Love, Life & Autism
This week is #autismawarenessweek.
As most of you know, a couple of months ago we embarked on a journey. That journey ended up with us discovering Flynn has autism. It’s taken a while to process and write to you about it. But what better time to begin to try.
For years I have supported Flynn through meltdowns, night terrors, sensory sensitivity, social acceptance and isolation problems, food issues, sleep issues, separation anxiety to name just a few. And then last year a failure in the education system. But it wasn’t that that made me seek a diagnosis.
It was Flynn, aged 6, telling me that he hated himself.
One day after a meltdown, he came to me and said “Mama, I hate myself. What is wrong with me that I do this?” In that moment I knew I had to find a way to help HIM understand and love whatever this was.
Turns out he’s delighted. Finally to have the relief that it isn’t him that is inherently wrong, but his brain that short-circuits every now and then. He is proud of his Autism. But he doesn’t yet know what society will want to make of him and his diagnosis - the box they will try to fit him into, the limitations they will assume he has, the judgements they will make.
Autism is so often painted as a gift. But it’s also hard. And it’s heartbreaking to see your child feel such pain and wrongness. But to me these kids aren’t special.
They are resilient.
They are determined.
They are independent.
They are out-of-the-box thinkers.
They are kind.
They are sensitive.
They are compassionate.
They are perceptive.
They are leaders in the making if only society would stop trying to normalise them.
The incidence of differently wired children is increasing at an alarming rate. It’s time that we started to pay attention to them, instead of trying to make them be more like us.
This week is #autismawarenessweek. Instead of sharing posts and liking memes, I ask you to do something way more courageous. I ask you to ask yourself what your judgements and perceptions of autism are.
I ask you to talk to your children about autism and what we can do to make classrooms more inclusive and playgrounds safer spaces.
I ask you to check your own beliefs and discomforts around autism, and how you can learn more about it to support families in your community.
I ask you to reach out to those who you know have an autistic child and ask them do they need support or a friend.
I ask you to look how YOU can change a little to make space for autism - or any kind of special need - in your life, rather than just assume families don’t want to socialise.
I ask you to be curious about what we can learn from these different wired brains and how they see the world - for truly it is a magical experience if you take the time to slow down and be quiet enough to hear them.
Thank you for reading if you have.
Thank you for supporting us on our journey if you do.
It’s not just autism that needs more awareness. We all need to be more kind, more compassionate, more loving, and more curious with the world around us.