“My child is exactly the same!”
I hear it all the time. I’m sure it’s meant as a reassurance, a pat on the back, comradery. “We’re in this together!”
Except my child has Autism, and your child does not. If your child is just like mine, you should probably get them assessed.
My child’s ‘tantrum’ is actually a meltdown, because her body and mind cannot logically process the information she is receiving. This slight change in routine is not ‘upsetting’, it is physically and emotionally terrifying to my child. She does not feel safe. She cannot calm down, because the things most people associate with ‘calming down’ (deep breathing, slow breathing, closing your eyes, counting down) she associates with this feeling of innate fear that she cannot control, and so the terror amplifies. The tears that naturally fall from her eyes scare her even more. She hates the sensation of her eyes filling and over flowing, she doesn’t understand it.
And every single emotion and sensation she is feeling right in this moment, she will associate with whatever is happening to ’cause’ it. Your child hates changes in routine? Loud noises? Surprise visitors? So does mine. Except if her bedtime routine is different one night, then bedtime will be terrifying for the foreseeable future. If she gets a fright from the hand dryers in a public toilet once, then she will be terrified of public toilets from now on in (we’re bordering on 18 months, currently) If someone turns up unexpectedly at the front door one day, well, they’ve pretty much done their dash with ever being able to visit the house again, planned or otherwise. (Sorry Nanny)
I know right? Surprising, because no, my child doesn’t “look like they have Autism”. (What exactly does a child with Autism look like anyway?)
I think that is supposed to be a compliment? It is in a way a compliment, to her strength of character, that she can hold herself together enough to get through this hour or two that you see her. That she can hide the anxiety that tormented her for the hours since I told her we were doing something different, we were gong off routine. That she can suppress the anxiety that will manifest itself into obsessive compulsive behaviour or complete sensory overload, until she gets home where she feels safe to let her guard down.
Just trust me when I say- My child is amazing, beautiful, funny, intelligent, cheeky and autistic. She is not just like your child, she does not ‘look’ autistic. She is Milla. And we love her exactly the way she is.