My eldest daughter is nearly 16 years old and she has Autism. The progress in awareness in just that short time has been fantastic, most people know about Autism now. The understanding has made life so much easier and many people are aware of the characteristics that accompany many people with Autism.
I was surprised then of the amount of people that assume all people with Autism are the same in their personalities and actions. And that’s not a moan so please don’t think that, I wouldn’t expect people to know everything especially if Autism isn’t in their life. And there would be many Conditions that I would need someone to explain to me about. But just from my experience, I would like to share how different the individuals are and some of the myths that there are about autism. My children are as different as night and day at times, but also similar in ways too. any of what I say in my blog about Autism is really just personal to us and I know that many of you will know someone with different traits so please don’t think I am ever referring to everyone!
No Eye Contact
Whilst this is true for many people with Autism (and people without too!) it is certainly not true for a lot! My eldest daughter has fabulous eye contact with many people. There are times when she will not make eye contact, if she is worried, embarrassed and most negative feelings but generally if she is happy and is engaged, she has great eye contact! Jessie also makes eye contact. I will admit that she doesn’t make it so often but defiantly with people she knows very well she makes eye contact a lot of the time. Having said that. there are only a very few amount of people that she does recognise or knows well so I think that is why a lot of people tell me that she doesn’t look at them. She does always listen though so I tell people that just because she isn’t looking at you it doesn’t mean that she isn’t listening! On the other hand, there are times when all of my children will be looking at me and clearly thinking of something very different than what I am saying!!
Again this is only the experience I have had but Jessie has more empathy than nearly anyone that I know. One great thing is she doesn’t assume she knows how someone else is feeling, she will likely ask them! Which is fantastic, how often do we just assume someone is feeling a certain way because that is the way we would feel! She sponcers a tiger from WWF and has such a deep love for animals, almost to the point where I wonder if she can actually talk to them!
She also sends some of her money to sponser children so they can go to school and have a meal. It breaks her heart to think of children suffering in any way and sent both her toys to the food bank for children who didn’t have any, and cut her hair off for children who needed wigs.
I do know for my girls though that if someone doesnt tell them they are feeling sad or similar they may not pick it up as they don’t really get unspoken emotions. They couldn’t tell by body language how someone was feeling.
People with Autism don’t feel emotions
A little similar to the empathy one but I have had people say to me that my daughter cannot have Autism as she laughs a lot!!! People with Autism do have emotions, it is just harder for a lot of them to express it in the way that many neurotypical people can.
I wish I had a pound for everytime someone has asked me if my girls have special talents like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.
It is very rare for a person to actually have the ability to do things like that and probably just as likely for a neurotypical person to have them.
People with Autism are not sociable and don’t want friends.
This is definatly not true for us. Most of the people I know with Autism love their friends and if they don’t have friends would love to but they find it hard to actually communicate this or know how to build friendships. They may struggle with social skills making interaction hard and may say inappropriate things.
The amount of times that I have had someone say that my eldest daughter cannot have Autism because she loves being around people is crazy!!! Her social difficulties come in the form of the fact she is overly social and doesn’t know when to stop talking! She may stand too close, interrupt people, join in conversations that aren’t for her or say inappropriate things that she absolutely doesn’t mean to cause offence with.
Jessie is much more happy with her own company and doesn’t crave the social interaction that Lititia does but she too enjoys a small group of friends. She finds social situations much more difficult though and it is really hard work for her daily to be in them.
autism has a “look”..
“But she doesn’t look Autistic”. People have actually said this. I am intrigued to actually know what someone with Autism is supposed to look like. It is a Neurological condition so i am convinced this does not make someone “look” a certain way. If I find out though I will do an updated blog!!!!!!