What is Autism Mama?

4 May

The Princess is non-verbal so I don’t know when, if ever, we would have this conversation, but the boys are starting to ask about it.

They know The Princess is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. They know she doesn’t speak. They know she doesn’t play with them like other kids do. They understand that somethings scare her or upset her that aren’t a big deal to most people.

They have lived their entire lives with autism around them, but what, exactly, is it?

We usually begin by explaining that everyone has a brain and our brain controls everything we do. It tells us to  use the potty, it tells us when we are hungry, it tells us how to speak words. But some people, like The Princess, have brains that work a little bit differently. The part of our brains that helps us talk doesn’t work quite the same way for The Princess, for example. The part of our brains that help us understand what other people say, is a little bit different for The Princess so sometimes she doesn’t do what we ask of her. The part of our brains that controls how we feel things makes The Princess really love back scratches and makes her want pressure on her body sometimes and that is why she asks us to scratch all the time and likes to have us press on her.

Those very specific examples the boys can related to, but as they get older and abstract thought will make them question further, I like this story of how to explain autism to children.

In our family, for our family, we do not believe it is right to hide autism or not talk about it. We don’t make excuses but our boys are growing into young men who will need to eventually be able to advocate for their sister and educate people. And as they make more friends on the spectrum (which is happening at rapid fire pace these days) understanding unusual behavior will lead to greater acceptance. So asking questions, we encourage even when we struggle for the exact right answer.

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