What is autism?
Autism is a development disability that effects how my child functions on a daily basis.
Autism effects how my child is able to perceive the world and how he communicates with us.
When most people look at Little Bear they always say to me “Oh you wouldn’t know by looking at him that he has autism ”
What exactly is autism meant to look like? That statement has always puzzled me as I’m not quite sure what people think autistic people are supposed to look like.
In my head I’m thinking ok he may well not look like he has autism but believe the struggles that he goes through every day tell a different story.
My child struggles with things that most children his age don’t struggle with.
He has difficulty sleeping at night, and for as long as I can remember he has been waking up during the night several times during the week or sometimes the whole week.
He can go days where he will only sleep for 4 hours a night and stay awake the rest of the night.
All of his senses are so much more sensitive compared to most people’s and are far more heigntened.
This can make things very overwhelming for him.
Just imagine being in a room where you can hear every little noise and it’s like someone has turned the volume up on everything, imagine noticing every detail in the room that you struggle to focus on one thing because there is so much going on, image being bothered by smells that don’t bother other people.
Just imagine how overwhelmed you would feel with so much going on at the same time and not being able to shut out all these things, not being able to regulate yourself in order to feel calm.
Some days we will go to shops and Little Bear will have very severe meltdowns to the point where we have to leave because he just can’t cope with the environment around him. The noise is too much, the lights are too bright and there are too many people there which makes it horrible for him and he just can’t cope.
You may see us having to pick him up and carry him out of the shop, he’s 8 so he’s not the lightest of children and is getting tall so you can imagine how bad that will look to people who don’t understand what’s going on.
But for his own safety it’s something we have to do otherwise he could get so overwhelmed that he will lose all control over his own body and may end up banging his head on the ground and injuring himself.
So please the next time you see a parent having to carry their screaming and crying child out of the shop like this don’t just assume this child is badly behave. Maybe think twice before labeling this child and just think that the parents are probably upset enough and overwhelmed themselves because this is not something they want for their child to have to go through every time they leave their home.
And I know many people often question me as to why I still take him even though I know this is a struggle for us and for him.
Some day he will be an adult and will hopefully live independently, and so I feel it is important that he is able to go into a shop and learn to be able to cope with being out and about.
And some days he does cope very well and others he really struggles so it’s a learning curve for us to try to find what will help him to be able to leave the house and still be comfortable in an environment that may not be as comfortable to him as his home.
Autism to my child means that he struggles to communicate with us. He has very little speech and so can’t tell us what he wants or how he feels.
Imagine being upset and not being able to explain to someone how you feel, or wanting something so badly but not being able to tell someone what it is you want.
He wants to be able to tell us what he wants but he is unable to do so and can get very frustrated because no one is understanding what he needs.
We try our best to understand him and to follow his cues for different things that he needs but sometimes it’s just not enough.
I would love to be able to hear my child say to me that something makes him happy, that he loves me, that he wants to play something, that he doesn’t like something or that he’s too overwhelmed with his environment or something is upsetting him.
Very often I have bad days where Little Bear has had meltdown after meltdown and has been so overwhelmed all day and completely out of sorts, that there is nothing we can do to help him.
Those are the days that I would love nothing more than to be able to take the autism away and not have him struggle so much.
Like all parents all I want is for my child to be as happy as he can be and to not have to struggle on a daily basis.
But there are also days where I look at him watching his favourite cartoon and laughing away to himself and I see how happy he is and it fills my heart with joy.
He has taught me that we are all individuals, we all have different ways of seeing the world.
Being different is what makes us who we are, just imagine how boring the world would be if we were all the same.
He has taught me to appreciate the small things, he sees such joy in the tiniest of details and the simplest things can bring a smile to his face.
He doesn’t judge and loves everyone equally, he will smile at anyone regardless of who they are, he has so much innocence in his soul and so much love.
I honestly think if more of us where able to see the world this way it probably would be a much better place to live in.
Autism is such an individual thing for everyone and the things that my child goes through are not the same things that someone else with autism goes through.
I hope that I have been able to explain a little about how autism affects my family. I can’t really speak for anyone else with autism as like I said it such an individual thing, but I really hope that people can start feeling more comfortable to be able to ask questions.
I would never be offended if someone was to come up to me and ask about my child’s autism, in fact, I would be delighted to explain to anyone how it affects him especially if by me doing this it will bring more awareness to autism and help others to understand autism better.
I hope I have done my child justice and have explained well enough some of the things that we go through.
Please feel free to ask me anything you may want to know more about.