Kids With Autism Turn 'Obsessions' Into Brilliant Halloween Costumes

TOPICS
, Video,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

When I Realized My Daughter on the Spectrum May Mask How She's Feeling

787
787

My daughter was diagnosed with autism when she was 9 years old. I’ve learned the way my daughter acts and the way she is feeling do not always match. She can be extremely good at hiding and concealing how she is feeling in public, often, I presume, in order to fit in.

Prior to my daughter’s diagnosis, I read many articles about girls on the spectrum masking their difficulties. In reading these articles, I could understand masking as a concept, but I didn’t really understand what it must be like for someone to continually hide how they feel.

I remember when I got my first glimpse of my daughter’s ability to mask. It was during an examination by the pediatrician when she was 9 years old. It was the first time I consciously witnessed my daughter clearly feeling differently from how she presented.

My daughter sat in the pediatrician’s room looking calm and compliant. The pediatrician lifted a stethoscope to her chest to give her an overall medical exam. As soon as she listened to my daughter’s heart rate for a couple of seconds, the pediatrician pulled her stethoscope away saying, “It’s OK. This is something used to listen to your heart. There is nothing to be afraid of.”

My daughter’s heart rate was elevated, but when asked how she was feeling, she replied with her stock response, “I’m fine.” What seemed unusual at the time was my daughter did look absolutely fine. If it wasn’t for her heart rate being taken, I would never have known she was experiencing anxiety.

This experience taught me so much about my daughter. It taught me she can be amazing at hiding her anxiety, and secondly, I cannot always trust her stock response of “I’m fine.” It led me to learn that sometimes her behavior may be coded and I have to look a little deeper in order to see how she is truly feeling.

Today, we grow and learn together. I can still see my daughter pretending to be OK when she isn’t feeling well. But we now work on ways to express our emotions together, and we talk about why it is important to let other people know when we are not feeling OK.

I think everyone can mask their true feelings on occasion, but for it to be part of your day to day must be exhausting. I know my daughter may find it difficult to express how she is feeling. But I hope with time, practice and support, she will be able to express herself to those she trusts and ask for help when she needs it.

Image via Thinkstock.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

787
787
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Our Routine That Helps Socks Feel ‘Just Right’ for My Son With Sensory Sensitivities

113
113

Stepping into the bedroom, I am hit by a tornado of socks, clothes, and shoes. The drawers pulled out, the chaos on the floor… “Kai, what’s wrong?” I ask my son. With clenched teeth, he replies, “None of my socks fit. I don’t know why we have to wear silly school socks!”

Taking a deep breath, I sit down next to him and start the sock stretching routine. This is one of many steps I need to take to help him find the perfect pair of socks. After a few stretches, I manage to get the socks to feel “just right” on his small feet. Relief washes over both of us as he fits his feet into his school shoes.

Most days, many people see my son as a happy-go-lucky child. He is kind, a great friend to have and a real hard worker! But what most people don’t know is that he struggles with sensory processing challenges. Some things need to be done in a certain way. Things need to feel and look just right for him.

Parenting my child is not always easy — parenting any child is not always easy. But it is rewarding— infinitely rewarding — and requires a wealth of creativity.

Fast forward two years, and I can happily say that our sock routine has been nailed down to 15 minutes max some mornings. Now we also have a pants routine, one that requires some wriggling and stretching in the silly pockets to sit just right.

Getting dressed in the morning is no easy feat, but we do find ways to work around it.

Doing the following things helps us:

When his socks cause him discomfort, I place my hand on the inside of the socks so the sock goes over my hand and does not scrape against his skin. I help stretch his socks, and I talk to his socks. Talking to the socks helps distracts my son from the discomfort he feels.

Once we find the perfect pair of socks, he wears them for two to three days. We also now try to find the perfect socks the night before, and then he sleeps with the socks on to minimize frustrations and anxiety the next morning.

When his uniform feels uncomfortable, I say to him, OK, let’s get moving. I ask him to run to the wall, sit on the floor, do five start jumps, touch his toes, etc. I also swing him around, get his body moving inside his clothes, etc.

These tips don’t always work for us, but this is what I call the evolution of my parenting. What works today may not work tomorrow, and so we constantly push our creativity.

Follow this journey on ChevsLife.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock Images

113
113
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Finding My Own 'Planet' After Receiving My Autism Diagnosis

102
102

Who am I?

That book “Tuesday,” how could it be called Tuesday when it was in fact Monday? It really annoyed me because it wasn’t accurate. The pictures in the book were equally annoying as they showed pictures of frogs flying. Frogs don’t fly, right?

I was having an autism assessment to try to finally get a diagnosis as an adult. It wasn’t just the book that annoyed me; it was also the picture on the wall of different colored houses. Not only were they different colors, but they weren’t even made of bricks. How could that be so? Of course I pointed it out to the doctor I was seeing.

How to answer his questions posed a challenge as I didn’t always understand what he was asking, and some questions I couldn’t answer at all. What is friendship? I don’t know, haven’t a clue. Is this something I am supposed to know? Do others who are not autistic know the answers to this question? Friendships are a complete mystery to me as I’m always on my own. If I’m in a social situation, I just stand around alone, feeling awkward, not knowing what to say or how to approach anyone. I don’t know how to make conversation. It seems strange to me that everyone is doing it, seemingly without any difficulty. How do they know how to do it and I don’t? Even children seem to know how to make conversation. I obviously don’t belong on the same planet, but which planet is my home? I’m different to others; that seems obvious straight away.

Being asked to make a cup of tea was also a challenge as there was nothing to use to make it. Apparently I was supposed to imagine everything I needed was there, but this posed another problem. If there isn’t anything there, how can I make it? It’s another impossibility.

It was a few weeks later that I had to go back for the feedback. I learned straightaway that I do indeed have autism spectrum disorder. It seems I have found my planet — the autism planet. I do belong somewhere after all. No longer a misfit or an outcast, I have found my home.

Does having a diagnosis really make a difference? Yes, for me it does. I can now understand myself better and why I am the way I am. I am vindicated; misunderstandings of the past are finally over. It wasn’t my fault I had no friends at school, and it’s not my fault that I am not getting to know others at church. I am special, unique.

Please don’t think I am weird if I do not interact like everyone else. Don’t ignore me. I would love to have friends who are willing and take the time to get to know me and accept my differences. I am still me, even if I am someone on the autism spectrum.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock Images

102
102
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Illustration of two women holding a boy's hands as they walk

When My Mom Had the Best Response to My Son’s Autism Diagnosis

2k
2k

When you tell someone your child has autism, the reaction can sometimes make things awkward. The response might be, “Oh yeah, my sister’s best friend’s little sister does, too.” Or it might include a story about autism that is full of stereotypes. Or my even less preferred reaction, a look of profound anxiety with no clue what to say.

The best response I ever received after telling someone my son was on the spectrum was from my mom. I called her as soon as we heard his diagnosis and was still coming to terms with it. She said, “I’m sorry you’re upset, but I’m not sorry he has autism.” There was nothing more comforting than to know someone accepted my child for exactly who he is. Honestly, we always knew he had quirks, and that is a large part of why we love him so much. Why should she be sorry because we had a reason for all those quirks now?

It’s been two months since my son received his diagnosis and I finally understood my son is still my son. Receiving confirmation of something we had long suspected did not change who he is or who he will become.

If I tell you my son is autistic, you don’t need to overshare or be anxious. I am OK, my son is OK, and if I share my son’s diagnosis with you, all you need to say is, “OK.”

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock Images

2k
2k

RELATED VIDEOS

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Toys "R" Us to Offer Quiet Holiday Shopping Hour for Customers on Autism Spectrum

666k
666k

Toys “R” Us locations throughout the U.K. will be hosting a quiet hour on Sunday, November 6, for those with autism and their families. Stores will be opening an hour earlier with special accommodations meant to make holiday shopping easier for individuals on the spectrum.

As part of the shopping experience, lights will be dimmed and fluorescent lighting will be limited. In-store music will also be muted, and no announcements will be made. Stores will be offering quiet-zones for shoppers.

“Holding such events has given our teams extreme pride in reaching out to autism groups within the community,” Toys “R” Us marketing director Mike Coogan, said in a statement. “Making slight adjustments to stores and creating a quiet shopping period allows children and young adults to experience the fun in a toy shop, regardless of their disability.”

This will be the third year Toys “R” Us is offering a holiday shopping quiet hour. No comparable events have been held at U.S. Toys “R” Us stores as of yet.

Update: A quiet shopping event has been planned for those on the spectrum in the U.S.  A representative for Toys “R” Us told The Mighty, “We’re working on a plan to test these types of opportunities on a local level – pairing our stores with local organizations to create an event for kids with special needs and their families, and will also assess opportunities to scale it nationally.”

Photo Credit: Albert Herring

666k
666k
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

7,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.