Voices of Autism: ‘Really Grateful She Is Mine’
Every day throughout April–Autism Awareness Month–we will be featuring a different reader-submitted story about living with autism. Today’s story was written by the mother of a 4-year-old who asked that their names not be used. She is the author of the blog Spectrummy Mummy’s Blog:
The most important thing you need to know about my kid with autism, is that she is just a kid. Like many 4-year-old girls living in the U.S., she loves Sesame Street, Disney Princesses, dressing up, and anything pink. More than anything in the world, I just want her to have the full experience of being a kid. She deserves that.
Like any ordinary girl, she wants friends, but she has some challenges that sometimes impact that. She is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which means that her language and cognitive abilities are less impaired than other children on the autism spectrum. However, she still has huge gaps in her abilities. She finds it difficult to maintain the back-and-forth of a conversation. Taking turns and waiting her turn are also challenging for her. Of course, these are the very skills a child needs to make friends.
As with many others on the autism spectrum, she also has some differences in her sensory processing. All her senses are a little off, and this makes her behavior confusing to interpret. Often she will bounce up and down, spin around, or flap her hands to get extra input to her body. She has difficulty processing sounds, and sometimes noises are too loud, or speech is jumbled up and impossible for her to understand. Sometimes she is overwhelmed by all this input, and it causes her to lose control and have a meltdown. She isn’t throwing a tantrum, or being disobedient. She is a child who just can’t take any more.
I’ve been humbled by my daughter’s determination to learn things that don’t come naturally to her. Tiny milestones that would have been ignored are celebrated for the small miracles that they are. I don’t take anything for granted. She inspires me to make the world a better place for her to live in.
When she was first diagnosed, I felt too ordinary to raise such an extraordinary child. I began reading blog posts written by other parents about their amazing children, and I found solace in knowing that I wasn’t alone. Eventually I began a blog myself to tell the world about my daughter and about the joys and challenges of raising a child on the spectrum. Writing has not only helped me to advocate for her and those like her, but it has also introduced me to an incredible community of dedicated families just like ours.
She is just a kid, but an extraordinary kid. A kid like 1 in 110. She could be your daughter, your niece, your child’s friend or classmate. But I’m really grateful that she is mine.