Fun fact: Did you know that people on the spectrum commonly show character strengths such as loyalty, kindness, honesty, and a lack of judgment?
Joeli was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at 3.
We noticed she wasn’t speaking and everyone kept telling me it was because she was the youngest of 5 and therefore, probably wasn’t able to speak for herself. Her siblings did it for her.
But, I persisted and our gracious pediatrician referred us to a Speech Therapist (who was a godsend), and from there we went on to get, not only, her Expressive Speech Disorder diagnosis, but Sensory Processing Disorder and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnoses as well.
But, it wasn’t until recently that we sat down with Joeli and told her she was Autistic. (She’s now 12).
She had no idea because it’s not something we’ve labeled her with. She was actually quite surprised, but was understanding of it… especially when we told her we believe Chey and I are on the spectrum as well.
Mental Health is something we take very seriously around here.
If anything, the past 15 months, walking alongside Avery during her cancer battle, forced all of us to become more aware of our mental health.
My mom guilt knows that all of our mental and neurodivergent diagnoses stem from me. As much as many like to pretend this isn’t true, I had a traumatic childhood filled with both mental and physical abuse.
The past 5 years since my mom’s passing has led me to deep dive into my childhood with a therapist to try to gain some sense of balance in my crazy mixed-up head. (I can say this about myself)
With the help of medications and an incredibly forgiving, very tight family circle, I’ve been able to get here.
To my own Autism diagnosis. I’ve always known I was different, this just helps me better understand how to further help myself and my kids.
How do I fit on the spectrum?
Here are a few ways:
- Difficulty joining in conversations and very anxious about social situations
- Use repetitive language
- Others don’t understand how I’m feeling and often say, “it’s hard to know what you are thinking”
- Provide excessive information on the specific topics I’m interested in
- Enjoy knowing random facts about several topics to share with others
- Find “small talk” difficult and hate it with a passion
- Take things literally and do not understand hypothetical situations
- Appear blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to
- Cannot maintain eye contact when talking to someone
- Difficulties in initiating or sustaining social relationships
- Need a consistent routine and schedules, otherwise I get upset or anxious when it is changed (I detest change of any sort)
- Find it upsetting when something happens that I don’t expect (NO SURPRISES)
- Have trouble regulating emotional responses sometimes
- Bothered if things are moved or rearranged
- Have a series of repetitive rituals or behaviors that I follow on a daily basis
- Preference for highly specific interests or hobbies that I spend a lot of time on (I’m a workaholic when stressed)
- Have a very strong reaction to sensory stimuli (I’ve known I have SPD for years even before Joeli was born)
- Notices small details, patterns, smells or sounds that others do not
- Prefer to work independently
- Likes to plan things carefully before doing them
Another fun fact: Females with autism spectrum disorder remain an understudied group in research.
We’ve learned to adapt and become high-functioning, so it often goes misdiagnosed.
This World Autism Awareness Day, let’s make a collective effort to do better. To be more understanding, less judgmental.
I believe the saying goes something like this,
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”