I’ve had severe writers block this summer. Perhaps it’s down to a lack of time to reflect? Or maybe the fact that my head has felt like a concrete block for the last six weeks. So full of ‘to do’ lists and having to intricately plan every second of every day out we have had, that the creative part of my brain was suffocated.
Normally if I’m struggling with something or I’m not sure how to move forward, I just dive in. I find it helps me overcome any anxiety and kick starts any creative flare I need. So for the first time in over a year, since I started writing this blog, I used a blog topic generator. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s where you pop a keyword or two into a box and it lists a whole bunch of possible blog topics. It’s a bit hit and miss, some of my favourite ideas included “how to fight Lex Luther using only Autism” and “9 unexpected ways Autism can give you better hair”.
I did however find one title I quite fancied writing about, so without further ado here are ‘9 reasons Autism will change the way you think about the world’.
1. The world looks far more beautiful. I mean physically, not emotionally. You will suddenly see raindrops glisten around every corner. Notice the smell of winter as it turns to spring. Be able to look and take in the beauty of a flower in a way you never could before. Autistic children teach us so much about the beauties that our world possesses. Your challenge as a neurotypical parent? To turn against the tide of our daily grind and take a moment to actually see and feel what your child is showing you. You will be gobsmacked at how much you have been missing.
2. The harsh realisation that experience is so very subjective. Senses are different for every individual. We don’t experience sight, sound and smell the same. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But at the same time you never even considered that the wonderful sensation of a loving hug could cause another so much pain. You will begin to stop and consider that a pleasurable experience for you, may not be the same for an autistic child. They’re not ungrateful, they’re not awkward. You have just ASSUMED that they will appreciate that huge ice cream you bought them or that trip to the cinema. Whereas actually, for them, it is simply pain. Excruciating pain. Would anyone expect you to be grateful to someone who hit you with their car? Nope. Moving on…
3. The world is not accessible. Not for physical disabilities and not for invisible ones. We able bodied people have been kidding ourselves. Yes there is the odd location which has nailed it, but most places have one or two disabled parking spaces, a ramp which is 3 miles down a dark alley round the back of the building and a toilet with a hand rail and an emergency cord which counts as “accessible”. Most places offer the bare minimum and think we should be grateful. After all they have made the effort! Wrong. Disabled people are PEOPLE. We are all equal. So forgive me if I’m not writing a five star review for the restaurant who offers no changing station for people over 15kg in weight. You may as well slap a huge sign across the front door saying “able bodied people only please”.
4. Ableism is as real as racism and homophobia. You’re now in a minority. And the world looks down on you. If you have an invisible disability it will automatically be assumed that you are a liar. You will spend every minute or every day having to prove that either you or your child has the right to receive services. Your word is no longer good enough. It takes the word of someone with a title in front of their name who has met your child for all of 15 minutes to tell the world that you are in fact genuine. You may realise that you have never given enough support to minority communities in the past, or you may be thankful that your own parents taught you to have an accepting and diverse view on the world. Either way, you are viewing the world very differently now.
5. You will never judge a person again. This was one of the most eye opening factors for me. I have no clue what another person or family is going through. I have no right to judge. I can’t believe I ever formed assumptions about others, but i’d be lying if I said I hadn’t. Invisible disabilities are just that. Invisible. Instead of judging others you will find you offer sympathy and help where you can. You no longer see parents who are incapable of controlling their children, you see a tired yet unbreakable Mum or Dad trying to complete the simplest of tasks in conditions that have been likened to that of our soldiers and forces (look up the studies if you don’t believe me).
6. You won’t sweat the small stuff. Your dishes aren’t done (ok, sometimes I still sweat about that one), your little one has tipped a whole box of magnetic letters all over the floor and then christened them all with a huge wee. It doesn’t matter. It’ll all come out in the wash (literally). He’s happy, you have a cuppa. It’s not worth raising your heart rate over. 5 years ago I would have had a coronary.
7. There is no one correct way to parent. Take your books written by Super Nanny and Gina Ford and burn them. They have no place in your life. All that “advice” about how your child will eat fruit and vegetables when he is hungry? Yeah. No. Autistic children do not simply eat when they are hungry. This was one of the most profoundly irritating pieces of advice I was constantly given leading up to kiddos diagnosis. Your new mantra will be “do what works”. You can have complete confidence and faith in yourself that this is the right way to go. You got this.
8. Your appreciation for the simple pleasures in life will sky rocket. A coffee with family or a trip to the park with friends will be your new euphoria. Forget Disneyland, forget visiting Santa in Lapland. Your love for just seeing a smile on your child’s face when they have enjoyed the outside world will be enough, and then some.
9. You will realise that you, as your child’s Mum or Dad, are enough. They just want you. They don’t need every toy or gadget going. They just want you sat with them, reading and drinking a cuppa so that they feel safe and they can play. This one took me a very long time to realise. I guess I felt that parenting required more, needed more money spending, required more toys. It doesn’t. Kiddo will happily play with his letters (as he is doing right now) spelling new words. He just wants me to be calm and relaxed. Put your effort into that instead.
So there you have it, a blog which all came from clicking a random generator button and flicking through title ideas such as “why autism beats peanut butter on pancakes”.
Thanks for reading,