6 Perks to Having an Autistic Child

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Autistic Child

Being the mother of two children with autism does have its perks.

Don’t get me wrong, My boys certainly bring out the “extreme” in parenting.  However, when I talk with my friends who are raising neuro-typical children and I listen to their many frustrations in raising them I have noticed a number of difficulties we do not share.  In fact, I have a much easier time of parenting the Trouble Brothers because they don’t engage in many of the “normal” behaviors of their NT peers.

1. No Whining. My boys do not whine.  Ever. They may scream loudly like wild banshees at times when their developmental limitations prevent them from using words to express their dissatisfaction with something but they never resort to that incessant nails-on-the-chalkboard whine that lasts hours and leaves a mother white knuckling it through the day.

2. Lack of Sibling rivalry. Growing up with two sisters I remember the antics we used to pull that left our mom wanting to sell us to the gypsies.  Every trip in the car, grocery store visit, and family photography was laden with the whines of, “MOOOOMMMMM, Caryn poked me!”, “MOOOOMMMM, Sunday touched my new Barbie and gave it cooties”, “MOOOOOMMMMM, Molly picked her nose and touched my pillow!”  Truly, I don’t know how any of us lived past the age of 10.

Thankfully, I have never had to experience this with my own children.  My boys tend to steer clear of one another and will gladly enjoy their own books, videos, or toys independently from one another.

3. No Fashion Awareness.“But MOMMMMM, everyone has more Silly Bandz than me!”, “I can’t wear THAT!  All the kids will make fun of me if I don’t have such and such jeans!”, “I am NOT wearing anything that comes from Walmart Mom!” Thankfully my boys will never utter these words.  Individuals with autism do not recognize the social desire to fit in and follow the crowd.  They are their own crowd and they like it that way.

4. Lack of Greed & Competition. Thankfully my boys don’t spend Christmas morning counting who has more presents than the other.  If money is a little tight and they only have one present on their birthday they are overjoyed with what they do have instead of being mad that there wasn’t more.  In fact, I can visit the local children’s consignment shop and buy a gently used toy for a quarter of the price of a new one and they could care less.   They are happy to have anything that is new…even if its only new to them.

5. Not hearing “WHY???” Endlessly. If there is one thing I am most thankful for in having children with autism it is that I never have to listen to the barrage of whiny ad-nauseam “WHY?” questions. In general, individuals with autism do not tolerate not knowing what is coming next.  This is why the question “Why?” makes them uncomfortable.  The autistic mind prefers knowing the answer to a question before asking it.  At the very least, they prefer a simple “yes” or “no” answer over the unknown that can follow the question, “Why?”

6. Routine. My kids have a very set routine to their day to day life.  Their diets are boring and quite limited but those limitations also make meal times a snap.  I know that as long as I have bread, cheese, and chocolate chip cookies in the house the boys are set for life.  Noah has a definite addiction to Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers but other than that my kids are easy-peasy eaters.  I don’t have to listen to my kids whine and complain that they are having peanut butter and jelly AGAIN or that they want to try those expensive yogurt snacks all their friends have in their lunch.

Similarly, the boys love watching the same DVDs and episodes of Dora the Explorer or Yo Gabba Gabba over and over again.  And while I do sometimes complain about watching Finding Nemo for the 1,342,893rd time I am happy knowing the same movie makes them laugh in all the same spots each time.  Its simple and yet, beautiful.

I’ve never been a Pollyanna optimist but I am neither a cold-hearted pessimist.  Instead I find myself being more of a realist and reality dictates that when you raise children with autism, whether it is high-functioning Aspergers or a diagnosis of profound autism, its imperative that you find the joy in the small things. Like the above.

Comments

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  1. 1

    Kelley says

    I absolutely loved reading this post about the “Trouble Brothers”! It was very refreshing & obviously written by a mother who loves & adores her sons immensely. So glad you shared this with us!

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  2. 2

    Rae says

    What a fabulous way to start the day! Its nice to hear the story from a different perspective than the typical feeling sorry for the parents. I wish we could get through one day without any of the above listed things. With an 8 year old and a 1 1/2 year old, you just don’t, except maybe sibling rivalry (though I’m pretty sure that is to come)…..

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  3. 4

    lynn @ Maven of Savin says

    Sunday – Beautifully written way to look at the up side of things. AND though I KNOW all the other hard stuff you go through, you are right, some of these things are unbearable for us – happening right now as I type as a matter of fact. Thank you so much for sharing so openly about your biys – it is refreshing.

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  4. 6

    Kir says

    what a gorgeous post, thank you for sharing all that with us.
    as the mom of “normal” ha……twin boys, I enjoyed reading this and seeing how you love those boys of yours .
    I’ll be over to your blog to read about your amazing sons.

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  5. 7

    Kelly says

    Sunday, this was wonderful! Parent’s of autistic children are the most patient people I know and also have the best sense of humor!

    I love how Finding Nemo can garner a laugh each and every time. :)

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  6. 8

    Amanda says

    Thank you so much for this list, things like this are refreshing for mom’s with special kids! I can relate to much of the list lol I have been blessed with 5 kids. 3 on the spectrum and 2 typical. So I guess I get too deal with both worlds.

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    • 10

      Sunday says

      HA! I know what you mean!

      Another great perk I forgot to mention in the post is the lack of drama when the boys are sick or hurt themselves. They don’t “milk things for all their worth” in an attempt to get sympathy or attention.
      When they are sick they are the same as they are all the other days of the year, just with a runny nose and a cough.

      Now THAT is a quality I wish my friends and family shared!

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      • 11

        Kimberly says

        I completely agree. My son has his good days and bad days, but being sick doesn’t phase him at all. He’s usually pretty chipper, but he has random moments throughout the day when he’ll start screaming for seemingly no reason. It’s just a fact of life for him. I hope he doesn’t change too much as he gets older. He’ll be three soon, and was recently diagnosed as being on the spectrum.

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  7. 12

    Angel says

    I had a friend who lived with us when her hubby got discharged from the Navy. So we had her, her hubby and her son. I would have taken 7 of her son who was Autistic with Sensory processing disorder and a few other things then his parents. He was a joy, even with all the autistic tendencies. They on the other hand were a whole other story

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  8. 13

    Jennifer says

    It is all about perspective. I say that a lot, but it is so true. You always have good. Sometimes you just have to look for it. I will try to do that tonight with my nagging, screaming, whining, begging, fighting NT kids. Thanks Sunday!

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  9. 14

    Lee H says

    As a father of a awesome autistic son… I really loved this read. I too reap the benefits of “why” not being asked very often. My son sees everything in black or white. He has trouble processing the “gray” areas. It’s black or white, right or wrong, yes or no. I can think of so many “perks” I could add to your list. His superior intellect has to be highest on my list. He’s been able to READ his ABC’s since two. He can tell you the names of all of Jupiter’s moons, and the details about them. He’s forced ME to learn just so I can help feed that hungry brain of his :)

    Please forgive a shameless plug of his story my wife published last month. I’m very proud of it. It’s titled: “Emerging From Autism: One Boy’s Story”

    Thanks so much for this wonderful post. The autism road can be a hard rocky one to travel. But thanks for reminding me to pause and smell the flowers that are growing alongside it.

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  10. 15

    Ally says

    I read your post and then clicked over and watch the video by Mary Beth Neuvalis… first let me say, the video was so well done and she really did capture the beauty of your boys. She also captured the beauty of you and your marriage.

    The funny spots in Nemo really are still funny, although I’ve only seen it 342 times. :-)

    Ally

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  11. 17

    theMamaTeresa says

    Thanks so much for sharing! It’s good to be reminded of the perks sometimes.
    It reminds me of my all-time favorite quote from a t-shirt at an Autsim Support Group meeting: “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.”
    Good Stuff.

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  12. 18

    S Club Mama says

    My older son has developmental delays (autism testing to come next month) so while he wouldn’t be on the severe end, he definitely has some of these perks (like “why” and not caring what he wears or asking for this or that toy/fad/food).

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  13. 20

    dusty earth mother says

    I’ve been a big fan of Sunday’s since she won the SoyJoy contest here. This was incredibly moving and incredibly funny and this was my favorite line: “Individuals with autism do not recognize the social desire to fit in and follow the crowd. They are their own crowd and they like it that way.” Man, oh MAN, that is perfectly miraculous. Thank you so much for talking to us, Sunday.

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  14. 21

    DiPaola Momma says

    I adore ya, you know that. What you may not know though is that the grace and humor with which you approach not just the boys, but everything in life, is awe inspiring to me. You take my breath away lady. Would that I could be as amazing as you. Well and also that my hubby looked as hawt in a kilt as yours!

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  15. 23

    Jennifer says

    Oooh I have one. My daughter only drinks water. I don’t ever have to worry about her wanting soda. She can’t bring herself to drink anything but water and the very occasional lemonade (one particularly brand).

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