parents

Autistic Motherhood: Supports That Make a Difference

My local library has a big collection of autism books and I’m slowly working my way through them. I just finished reading one about how parents can help their autistic teen transition into adulthood. It was a fairly thick book, packed with information on friendship, dating, high school, college, work and living independently. Curiously, the only mention of marriage and parenting was a few pages acknowledging that some autistic people get married and even have children (who, the book suggested, would have very difficult lives, as they were more likely to be autistic themselves, on top of having an autistic parent). It concluded with a sentence lamenting how little we know about married autistic people because the topic just hasn’t been the subject of enough studies. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or throw the book across the room.

But I kept reading because the transition to adulthood is important and I’m always looking for good books to add to my resources page.

There was a chapter on “living situations” near the end of the book. As I read through all of the possible living situations that the authors suggested an autistic person might find themselves in, I noticed a glaring omission. There was information about living with a parent or a caregiver, living in a group home or facility, living with a roommate or living alone. But there was no mention that an autistic teen might grow up to live with a partner or spouse, let alone with children of their own. And that got me thinking about why autistic parents are so often invisible.

There seems to be a tacit assumption that if we can manage to find ourselves a partner or spouse and have children, we’re just “not autistic enough” to need any sort of support services.  This month’s article at Autism Women’s Network, Motherhood: Autistic Parenting and Supports That Make a Difference, rejects that notion and looks at some of the supports that can make a difference in the lives of autistic parents, especially moms on the spectrum.

60 thoughts on “Autistic Motherhood: Supports That Make a Difference”

  1. Dawn Prince wrote a wonderful book called Raising Teryk about her own motherhood experiences, but I agree that from existing literature one would think that the two identities – mother, and autistic – were mutually exclusive. I’ve noticed that this doesn’t seem to apply to men, that autistic men are often comfortably identified as fathers. I’m really glad you’ve raised this topic.

    1. @Carolyn, incredibly good point. Although this was not the main focus of the post – obviously parenting on the spectrum was and it was fabulous and thoughtful! – I am going to go ahead and use the “F” word and state that as Feminist on the Spectrum I am still amazed that we Mothers do so very much more than our share while the Fathers are “quirky” or “geniuses” etc. Not to be bitter, but this is part of the issue too: doing more than our share. At least those of us WITH partners. And my darling sisters without partners, well, they are probably too busy and overwhelmed to even be reading this!!!! That being said, @musings, I read the post on the other site and really enjoyed it…I do hope respite can include these other suggestions…someday soon! THanks and love,

  2. They seem convinced that we won’t marry or have kids! It’s a depressing prospect when kids in special education in British schools don’t get sex ed as they don’t think we’ll ever do that sort of thing, so when I did do it, I was terrified!

  3. I tried researching being an autistic mother with hopes to get some tips but there is no voice out there. It’s very frustrating to think I’m a fluke when I know I can’t be.

    Getting sleep with a newborn is tough. The baby cries, it needs or wants to eat and my husband says to let him cry a little. But I can’t do that because it hurts my nerves to listen to the baby cry. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. Then, when I nurse the baby, it’s not pain free. I suspect the baby and I are doing everything correctly (I have two other children that I nursed), it’s probably a sensory issue like with tags in clothes. It does not feel good other than to get the itch out of my breasts.

    1. You’re not a fluke! I got over 100 responses to my motherhood survey and know lots of autistic moms. We just seem to be frequently overlooked for whatever reason. Breastfeeding can be really hard when your body reacts differently to sensory input. I think most hospitals offer counseling for breastfeeding moms but they may not have experience with the kind of sensory issues we experience. It would be nice to have some sort of autistic moms network for mentoring.

      1. Gosh I never even considered my own painful experience with breastfeeding in relation to autism. But yes, that makes a lot of sense

  4. I am so grateful to you for addressing these issues, especially since there seems to be a cadre of us being diagnosed in adulthood. I am finding myself unable to access support services because I support family (barely) as an LPN. Thanks for bringing attention to these needs.

  5. I wish there were much more well-researched as well as first-hand information about romantic relationships in this regard. Imagine how daunting the literature must be for those who fall in love with someone on the spectrum! Not only is it limited, but it’s also fairly negative. And yet, undeniably there can be serious challenges, with the potential for real devastation – particularly when a diagnosis hasn’t been made, of course. This blog, with its combination of research and personal experience, is a valuable resource for folks on all sides of the question, in my opinion.

    1. The literature is mostly negative and very little of it is written by actually autistic people, though that’s starting to change. I know a lot of autistic people who have happy marriages/relationships with partners who seem to really get them and that’s rarely reflected in the literature.

  6. Thank you for this. I’m recently identified as having AS and am married with 2 young kids. I can’t seem to find much about marriage or parenting as a woman with AS. What I do find is so negative that I almost feel like giving up and walking away. Everything I come across points out how unfair it is to my husband to deal with me and how I could be psychologically damaging my children. For a long time I guess I was really good at masking my traits. It was easy because as long as I’ve known my (now) husband, he traveled a lot. It was easy to be “normal” when it was only on the weekends (had no idea that I could possibly be on the spectrum, this was just how I’d always lived). Now I feel like a fraud and he feels like the woman he married disappeared. I get it, it’s not fair to my family to have to deal with this since it’s my problem (for lack of a better word) but it’s not easy for me either.

    1. There isn’t a whole lot out there in terms of literature. You’ll find more online, in blogs and Facebook pages/groups but it can still be hard to track stuff down and a lot of it is depressingly negative. I don’t buy into either of those narratives (unfair to partner/damaging to children) because they’re rooted in ableist beliefs and are fundamentally untrue. Plenty of autistic women are good mothers and loving partners, albeit in often nontraditional ways.

      It sounds like learning more about autism in a positive light would be helpful to you and your husband. You’re the same person you’ve always been but perhaps your lifestyle has changed (I’m guessing he’s traveling less?) and that’s something both of you will have to adjust to. It’s neither unfair to your family or solely your problem to cope with. It’s something that will require adjustment and communication to make work, but you are a valuable and important part of your family and your marriage. Don’t forget that and don’t be too hard on yourself.

      1. Thank you. He is traveling less and with me recently figuring this out about myself, it’s been a huge change all at once. He’s not really on board with learning more about AS, just kind of shrugs it off as something I have to work on. It’s a lot for him to process and I’m hoping with time he understands that it will take two of us to adjust to it. My relationship with my kids is actually getting better since now I can put what I know to work with how I feel comfortable parenting…it’s easier to relax into my routine with them instead of fighting to do what I “should”. Just a random question for you about kids on the spectrum – my oldest (5) is exactly like me, shows a lot of signs that I did as a child but she is extremely social. She is friends with everyone she meets, loves people, very personable (she gets that from her dad). Is it possible that she can have some AS traits without being on the spectrum? I hope that makes sense, it’s hard for me to articulate her personality. She’s my mini me in everything with that social charm from her dad thrown in…she’s a little bitty enigma! I’ve asked a couple adults who spend a lot of time with her for their thoughts and they brush it off because of how social she is but I can’t get rid of that little nagging worry in the back of my head.

        1. I’m very social as well. Well, as an adult I am… as a kid I was extremely shy except in really strange circumstances, like suddenly starting an entire conversation about mushrooms with a random stranger. Special interest coupled with naivete, you could say. 🙂

          But that sociability has led people who know me to say that I can’t be autistic. However, despite my extroverted nature, I make a LOT of social gaffes and mistakes. Especially in overlooking body language, facial expression, and tone of voice. Because of my sociable behaviour, my friends usually forgive me for that. They think I’m fun to have around. But in other areas, like work, I run into immense problems.

          Your daughter is still very young, so if she is on the spectrum she can still “get away” with missing social cues because she is young and cute and people are more forgiving of children. This forgiving attitude will become less as she grows older, though, and then the lack of social subtlety will become much clearer. That is, of course, if she is actually autistic.

          1. That actually sounds *exactly* like her. She’s not having any problems out of the realm for a five year old and I may be hyper aware of the potential for her to be on the spectrum. I really just don’t want her to struggle like I did as she grows up. I’m not actively pursuing any testing/diagnosis for her, she seems comfortable with who she is and the people who spend the most time with her are very accommodating of what we call her “quirks”. It’s good to know that it is possible so I can keep an eye out as she gets older. Thank you! 🙂

        2. My daughter isn’t autistic but she does have some spectrum-y traits that I think she picked up from me. She’s always been very socially adept and gets it from her dad too.

          There’s also the horribly named but helpful to know about “active but odd” autistic model. Not all autistic kids are shy or quiet and some are actually quite outgoing but often in an unusual way. The thing to look for is appropriateness. For example, there’s a regular commenter here who can’t get her son diagnosed because everyone says he’s too social, but the way he’s social isn’t typical. He hugs everyone and interacts with them like they’re his best friend – even complete strangers! That’s no more socially skilled than the kid who ignores everyone. So there’s social and then there’s social. 😉

          1. The hugging thing…that happens every time we’re in public. Not to mention the kissing. Ugh. The boundaries conversation happens over and over and over ’round here, :/

    2. Oh so very this! I almost wish I’d never done any reading around aspergers lately because everything seems to point towards me being a monster of a parent and spouse, and that my family would be better off without me in their lives. It’s pretty soul destroying.

      1. I know what you mean. Some of the relationship books and online materials are especially depressing. Reading them made me wonder why anyone would ever marry someone on the spectrum because they make us out to be such a burden on our spouses. 😦

  7. I must say, I just stumbled upon your blog yesterday, through another blog that led me to another blog that led me to yours. I am just exploring this idea that I might very well be aspie and not crazy. I don’t have an official diagnosis, but my son was diagnosed with Aspergers last April and the more I have thought about myself I have realized, maybe, just maybe that’s me, too. I have read numerous blogs and other sources in the past few days that make me think (without much doubt) that I am very much on the spectrum. I read your article about being a mother with Aspergers on the Autism Women’s Network and it resonated so well with me. There are things that I just thought were hard for every mother that I am coming to realize (with my 3 boys) that really aren’t THAT hard for other women, I just don’t process things like they do. There are many other aspects of life that are hard too, and I thought everyone struggled and looked at the world like I do, but I am just coming to the conclusion that maybe I do experience things differently.

    Thank you so much for this blog, and other resources you are pointing me to. I’m still trying to decide if I should go for the formal diagnosis or not. My husband doesn’t think it is really that necessary but I really do, for my peace of mind (and because I am in the process of returning to school to finish my degree is psychology, oddly enough). I am looking forward to continuing to read through your blog posts and I am going to be reading through your book.

    1. There is a genetic link in many cases so having a child on the spectrum greatly increases the chance that at least one parent will also be on the spectrum.

      Aspies definitely approach motherhood differently. I was really surprised to learn that other people don’t have the same sorts of struggles that I do, though I had an inkling that I was different pretty much since early childhood. The degree of difference was a shock though.

      The decision to get diagnosed or not as an adult is a really personal one and something that you have to decide for yourself. It can be hard for others to understand the lingering sense of uncertainty that comes with being undiagnosed. Some people are able to make their peace with that and others need the finality of a formal diagnosis. I hope the book and blog and other resources help you come to a decision and to understand how being on the spectrum affects us (for yourself and your son!).

  8. Kind of rude of the book to insinuate that people with autism don’t usually get married and have children. I know of a lot of people with autism spectrum disorders who didn’t even realize they had it until their children were diagnosed, and then they put two and two together. Maybe the problem is that, in the past, only children with more obvious signs of autism were diagnosed, and those children were raised and educated in such a way where the expectation was that they wouldn’t be capable of dating or having relationships.

    1. You’re right, lots of adults are getting diagnosed after their children are diagnosed. That’s a story I’m hearing more and more frequently. And I think you’re right about only children with more obvious signs getting diagnosed in the past. But clearly lots of us have gotten married, diagnosis or not, and could really benefit from supports now that we know we’re on the spectrum.

  9. Hmmmm I should write a book…I am thinking of going for a fourth and fifth child now that I have had six and a half years to recharge from the first three children. I love having my children now that they passed two. Yes, the first two were the hardest and the first few years…but learning to manage sensory overload in productive ways does help. I always dreamed of having five before i found out I was an Aspie…. My three children I have are awesome and amazing. I do struggle with sensory overload at times but I know that other mothers struggle with not understanding their kids…I don’t have that problem. I love homeschooling them but I still can not do meals or driving. My husband and extended family members take over that area…but that does not mean I should be denied the dreams I have had. We are very happy as a family but what makes it tough is that we do things unconventionally so we are judged, unsupported or criticized. Very few people know I am on the Autism scale and those that do and love us admire our family set up…but professionals or the like…who find out I am an Aspie and mother of three possibly going on four…whole different story.
    Honestly, if you were to ask me if I would plan on five children ten years ago I would have flipped out. I suffered post partum depression with the first two due to lack of sleep, aspie adjustment to all the new rules, and the constant stress of motherhood. I hated motherhood in many ways…but after the third I started adoring it and finding my groove:) Now I know I am best at being a mom…just a very unconventional one:)

    1. You should! It’s great that you’re feeling comfortable with adding to your family and that you have the support in place for areas that are especially tough. It definitely sounds like you’ve found your “mom groove” and are enjoying it now that the kids are a little older.

      People being judgmental . . . I guess it’s inescapable when you do things differently. My husband and I have an interracial marriage, so we’ve dealt with that from the start. The social and other differences related to me being autistic are like icing on the judgment cake. 🙂

  10. I found “A Partner’s Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome” by Susan Moreno at my local library and checked it out for my partner. He’s not much of a reader, so we decided to read it together, me reading out loud to him in bed. It had some interesting tips, but it was written for women married to an AS husband, and completely ignored the idea that women might be autistic and also date or marry. I’m looking forward to reading the article you posted. Thanks!

    1. I read the article… didn’t realize that YOU wrote it! It was really informative. I’m not yet parenting, but I know I want to in the future, so I’m trying to figure out how to store all these resources neatly in my brain for when I’m going to need them later!

    2. Most of the marriage and relationship books seem to be about nt female-aspie male partners. There’s very little for relationships where the partner on the spectrum is female (and we won’t even get into the lack of information for LGTB folks) and very little written by people who are on the spectrum. It’s frustrating.

    3. Veronica, I’m curious did you find the book credible and/or inoffensive, setting aside the fact that it didn’t strictly speaking apply?

  11. I am trying to find words to respond to your post on motherhood supports but I keep breaking down crying. I’ve struggled so much as a mom and been to my Dr or psychiatrist almost every 6 weeks (one or the other) for the past two years. I’ve asked for help somehow, anyhow, non-stop. I can’t manage, I tell them. Nothing. No supports. Marriage that was already “trying” because of things I can’t change is so much worse. This is not how it should be. Thank you for acknowledging that adults matter too.

    1. I’m sorry it’s been such a struggle for you. There is a huge lack of social support for adults on the spectrum who aren’t in some sort of care situation. I’m not sure if you have a diagnosis, but if you do perhaps you could ask your psychiatrist to refer you to the local adult autism support agency. Some are better than others, but it may be worth a try.

    2. Theresno question: How old is your child? I was like you and in therapy every 6 weeks for the last nine years…Still am and it really helps me…but if it is not helping you or cognitive therapy is not bringing you one step forward and two steps back find a new therapist. Also, I asked how old because for me- my first two children under six was the hardest thing I have ever done. The first one and second one are SO hard. Lack of sleep, lack of knowledge, so much change…and finding the groove is so tough too. Schools, shots, nutrition, discipline or rewards…so many little details to make decisions on…After awhile I found my research groove, worked through some of the sensory overload, still had support and counsel but as the kids grew I found my groove and realized that ASpies have special otherness to give our kids in motherhood. When they pass six it is so much easier and the dedication of the early years pay off in many ways…At least I found that to be true. I really struggled. I was so depressed…now I look back and realize I DID it:) I made it through…and decided to have a third that changed my life for the better and I actually enjoyed all the stages. There are so many tips I could write but this is getting long. FOr now continue to fight for your rights and get a good therapist who specializes in cognitive therapy for sensory overload (or HSPS) and anxiety. That goes a long way…it doesn’t change us but it helps…just be prepared that the first two years in therapy are usually harder and worse because of the work involved. I cried after every session…but now 9 years later I only cry like once a year…I go every month and it takes the edge off:) I know the book “Pretending to be Normal” deals with a little bit of being an Aspie mom…maybe it will have some validation in it for you:)

  12. I haven’t heard it yet and am quite excited: Upcoming BBC World Service programme Science in Action 27 February 2014, 20.32 GMT (repeated 28 Feb 14, 02.32 GMT, 28 Feb 14, 09.32 GMT, 03 March 14, 04.32 GMT): “Autism Causes Explained Boys are much more at risk from what are known as ‘developmental disorders’ such as autism, than girls. For every one girl, four boys will have autism but the reasons for this were not clear. New research suggests that girls seem to have more ‘robust’ brain development – in other words, it takes more genetic mutations to affect the way girls develop, than boys. Evan Eichler, Professor of Genome Science at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in Seattle was one of the scientists behind the work and joins us on the programme.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01sl4gx
    I must admit, though, that I am not convinced that the current criteria for diagnosing autism aren’t biased to find more boys on the spectrum than girls. In my family, that 1:4 ratio doesn’t apply.

  13. Just listened to the programme once. The programme says that the findings might seem counter-intuitive.
    To me, they indeed seem counter-intuitive.
    I’m biased, as I said, because of my extended family where women are affected as much as men are. I’m biased because I continue to believe that I have chosen to partner an autistic male to create children, as have many of my female relatives. So, on top of the one x-chromosome of men that leaves them no choice but to be autistic, females are more at risk because they have two x-chromosomes to turn out autistic (remember the AQ test where females tend to have the highest scores). All depends on the diagnostic criteria being biased towards males being diagnosed more readily than females.
    But then I am a language person, there are those of you that are good at numbers and science in general.

    1. I’m more inclined to believe that girls and people who don’t present with the typical model of autism are underdiagnosed than to buy theories about girls having more robust brains. It just sounds a bit farfetched and like scientists are grasping at straws rather than paying attention to things that could actually make a difference, like improving diagnostic methods.

      1. If girls have such robust brains, then why are more women than men diagnosed with depression and bipolar, which are just as genetic as autism and ADHD? Sounds like a bit of retroengineering to me.

  14. I am an aspie single mum with a 4yr old NT boy, and it is impossibly difficult. I cannot ever have isolation to rejuvenate, I can’t create new thoughts, I can’t produce anything meaningful or creative because I am constantly derailed by an obsessively physical child. He wants to run, make noise, touch, cling, do things with me. Constantly. He doesn’t understand that I need to get away from him when I am overstimulated, I know perfectly well how to manage my own overloads. Meditation and silence. Sometimes for days. And I don’t get to ever, ever have stillness or silence. It is a fucking nightmare.

    I know that there’s a huge range of Aspies, but I’m one of the extreme ones. One who had to teach themselves how to make facial expressions. Who only found a partner because it would be convenient to have relatives stop asking me why I never dated. Why didn’t I date? Because humans are irritating. Hanging out with people doesn’t interest me. They are inconsistent and have no interest in anything scientifically rigorous.

    But I got pregnant. And he dumped me. And now I am in this bizarre, hopeless situation. I love my son. He loves me. We are such a terrible, terrible match. We have nothing in common. He is obsessed with cars, for gods sake. Not their engineering or the molecular compounds that make up their fuels, but what they look like and if they have a spoiler. I can’t talk to him. He just does not absorb information. It’s so baffling to me – I remember being a child. I had a completely eidetic memory. He can’t remember what he did ten minutes ago. AND IT DOESN’T BOTHER HIM. His lack of self awareness and self restraint is like someone shoving slivers of bamboo under my fingernails.

    It is a vain and grandiose thing, but yes, I am a genius. I can find recurring patterns and cross-reference data from fields that are so diverse the schemas I create are things that have never existed before.

    BUT I CANNOT DO IT WHILE I DO NOT HAVE A SPARE SECOND TO MYSELF TO BREATHE. I have written nothing useful for the last four years, just a tormented tangle of unfinished threads in my head that are begging to be coalesced and turned into something beautiful, something eternal.

    I am just praying it will get easier when he starts school. I will have time. I will regain my sanity. I will not kill myself and I will finish my work when I finally, finally have time alone.

    1. You are in a tough spot right now. Fortunately, your child is only 4 and his interests will change rapidly. If he still likes cars in 10 years, he’ll probably take an interest in the workings of a machine rather than just it’s appearance. Boys need male roll models, and respond well to having them in their life. If you have men in your life that you trust, have them take your child off your hands every once in a while to go learn new things, guy things. If you have enough male roll models you trust, you can have them on a rotational basis so it’s everyday. Brothers, grandparents, uncles, cousins, friends, teachers, neighbors, anyone you trust. You’re looking to save your sanity. School days will come soon, but you need a plan for the time before. They could take your little guy for a hike, go to the park and learn to play a game, go to a car show and look at cars, go to an air show to look at airplanes, they could even take him to work and see what they do for an hour or so. My little boys, I have 3 of them, love to look at the neighbors ancient car parts who is rebuilding a Model T. When a cousin of mine was helping to fix the drainage in the backyard, he took my little boys with him to “help”. I was able to see everything they were doing but I only made myself available for booboo repairs and sent them back outside. Of course, this was only possible because of the generous time and patience of the men. They agreed to it and I told my boys they had to listen to the adults for the sake of their safety or they couldn’t “help”.

      I hope some of that will inspire you in being able to carve out some time for yourself. If not, you may just have to hold on until school becomes available.

      1. I am crappy at making friends, so I have a lack of male or female role models in his life. Most of our current friends he has made for us by befriending their children and then introducing me to their parents.

        I only have one male relative. All the other males willing to spend time with us have wanted to sleep with me, eventually, which is some weird NT thing where won’t make friends with a girl without at least asking at some point. I’d self identify as asexual so I’m willing to sleep with someone if it’s necessary but wouldn’t volunteer it. I need to work on neighbours. We’ve moved house nine times and countries twice since he was born, it’s hard to get to know them unless they introduce themselves first.

        Looking at that, it’s so embarrassingly obvious that I’m not a normal girl. All the problems I have are so easily fixed by just making friends and spending time hanging out with them – happy, healthy son. It frustrates me that I can pass as NT but still not be able to do that one tiny thing they all do so effortlessly.

        1. It definitely won’t be easy. I make friends very rarely and not well at all, so I sympathize. I would not sleep with men just to have them help you out. It doesn’t seem like the right way to go about it, too much fallout. It would be devistating for your child if you broke up with his companion/roll model, he wouldn’t understant. I would check out groups similar to the Boys and Girls club, or Boy scouts, or a local youth group. You might even try some high schoolers or some retired old folks. Most of those groups will get community service credits in leu of pay. With the older children you can have them over to your house for a while until you are comfortable having them play with your boy. I find both retired old folk and teenagers much easier to talk to than people who are my peers, I feel less of a need to participate conversation wise and just let them do the talking.

          Keep trying. It’s both of you who will benefit in the long run. You don’t have to do or be everything yourself, you’re obviously wearing yourself out mentally.

        2. I would say, use you NT son’s strengths. He’s going to be far better at socialising than you. Bring him into situations where he can connect with other kids and accompanying adults. The playground. The zoo. Let him do the work of making first contact. He’s not going to think of it as work.

    2. I obviously don’t know your financial situation, but can you afford occasional childcare? Some writers or home-based workers hire someone to come in and be there even though they are home, just so they don’t have to pay attention for a little while. You would put on noise cancelling headphones in a one-room retreat and get some things done. Also, to continue from Cecelia’s thoughtful comment, having at least one man in your son’s life could be a help, and again, I don’t know where you are, given your use of “mum,” but in the States we have a program called Big Brothers, Big Sisters that would be a wonderful resource to explore; it’s very well established, so if you’re in another country, there’s bound to be an equivalent at this point. Also, if meditation is important to you, you might be able to cultivate mindfulness in your son through kid-friendly activities. I’ve just finished reading a book called “The Mindful Child,” by Susan Kaiser Greenland, that has some great activities in it. Research demonstrates that mindfulness practices can improve executive function and attentional capacity. It would be a way for you to be doing something purposeful with him that might have benefits for you both. Also, again if you have the means to spend on something “extra,” you might explore constitutional homeopathy – for you both! Some running around and inattention is probably age-appropriate, but some of it might have to do with chemical balance. Homeopathy could conceivably help you both regulate, albeit in different ways – for you, to be able to cope with the stimulation without having to get away from it quite so urgently (although I’m certainly an advocate for quiet time and time alone!) and for him, to be able to calm down a bit more easily. It’s a gentle, noninvasive approach. Also, does your son get good probiotics in his diet? How much sugar and processed food? Nutrition can be very grounding. Whole grains, eggs from pastured hens, vegetables. I’m assuming you wrote for sympathy but also maybe some suggestions, so I wanted to share mine. And when school comes, if you’re not working outside the home, you’ll have that time to yourself again, and it will be wonderful. It would be a shame for this wit’s-end frustration to impact, over time, the love between you and your (very different) son.

      1. lol, honestly I was writing from the end of a day of huge frustration 🙂 But both sympathy and advice are very, very welcome. I am having problems being patient now that he is older. When he was young I was in despair because so many parts of my identity were stripped away. Now he’s getting bigger and I can explain that I need time to myself, old parts of me start to show up again and I was sitting down last night to work and he just kept coming in and driving cars across my face.

        I mean, it’s such a kid thing. But not something I can use empathy to understand. I can’t put myself in his shoes because honestly I never had a pair remotely like it. NT kids are so much *younger* than I ever was. By the time I was his age I was terrified of my mother. Presumably because she lost her temper as often as I do at him now. But he doesn’t .. remember it? I can look in his eyes and explain something and swear I’m getting through then he goes to answer and what comes out is a non-sequitur about something he’s seen on tv. He just doesn’t take emotional outpourings personally. Doesn’t remember everything. I don’t understand what’s going on in his head because there just isn’t any pattern that I can see.

        I mean, most of me is happy. I have a normal kid who isn’t going to go through the same troubles I did. He’ll find his own *completely new* set of troubles.

        As for his diet it is underwhelming. I still get to the end of each night and am annoyed to remember that our bodies need to eat and try to find something that can be eaten. I feel a lot of guilt over every aspect of motherhood that I keep failing. But when I was working, a few days accidental fasting never did me any harm. Now somehow food is meant to have become integral to our lives and I can’t get it to be anything more than a nuisance. He likes eggs. I can do that.

  15. I was diagnosed with aspergers at 47. I had my daughter because a doctor denied me a choice, I did not want to bring a child into, such a cruel world – to an NT father who I knew would never support me. He was in a position of power and took advantage. I have never had any support. Whilst being a Mum I have never had any real friends although I have supported a few. I brought up my daughter really well, in some respects. Common sense was natural to teach her, as was reading etc. As no one had taught me self respect, I did not bring her up to respect me. I wish I had been better at teaching her confidence.

    1. Your story sounds so painful and challenging, Leni. Yet despite everything, you were able to bring your daughter up well. What has gotten you through? It strikes me that you possess great strength and resilience. I hope that if you keep reading Cynthia’s blog, and the comments from the other readers, you will feel a sense of support here.

      1. I ask that often! I view myself in a very negative way, as I learnt from others. I find it very hard to function… I think anyone would, whilst totally alone. I think autism may be what gets me through… I just wish that my potential had been understood, acknowledged or encouraged. It could have taken just one person. I wish the world could see, what we can offer – could see us.

        1. I think it’s beyond great that you identify your autism (if I’m reading you correctly) as a source of support or strength for you. For what it’s worth, I’m trying to be that one person for kids I meet and work with. Like you, I believe in the power of even one person’s presence and affirmation; I’m lucky to have learned that from my mom early on. It’s a beautiful day where I am (New England) and I hope it is where you are, too. I’m really happy that you posted today.

            1. I couldn’t agree with you more. Maybe now that more diagnoses are being given, including to people already established in adulthood, such as yourself, there might be supports to connect to, in your own area – if that’s something you would enjoy. There are probably also more counselors who specialize in working with those on the spectrum. It’s never too late, in my opinion, to work on processing negative experiences and affirming and reinforcing strengths. (Hurrah for that!)

        2. I think it’s great that you see autism as the source of your strength. As difficult as your life has been, it’s says a lot about you can still find that positive side. Hopefully, in future generations, autistic people will have more of that understanding and encouragement that you wished for.

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