Wednesday, 18 March 2009

How Goth culture helped my autistic girl

Thank you all so much for all your comments and friendship (Jenn,
your comment box did not work for me...). It has been a great
encouragement to write again.

What I'd like to explain today is that yes, autism is a lifelong
disability and there are hard and frustrating times. But in my
family we can also laugh about it. You just cannot help when
it comes to some situations.

Cirwen went through a very long period of having nightmares
and night tremors every night. She could only tell us that she
was scared of "The Dark". "The Dark" however, was not the
darkness as such, because she was happy to play in the dark
room. I think it was to do with the fact that at the time we
lived between two pubs and unfortunately not the best area,
so she could hear the arguments and fights in the street.
Therefore to me "The Dark" was a personalisation of violence.

One day in town, we visited a shop with comics, collectibles
and such lovely stuff. There, Cirwen saw her first Dead Doll.
She was very fond of a little doll and begged us to buy it for her.
I was rather reluctant since, as much as I liked them too, I
wasn't sure if it was appropriate. I gave in, when she told me,
she needed her own monster to scare away The Dark. Well, I was
desperate to have at least one uninterrupted night so we bought
the ghostly doll with a noose around her neck... Guess what?
Cirwen slept all night for the whole month despite the noise

Not long later we had to visit the psychologist for an assess-
ment and Cirwen had to talk about The Dark and even drew
a picture. The psychologist listened to the story about the
dead doll, as we were asked how we dealt with it. He politely
did not comment... But his face was a picture!

I should also point out that at the time Cirwen was obsessed
with Disney Princesses and did not leave a house if not dressed
in pink from top to toes.

The collection grew after a while once she decided that the first
one "needed help, because The Dark got used to it"...
She is now 11 years old and turning into a little Emo Princess...

Autistic people take everything very literally. Especially kids.
You do have to avoid the ambiguous situations or language like :
"Come on! Spill the beans!" because most likely , like my girl,
you'll they'll answer you "but I don't have any beans!"

One day, when Cirwen was about 6, she saw a man with a dog
while she was crossing the park on the way to school. She ran
ahead of her dad to watch the dog. The man seemed to call his
dog several times and when it didn't move he said something
sharply, picked up the pooch and walked off. Cirwen ran back
very excited and shouted "Dad! Dad! Do you know what this
dog's name is? It's called F...k it! That's a really good name -
- F...k it isn't it?..." and she was going on and on ( just to say
the word probably) until her dad explained to her , what
actually happened and that it wasn't the dog's name.
My poor husband almost chewed off his lip not to laugh.

My advice for today: don't suppress obsessions - make them
work for you. Give in sometimes to seemingly outrageous
requests and they might solve a problem.

We are all strong, just don't realise it until we must be.


  1. Love the post, and how you dealt with it..I'm sure it wasn't easy and not the most common thing to do, but if it helps why not?!
    Also love the last line, very true.

  2. I loved this...interesting insight on how she saw the dark and found something...dark chase the dark away! Gosh that is brilliant! My daughter is 10 so...a little younger...and right now she fears being alone...but I am finding the root of that problem is auditory!! Thankfully, she's explaining it to me when she's up to talking about it! BTW...not sure but I think I fixed the comment box on my page. I designed that thing on my I KNOW there are problems. LOL. GREAT BLOG...GREAT INSIGHT

  3. "I gave in, when she told me, she needed her own monster to scare away The Dark."

    Possibly the most precious thing I've read in a while. Your post was a wonderful read.

  4. Hello, you have been given an award, I don't even have to tell you why, your blog speaks for itself :)
    Check your award on my blog :)

  5. wonderful!
    loved the dog story!

  6. haha (found you)

    and your bog is very interesting! i dont know much about autistic people and your stories has shown me how smart (in a funny way) they are. i couldnt stop reading!

  7. It's nice to know that goth/emo culture can do something good, instead of getting the usual negative stereotype it does.

    1. Raising children is hard enough but when your child is challenged you must learn how to think on your feet. I admire the way these parents react to their child's disability by not over-reacting. They seem to take Cirwen's unusual responses in stride. I have children who aren't autistic and learned when they were little to not make an issue of the inappropriate things they often do because to them it becomes a big issue because I made it so.. When my child would fall and get hurt or be frightened by something I would clap and say "You did it! You fell and are OK" or "You didn't let that scary thing get you!" Then we would laugh. My daughter is goth. She had a very difficult and unhappy childhood. Being goth is how she expresses her sadness and pain. I let her be who she is. To fight it would be oppressive and just cause rebellion. She is a very good, kindhearted person. I keep an open dialog with both of my children. They know that I won't punish or admonish them for bad behavior but will express my disappointment and disagreement with their actions. We discuss what was or went wrong and why, then work on a solution. I know they tell me almost everything because I'll be there to support and guide them. I 'm with Non-imaginary and also love the last line!