Forget What You Know About Autism and Get to Know My Child

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

Sometimes I deliberately don’t want people knowing my son has autism.

I want them to see HIM and not be focused on what they think he should be like.

I am not against autism training and advocacy. In fact, we need so much more of the right type of advocacy.

We need positive autistic role models mixed with parents who are living it mixed with professionals willing to listen.

But most of all we need to stress that each autistic person is as unique as the next one.

As a parent to two autistic children and a wife of an autistic husband I have been to autism training courses and left thinking I must have been in the wrong place!

I have listened to difficulties that are supposed to be common with those on the spectrum and wondered if the diagnosis team got it wrong in my children and husband.

Yet our autism experience isn’t unique either.

So, I have come to the conclusion that it’s just better for people to get to know my child (and husband) as an individual rather than having their autism training affect what they think is best for my kids.

Here’s some examples of why:

Autism training courses mostly focus on sensory over stimulation.

A common video used is the National Autistic Society ‘too much information’ which shows a child dealing with a bombardment of sensory stimuli all at once and how it is perceived to them.

For many this is a true reflection of what life is like.

But not my son.

My son loves noise, seeks out movement and people and thrives in busy environments.

He loves nothing more than watching people, having his iPad turned up full blast and load noses like cars beeping or fire engines blaring make him flap with excitement.

My son is a sensory seeker but most autism training courses don’t mention this.

They talk about children terrified of hand dryers yet my son loves them.

They talk about people terrified of lifts, which my son also loves.

They talk about adults and children who have very restricted diets.

My son eats everything and anything!

I went to an autism friendly event this week.

I never took my autistic son as he would have hated it!

The ‘breakout’ areas were quiet, the lights were dimmed and the speakers lowered.

All the exact opposite of what my son would want, yet we are taught this is what being, ‘autism friendly’, means.

The more awareness we seem to have for autism sadly the more narrowed people’s views have become.

There is no such thing as a, ‘typically autistic’, person.

My daughter loves quiet, being alone, collecting, keeping her things special, and has a restricted diet.

My son loves noise, chewing teddies until they are thread bare, eats anything and wants TV and iPads blaring three different things simultaneously!

My husband likes to do things his own way, hates interruptions, loves silence and hates socialising.

They are all autistic!

So, if you want to help people with autism get to know them as individuals please.

Isaac would be most annoyed if you used preconceived ideas that everyone with autism hated hand dryers because he can’t get enough of them!

We are all wonderful unique individuals and that goes for autistic people too.

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