Things I’ve Noticed Raising a High Functioning Autistic Son
I remember when my middle kiddo was younger, he had so many anger issues. The child needed so much food when he was a baby that I only breastfed him for about eight weeks before switching to formula. As my middle kiddo went into his toddler years we noticed he required a lot of consistency and routine in his life. A juice, milk and water cup had to be the same one if someone put juice in the cup that was designated for milk this child would have a huge meltdown. I never really understand this. I was confused. My first child was not like this. There was little to no sleep most nights as he barely slept maybe 4-5 hours at a time pretty much until age 4 or 5. While my memory isn’t 100% there for those beginning years with my middle kiddo, I do recall when he was 8 years old and we finally got a diagnosis that made sense and changed our lives forever.
At age 8, after years of attending family therapy and trying to fit this child into some diagnosis that suited all of his “ways”, we finally received a diagnosis of High Functioning Autism from a psychologist who specialized in recognizing the traits of a high functioning autistic person. When my middle kiddo was 8 years old, we had a diagnosis and we took him off of the medications that we had opted to put him on from a young age. This child has been on so many different medications as a young child that I hate to think about it. Since my ex-husband and I are both very against those RX drugs, it wasn’t an easy choice to opt for medication for our son back then. Sadly, none of the medication ever really helped for any lengthy period of time nor touched on helping with all of his behavioral and sensory issues.
Raising a High Functioning Autistic Child
My middle kiddo is now 12 years old and yes, he’s diagnosed as High Functioning Autistic, which is also referred to as Aspergers. I always explain that my middle kiddo is a literal thinker. This child sees the world in black and white with little to no emotion behind his thought patterns. This is not to say my son can’t experience feelings, he does have emotions and as he’s grown older and I’ve worked with him to teach empathy and other emotions we all tend to get “naturally”, he’s much better at expressing and recognizing these emotions. Not many people know my middle kiddos is on the spectrum because I just don’t like “labels”, and many professionals said he wouldn’t ever be capable of certain traits, but he’s shown that he will indeed be capable of so much more than they thought back all those years ago.
Changed Me as a Person
Raising a child on the spectrum has changed me as a person. I used to be an extremely spontaneous person. With my first child, I was able to be spontaneous, she loved it and as an only child for six years, it was truly fun to be on the go with surprise trips and visits with family. That spontaneous person inside of me had to adapt to raise a new child, a boy who needed routine and consistency. This boy wasn’t able to handle surprises or anything unexpected until recently, he does a little better with this at age 12. I changed. Something inside of me clicked when the family therapist told me that I would have to change to raise my child or else continue to face the challenges of a struggle with my son.
Anxiety Increased in Some Areas
Sometimes I really dislike that I have developed some of my son’s patterns of behavior. Meaning, I get anxious when something doesn’t go as I had thought it would. If one thing is off at the start of a day it can throw me for a loop and put me down for the count. I don’t throw a fit, necessarily, but my entire soul feels off when something doesn’t happen that has become a routine in my life. I dislike being this way, but it is what it is, a part of me that adapted to be a better parent for my son ended up changing me as a human being all around.
Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing AutismAlex and Ani Charity By Design Piece of The Puzzle National Autism Association Rafaelian Silver Bangle BraceletCalming Autism Sensory LED Light Projector Toy Relax Blue Night Music Projection (White)bA1 Health – 3-Sided Surround Specialty Toothbrush (Complete Coverage) – Autism, ASD, Special Needs, Sensory, Perio Brush for All Kids/Adults – Best for Sensitive Gums and Teeth! Choose From 4 Colors
New Appreciation of Literal Thinking
I have learned to appreciate literal thinking where we detach emotions from a situation and I’ve learned how expectations can make us go crazy when our expectations aren’t met. Something as simple as my middle kiddo expected a specific item for lunch because that’s what he’s used to having but I didn’t buy any can slightly upset him. Through my middle kiddo, I’ve learned that when we expect things but don’t properly communicate them to another person we can get upset. This is a positive to be honest, because of my middle kiddo I’ve learned to be realistic with expectations in my day to day life.
Better Appreciation of Life
I’ve learned to appreciate so much of life due to raising a child on the autism spectrum. This child loves big and is extremely loyal. Dishonesty will set him off, but the difficult part of this as a parent is that he may think you’re being dishonest when something doesn’t go as he had anticipated in his mind to go. It’s a difficult journey some days, but I’ve found as my son has gotten older, it gets easier. Perhaps we grow wiser in age with our autistic child because of all we have to handle throughout the entirety of their life.
Autism has many ranges on the spectrum, I do understand that my son is high functioning while others may be non-verbal and have other struggles. This is just my story and how raising a son on the spectrum has changed me for the better in some ways while also changing me in a challenging way in other areas of life. I’m a work in progress, as we all are, and hope that as time goes on I learn even more from my son who sees the world through different eyes than I did growing up.