Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Do you have "an autistic bone" in you?

This post has been inspired by Takeaway Pizza's comment on
one of my previous blogs.

There are some aspects of autism, I'm sure, we can all relate to.
Some of us are generally shy and don't find it easy to get along
with other people, make friends or find a quick retort to a
cheeky comment.

I personally do not like shopping on Saturdays. It's too crowdy,
it's difficult to get to where you want and I definitely go into
"trolley rage" in my local supermarket when people just stop
in front of me and I can't move. There are also situations
where I feel overwhelmed. It can be just a bunch of my friends
having two conversations in the same time, both trying to get
me involved, and I find it difficult to concentrate on anything
what's being said.

My husband cannot sleep in a hotel for a few first nights because
the bed is different.

I don't think you have to be autistic to become a collector or
become slightly obsessed with a subject. This is called a "hobby
or a "calling".

So what's a difference? Think about all these little quirks of
yours or your close and multiple the intensity by ... let's say
ten. I don't like wool because it's itchy. How itchy it must be
for my daughter whose skin is hypersensitive? No wonder
she could go into a tantrum when she was in this sort of
discomfort but could not explain it to me, because she did
not know the words to describe it.

There is another important aspect of autism. Because of
different neurological "wiring" of the brain people with
autism perceive human beings on the same level as objects.
This is where the problem with connecting and bonding takes
its roots. This is also why very often objects collected are
more important (seemingly) than the family members.

A lot of social interaction is based on reading facial
expressions. My daughter doesn't posses this ability.
Very often, when I do not smile while talking to her
she has to make sure how I feel and asks if I am happy.
Sarcasm, or playful "telling her off" isn't so clear as well.
When her friends are instantly laughing, she asks: "Are
you angry?" Both my husband and I have to make sure
that our faces are clearly reflecting our mood.

Literal thinking is another aspect. When Cirwen first
went to school I wasn't too sure how she will deal with
usual children teasing. No one could actually upset her
by saying "you're stupid!" No, her answer to any
kind of insult like this was: "I'm not stupid, I'm a Cirwen!"
Well, she grew out of it now and she gets upset, but she
doesn't know any more how to answer.

The crowdy place for an autistic person means not
only the annoyance. People bumping into you all
the time, inability to get straight to the desired object
and the noise is disorienting, sensory stimuli are
too many to cause a melt down.

Some autistic people are very sensitive to colours.
I have spoken to one of mums on a training we both
took. Her daughter suddenly stopped spending as
much time in their newly painted living room. After
some time she explained that terracotta (the colour on
the walls) "was scratching her brain". I don't like
some colours, but they never affect me so strongly...

Again I think it might be a good book if I was an
expert. I am not. I'm only a mum and although
I have not so many friends, I don't fit everywhere,
and some call me eccentric - I am not autistic.
I do have common sense and instinctively know
what to do if I get lost in a new place. My
daughter, however... She needs to be taught that
instead of panicking or running blindly forward, she should
ask someone for directions. Often she needs to write
down what to ask...

So, if you have "an autistic bone" in you, is it easy to
admit to it? Maybe it will be easier to accept or
understand those who are autistic "to the bone"?


  1. Hi Libertine,
    I really enjoyed that piece and yes, I think I do have an "autistic bone". When I go into my perfectionist mode I develop a serious case of tunnel vision.
    Way back when I worked for a nonprofit I had the opportunity to work with an autistic child at summer camp. I still think about her sometimes and wonder how her life turned out. I also did some work with Special Olympics and loved each of my "kids".
    It's all good.

  2. It's a challenge raising autistic children. You've got a lot of love. I've witnessed a friend with an autistic child, well, she loves her son, but looses her temper on her other 'normal' kids. The strain of caring for them all have taken the toll on her. I don't think I have the strength for this either. So, kudos to you Libertine. :)

  3. Thank you both for popping in. I must admit I'm a no hero. I have it so much easier as Cirwen is high functioning autistic, therefore, I am able to communicate and learn from her. It is much more difficult for those with severely autistic children and adults who are non verbal.
    It is also why it took me 8 years to make a decision to have another child. I knew I could talk to her and that she would understand why the baby needs so much of our attention.

  4. For a long time...when kids would tease my daughter she would laugh along with them because if they were laughing...then she thought it was proper to laugh. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that she realized she should have more of an adverse reaction. Now she tells them they need to "stop" and sometimes she'll say "get a grip on yourself"...that one is funny because she's heard me say that to her and her siblings when they get in their "out of control" modes. LOL. A little chip off the ole block!

    GREAT BLOG!! Jenn!!

  5. I can really identify with your points on having an autistic bone. My 16-year-old son has Aspergers. I never realized until he was diagnosed that I had so much in common with him. Aside from being very ADD and having an auditory processing disorder, I am sensitive to noise, crowds and certain textures. Of course his dad is the one with no social skills! Great points!! Terri

  6. That is a question, isn't it?!
    Beautifully written btw.

  7. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.