Helping My Daughter With Autism Between 'I'm Fine' and 'I'm Really Not OK'
My 11-year-old daughter is on the autism spectrum, yet many of the difficulties she faces day-to-day are hidden. You cannot look at my daughter and “see” her autism. She does not stand out. My daughter hides her difficulties so no one else can see. She will power through her day, using strategies that have taken years to adopt. She will look you in the eye and smile and say “everything is OK,” but this doesn’t necessarily reflect her mood.
She lives by her own rules and plows through her day trying to make sense of the societal constructs placed on her. Sometimes she gets it “wrong” and misjudges. She is not keen on unknown people and places or the unsuspecting reactions of strangers. Every person reacts to the world in a different way, and this does not make sense to her; it is not only confusing but scary.
My daughter will obsess over every detail so she can prove to you that she can not only do something, but do it well! She loves to achieve, and will work at 200 percent just to show you she can do it.
But all of this comes with a price. The thinking and plotting, the extreme concentrating and effort. The guessing and double guessing. All of this exhausts her. Her constant pushing to meet expectation takes her to the point where by she cannot give anymore. It can all lead to a meltdown. She doesn’t mean to be rude or aggressive; her nature is loving and considerate. But I understand that place she must go to time to time when she simply has had enough.
I may not be the best mother all of the time. I find the change in mood and meltdowns distressing at times. But I have learned this is not my struggle. I see her uncontrollably upset, and I remind myself these are her emotions, not mine. We all live somewhere between “I’m fine” and “I’m really not OK,” but we continue to work towards our happy mediums. Every step we take to get there on our journey takes practice and effort, but I know she will find her balance eventually. Until then we plod along, aspiring for balance not perfection.
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