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My Son on the Autism Spectrum Taught Me Each Child Is Unique

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My son is on the autism spectrum.

He is clever. He is a starter and finisher which is great in a classroom environment. He needs to complete what he starts and has always needed to do things well. He has high expectations of himself and wants to please you.

My son loves other children and likes to play structured games over and over again. Play chase with him and he will be happy all day, play video games and that’s even better (as long as you stick to the rules). My son loves to run and will circle the park over and over on foot or scooter, he will include anyone who wants to play in his game. He is social.

My son is a sensitive child. He is an empathic friend.  If he sees you crying he will ask if you are OK. He is not mean and does not pick on children who do not fit in.

My son has the fundamental skills needed for friendship but misses the subtleties in communication. He may not pick up on your tone of voice or he may misread your body language. He does not understand flexibility within rules or why they change from place to place. This is not obvious by looking at him. When he is playing, he does not stand out. You need to know my son well to understand the difficulties he has.

My son makes friends easily but sustaining friendships is difficult. To look at him you will see how socially interactive he is, he pursues friendships and will include people in his games. He is great at turn taking. But he is also incredibly sensitive, which stands out for a 7 1/2-year-old.

When the world around my son  seems unpredictable and overwhelming, he doesn’t know how to respond. Sometimes if the environment is too busy or noisy, this can upset him, too. This can socially isolate him from his peers and make him stand out as different.

If a child has a diagnosis of autism, please understand there is a reason for the diagnosis and the child needs additional support and understanding outside of what a typically developing child may need.

My son’s behaviors may be mostly socially “normal” and he is a very bright child who learns easily and wants to achieve. My son’s autism may not look like what some people picture as autism. But I assure you, there is no “typical” in autism. Each child is unique and full of capabilities. Each child deserves support and each child needs understanding.

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Thinkstock image by bowdenimages

Originally published: May 15, 2017
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