mother and son during sunset

My Autistic Son Doesn’t Flap


My autistic son doesn’t flap. He doesn’t line things up or hum or shriek. I have another child who occasionally does these things but not my son.

When I tell people two of my children are on the spectrum, I often see pity in their lowering gaze, or worse, hear a guttural sound indicating misplaced empathy. Often they make efforts to identify with our family by telling stories of children they know who are on the spectrum or talking about articles they’ve read. I appreciate the effort but not the undertones.

My autistic son isn’t interested in specific subjects, doesn’t avoid eye contact and isn’t a loner. He doesn’t run off or strip his clothes off unexpectedly, and he isn’t affected by loud environments. My son’s autism is none of these things.

I tell my son that autism is many things and no one person is the same. You can no more generalize about a neurotypical child than you can an autistic one.

Autism for my son is his ability to absorb and assimilate vast amounts of information about every subject. He has no limits.

Autism for my son is his ability to tune in to the most subtle of reactions. He empathizes with people even if he sometimes needs confirmation of their intentions.

Autism for my son is his sensitivity to space, movement, taste and texture. He seeks out a high-level input for his senses.

Autism for my son is his sensitivity to his emotions.

Autism for my son is his skill of interpreting abstract information and his creativity with language. He can create images using words alone.

Autism for my son means he likes to be leader, helper, teacher or coach.

Autism for my son has taught him to accept everybody as they are.

Autism for my son is brutal honesty.

My autistic son is 6 years old. He likes Minecraft, theme parks, McDonald’s, swimming, making dens, climbing trees and trampolining. He wants more ice cream than he can eat and stays up later than he should.

My autistic son doesn’t flap, nor is he likely to start. If you want to know about him, ask. If you want to know about his autistic influences, ask. If you want to understand his challenges, ask.

Please don’t make assumptions about his intelligence, his friendships or any other aspect of him. My son is as individual like you or me — autism or no autism.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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