My Child Is Not Just Like Yours.

“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.

21 comments on “My Child Is Not Just Like Yours.

  • Elephant's Child , Direct link to comment

    Your beautiful precious child is growing so fast now.
    This is a heart-warming piece. Thank you. Also infuriating.
    I remember being told that I didn’t ‘look like I had MS’ and told I should get a second opinion on that basis. Sigh.
    Sometimes the very best thing to say is nothing. Or to admit ‘I don’t know what you are going through…’

    • Jane , Direct link to comment

      Isn’t she EC?! School next year!
      I love how everyone is suddenly an expert on these things, and knows far more than the Drs and specialists…

  • Mumma McD , Direct link to comment

    Such a moving post. Thanks for sharing a little insight into what it’s like to have a child with Autism.

  • Robyna , Direct link to comment

    Your daughter is lovely. I do think people say things from a place of genuine kindness. My middle son is no longer on this earth and I still struggle with letting people know how many children I have. I have three sons, but only two people can see. Lots of friends and family will talk about the struggles of three children and will include me within that number, but, despite the intention of inclusive language, my reality is very different. And always will be. Thank you for being brave enough to say it.

  • Raylene Barton , Direct link to comment

    Yes she certainly is beautiful!
    People say to me that my daughter doesn’t look like she has Down syndrome but I know she does and that is fine.
    A mum got angry at another mum recently because she expressed to her that it was “easier” for her because at least when people looked at her child they knew she had Down syndrome. People can’t tell her child has Autism so they get thrown off by the meltdowns. I totally get it though. x

    • Jane , Direct link to comment

      You know, I think it’s just really hard being an additional needs parent, particularly when people just don’t understand, or don’t try to understand. I find that when people say Milla doesn’t ‘look autistic,’ it almost feels accusing, like I’m just stressing about nothing, she’s just a regular kid. Which she is, of course, however certainly presents with some additional challenges at times ;)

      • Raylene Barton , Direct link to comment

        I agree it is hard on many levels and hard to explain to people who are not a special needs parent.
        One day at a time… xx

  • Luisa @ Looking for mama me , Direct link to comment

    Such a lovely post! I saw a facebook post of a friend whose child has autism recently that was about the vaccination debate, the one saying ‘vaccination cause autism so we arent vaccinating’. Her response was ‘are you saying that my child is bad or wrong in some way? my child has autism and she is amazing and funny and beautiful. How can you say my child is wrong’. I thought this was so true! Your child may have autism, but is doesn’t make them in any way worse than other child. It just makes her different. What a lucky girl to have such a caring mother!

    • Jane , Direct link to comment

      Oh my goodness Luisa, don’t even get me started on the vaccination debate! I’ve said almost the exact same thing in another post I’ve written, it is really so insulting and ignorant. Thanks so much for commenting xx

  • Sonia Life Love Hiccups , Direct link to comment

    I just want you to know I think you are amazing hun. Just watching you work through all of this over the past year or so I have just seen you grown and learn so much. Whilst I dont understand why a child is born with any kind of condition (please excuse my lack of being able to find the most suitable word there), I do know that that child is gifted with exactly the parent she needs.. at least in this case with you and Milla that is certainly true. Much love to you both lovely xx

  • Lauren , Direct link to comment

    What an amazing post – you described your daughter so well. I have taught numerous students with Autism over the years. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job with her :)

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