

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    • “To many people he is (on the outside) just like any other 13 year old boy and their expectations of him are way beyond the capabilities of his inner autistic self. It’s their reactions to his quirkiness which cause the most damage to his confidence & self esteem.”

      YES. This is all too familiar. I hope he finds my words on this helpful. 🙂

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  21. Thank you for such a fantastic article! I will give this to my 13 year old son is who is currently being assessed for ASD and is having a hard time at school.

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    • Tell him hi from me. 🙂 I really really hope it helps him. And thanks a lot for the compliments!

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  22. Thank you so much for this, will be printing it out and reading it with my son point by point. Especially number 6 and 10.

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  23. This info helped me greatly. I was diagnosed when I was thirteen I’m now nineteen . Many of my friends have no idea I’m on the spectrum , but now I feel much better about talking to them about it . What u guys do is amazing , and so helpful to so many people

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    • 😀 I’m really glad you got something from it. If you do choose to tell your friends, I hope it goes really well for you.

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  24. I like to think of Asperger’s as a spectrum that goes both sides of average, and includes everyone, also for the many (9?) Asperger’s traits, any person will be in different places on that continuum. I decided this because there are great communicating people out there who are better than average in these 9 areas. Therefore I refer to myself as having ‘a few mild Asperger’s symptoms’, or being ‘hopeless at that’. Loved some of you advice, thanks.

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    • You’re not the first person who’s suggested I write a book! 😀 Thanks for nudging me even closer to actually doing it!

      I’m actually planning a blog post on when to tell a child about being on the spectrum. But the main points I’ll say for now:
      A load of people will say that “YES, tell them at the very first opportunity you get”. I don’t necessarily agree. It very much depends on the individual child.
      Basically, if the child is already being made to feel different, is already aware of being less capable in some areas, has difficulties making friends, or feels left out, then an explanation can be very helpful (in fact, not telling them can be harmful). BUT- if they’re on the spectrum and it’s neither affecting them socially, emotionally nor academically, don’t be in too much of a rush to tell them.

      In a sentence, I’d phrase it like this: “Tell the child about their Asperger’s the *moment* they need answers. Not one moment later, but equally not one moment sooner.”

      Hope it helps- feel free to ask any further questions you have. 🙂

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      • Wow! Your words compare to… uncovering precious gems during a treasure hunt! My son is 14, and I have struggled off and on for a few years now about when/whether or not to tell him about his Asperger’s. I’ve been shamed by quite a few people for not having done it already. My thought on this has always been ‘Why tell him there are differences or struggles — when he has never expressed that he feels any different or shows signs of struggling?’ I am so glad to hear you say that the right time to tell him is the moment it is needed — to become the ANSWER. That is BRILLIANT and such a positive confirmation for me as a parent. I have to mention that my son is amazing. He is an athletics team manager, a pianist, a percussionist in the school band, a long-distance track runner, and he is social, confident, and quite independent. Most importantly, he is still quite different, unique, and VERY quirky… but he is happy! I would not ever want him to be any other way. I’ve never pushed for ‘fitting in’, but instead have worked hard to build his confidence, self-awareness, and his ability to express himself — to equip him to be adaptable and comfortable in his own skin. We (it really has taken a village to raise this child thus far) have always pushed him past comfortable in any and every situation in life that presented itself – but we’ve been right there waiting ‘offstage’ – just in case. He has no idea how above-and-beyond amazing he is (other than the normal amount of ‘amazing’ that we tell him he is – like any other parents do)… but if he only knew!!! He has been surrounded with many, many, people for many, many, years – teaching him and giving him the missing tools for his ‘toolkit’ (or sharpening the tools he already had). I just don’t feel it’s beneficial to point out differences to him that he doesn’t even see are there in the first place. On the other hand, though, I don’t want him to be resentful or feel that it was ‘hidden’ from him when the time comes that we do need to tell him. I have never wanted him to possibly fall back on/hide behind the Asperger’s label – or use it as a crutch in any way – as, unfortunately, I see and hear this all the time, as I’ve been an educator for nearly 15 years. Too many kids are told over and over that they have X and they’re told they will struggle in some way with X. So they do, in fact, struggle – and will tell you that X is the reason why. Sorry for the great length, but reading your words of wisdom was like taking a deep, deep breath of much-needed fresh air!! Thank you.

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        • You sound like the kind of parent I’d want to be. 😀 Helping your son to be comfortable in his own skin, developing his own skills and pushing him just slightly out of his comfort zone… that’s what I’ve done with kids I’ve worked with an inevitably what I’d aim to do with my own!
          Thanks a lot for the message! It does surprise me that he’s reached 14 without being told, but like you said (and like I said), it’s definitely better saved for a time when it’d be helpful. Come to think of it, the reason it surprises me is because it’s so rare I talk to “autism parents” who have teenagers who never needed to know- so it can only be a good thing that he’s reached 14 without getting the kind of anxieties that a lot of us do!

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    • I like the way you phrased that- we keep thinking of it as a spectrum between “normal” and “severe”, but I think most of us appreciate that it’s far more complex than that!

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  25. Thank you Captain Quirk, that was simply a wonderful read. I have been so lucky in having a young boy on the spectrum of Autism. He (Jacks) is eight years old. I am a mother of three adult children and Jacks has come into my life just when I thought I had finished with school forever. But back to grade three I go. He is the most amazing human being and I love him to bits. We have endured a few battles with the education system and at first I felt so at a loss and full of despair for Jacks. However, now we have a really great attitude. We know he is clever and funny and loving and we don’t let the rigours of school or report cards define him. I so enjoyed reading your blog because now I know that Jacks truly will be fine. I want to protect him from bullying, I want him in a school that allows him to be creative and not have to conform, however, at present there is no such school near us. Once again thank you. And yes I too think we need to hear more from you, a book would be awesome. ?

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    • “I so enjoyed reading your blog because now I know that Jacks truly will be fine.”
      Woah, that was a powerful sentence. O_O Thanks a lot!!

      I’m really glad your attitudes have made such a turn for the better. And I’m glad you’re telling him how much it’s his personality that defines him rather than academia (and this coming from an ex-teacher 😉 ).

      As soon as I get my head around writing a non-fiction book proposal, an Aspie teen survival guide may one day be on the cards. 🙂

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      • Oh please write your book. Whilst I really do appreciate the efforts and opinions of the experts, NO ONE is as qualified to write such a book as you are. Whilst you are at it, hehhe, could you please write a little handbook guide for parents or carers, oh and teachers too, to shed light on possible thought processes of kids on the spectrum? At age eight, it is tricky for Jacks to verbalise this. I want to understand how it rolls for him. I keep forgetting that he is on the spectrum until we get another note from his teacher calling us up to the school. We have a pretty good sense of humour and want to give Jacks the best chance of being the best he can be and teach him resilience and independance along the way. I know our schools are trying hard, however there is a long way to go. Your book(s) could make a real difference. ?

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        • Inspiring words! 😀 I really really will try and get on it as soon as I learn enough about the marketing side of it!

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  26. I have just read this at the recommendation of a friend. I am left with a grin from ear to ear! Funny, insightful and honest! No matter what journey we take in life, I think, we always find our someone, inside and out. There is so much here that is excellent advice for all of us. I know that I use my hands only when I want to! ?

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    • Thanks a lot! 😀 (And thanks to your friend too. 🙂 )

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  27. Hi Captain Quirk,
    What a fascinating insight, I loved it! As an Education Support Teacher and auntie to a ‘quirky’ teenager, it has given me some more insight into understanding those students who really struggle to fit into the mould society deems as ‘normal’. I’d love to pass this on.

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    • Great to hear this has helped you. 🙂 You’re more than welcome to share this with others!

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  28. I have read so much literature to help my Aspie daughter. most encouraging is when I read from aN aspie perspective. sometimes I wish I had Aspergers so that I can better help her and also so that I could go to her world because it seems fun. I always tell her she does not have a disability in fact she has the ability to have an awesome perspective that only wish everyone could have. thank you for sharing you could you come please move next door so she can come and get your perspective everyday

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    • Haha, I’d love to tell you I’m financially in a position to move, but I’m afraid I’m not. XD Ah well, I’m only ever an internet away. 🙂 Thanks very much for the kind words!

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  29. My nephew (now 23) was diagnosed with Aspergers as a toddler. He was told he would never amount to anything. He has an extremely supportive family and graduated from University. He is such a hard worker and currently works as a volunteer because he struggles to get employers to see past the condition.

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    • Congratulations to him! 🙂 I hope he finds the right employer someday- does he state his condition in the interview?

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  30. I love this. I hope I can get my sons to believe all of these things as they get older.

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    • I hope so too. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

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  31. Wow, thanks, I LOVE this post! I am going to share it with both of my special girls (one autistic, one not). So well written.

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    • Thanks a lot! 😀 I hope they both get something from it.

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  32. These are tips for EVERYONE! What a wise soul you are. 🙂

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    • Haha, a “wise soul” isn’t something I get called often. 🙂 Thanks!
      And yeah, I was well aware that a lot of these points apply to everyone, on or off the spectrum. I had a think about it, then decided to keep them all in anyway- if the advice needs to be heard, it shouldn’t be deleted just because MORE people need to hear it! 😉

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  33. Well I read it all…and loved it!
    Spot on!
    I have 22 years experience will aspie people and have shared this…i love your tone/ sense of humour.
    Well done you ☺

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    • Thanks a lot for the comment and share! Glad you loved it. 😀

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  34. I didn’t think it was too long at all. everything written here was very relevant and so interesting, as well as very helpful to read. both my children (young adults now) are autistic and I’ve just passed this on to them. thank you very much for this, I thought it was brilliant and insightful. there are many times I’ve tried to think up ways of the best ways of explaining things and helping my children to feel better, but I usually end up feeling inadequate in my attempts, so this has really helped me as a parent, and perhaps a human being in general.

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    • Wow, that last sentence is quite an amazing compliment! Thanks very much, and I’m glad it’s helped you. 🙂

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  35. Thank you so very much for this….my son is autistic and instead of ignoring his diagnosis, it has been embraced within our world and he is the most fantastic lad! Alot of your points relate so much to him, he openly discusses his ‘difficulties’ and we have a close bond within our home. I tell all my children that no matter who you are, whatever you want to achieve, you work hard and be true to yourself then the world is your oyster!

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    • I’m really glad you’re all approaching the subject so positively. 🙂 It makes such a huge difference.
      Thanks for the comment!

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  36. My twin niece and nephew are four they have both been diagnosed autistic, how do I treat them, I mean how would they want to be treated, normal, special I’m at a loss

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    • Hi,

      It’s quite a balancing act- sometimes the best thing you can do is treat them no differently to other kids. Sometimes the best thing you can do is the opposite.
      It depends on the individual. Try to gauge how close they function to their friends/classmates. Work out where they struggle and where they don’t. (Also, work out the moments when they are genuinely struggling and when they’re making excuses. Some autistic kids always struggle and never make excuses, and some are the opposite way round).
      Then- if they struggle, treat them differently and give them the support they need. If they don’t struggle, try to treat them no differently to anyone else.
      It’s difficult to be really specific without knowing the kids because children are so different to each other, autistic or not. But that’s the general advice I’d give. 🙂 hope it helps!

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  37. As a mom of a 14 year old Aspie, your post has been a breath of fresh air!! It’s always so encouraging to find other Aspies who have made it through challenging, difficult childhood/adolescence and find contentment and happiness as adults! (Along with the difficulty that all adults experience anyway.) I think my favorite points are #1 and #10. Like you said, it’s the strongest under girding for our beloved spectrum kids and for anyone who struggles. THANK YOU for sharing!! Simply invaluable!!

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    • I think those are my favourite two points too- probably explains why I put them first and last! 🙂 Thanks very much for your kind words, and all the best to your 14-year-old. 😀

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      • My niece and nephew are four, they have severe autism how do I communicate as they have never spoke a word,

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        • Sorry for the delayed reply.
          I’d say use clear and specific words- they’ll most likely understand more than they appear too, although it will most likely take them a little longer for your words to register. Basically, if you ask them to do something, give them more time than usual to respond.
          Oh, and the less words in your sentences, the better. 🙂 Hope this helps.

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        • Seek out augmentative/alternative communication (AAC). It can be a bridge to verbal communication and allows non-speakers to develop language and decrease frustration while the speech develops.

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        • Hi. Try reading the book “Saving Danny” by Cathy Glass. She fosters a 6 year old little boy with autism and his parents are struggling to cope with him. He has limited vocabulary with people when he first comes to her but she works with him and is able to help him improve. He also has a pet rabbit who is his best friend and communicates with him better than with humans. Its really interesting and you can learn a lot.

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  38. I really enjoyed reading your perspective on how you felt growing up diagnosed with Aspergers. My nephew has Asperger’s and it seems like he is angry for the most part. His father died of a heart attack when he was 9 years old and he blamed his mom or actually wished it were her instead. He is now 24 and stays with my parents (his mother lives across the street from my mom and dad) because he likes it there. My parents wait on him and he stays in his room and plays video games with people online in other countries. I love my nephew and he really opens up to me when we go to a movie together or something. He is very smart and very opinionated but knows he is loved. I also think my daughter who is 13 is mildly autistic as well. She has been socially awkward around her peers for most of her life but feels more comfortable around adults. She is very funny, beautiful and smart but prefers to stay in the house than to go to any social events. However, she has made friends this year (7th grade) with some girls who seem to relate to her and I am so grateful. She does not text like other girls and she paces up and down the hall while she listens to music with her head phones. I am hesitant to get her diagnosed because I think it is so mild that she has learned to cope with it and seems to be do well now. However, grade school was a different story and she cried every morning when I walked her into class from 1st grade through 5th grade. Her father (my husband) passed away with cancer when she was in 1st grade, we had moved back to my hometown for support after he was diagnosed and he passed away a month and a half later. So I understand and was very supportive when she was going through this emotional roller coaster and I always always told her how much I love her. I still do everyday!!!! I want nothing more than her happiness and I think I have seen her more happy this year than ever before. I read every article I see about autism and I especially enjoyed reading yours. It gives me insight into what she is feeling as well as my nephew. Thanks you so much for your honesty and sharing your first hand experience of dealing with autism.

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    • Hey, thanks for the message. 🙂

      I’m sorry your nephew’s been through such a rough time. I’m very glad he knows he is loved, first and foremost. I’m also glad that after a tough elementary school experience, your daughter is coping well. I tend to agree that if a diagnosis is not needed, it shouldn’t be chased up with any kind of urgency.
      I wish your family all the best, and thanks again for your kind words. 🙂

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  39. This is perfect timing.. my 15 year old aspie is going through major depression and anxiety. I will share this with him and my family, who unfortunate still have no clue how to deal with him and he feels it. Thanks for sharing.

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    • I truly wish him all the best, and I hope this helps him in some way. 🙂 Thanks for the message.

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  40. If my son would put down his defensive coping mechanisms (nothing can hurt me,I’m fearless,etc.) I believe he would say he is currently going through what you so beautifully shared. He is constantly teased and bullied. Labeled the “weirdo” and the target. I will definitely follow your writings. Thanks for sharing your voice!

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    • Hi Vickie,
      I wish him all the best. 🙂 If the bullying article I uploaded last week can help him, I hope it does.

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  41. Thankyou for this, my husband is an Aspie, he was not diagnosed until he was 24, mainly due to the same issues, not enough was known about it. He has been told he had ADHD but the Ritalin actually made him depressed. He has been classified as naughty, unruly, slow etc for his whole life.

    When I met him time stood still, he of course never really picked up on my flirting, but we hung out, he liked me and did not know how to tell me until his work mates started spreading rumors about us being together as a couple, which he just turned to me and said that its true. In his mind, we were already a couple despite the fact he had not asked me. Lol.

    He struggles to keep jobs as employers do not really understand that he has an issue as they perceive him as normal, but he is a LOT slower than other people, he goes for accuracy not speed. Employers do not understand this.

    We struggle sometimes in our marriage, it is really hard for me as a non Aspie to remember to be specific with things, such as the time I asked him to clean the kitchen bench, I did not specify what part (for the record I meant the WHOLE bench) and he cleaned a small square. Made sense to him. I am always looking for ways to understand him better and ways to explain to him where I am coming from.

    Anyway this article has made things a little clearer for me, and I emailed to him (it will take him a while to read) but hopefully it helps him realise that it does not matter what others say he is who he is and people love him for it. I really love the point you made that if more people were Aspies and less non Aspies, we would be the one classed as having a problem. Thankyou again.

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    • Thanks for the comment- I enjoyed reading your story. 🙂 I hope he finds job stability soon. I know it’s a cliché to say that a dash of autism is actually really useful in some jobs, but it’s absolutely true!
      I hope he enjoys reading it, and I’m glad it’s helped a little. 🙂

      Post a Reply
  42. Thank you such for this. I am the mother of an aspergerian son who is 12 . And I adore him and his quirky ways. I just like to think of life with him as a constant journey and he is an amazing tour guide. He is one of the super smart ones but has difficulties with the social aspects. But don’t think I would ever change him . But thanks for this. I don’t think it’s to long and didn’t skip any of it.

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    • Thanks a lot for the comment, and all the best for your lad. 🙂 Nice tour guide analogy too!

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  43. Both my sons and I are Aspies. Thank you for writing this. I could definitely relate. P.S. Nothing wrong with the length at all. 🙂

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    • Awesome. 😀 Thanks for the feedback!

      Post a Reply
  44. My son, 7, is in the process of being diagnosed. Thanks so much for sharing. It will help me to help him. He is having a tough time of late. Finding it really hard to fit in, breaks my heart.

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    • I wish him all the best. High five him for me, and let him know he’s definitely not alone. 😀

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  45. I find it difficult that you would title this article as you have. You either are or are not Âûtistic. It’s not mild or severe. Aspergers id not mild Âûtism. I wish people would stop perpetuating such rubbish.

    Post a Reply
    • Did you read the rest of the article? There are more important things on this page than my phrasing of the title! 😉
      I agree that Asperger’s is not mild autism (hence the “or” in the title). But I don’t think this is the place for semantics. I wrote a whole article on the vocabulary issue here, which is a better place to discuss it.
      http://autisticnotweird.com/labels/

      Post a Reply
  46. Great write up, great list! I’m tempted to read it with my 9 year old Aspie, as he’s struggling with understanding why he is different, feels every error is his fault, etc.

    We are actually headed out for additional assessments today. I wonder if this doc will write “odd personality” in his notes. Ha!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Rachael

    Post a Reply
    • That last line made me laugh. 😀 Hope it went well! Thanks a lot for the comment. 🙂

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  47. You are a beautiful human. This is such a wonderful and heart-felt listing. Thank you!

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    • Wow, it’s not often I get called a “beautiful human”. 😀 Thanks a lot!!

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  48. Wonderful! Sharing to “I don’t need a cure flashblog” Facebook page!!

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    • Can’t see it for some reason. But thanks! 🙂

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      • Ha! Sorry, that’s because I scheduled the post for tomorrow morning!

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        • Doh! I do that all the time and it still didn’t really occur to me. XD thanks loads!

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  49. I hope you won’t mind, I have copied/printed the list you wrote so concisely at the end. My son is almost 14 and recently diagnosed. He’s making strides in the forward direction, slow but forward. I plan to discuss this with him and place a copy in his room. I’m also going to put a copy somewhere I can see it too. As you said, it’s good advice for everybody.

    Post a Reply
    • I don’t mind in the least- people like your son are who this article was written for! 🙂 I hope he gets something from it, and thanks for the compliment in printing it off!

      Post a Reply
  50. Thank you so much iv read all of it, I’m going to show my son it after school.
    Both going threw some hard times at the moment with transition into seniors, I think this will help him ( I hope so).
    Thank you again
    Dawn

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    • I’m assuming he got home in the time it took me to respond. 🙂 I really hope it helped him.

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  51. Wow, I wish I had read this when I was 12. It may have helped ease the hurt of the bullying and awkwardness of my teenage years. I have not been diagnosed with anything but my son most likely has Aspergers and is on the waiting list for assessment. He is 9 now but I would hope this advice can help him in the transition to senior school. I never fit in but I have made it to middle age with two happy kids, a husband and a decent job. I hope my son and daughter have as good a life as I have but without the confidence destroying bullying of teenage years.

    Post a Reply
    • I’m glad things worked out for you in the end, despite the nastiness of the teen years. 🙂 And I hope your lad makes his way through growing up with a smile and ends up with as good a life as yours!
      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      Post a Reply
  52. The diagnosis process has not progressed. Rather than say my son is autistic, the educational psychologist said he was ‘quirky’

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    • Sounds all too familiar!
      Of course, there’s the possibility of seeking a second opinion, if you believe a diagnosis would help him.

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  53. This is absolutely brilliant, I enjoyed reading every bit of it! Everything is very clear, you are an inspiration, thank you.

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    • You’re more than welcome. 😀 Thanks for the compliment!

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  54. I loved this so much. While not an Aspie myself I married an Awesome one and together we produced an #Aspiesuperhero who’s just turned 8 and I identify as Neuro Divergent and just a bit weird lol. So much of this needs to be said and loudly, if more people started shouting this then many many teenagers would be much better armed for the onslaught to come, what a wonderful thing you are doing 🙂

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    • Thanks so much. 🙂 I wish your superhero all the best as he grows up.

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  55. Thank you I’m a father to a child on the spectrum and this has given me some insight again thank you

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    • Glad it helped. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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  56. Your artical is so good that i want to have the disorder and be like u instead of not having the disorder and a thoughtless person. God bless u.

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    • Wow, that’s a strong compliment! 😀 Thanks a lot for reading and for your comment!

      Post a Reply
  57. That’s brilliant and I will share this with my young autistic clients if I may. My son and I are on the spectrum. I got to be a teacher too – and a counsellor. So much for lack of empathy! 🙂

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    • Another autistic teacher! 😀 Great to meet someone else who became one too. 🙂 And I’m glad that you’ve also found a way to work with young autistic people as well- I think it’s so important for youngsters to experience teachers with similar neurology, especially if they have a negative view of themselves like so many autistic youngsters do.

      I hope they get a lot out of this article. 🙂 Thanks a lot for the comment!

      Post a Reply
  58. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and advice for those on the spectrum! It was not too lengthy, I was engaged to the very end. As a matter of fact I would love to read more from you.
    I have a son on the spectrum and he was diagnosed around the time you were. He is 21, very high functioning and just now trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to do.

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    • I meant to also say I’m passing this on to him and others on fb. Thanks again!

      Post a Reply
    • Thanks a lot for the compliments! 🙂 Wishing your son all the best as he finds himself!

      Post a Reply
  59. Your articles on “Growing Up Autistic: 10 Tips . . .” and “Eight Tips on how to cope with bullying” were absolutely great! I have printed up both of them to share with my 14 year old “aspie” twin girls. They are both very smart as far as school, but socially they struggle every day. One of them is quick to anger and screaming. The other is very empathetic and sympathetic with others, but her extreme sensitivity to unkind words toward her causes her to cry (silently) a lot. For the most part, they don’t consider themselves as being different from anyone else, but they are victims of a lot of bullying because they don’t care about the same things as other girls their age (they absolutely don’t care about clothes, hair styles, make-up, boys, etc., which makes them targets for some mean comments — and they actually have no idea why they are targets!). They both have problems transitioning between classes, tasks, new schools, etc. Thank goodness that school administrative and faculty staff are finally more aware of the problems that kids with Aspergers have to deal with on a daily basis.

    I am so grateful that you have this blog and post such amazing articles! It is so helpful to read your thoughts because you deal with, have dealt with, will forever deal with Aspergers yourself! Thank you so very much!

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    • Thanks very much for the compliments, and I’m glad the articles have helped your daughters! 🙂 Also very glad that, despite the bullying, they’re in a school environment that understands their needs. Wishing them all the best.

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  60. I like the tipŝ a lot. This is courageous and encouraging advice. Balanced, too.

    I was going to share the article, and then re-read a paragraph: “Growing up on the autism spectrum can be difficult. Especially if, as I’ve described before (point 6), you’re on the mild end of the spectrum…”

    I thought my non-speaking autistic friends, those with intense dyspraxia, or seizures, frequent meltdowns just from everyday life or other physical ailments due to neurology that are *very* difficult to live with would be appalled at the statement. Possibly it’s true, though I doubt it, but even if it was, how would you know this enough to affirm it?

    Comparing one’s experience with someone else when you haven’t walked in their shoes is not so cool. So, even though I relate to all you said, and know of the great emotional pain you describe because I’ve lived it, I didn’t share. I would have liked to.

    Perhaps had the second sentence started with “In my experience”, or some such.

    Food for thought, respectfully.

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    • First things first, thank you for your compliments in the first line.

      But it’s a shame you didn’t take into account the rest of that sentence: “…the mild end of the spectrum- ‘normal enough’ for people to have high expectations of you, but just ‘autistic enough’ to really struggle to achieve them.”

      I suspect you share a similar experience, and know that it’s a dreadfully awkward midpoint.

      Having worked with youngsters at the very severe end of the spectrum as well as the mild end (and of course, being on the mild end too), I know there’s not necessarily a correlation between how severe your autism is and how severely it affects your life. I have worked with severely autistic children who are literally the happiest people I know. And, as you know very well, the opposite is true as well. Meanwhile, I have also met mildly autistic teenagers who have attempted to take their own lives due to very-nearly-but-not-quite fitting in throughout their whole lives. Being mildly autistic is not the same as being mildly affected by autism, and this article is primarily written for “mildly” autistic people who are more than mildly affected.

      Again, thanks for the compliments. And I’m sorry that the quoted sentence prevented you from sharing the whole article.

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      • I agree with your statement: “I know there’s not necessarily a correlation between how severe your autism is and how severely it affects your life.”

        Presuming that it’s *harder* to be you (or me), “invisible” yet challenged, than it is to be severely disabled in a different way is ableist.

        There’s no basis for comparing the difficulty of different experiences.

        I hope this exchange can shed some light on what I see as simply a consciousness gap. I like your writing a lot.

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  61. This is one of the best things I’ve read for the last couple of months! Thank you very very much! Greetings from a maybe-asperger mother of an asperger boy (English is not my first language so please ignore my mistakes! 😉 )

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    • lol, your English is basically perfect! 🙂 Thanks for your compliments.

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  62. Thanks CaptainQuirk,

    This is perfect for sharing with all the students I work with that happen to be on the Austism Specturm (and some that are apparently not). A copy will be added to my stash of bits of written advise. I find different things work for different students and I believe this may be one some will find useful.

    Keep up the good work. We appreciate it.

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    • Oops! typos… should read Autism Spectrum

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    • Thanks a lot for the comment! 😀 All the best to you and your students. 🙂

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  63. My son is 11 yrs. I don’t know how talk to him about his diagnosis. He says he feels like he’s in a prison he can’t get out of so I think knowing why he is different may help him. Any advice welcomed.

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    • Hi 🙂 I wrote an article not too long ago about whether and how to tell kids. It’s here: http://autisticnotweird.com/when-should-i-tell-my-child/

      I hope you don’t mind me simply pasting the link, but in all honesty all the advice I can think of is in this article. 🙂 Simply apply it to your son, bearing in mind his circumstances, personality, maturity and so on. Hope it helps!

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  64. Thank you for writing this. I’m 22 and have only just found out this year that I’m on the spectrum, though have yet to find out if I have mild autism or aspergers. Reading this has really helped me as up untill now I’ve struggled through life never truly understanding myself and why I was different, a lot of people used to bully me for it which never helped. Since finding out I’m on the spectrum it was difficult to accept at first as I didn’t want to be pushed aside even more then I already was back in my school days, but after being around other people on the spectrum and reading this has helped me to understand and accept it as I can finally understand why I do things differently to others and that it isn’t a bad thing it’s just who I am and how I do things. It has also helped my friends and family to understand me a bit better. So thank you again

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    • Thanks for the comment. 🙂 Really glad your own journey with autism/Asperger’s is turning into a positive one. Very glad you’ve had the chance to speak to others on the spectrum too- it helps so much to know we’re not alone!

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  65. Great article. My daughter was diagnosed last year at 7yo with Aspergers. We’re trying to embrace this as a family and encourage her to feel proud of who she is. She’s made a book all about her and published it with Mantra Lingua and loves to share it with friends and family. We often say to people ‘the sky’s the limit..’ But actually there is no limit, she will ‘soar on wings like an eagle’ as long as she remains true to the person God made her to be. Thanks for sharing this article.

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    • Woah, your 7-year-old has a book published?? 😀 That’s incredible!
      All the best to all of you, especially her. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

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  66. First, as a parent, I want to thank you for writing this article. I have a nine year old boy with ODD, PDD, and ADHD. If you don’t know what to look for he just seems to be a little odd. Until he has a meltdown. Other than that he is very high functioning. I know that right now he struggles with socializing. You explained it very well you said “I struggled with understanding other people, and I struggled with other people not understanding me.” He gets upset when people don’t understand him and I understand why. How would I feel if most of the people I was exposed to didn’t understand me? He often talks about how lonely he feels. As a parent I just don’t know how to help in this area. There are things I can do but mostly I know I have to let him learn through the process everyone else does. The “learn as you go” method. I appreciated knowing about the statistics of the population that are effected by Asperger Syndrome and mild Autism. Maybe sharing that information will be a help to my son when he gets older.
    I really liked what you had to say about remembering to go at your own pace. My son struggles with reading and says that he “cannot read” because he cannot read as fast as the other kids. The article touched on so many issues that I see occurring in my sons’ life. Dealing with bullies and thinking everything is your fault are two areas that we also are working on. It was good to read this article overall because it gave me, the parent, the perspective of a person struggling with Autism. It reminded me of things I could do to reinforce positive thinking in our home when my son is struggling and it helped me with some of the concerns I had regarding issues he will face when he starts becoming a teen. I have printed this article and will be using it as a reminder and will share it as a resource to share with other families.

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    • Thanks a lot for the detailed feedback. 🙂 Really glad it’s helped you, and I really hope it helps your son too! All the best to him and to you. 🙂

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  67. Not only is this good advice for people on the spectrum, its good advice for all of us! Thank You

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    • No probs. 😀 Thanks for the comment!

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  68. Thank you for this article 🙂 I’m Aspie, but wasn’t diagnosed until I was about 40 … And boy did high school suck. I was SO grateful the eventual diagnosis, it helped me make sense of so much of my past. Glad you’re out there writing about it!

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    • Similar experience for me. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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  69. Thankyou for your insight into asd. My son has it and over a week doing school refusal
    I feel helpless in knowing how to best deal with the situation. Helen

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    • You’re not alone in feeling that way. I know plenty of parents who feel exactly the same.
      Sadly I’m still looking for that elusive never-fails school refusal advice. It’s such a difficult issue. But for what it’s worth, I wrote an article about dealing with anxiety if that helps at all.

      http://autisticnotweird.com/anxiety/

      All the best to you and your son.

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  70. As a parent who is starting to wonder if their teen son has a mild case of autism, I truly than you for this article. I will have my son read this today when he gets home from school!

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    • I really hope he got something from it. 🙂 Thanks!

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  71. This is a great article (nice length). I was also seen by an Ed-Psych about that age (in 1980) and years later by psychiatrists. By now a Dad, I got a job in a Residential Home for Young People with ASD. I ended up running a large home with 3 units and 30+ staff before I figured out why I was succeeding at last – the environment allowed me to be myself. I’m now working for myself. I really liked the balance of the last point, which recently has been so, so true for me. Just because I can be smart at times, it doesn’t mean I don’t need obvious things spelling out to me sometimes. It’s so much better when someone who cares about you can do it in a good way. I’m going to share your post, I know some friends who’ll appreciate it too. Nice one dude 🙂

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    • “the environment allowed me to be myself.”
      YES, that’s it! 🙂 That’s entirely how we are enabled to succeed- and I’m very glad you’ve been able to find that kind of environment for yourself.
      Thanks a lot for the comment and the share- all the best for you and for the home. 🙂

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      • Thankyou so much for this, I’m reading with tears streaming down my cheeks. My 10 year old son is becoming very self aware, thinks ASD is ruining his life, he’s a GREAT kid, with so much potential. Thankyou for this, will be a great tool to share and discuss with him xxxxxxxxxxx

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        • Wonderful to hear you’ve got so much from this! 😀 Hope it helps your boy as much as it can. Thanks!

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  72. Thanks so much for your article, its really helped me a lot and I will save and keep it for future reference. I was diagnosed with very mild autism and some ADD. It took a while for my psychiatrist to get a diagnosis because I seemed to have too many traits of both Aspergers and Autism to initially make a clear diagnosis. I never struggled at school, I got good marks and have an above average IQ and I just got along with everyone in my year at high school. I wasnt part of the “popular” group but my friends in my group said I was the most popular as I just got along with everyone. My main problem is working out in the real world. In the past 12 years since I graduated from High School I have struggled to hold down a job permanently. My longest was 2 1/2 years and that was horrible. My bosses were so rude to their employees that I ended up feeling ashamed and embarressed to be working for them. It took a while to figure out what some of my problems were and now I just have to find a job where I am accepted. Firstly I need to have clear instructions on exactly what I have to do, when people contradict what they say (regardless of witnesses) I become confused so end up only doing half the job or completely forgetting about it. Secondly I hate making phone calls. Thirdly I need to keep to my routine/ to do list and do things my way. Fourthly when people become rude to me or treat me differently to their superiors and not as an equal I loose respect for them because you need to earn my respect before I give it to you and if you stop then I wont respect you regardless of who you are (even if its the President of the United States). I have recently done a cognitive test and am due to get the results soon so that should help me with looking for job. Though I know I need to find one with a proper HR department who will be able to help me and not someone who is supposed to do a bit of HR but is really a supervisor as Ive been down that path before. I also have trouble making friends my own age so most of my friends are either older or younger. I do two different genres of dance – ballroom and ceroc – and want to start lyra next year which is aerial hoops. I am about to take a dance exam before Xmas and then I will be an accredited Level 1 Latin American dance teacher. 🙂

    I do have a very good friend though who has been helping me a lot this year with everything – she’s also my Occupational Therapist 😉 – that I have been going through whilst juggling her job, organising her own wedding, helping her best friend to organise “her” wedding and buying her first house! But the more info I can get the better I can understand it all.

    So thank you very much for this article as its very informative for everyone and is really well written so that people can understand what you are talking about, while not sounding like a lecture or parliamentry speech, and can learn from what you have written so that they can pass it on to others. 🙂

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    • Hey, thanks for the comment. 🙂 I was in the same boat- did very well at school but struggled once I left education. School may give you some nice-looking qualifications, but there needs to be a bigger focus on preparing students for actual work!
      Also, glad you have such a reliable source of support in your Occupational Therapist friend! 🙂

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  73. Thank you.. i saved this for my son when he is in his teenage years.. i tell him some of the points already.. so thank you for sharing

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    • No problem. I hope it helps him in the future. 🙂

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  74. Thank for that insight!! My son is high functing too. He is only 10 years old and sometimes has a hard time putting into the right words for me to totally understand exactly how he thinks and feels about things at times. So this gives me a little peek inside his mind! Thank u for helping me understand him better!

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    • I love receiving comments like this. 😀 Thanks so much, and I’m so glad it’s helping! All the best to you and your son.

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  75. Love this. Definitely will show my 12 year old son and a lot of my young clients. I’m a Mum and a therapist for lots of people with Aspergers and despite my training I refuse to see difference as ‘disorder’. You are right in that people don’t appreciate the unseen struggles of those who are ‘mild’ on the spectrum and that this is also true for a lot of problems people have in life, including mental illness. Thank you for raising awareness and for providing support and for being an inspiring role model to others.

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    • Thanks a lot! 😀 Your son and your young patients are very fortunate to have someone who sees them as you do. 🙂

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  76. Thank you so much for writing this. I’m 21 and haven’t been diagnosed, but an aspie friend of mine sat me down recently to tell me that a lot of my behavior and experiences that I talked about were raising some flags, and that I might be on the spectrum somewhere. I especially needed your point that it’s better to be happy than normal. I’ve spent so much time and effort micromanaging my behavior to act normal and it’s absolutely exhausting.

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  77. Hi, my daughter is 21 now and has Asperger’s syndrome, probably inherited from her father’s family. (I believe her grandmother who is 93 has it.) She was diagnosed when she was 3 with Pervasive Developmental Delay which is a generic diagnosis that was used a lot back then. I don’t think she was capable of forming her own verbal sentences until she was about 7 (an auditory disorder probably inherited from me).

    We have had a lot of struggles through the years with other children and the school system. Her grandmother helped her a lot with learning English and Math. She took classes during summer breaks to catch up, but she has just graduated from college with an Associates Degree in General Education. It took her a little longer, but she did it. She also did it at a small school away from home, living in a dorm, on her own. We are very proud of her. I am sure that none of her teachers from elementary school believed she would ever be able to do this. She still has very few friends, but I think they are good friends. She also met other students at College who had Asperger’s Syndrome.

    I think every person is unique and may have something they are dealing with that no one else is aware of. I liked what one of her preschool teachers said: ‘Autism is like a big batch of alphabet soup, we all get something a little different in our bowls.’ I think every person with autism is unique. That is one of the problems with it. You can’t just stick them all into the same category. Each of them has different strengths and weaknesses, like everyone else.

    Also, since they don’t generally look different, there is none of the compassion and understanding that is displayed for someone that is blind or crippled physically in some way. Instead, they are bullied and isolated. They are the ones singled out as the pariah in the classroom. Fortunately, quite often they are quite unaware of the slights and rude behavior of others. It just goes over their head.

    Sorry, for the long post. Ever so often I feel the need to vent.

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  78. Great article !!! Do you think that someone that is 51 years old can still not be diagnosed with Asperger”s?

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    • Absolutely. 🙂 Asperger’s has always existed, it’s only diagnosis that’s new!

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  79. Great article. My grandson has autism and this has helped me see how he’s viewing the world. How he feels. I can’t see him unless we go on holidays together. Different countries. But I think of him all the time and love him so much, and his younger brother. It’s such a mystery trying to work out why he acts differently, but I really want to.
    My daughter has been wonderful and so patient trying to help him. But as he gets older, I worry about bullies. Just wish I could be there for him.

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  80. Thank you for writing this! It gave me great insight into some of the feelings somebody close to me is experiencing. I have a better understanding now.

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  81. Thank you. I’m just in the process of getting my son a diagnosis & reading this is so true of him but I would like to hope that he does know how much j love him I do tell him daily & we do have lots of cuddles ( not always at the best time but he beginning to understand when & then so he’s not pushed away)
    Thank you I’m going to show him once we get diagnosis.

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    • Hi Emma, glad to hear it’s helped. 🙂 All the best to you and him!

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  82. Cried reading this. My son is now 10 and was diagnosed two years ago. At breakfast one morning this week he asked me if I had noticed how hard he was trying to be normal. Broke my heart as he explained that his teacher just wants him to be like the other children in the class. I tried to explain that the teacher meant behaviorally the other children may be setting an example. He replied “No mum you don’t get it. I’m not normal and they are, so if I don’t want to be told off all the time I have to be normal ” I love my boy for who he is not what he’s expected to be.

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    • That makes me feel very sad too. The best outcome from high school I have ever seen was the student whose Year 7 teacher allowed him to get up from his seat at any time and pace the back of the room while listening, or plonk himself on the beanbag and read a book while listening. That teacher knew the student was listening because he would put up his hand (after being patiently taught this was the correct way so that all the class could take turns) to answer questions or make a comment on the lesson. This was the student’s 4th school and we were privileged to watch him grow and learn in a supportive atmosphere under this wonderful teacher.
      I wish you all the best as you learn and grow with your son. May he find his place in this confusing world.

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    • Hi Di,
      Ouch, that hurt to read. I hope he gets a strong succession of more understanding teachers in the rest of his school life- and in the meantime, I hope these tips help him a little.
      He’s always welcome to send me a message if he wants any advice. 🙂
      Chris

      Post a Reply
  83. Thank you so much for this. My teenage daughter has high functioning asd and, right now, has no friends. She had a huge group of friends when she was little but has gradually become more and more isolated. This evening I watched a group of her old friends playing football in the park behind our house whilst she was shut away in her room on Tumblr. I wanted to just cry . Later I stumbled upon this article and it made me realise that she will, eventually, find her place in the world with her own group of people, people who are right for her and who she feels comfortable with. It lifted a huge weight from my heart and stopped the worrying…for a little while at least. She also finds school horrendously difficult, she struggles with severe anxiety and her imminent gcses are causing so much pain for her. I will show her this article, maybe she might listen to you about school and grades (as she certainly doesn’t listen to us; being her parents we obviously know nothing lol) and maybe she might relax a little and not put so much pressure on herself.

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    • Hi Gwen, sorry for the delayed reply! Really glad this article has helped you, and I really hope it helps your daughter too. 🙂
      Chris

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  84. Hey that was really helpful advice I have been really down lately but thanks to this I might just have the push i need to get over that rock
    Autistic and Asperger people of the world unite as one and together we can do anything
    WE HAVE THE POWER

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    • Hi Nicholas- really glad this has helped! 😀 Thanks for the feedback, and all the best to you!!

      Post a Reply
  85. I am my own person and your are your own person

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  86. Hi great article. I find it difficult because I dont have a diagnosis. I have done AQ tests at home and scored high butmy parents just think im clever and odd. Perdonally I dont know but this was a great help. Thabks

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  87. Fantastic site Captain Quirk! Unfortunately, I don’t think our 19 year old son will ever read it!
    he was diagnosed with Asperger’s 4 years ago. After failing his A-levels he successfully finished a Science college course last August, but since then has been crippled by anxiety.
    He has been to counselling, on and off anti-depressants etc but nothing seems to help. His sleep pattern is all over the place and he is very underweight. Given a choice he would spend all day and night in his room on his computer, sneaking down when the rest of the family are in bed to help himself to snacks and junk food.
    We’ve spoken about him trying to get a voluntary job, or study a home learning course, but he shows absolutely no interest.
    We try to give him a reason to get out of bed in the mornings, by giving him general chores around the house but he does these very reluctantly and inconsistently. We take away his computer/TV, even his phone, when he doesn’t do these basics but he just seems to accept that! At least once a week he will sleep all day or spend all day in his room.
    We are at our wits end and just don’t know how to help him. His doctor, counsellors etc have all said they can’t help any more – they all say he needs to make the decision to fight this himself – but he seems unwilling/unable. His Aspy traits means he can’t talk to us or explain himself. We point him to many websites and books about his condition but he really doesn’t seem interested. He just seems to accept this is how he feels and won’t fight his anxiety or push himself out of his ever-dwindling comfort zone.
    I worry where it’s going to end. It’s putting an incredible amount of stress and strain on our family and we really are at breaking point.
    Please, can you or anyone else recommend someone or something that could help?

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  88. Thanks…. comment, i wanna to joy more information about autism….so will hope to you more.
    thanks
    mula

    Post a Reply
  89. Today i learned that my 15 year old daughter is autistic.i knew she was different ,bold ,unusual .then 13 she was deppressed i thought then the dr said adhd.today was an emotional roller coaster.out of all the shit i read when i got home your words made me cry and helped me the most .i sent it to my daughters cell phone.thank you

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  90. Hello there I just wanted to say thank you for writing an truly exceptional article which has given me a very helpful insight into this area of autism. I have been asked by a mum if I could help work 12 yr old son on building his confidence and self esteem. This has really open my eyes and I will really take it and use it in my approach with my client.
    Thank you so much you tell it as it and that’s what’s made this story so unique

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  91. I am saving this for my son! This feels like a gift. Thanks so much!

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    • No problem at all. 😀 I hope it helps him!

      Post a Reply
  92. Thank you. Out of all the research and reading as a parent of a 14 year old girl who has just had ADOS meeting and awaiting results (Counsellor thinks mild Aspergers), this is the best, simplest, down to earth information I have read. Not with words I don’t understand. I am going to advise my girl to read this. Exactly what you have written is what she is going through and needs to hear. Can’t thank you enough for writing this

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Christine, enormous apologies for the late reply- WordPress is so bad at notifying me about new comments!!
      Thanks so much for the compliments, and I hope your daughter really gained something from this. 🙂
      Take care,
      Chris

      Post a Reply
  93. I am a loving mother of a beautiful 18 year old daughter who I am just beginning to think may have Asperger’s. This sounds silly, I’m sure, but we were binge watching Parenthood, and I started to see quite a lot of similarities in Max’s behavior to my daughters. I think, in my very limited knowledge of the subject, that the show does a very good and accurate portrayal of this personality. Although my daughter’s similarities are much milder than Max, I’m wondering if I should pursue checking into the possibility of her having Asperger’s. She has struggled with social skills since very early childhood, and was always bullied in school to the point of her now home schooling. She is finally starting to become more confident and reaching out to build friendships, so my concern in having her tested or seeking professional help is that I don’t want to tear down the progress we’ve made. I have been taking her to a Psychologist for anxiety and depression, but now I’m realizing that this may be a misdiagnosis.

    And, in my humble opinion, I think awareness is important because I never knew enough about Asperger’s to even consider this could be a factor in our life. I truly appreciate shows including information like this so we can all learn and grow and build acceptance for each other, as beautifully different as we all may be.

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  94. Thank you for this. I am just starting out my journey with my 11 year old son, who calls himself weird. He was diagnosed before Christmas, and wants to understand things a bit better. I will share this with him when I get home this evening and see if it helps him. THANK YOU – it feels lonely at times for me, and I am sure it feels lonely at times for him too.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi, really sorry for the late reply- WordPress is pretty bad at notifying me about new comments!! Really glad you liked it, I really hope it helped him, and all the best to you both. 🙂
      Chris

      Post a Reply
  95. Very informative. My son was diagnosed as a senior in high school. I am going to let him read this article.

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  96. Wonderful article. And just my 2 cents’ worth: I’d say being “slightly odd” at 10 is the very definition of “normal”

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    • Yes 10 and odd go hand in hand! Kids are just strange lil being! I don’t believe there is such a thing as normal in the first place!

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  97. I am mum to a 17 year old, slightly different, beautiful and bright teenage girl. Having taught several children with Aspergers I am now 100% sure she has mild autism. We have talked about it and she knows she is different (obviously) and struggles with day to day life. I make sure everyone around her understands her need for specific instructions and realises her different needs, her school are also onboard ensuring she has the support she needs to continue to achieve her excellent grades. My question is, should I seek a formal diagnosis? I’m so reluctant to have her labelled for the rest of her life, but would they actually be better for her? Any advice would be gratefully received!

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  98. I love the anecdote about the goalkeeping and I will use this to illustrate many points I find I have to make to people who expect everyone to do things the same way.

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  99. I believe my 13 son is imperfectly perfect and likely a lot like you! He has not been diagnosed with anything but as he grows up, it is simply more apparent he is for more unique been different that a majority of his peers. This article you wrote, has given me serenity… as I worry about him navigating through Middle School, as all his ” differences” seem to be amplifying themselves, as he grows up. Thank you so much for your well written, obviously insightful words. What a gift it has been to come across tonight. I just sent my son off to bed… after giving him a pep talk and some loving & kind words to help him as he becomes anxious…. Hoping I can give him some perspective about navigating all the ins and outs of his 7th grade life. I don’t know if I’m able to do that or not or if it will last at all through till tomorrow, but I’m certain he knows that he is greatly loved. He is so sensitive and amazingly aware… That I often have to let him know he will be ok and that everything does not have they worried about and fretted over. I absolutely tell him that I can understand what’s making him feel the way he feels… And I do tell him he’s not alone. He has such high expectations for himself and is so very self-critical. The one thing I wish for him is the ability to be a little bit more free,to be himself …to be carefree and unburdened. I don’t know if that will ever happen, and I don’t think that he realizes that he might be HFA. I am realizing that he needs far more help at this point in his life then other children his age and the struggles he has with organizing academically and navigating to the socially. He does spend most of his time alone and is happy to do so, although when he does have one friend from his elementary school days come visit he seems to light up. He started lifting weights with his father last year and that helped a little bit regarding his self-esteem. I don’t know what the future holds for my sweet boy but I am so grateful for you and your writing tonight… As a mom of someone,who is perfectly Imperfect…and exactly the way they’re supposed to be! Your words have been a comfort to me tonight and I know will be a comfort to my son one day soon.

    I would like to have a copy of this to give to my son one day down the road. If you would be so kind to forward it to my email address below, I would be greatly indebted.

    Thank you immensely!!!

    Sincerely,

    Katherine Pittman
    katherinepittmanjrp@gmail.com

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Katherine, thanks a lot for the message and for the enormous compliments!! There will absolutely be an email heading your way soon. 😀 All the best to you and your son. 🙂
      Chris

      Post a Reply
  100. Katherine, your writing struck a chord for me. My son will be in 7th grade next year and I worry as I do for everything regarding him. He was diagnosed last year with mild ASD but we have decided not to tell him at this point. At some point he tries so hard to have friends and then has a hard time making it work. As you I hope those gentle pep talks stick somewhere and help. Take care on your journey.

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    • Hello Jodi,
      Thank you for taking the time to write to me. It sounds like you& me and our sons, likely have a lot in common. When I look at James, I see a nice, interesting, caring boy,but his peers don’t seem to feel the same way. I’m also not a 13 year old adolescent boy in middle school and I think mom’s love is blind possibly. I absolutely pull up all the stops and become a positive upbeat optimistic person and I’m grateful for that because, I can’t imagine struggling with all this I’m not being able to see the perspective in it for your son…. To lift him up when he can’t do it for himself… Or to make him feel helpful or have perspective, when he struggling. I don’t know if that makes sense but what I’m trying to say is it sounds like you have had to do some of the same things as I have…. Above and beyond the normal emotional a Mom puts into a child,regarding day to day living. I’m grateful I am that way because of my son and I’m grateful you are just as much of a cheerleader for your son , for the same reasons. What made you guys decide not to tell him right now? If you don’t want to expound on this, that’s okay… That’s my biggest concern about my speculation that he is somewhere in this mix of spectrum stuff… I’m super concerned for his self-esteem and self-worth…because he often takes responsibility for own circumstances way farther than any person would and I usually have to explain to him why he’s not responsible for every single thing and other people’s feelings….has lots of unnecessary guilt that are not his responsibility, and it just amplified the fact of his extremely high self expectations of and overly self-critical. I don’t know what to do once we get him diagnosed officially…. Tell him or hold off for a while. I had a quick question if you don’t mind expanding on you’re writing…how did you come to the decision not to tell him or what made you guys decide not to tell your son right now about his diagnosis? I would think that my son would be resentful and angry with me for withholding that information if We did not tell him.
      I just don’t know. Also, since your son went through testing and questioning and all that that evaluation….how did you keep the fact that he was being tested for something like this diagnosis from him… I mean how did you keep that information out of the information,so that he was not aware of why he was going to get evaluated? I don’t know if I worded that right, I apologize. I mean I can deal with this and my husband will eventually wrap his head around it, but I don’t want it to crush my son’s spirit any more than he already does to himself. I am truly asking for insight because you guys seem to have made decisions that are in the best interest of your son versus anyone else. I think that is why’s. So I am truly looking for feedback with how this worked itself out for you and why. If you would rather, you could email me katherinepittmanjrp@gmail.com No rush in responding and if you do, I thank you! And if you don’t, I truly want to thank you for your reply… I appreciate it 🙂

      Katherine

      Post a Reply
      • Hi Katherine, I don’t mind sharing in the least. We decided, at this point to not share his diagnosis with him for many reasons. We live beside a boy who has more severe autism and didn’t want our son to feel like that was his label. I’m also not sure I agree with labels. We also needed time as parents to wrap our heads around it. with time we will probably tell him as I too worry about him being upset with us not telling him. He is also very self critical and negative and I worry that this would worsen his self esteem.
        We had the assessment done due to issues at school. There were mild LD’s that came out from this and that is what we have focused on. We asked for the ASD to be taken out of the report for the school.
        We have really tried to focus on the fact that everybody is unique, learns differently, have strengths and weaknesses.
        Definitely a journey for both of us.
        If you ever want to talk more here’s my email.
        jodi@thebatchelors.ca

        Post a Reply
        • Jodi,
          Your answer makes perfect sense! I can feel the love and care in words and also inyour decision for your son right now. What a fortunate young man to have you in his life, don’t ever forget that! Thank you for your email address. I am going to keep it for the future, as I begin this process… Just with the primary care doctor to get a referral in a few weeks. I’m may touch base with you again in the future. Thank you so very much Jodi.

          Katherine

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          • Katherine you brought tears to my eyes. I can tell from your writing that you lov your guy very much and he is lucky to have you. It’s not always easy I know. I kept your email too. Let me know how the testing goes if you do it. Take care

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            • Aww,welling up myself…glad we connected!I will be in the touch💙

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  101. Thank you so much for this, i feel alone alot, and can’t/didn’t understand why other people couldn’t understand me.

    I do not have an offical diagnoses yet, but what put me on this path was my children. My son was diagnosed with ADHD and my daughter is non-verbal autisic.

    When they were first diagnosed I couldn’t understand, everything people were complaining about or saw as problems was stuff that I do or did as a child.

    My son is absolutely wonderful, and I’ve always been able to understand him, and his feelings, my daughter is what really made me do the research, being non-verbal I needed to understand not only what she was thinking, but how she thought about things, and how she felt emotionally.

    That’s when I started to understand myself more. I’m currently in the process of gathering questions to ask my family about symptoms I may have had as a child. Also questions to ask the few friends I was close with, my ex husband and employers.

    Once I get the questions back, I’m going to find a Neurologist that deals with adults. And hopefully my familr, and friends can finally understand me, instead of just yelling at me because we don’t understand each other.

    Though it still weird to know other people don’t think in picture like I do. I’ve asked just about everyone I know. Its weird.

    But thank you very much, I’ve always blamed myself, I’m now just realizing that it was a lack of understanding and commutation.

    Any advice you could give me would be awesome.

    Thank you again

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  102. Boy was I ever afraid to ask for help. Fear of being blamed, not being believed, you name it.

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  103. This is one of the best articles I have read with great advice 🙂 thank you

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  104. Thanks so much for such honest, helpful and eloquent writing.

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  105. Hi,
    Thanks for the article, it was really good. I would be grateful for a printable copy to give to my son. I feel it covers the ‘If’ poem in better detail and without all the idioms which I tried to read to my son recently. Basically, be yourself but be aware that you might not always be right. I wonder if Kipling was autistic lol. Also are you uk based?

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  106. Thank you. My 9 year old was diagnosed last year with aspire and learning disabilities. Through the discussion with the doc, I suspect I am as well. ( as are half of my engineer co workers 👩🏻‍💻)

    It breaks my heart to see him at school having the exact same issues I had. I try to teach him my coping strategies to stay calm, but the flash backs to my school days make it so hard!

    I will read this article to him and see what he says. It is right in line with what I’ve been telling him lately. Thanks so much!

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  107. My son is 14 with ad since 2 and a contsant battle but I accept him 1000 in all he is with or without meds he is like me on a different level and your article is inspiring I read it all and I know how randomly long it can get when expressing self. My son writes stories that are pages long, I will show him this article. Thanks.

    Post a Reply
  108. I learned two days ago that I have aspergers (I’m 18). I’ve struggled for years with mental health issues because I always knew I was different from my peers and I was slower at things than them, including forming friendships with others. At 15 I learned that I have dyselxia too. Reading this article has lifted my spirits and now knowing the missing puzzle piece I feel more accepting of myself. Thanks for creating this website and this post. It delivered great advice

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  109. I would like to request a copy of this article for a young man wjo is my host student. He would get a lot out of this. Many thanks

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  110. This is awesome! Thank you!!!

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  111. I think all of this is great. My only problem is the use of the word “autistic” because the autism community in general, at least here in the States, has been trying to get rid of that word for many years. You won’t find it on any of the national sites. The suffix -ic means “characteristic of”, and that’s basically what you are trying to dispel with your comments, that one is not characterized by their autism. I’ve taught my son since he was literally old enough to know what autism was, like around 6 years old, that it was just “something he has”, and that we would teach him strategies to get around it. Also, it was NOT an excuse ever. I NEVER bought into hissy fits, he had to clean his room and put away his laundry, and participate. (he has PDD-NOS) Also, “normal” is a dirty word in our house, there is no such thing I tell him. He is pretty much the happiest, most grateful kid I know. Sure he has been bullied, and sure it sucked when it’s happened. And he does not have any close friends, and this saddens him. But he gets back in there every day and goes for it. He was the lead in the school play in 8th grade singing and dancing. He is on the bowling team. He was on the track team in middle school even though he was the slowest one, but he just wanted to do it. He just earned his Eagle Scout, raising $3,000 worth of books and supplies for an under-resourced school for minority children. He camps out with the scouts on frigid nights and never complains. He always helps. He has won awards from school. He struggles and studies for every grade, but he loves school. He is energetic, enthusiastic, artistic (he studies commercial art at a tech school), but he is NOT autistic, he ONLY has autism, and he does more with autism than most kids do without it.

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