What does Autism look like?
If, like me, you have children or family members on the autistic spectrum I’m sure you’re as sick of this one as I am. We’ve all had it, trying to explain their behaviour and telling people they’re autistic and then getting the surprised look and “Oh? They look perfectly ok to me?”. So….what does autism look like? We know the answer is that it doesn’t ‘look’ like anything!
Even a person on the extreme end of the spectrum doesn’t ‘look’ autistic, it’s only their behaviour that gives it away. Anyway, I’m on a mission, I have been for years but life gets in the way sometimes. Now, however, things are starting to come together to enable me to try to spread the word and raise awareness of what autism ‘looks’ like and more importantly, the real challenges people on the spectrum face every second of very minute of every day of their lives.
Sooooo serene……..yeah, right!!
Swan syndrome? Yes, swan syndrome. You know the one…..all looks relatively serene on the surface but unerneath they’re paddling like mad! This describes autism, I think, pretty perfectly. Certainly, from what my children have explained to me, that’s exactly what it’s like. Lorie works as a waitress and appears totally in control and relaxed when she approaches a customer but actually her heart is racing, she’s broken out in a cold sweat and she can barely get the words out of her mouth……every single time. The anxiety levels she works through every day of her life must be exhausting, no wonder occasionally it all gets too much for her.
To make matters worse, she develops a stammer when she’s nervous which just escalates the problem even further. I take my hat off to her for managing to survive her job, never mind the rest of her life.
They all tell me that their brains are running at a million miles an hour constantly working out patterns, solving mathmatical problems compulsively etc….etc….No wonder they experience the rigidity in routine and rituals that they do, it must be the only way to try to get some kind of order into their lives. Add to all of this the dramatically heightened senses they all have to endure where certain noises, smells etc… are, to them, excruciatingly painful and I marvel at their ability to manage at all!
I have the greatest respect for all of my children and I’m also eternally grateful at their openess with me about how they feel, it enables me to understand them on a deeper level and therefore try to impart some of that information to others who may benefit from a greater understanding.
Watch this space for news but hopefully my mission to enlighten the general public as to what autism really is and not the skewed portrayal we are exposed to in sensationalised TV programmes is about to commence! I’m very excited!