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The Impact of Trauma on Children With Autism

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“Any child will tell you that even the kindest and gentlest of dogs will bite you if you yank it ears and pull its tail long enough. There is a dark side to Asperger’s, and it comes from our childhood dealings with people who do not treat us the way they would like to be treated.” –John Elder Robison

This is an insightful quote from a great book, “Look Me In The Eye: My Life With Asperger’s,” which I recommend all parents of children with Asperger’s read. John Elder Robison is an amazing author, has run various businesses, built the amazing flaming guitars used by rock band KISS, and is a leading advocate for people on the autism spectrum. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s later in life.

The quote describes one word in particular: trauma. Children with Asperger’s or autism are often described as a “square peg” trying to fit into the “round hole” that is the world around them. Along the way they face a lot of discrimination, rejection and let’s face it, abusive behavior from people who don’t understand them and don’t want to learn.

Some examples of the harsh life situations they may encounter include:

· Classmates who are mean and bully or say unkind things to them.

· Teachers who are not supportive, as they don’t take the time to understand the individual needs of the child with Asperger’s.

· Strangers making unhelpful comments and remarks, passing judgment on how the child is behaving, even when it’s not their business and they don’t understand what’s happening.

· Family members being critical and judgmental too. Again this tends to be based on a lack of understanding of Asperger’s and autism.

It’s little wonder that in the face of these negative life experiences, many children on the autism spectrum become traumatized to some degree. Trauma can show itself in many different ways, including school refusal, self harm, total withdrawal to their computer, not wanting to do anything outside home, anxiety, depression and even suicide attempts. These can be difficult subjects to discuss, but they are so important.

Society does not tend to make things easy for those on the autism spectrum. The odds are stacked pretty high against them. So as a parent you are just doing what you need to do to help them survive and hopefully one day thrive in a world that’s not quite built for them.

So don’t take unfair accusations of “helicopter parenting” to heart — it’s essential that you keep on supporting your child every step of the way. Push them when it’s right to do so (to help them grow), but at the same time be aware of their limits. It’s quite a tightrope to walk, but you do it every day! Please ignore any of the doubters, critics or online trolls who tell you differently. You do an amazing job for your amazing child, and you should never forget that.

This story originally appeared on Daily Asperger’s Tips.

Photo provided by contributor.

Originally published: May 27, 2019
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