My oldest daughter has autism. She was born just as autism statistics began to rise and before anyone really knew what to do with a child like mine. Now she is a teenager and not only have I come to terms with a future that might look a little different than I had planned, life has also calmed down just enough for me to see the many perks to having a teenager with autism.
1. Seventeen years and counting and I have not had to endure a single boy band concert. My daughter has no interest in pop culture and if she did, she would need ear plugs and industrial headphones just to step inside, so of course, I would wear the same to make sure she doesn’t stand out in the crowd.
2. Fashion is a non-issue. As long as it is comfortable she does not care. I have ventured into those stores where you come out smelling like you swam to the cash register in a pool of their cologne and narrowly made it out without drowning. My daughter could care less what she wears, what you wear, what I wear. It’s nice, for her, for me, for my sense of smell.
3. While there may not be an over-abundance of eye contact going on over here it is not because she is staring down at a phone, texting someone who she would much rather be talking to than me, at a speed more rapid than I was ever able to attain in my high school typing class.
4. You never have to wonder what she is thinking. It just comes right out. She will tell you if you are late, early, too loud, in her way, going the wrong way, you name it. There is no beating around the bush and actually you can’t say “beating around the bush” because if you do she will tell you that does not make sense.
5. Curfews are a non-issue. I remember the days of negotiating with my own mom and also the nights of trying to tiptoe in the house after the day of negotiating proved unsuccessful. I can happily brag that I know where my teenager is every Friday and Saturday night. If she is pulling an all-nighter it is because someone forgot the melatonin.
6. We are saving on car insurance. I have not spent a single night lying awake waiting for the garage door to open or close or for her to drive through it.
7. I am still her friend. I have noticed that there are other people whom she would much rather see than me but for the most part, time with Mom is still on her list of things she can tolerate and I can pretend that I am cool until the rest of my kids become teenagers and tell me otherwise.
8. She is affectionate. We never hit the do-not-even-breathe-on-me phase. She will hold my hand, dole out the hugs and would no doubt sit on my lap if we weren’t the same size.
9. No drama. Okay, we have our fair share of drama but it is more of the you-screwed-up-my-schedule or the-bus-is-late variety not that mean teen girl drama that occurs in every other household. There is no catty, she said this or her boyfriend did this going on over here which leads into my final and favorite thing about my teenager with autism…
10. She is kind and innocent. There is seriously not a mean, malicious bone in her body. She will treat you the same whether you are rich, poor, famous, homeless, 2 years-old, 90 years-old, can’t speak, can’t shut up, she does not care. She will never speak behind your back, whisper about your bad hair day or spin the truth.
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