I’m writing this for the families.
I recognise you when I see you; in the street, at the shop, on the train, at a restaurant. I see you, I know you; we think the same even though we don’t live the same life and I know you see me too.
You live with autism:
If your kid, brother, sister etc has never told you about their day.
If you have spent the most part of a day repeating one sentence over and over again.
If you wake up and wonder who will take care of them after you die. (If that sentence put a weight on your chest right now)
If the sight of a teenager shaking their hands and hopping in the queue at the shop makes you smile and cry at the same time.
If you find it strange to have a conversation with a five year old.
If you pause before answering “How old is he?”.
If you are an expert on graceful declines for when you get invited somewhere.
If going to a restaurant isn’t something you do for fun, ever.
If you haven’t focused entirely on a conversation with another person in years.
If when you leave the house you carry a bag full of their ‘favourite distractions’.
If you have ever wondered whether they will have a friend.
If you cried when they became teenagers.
If you know what “stimming” means.
If you know what a decompression chamber is.
If you know that achievements mean different things to different people.
If you appreciate ordinary days.
If your answer to “How do you do it?” is a smile.
If you never wonder what you are made of.
I’m writing this for the others.
Our children, brothers, sisters have enriched our lives in so many ways.They are fierce, and bright, and beautiful; they make us fearless. They know what they want, and are uncompromising in their pursuit of it; we know what we want and we are ferocious in our pursuit of it for them. They make us better people; because of them we are hungry for knowledge, we have purpose, we have strength and we can face anything.
Here are the top ten things that people who live with Autism, every day, want you to know:
1. Don’t feel awkward when we say they are autistic. Don’t ‘Aww’.
2. Yes, they are different but they don’t need your consolation. Yes, you will need to treat them differently, but they are adored.
3. Don’t say “He’ll grow out of it”. They won’t, the sooner they get diagnosed/treated the better.
4. When you see/hear them on a bus, a plane, the shop, the street, don’t try to discipline them; hell hath no fury like a parent of autism.
5. Don’t stare. I always think I’d love it if the people who stare would just ask me about him.
6. They are children. They are innocent. Their love is so pure and overwhelming. They bring us more joy than hardship.
7. Give the family support; not pity.
8 . Accept our kids the way that you assume we will accept yours.
9 . Teach your children about autistic children in a special needs class at their school. Ask questions. Educate yourselves about Autism.
10. Remember – every day for us is a battle, a battle we are happy to fight, a battle we will fight forever.
We know you when we see you, so get to know us too.