Four autistic people in family of six: a lesson in the vastness of the spectrum
Jessica Offer, a contributor for The Mighty, offers some insightful thoughts on living with the spectrum:
How many times have I heard the phrase, “She doesn’t look autistic to me”? Too many times to count, that’s how many.
But here’s the thing: No two autistic people are the same. So once you’ve met one autistic person, you have met one autistic person. The assumptions and generalisations some people make on a daily basis surrounding autism astound me; they’re not helpful to anyone, and they need to stop.
That’s four autistic people in our family out of six
I’m constantly surprised at how vast the spectrum is. Three of my four daughters are diagnosed autistic. So that’s four autistic people in our family out of six, including my husband. And we see it all.
I have one child who shies away from new people, and another who constantly seeks new social connections.
I have one child who loves to make loud noise, and another who hates it to the point of tears.
I have one picky eater, and another child who eats anything and everything she can get her hands on.
I have one child who loves imaginative play, and another who is more literal.
I have one child who loves to spin, and another who hates it.
I have one child who is constantly seeking things to touch, and another child who panics if she has things on her hands.
I have one child who loves baths, and another one who hates them.
I have one child who feels the cold acutely, and another child who doesn’t seem to feel it.
I have one child who finds screens relaxing, and another who gets hyperactive from them.
I have one child who gets super chilled-out from physical exertion, and another who gets stimulated from it.
I could go on and on. I’m sure you can appreciate just how delicate the balance is to keep everyone happy and not overloaded.
Teaching to self-regulate is no mean feat
It is constant, and I have to preempt everything, offering alternatives and providing soothing items for the child who is struggling while another may be in her element.
Trying to teach a child to self-regulate is no mean feat, especially when everyone seems to have opposite triggers.
My point is: Just as is the case with any human being — we are all unique, and it’s really important to keep this in mind when discussing autism. Because sure, there may be a diagnostic criteria — but everyone fits on it in a different place.
Appreciate the individual.