Empathy

For those people who think that autistic people can’t be empathetic…

Yesterday we bumped into one of my mum’s friends. She gave the children £1 each. We went to the shop to spend the money but upon learning that the man outside selling The Big Issue was homeless, he handed over his pound with a huge smile on his face.

I explained his pound was now gone and he couldn’t buy anything with it, then asked him why he gave his pound to the gentleman. He replied, “So he can buy a new house!”

He was so happy. And I felt so proud.

He has obviously been taught compassion, empathy and kindness, as any child should, but so many people have the misconception that ASD children lack these qualities.

All people are different, and this is all he has known. He is so loving, sensitive and affectionate! And just beautiful inside and out! 😍🥰

Tantrum or Meltdown?

Oh my gosh, yes. Please read.

Meltdowns are not the same as tantrums!

What this doesn’t address is how tantrums can sometimes trigger or turn into a meltdown. You deal with the tantrum but it then escalates
beyond all control, so it’s likely that other factors such as sensory overload have come into play.

Tantrums need to be dealt with as with any child. Parents with autistic children certainly know the difference, but it’s not always easy for other people to identify, which is understandable.

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fautismawarenesscentre.com%2Fwhat-is-the-difference-between-a-tantrum-and-an-autistic-meltdown%2F%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1DusTF0UtFfFD4g7XDk5x8mM-VDUelVCvHz0jnPB_fqGh57R6QsedmTik&h=AT3ukCX3OuiM0SGqywnqmXhyhfhL9B2QaRENApjdhfGwE7-LzlAoZu6tbV84ivfFnoojtHOmhkS6E58U9GpBDGx0mPUcFVy_YaYutJt-7nKxx_1iKOPWNqKysbEaUC9Nrg2CFE5q9I8JRB3fGyUfgrPA1ulQVXs-50H16qZT-9yhmkpZLfGH_PRs2-diq-LNdGTiNmyoJYev2oUSNYWiQgCtm9lxIveSnnhihU03DnfZLFel1au0sbSEme4lT1Fgmb6eNXpAYD8KRrTPMzr2KHAKjnXA-TP9VuR8xiBckszo2mSmTjx3wnVEAYF8qLjhUH0LMNqmKJLgNP1HEiDKMbYL7R7DIs8ssppg_ZPVFIh1XAd3c-98Bxy3lmV_POzyyPDu8Gho7I_bh4kH0h0OTHvn8Bl9eHw7GybHc56CCxDzRZztjU9079z5-OXbu49zqUbZYpgc61v6rQnDSHuYFmCgvtJYfwZ83SXKUZF3DwFmcFsnubRDrzy9sNgfRIMeqbgLwZP5qCB3yQrArUD3G14v3N2m_NFxu_tu12X3FRf_UTw92GJBE6XhuKnX8J_E0NPdZJEsQrSy_Ar7WrK-B7ep4rKRWz3X3Sjf0AHcv_zvXiqA3p3z_0iS02Di

Can Autism be Cured?


I find this article so insulting. Autism cannot be, and does not need to be, cured!

Yes, being autistic can present in a million different ways, and some autistic people will struggle more than others. But generally I think there is huge ignorance surrounding it. The media have a lot to answer for here!

We were once asked if the life expectancy was good for somebody with autism!

I should hope so. Being a little more sensitive to the world and thinking differently isn’t an illness. Despite it so wrongfully being considered a mental health problem for so long.

I believe it was Tony Attwood that said, “I don’t suffer from autism. I suffer from other people!” I will need to double check this, but it’s so true.

The other expression I remember but need to check who said it is being autistic is like trying to shove a circle through a square hole…or something like that. It’s so true!

I haven’t mentioned it here before but I myself identify as autistic. In fact, I was once referred to be diagnosed but I did not pursue the diagnosis. This was wholly due to the ignorance surrounding it.

I always knew I was different, everybody did, but we could not put our finger on why.

I tried so hard to mimic everybody else and fit in, but I just couldn’t. There is much to say about my own experience, so I will be discussing this in future.

I am currently waiting for a new referral.

I posted an article a while ago about PTSD from having autistic children. I believe this also exists from growing up in the world as an autistic person.

The female experience is different to that of male autism, in some ways. Women are talented mimics and maskers. I have had more people than you know scoff at my claims that I am autistic. I have spent years training myself to make eye contact and perform well at social events.

What people don’t see is the social exhaustion afterwards. It zaps all of my energy. But all people see is me coming across as very outgoing and overly chatty.

I am excited to discuss female autism more as it is an area that is underdiagnosed and misunderstood.

I taught a clearly autistic girl who was just like me!!!!! An Ed Psych was watching her, and the more we talked, she said she felt I was on the spectrum too. I dismissed it to begin with but then the autistic trait of hyperfocus came into play and I read SO much. It was undeniable.

I finally understood. I finally had an answer. They call it the glass wall. I cried for a week as I grieved over all of the experiences I had been through, that I realised were not my fault. That I realised could have been different if only we’d known and put interventions in place.

Autistic people are your teachers, your nurses…we are empathetical…in fact I am an empath…but that’s for another day. It’s hard being an empath as you feel so extremely and it’s not something you can easily train yourself out of. I genuinely feel other people’s pain! If someone hurts themselves, my whole body almost feels it and I overreact or cry. I can’t help it!

So, my relationship with, and passion for, autism is a very personal one!!!

https://news.sky.com/story/amp/ad-watchdog-orders-150-autism-cure-therapists-to-stop-11672357?fbclid=IwAR1kt8-V_J8aYghOc38VSK3d2-peSZgk2_-FKvo82wA8zFUDCU0HWZlU0-E

Triggers

…and things not going as expected, transitions, fixating on things and having to let them go/not being able to access them… etc etc

What a day!

I tried to post this yesterday but it wouldn’t save…

We had the best day today. I’m utterly beaming.

I managed to take the children out by myself to a group, and they absolutely loved it. They were engaged all the way through. We had a slight upset at the end but it was manageable.
We then went to the library to return and choose some new books, as well as to buy a cake to take home.

I’ve had some health issues that are now (hopefully) being managed, so this is a big thing for me. This blog is not about my health but I mention it briefly because it has made everything I have discussed SO much harder. At the moment, I am just loving life and being able to do all the things I once took for granted. I have my bad days, but so many more good.

Anyway, we had an active day where they were engaged and happy, and when I read them their bedtime stories, there was just such a wonderful atmosphere of calm and happiness.

To the outside world today, my eldest in particular most certainly didn’t present as autistic as he used his scripts and toolkit. It was beautiful to watch, and for the first time in my life so far, I got to sit and have a cup of tea and a chat with other parents. Obviously, I needed to have eyes on but I didn’t need to be attached to them.

I know not every day will be like this but what a lovely day!

I want to thank Daniel the Tiger for helping me to resolve a situation where there could have been a mega meltdown. My eldest’s doughnut got squished. I saw all the signs but luckily remembered an episode he watches on repeat about birthday cake being ‘smushed’ but still tasting great.

This past week, he has been singing lots of songs from Daniel the Tiger and has even been teaching his brother some of the advice from the show. It’s going in!!!!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

I am sure I will be referring to how Daniel the Tiger has helped us in other ways. I can already tell you that “If you got to go potty, stop and go right away, then flush and wash and be on your way…” has been beyond helpful!!!!!

What is autism?

So what is autism?

The National Autistic Society has explained it here: https://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asd.aspx

For me, autism is different neurological wiring to that of a typical, or should I say neurotypical person.

Some people speak about autism as though it is an illness and that somehow autism makes an individual inferior.

Autism can bring with it complications when trying to fit in to a mostly neurotypical world, but this just begs the question whether maybe the world around us needs to change to accommodate neurodiversity. This way, everybody can thrive.

There have also been links to particular illnesses and autism, but we can explore this in a future post.

Children with all kinds of SEN, including autism, tend to struggle to ‘fit in’ seamlessly to the school system, but again I have to question whether the problem here is that the system needs an overhaul rather than suggesting that these children are the problem. This is something else I would like to explore in another post. If the curriculum and school environment were to change, would we need the same interventions for SEN children? I can hear people screaming ‘funding’ at me, but our current system doesn’t appear to be working all that well.

I’ve been told that so many children are being flagged up with additional needs, that the workload for professionals involved in diagnosis are overwhelmed, and naturally funding is an issue when trying to organise support.

Do we have to provide support for every individual or can we try a new approach to accommodate everybody at the same time?

I would also like to explore the diagnosis process in a future post, but for now I will say that the process is long, and there are so many children not qualifying for the help they so sorely need and deserve.

It’s a shame that people focus on the negatives as there are also lots of benefits to being autistic. I think the media has played a huge part in this, but again I will revisit this in a future post.

The ability to hyperfocus on areas of interest and obsess over everything they do, can make autistic people very knowledgeable and efficient in any task or line of work undertaken.

I was asked whether I was worried that my children may be autistic. My concern was about their experience growing up and how they would be perceived by others. I was worried how they would fit in at school and how life would be a little trickier for me as a parent.

However, the children being autistic didn’t concern me. I am confident that long term, I can teach the children the tools they need to function in this world, and I believe that with the right support they will be fully functional, well balanced and successful adults. The main challenges, I believe, are going to be experienced through childhood. And I am not looking forward to their teenage years, but what parent does?

It was believed that there are three types of autism.

Now, however, it is just referred to as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder…I still have some issues with the terms that make autism sound like a disorder or illness).

My understanding for this change in terms is that people were trying to define autism in terms of low functionIng and high functioning…like it is black, white and linear.

It was assumed that non verbal autistics were ‘low functioning’. I read a story about an autistic person who was non verbal and therefore treated like a child. They were read children’s books and spoken to in simple terms. With recent technological advances, this person was given equipment through which they could communicate, and it became obvious very quickly that this person was extremely intelligent.

How awful must that have been, to have had thoughts in your head that you couldn’t get out…to understand completely what people were saying but having no way to communicate…to be read children’s stories when you really wanted to get your hands on a novel?

There is so much more to say but my youngest is having a huge meltdown because Daddy has gone to work so I must dash.

Going Out

When we go out, we always have to find autism friendly times. Either at the crack of dawn or when other people are going home.

We have to think carefully about where we go as the children aren’t great in crowds or confined spaces.

Naturally, we do expose them to these situations but it has to be carefully planned and thought about.

It is 9:15 as I am writing this, and we are racking our brains thinking about what to do with the day.

We still aren’t ready, which is not like us, but that means by the time we are, we will be going out at the same time as lots of other people.

To make our outing successful, we can’t go somewhere busy or loud, as my eldest will get overwhelmed.

What to do…

Celebrating the Positive

I believe strongly in balance and celebrating the positive. Yesterday I was feeling extremely run down and was a little anxious about what the day had in store for me.

The children picked up on my vulnerability and rather than exploiting it, which has happened on occasion, they were very sweet.

My eldest in particular was very cuddly and said, “Don’t worry, Mummy, I’ll take care of you.” He doesn’t always pick up on my emotions but when he does, he always gives me cuddles and kisses.

We had a very sedentary day, snuggling on the couch and watching movies.

I try to limit screen time as I’ve noticed that this can overstimulate the children. My eldest tends to stim and tic a lot more than usual when exposed to screens or when he’s tired.

However, some days it can’t be avoided.

This got me thinking about the misconception that autistic people have no empathy.

Admittedly, my eldest needs very obvious clues to identify how I am feeling, and is not very in tune with people outside of the family, but he’s such a sensitive boy who is very loving and affectionate. This shocks a lot of people!

One of the paediatricians we visited said that sadly the criteria was a little out of date and that it needed to move with the times.

We now realise that ASD is a spectrum, not in a linear fashion, and that no two autistic people are the same, despite sharing similar traits.

This is something I will address in more detail in a future post.

What is autism? Is everyone a little bit autistic?

Are autistic people empathetical?

Meltdowns

Wow, today has been a hard day so far! 😪

Meltdowns from both children. One over a nappy change and the other because of the noise from the initial meltdown. The first meltdown lasted for almost an hour! I’ve been kicked, shouted and screamed at…

I was told by somebody a while ago that they wouldn’t tolerate being hit and maybe the children would benefit from being hit back!

I don’t believe violence teaches anything, and I don’t see how violence is effective when dealing with violence, for the hypocrisy value alone. I think I am being asked to rule by fear! I don’t believe in that either. Even if I did…these people clearly haven’t raised children with additional needs.

My eldest, for example, has no concept despite the repeated conversations and role play.

When they are having meltdowns, they both present differently. My eldest has utter loss of control and looks confused, almost upset and forlorn. He throws himself around as though he just doesn’t know what to do with himself and hits out at me.

My youngest is just so extreme. He gets incredibly angry and throws or kicks things. He shouts and continues to the point that he sobs and doesn’t know how to come down. His tend to go on for around an hour so it’s pretty hard to deal with.

Feeling a bit broken.

Also feeling conscious that I’m making them sound terrible, when in fact they are not. They have clear boundaries and consequences in place, and on the most part they are just a joy to be around. Everybody comments on how polite and well behaved they are…but when something triggers them…my goodness…