Autism is genetic. That means your child inherited their condition from your DNA and/or your spouse’s. Which means one of you, maybe both, are probably also on the spectrum.
I know I am. My symptoms aren’t nearly as severe as Tosh’s are; I suspect I have sensory processing disorder but not autism. I definitely suffer from significant noise sensitivity, and struggle with vestibular and propioceptive sensory issues. For those who aren’t familiar with nervous system physiology, vestibular sensory enables you to know where your head and body is in relation to the ground. Propioceptive sensory allows you to feel body parts and how/where they are moving. I struggle with both. Walking down stairs is always scary because I never know for sure how close my foot is to the ground. Some days I look down and it feels like I’m 12 feet tall. Other days, it looks like the ground is only a couple of feet away. Forget asking me to do a layup or anything that requires significant simultaneous sensory coordination.
My noise sensitivity is more severe than Tosh’s. I’m terrified of balloons because they might pop, and as a kid, I spent the 4th of July hiding from firecrackers under the bed with the dog. Background noise drives me crazy. Sounds like dogs licking themselves and people chewing are torture.
I’m also high strung even though I usually do a good job not showing it.
Some days it seems like a sick joke that those of us with spectrum genetics have been chosen to raise autistic children, because in many ways, we are the least equipped to do it.
My noise sensitivity makes it more difficult to deal with Tosh’s loud screeching. Being naturally high strung presents significant challenges when I have to be patient; and not just regular parental patience, which is difficult enough. I must have autism patience.
Language processing delays can make IEP meetings difficult. Surely I’m not the only one who is completely overwhelmed by pages of new goals and assessments presented in such a short time. I’ve learned to politely decline signing off on the plan that day, explaining that I need time to process all the information. If you have a cool IEP team like we do, you can even joke about your shared genetic challenges and they will totally understand.
The point of this post is to acknowledge that as a parent, you are probably doing an amazing job, even if you feel guilty for losing your cool after being screamed at point blank in your ear for the 50th time … that morning. You have to do more with fewer resources, so cut yourself some slack.
Please consider buying enough Omega 3 oils or gluten free bread or melatonin for you, too. Join your child in their occupational therapy exercises to improve your coordination. If you have noise sensitivity, buy disposable foam ear plugs and use them guilt free. (Seriously, this was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made – my patience increased 10-fold with the very first use.)
Above all, give yourself the patience and care you give your child. You both need it and deserve it!
Heather Anderson is a blissfully happy autism mom and lover of life in Southern California who is on a mission to help autism parents rediscover their happy place.
Please join me on this beautiful autism journey. The Autism Oasis is a fun, supportive and educational community where your personal development is just as important as your children's. You are more than just a caregiver!