I'm always curious to find out what they think autism looks like. People tend to hear the word "autism" and think only in extremes. Quite often the only interaction or knowledge that people have of autism is either through watching the movie Rain Man or they have an idea of an individual sitting in a corner of a room, rocking and banging their head against a wall.
But the truth is that every individual on the spectrum is as unique in his or her functioning level and personality as the rest of the population. No two people on the spectrum are alike! Autism can look like many things.
Recently when I was sorting through photos of my little superheroes, I began to come up with a mental picture of a blog post of our autism life told through a series of photos. And this is what I cam up with!
This is what autism looks like in our house. Two little superheroes who love each other to bits. O is 8. She loves to read - one of her favourite texts to read is the complete works of Shakespeare which she began reading at the ripe old age of 5! O doesn't line objects up, she groups her toys and belongings. She loves all the female superheroes and anything to do with space. L is 5 and is obsessed with superheroes, you name one and he can tell you anything about them. L lines things up, which makes life interesting when he goes into Os room and rearranges everything! L is boisterous and constantly on the go.
O and L are my little superheroes, through and through. Time and time again they come up against obstacles and time and time again they overcome these obstacles with massive leaps and bounds.
Living life with autism has it's full share of challenges. Little things that other families take for granted are quite difficult for O and L. Simple outings like going to a restaurant for a meal poses issues with what my little superheroes will and won't eat. Doing the shopping can end in a meltdown as my little superheroes generally enter into sensory overload due to their surroundings.
Block out ear protectors are a must, they go everywhere with us. Both little superheroes have a set of these and they have saved many an outing from turning pear shape! We do get a fair number of side way glances but we take that as an opportunity to spread a little autism awareness!
Even simple outings like a yearly photo with Santa is a nightmare. However now that more and more shopping centres have come on board with the Sensory Santa concept, we've been able to visit Santa two years in a row without any meltdowns occurring!
Both of my little superheroes need regular sensory breaks at school - I always try to give them both some sensory input before school starts! Sensory breaks are something that they will always need - the trick is getting them both to recognise when they need a break. I know that both O and L will get to that point, it is just going to take time.
Wash day! L has more superhero costumes than you can poke a stick at. Wash day looks like the Avengers have off loaded all their washing into my laundry! On any given wash day, I can guarantee that there will be at least 3 different superhero outfits in the laundry!
This is what the tail end of a meltdown can look like. This is the side of autism that people don't like to share or talk about. This is what happens when a child is in the midst of a meltdown and has no control whatsoever over their actions. This is what happens when you stop a Ninja Turtle figurine with your head. And oh my gosh, this hurt on all sorts of levels.
The bruise and swelling itself was incredibly painful. Seeing the confusion on L's face the next day was emotionally draining. He had no recollection at all as to what he done the previous evening. Thankfully this type of injury only happens once in a blue moon and when it does occur, I cannot hold it against either of my little superheroes. Neither of them would intentionally hurt us or each other, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Trying to get L to bed, at times, can be likened to trying to get a cat to take a bath. It really is a pay per view worthy event. He just isn't tired, not even a little. L has melatonin every night without fail and this will cause him to become sleepy, however if he isn't tired, it will not keep him asleep. Period! This means we have countless nights of very little or no sleep at all.
The wild and the calm - autism at it's finest. I'm not here to tame the wild within my little superheroes, I am here to guide them back onto track when they veer off. There is a place in this world for the wild as there is a place for the calm. We need both to balance out life!
Through my little superheroes, I am able to see life from a different unique perspective on a very regular basis. O's observations about the world around her can absolutely profound! O really is an old soul!
Last year when we were on holidays in Queensland, we walked past a tattoo studio every morning when we went for a wander, and I began to get the idea of a tattoo that I wanted. Now the thought of needles causes me to become very queasy and it took me a good nine months to work up the courage to actually walk into a tattoo studio to book this baby in.
This tattoo, to me, sums up both my little superheroes perfectly.
L and O are my little superheroes, they are my autism heroes.