Yes, after just tweeting about my frustration at seeing several articles by this same name in my feed, I go and add another one to the mix. Hopefully, whatever poor sods read those others will also give this one a glance.
I am second best expert. I am the parent of an #ActuallyAutistic child. I say second best because the only REAL experts are neurodivergent individuals themselves.
So for what it’s worth, here is my advice…parent to parent…
IT AIN’T ABOUT YOU, FOLKS!!!!
That’s right. Your child’s diagnosis is not about you. What’s more…
IT IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!
You know what it truly means…
Your child’s brain functions differently than others.
Let me explain that one a bit more… In geek/computer terms. Most of us have computers that run the Windows operating system. But the truth is that Windows is NOT the only operating system there is. In fact, it is not even the best. My partner got sort of famous (among techies) for his early work on another operating system. A better one…with fewer bugs and less susceptible to viruses. The thing is…it is not as user friendly.
Think of how differently you might feel right now if someone had explained it to you this way:
Congratulations, folks. I’m proud to tell you that your child holds the potential to unlock unfathomable mental resources. He can constantly scan his environment, taking in information at a phenomenal rate, noticing things that almost everyone else misses. His thought processes rely heavily upon logic. In fact studies show this will be a strong suit later in life.
Of course, the issue is…sometimes she takes in more information than she can process at once. This can result in overloads in her system. But with love, support, and acceptance she can achieve whatever she wants.
Because she was born with #AutisticSuperPowers!
How would you have felt at the end of that meeting? Excited? Hopeful? Ready to learn more about your child’s special talent? Prepared to do whatever it takes to unlock those Super Powers?
Those words are just as true…actually more so than the others. The question is…which are you gonna believe?
If you choose to listen to those words, welcome to the wonderful, wacky adventure of raising a #Neurodivergent human being.
(Learn that word. The other thing to know is you are the parent of an autistic child…not an #AutismParent, autism does not need parenting, your child does…and not a child with autism…if you follow my advice you will be cued in shortly on why.)
Here are Three More Things to Know (for now anyway):
- ‘Experts’ are NOT who you think they are. Most of those famous (infamous) people who have done all those studies and written all those books have NO first hand experience of autism. They are not neurodivergent themselves and very few of them parent autistic people. The best place to get your info is those who do know…the #ActuallyAutistic. Search that hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to find some.
- Even then…realize their autism is not your child’s! Just like no two neurotypical people are exactly the same, neither are any two neurodivergent. So what works/ed for them may not be what’s in your child’s best interest.
- Finally, don’t become one of those depressed, self-pitying parents who is always tweeting how tough their lives are. Let me tell you a secret…which should not be…No Matter How Hard You Think You Have It, It Is NOTHING Compared to What Your Child Goes Through Every Minute of Every Day! Sensory overload, non-stop demands from teachers/society but hopefully not you to act ‘normal’, and that is just scratching the surface.
Yes, you will have sleepless nights. Yes, you may have to fight to find/get the things that your child needs to succeed. Yes, there will be times when you feel all alone. Yes, there will be meltdowns…some bad ones too. Yes, some days it will feel like it is one step forward and two steps back.
But that, folks, is what you signed on for when you became a parent. PERIOD. Full Stop!
There will also be moments like this one…
When PanKwake scaled the climbing wall at our local leisure center, that you feel like pounding your chest, swinging through the trees, and yelling like Tarzan. In fact, I pretty much did just that right after snapping this picture. You see, autistic females in particular struggle more with executive functioning, i.e. the ability to organize thoughts and make decisions. I had stood there watching as PanKwake struggled with just that. Trying to decide where to place her hands and feet…what was the next best step. So when she did it, I danced around, singing…
Function, function, executive functions to the tune of this old cartoon from my childhood.
Did I mention that I sing bad…really BAD…really, REALLY badly! But I did not care in that moment who watched me or what they thought.
And here’s the most important thing for you to remember…
With ACCEPTANCE, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, and a little HUMOUR (alright…a LOT of humor)…YOU and Your Child are going to grow and become the most wonderful human beings.
So WELCOME to this beautiful, exciting and wondrous adventure of parenting your very own #ActuallyAutisticSuperHero!