There’s Still Time: Love and the Autistic Child in Your Life

windowOnce upon a time there was an autistic child. He wasn’t “easy.” He didn’t talk like the other children in the family. He didn’t play the same games. He wasn’t interested in going to the same places — hot festivals, toy stores, and noisy restaurants. His family loved him, but he often wasn’t included. He wasn’t invited for sleepovers. He didn’t get the same special outings as his siblings or cousins. Initially, he didn’t notice. But as he grew older, he did. When they came by to pick up his siblings, he wanted to go too. When everyone left without him, he stood at the window and watched them drive away. But his family believed his parents understood– that he was too much to handle.

But he wasn’t. He was a joy. The outings he enjoyed were simple — rides in the car, trips to the grocery store, splashing in the pool, playing in the mud, swinging in the park. But, for whatever reason, he was never invited to do any of those things – the things he could do and enjoy — and kept being passed over for the children in the family who, presumably, were more fun to spend time with.

He continued to learn, develop, and grow. Eventually, he knew. He knew he was different. But what he didn’t know was what the family had assumed he would — that  he was loved equally. That’s because love isn’t what’s declared. Love is what’s done. It’s easily identified in any language – or lack thereof. And when dispensed unequally – and obviously — it denies both the receiver and the giver.

He knows. You know.  And there’s still time to do it differently.

12 thoughts on “There’s Still Time: Love and the Autistic Child in Your Life

  1. Katie

    Has it occurred to you that the relatives are trying to “make up” the love/attention your other kids don’t get because, so far as they can tell, your entire life revolves around your autistic kid?

    That the other kids are regularly shirt hanged in the mom/dad attention department and they’ve stepped in to fill the love void?

    Do you make 8,000 demands of others ahead of family get togetherness, that everybody accommodates cheerfully, then cancel at the last minute? Five times in a row?

    Do you cater to your autistic kid’s whims, thereby depriving him of coping skills? Have you spent the last 4 years moving heaven and earth to get him the *only* goldfish crackers he’ll eat from Trader Joes and does he meltdown if they’re unavailable?

    Has your autistic pumpkin physically assaulted relatives or their kids? More than once? Is he a poopy Picasso? Has he hurt pets??

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      Katie, I have read your comments before, and I confess I’m somewhat confused as to your loyalties. Reading this, I would assume you are a bitter relative, resentful of an autistic child — one who, along with his parents, has clearly annoyed the crap out of you. In answer to your question, no. No, my son hasn’t hurt pets, assaulted relatives, or been the recipient of a 4-year quest to provide only Trader Joes’ goldfish crackers. I don’t make it a habit of canceling at the last minute, nor are my children neglected. You jump around the internet, demanding that the parents of ANY child who has ever wandered away be jailed for life – because, to you, there are never exceptions and all are guilty before the presentation of any sort of evidence or extenuating circumstances whatsoever. So, you seem as if you are concerned about the needs of autistic children. But then you turn around and spew this hatred – a tirade that would lead anyone reading your comments to assume that spending time with autistic children must be a hellacious experience. Precisely whom are you advocating for, Katie?

    2. Trish

      Wow Katie. Those are pretty hateful remarks. Disgruntled much? You sound like someone who has no real understanding of children on the spectrum. I would venture to guess you are one of those “keep the ASD children away from the public” people. It’s a shame because you’ll never see the true joy and beauty in these exceptional children.

  2. Anni

    When the child’s behavior puts himself and other’s safety at risk it makes it very difficult to follow this advise. :(

  3. Hugh Randolph

    Thanks for sharing this info. I now have a great respect for parents dealing with an Autistic child.

  4. Michelle Porter

    You are such a good writer. I have just read your post about being included in the family. It hit home so much and explained about the difficulties we face when trying to make sure our son is included. Our family is a loving, caring family yet our son is isolated and lonely dispite our best efforts to make sure he is included. This makes me feel angry and upset with my wider family and I hate these feelings. I keep putting off talking to them about how I feel. This in turn makes me withdraw and isolate ourselves further. I don’t want it to be like this. I could write a book on this! But at the moment don’t have the emotional or physical energy. Thank you again for putting into words exactly what I want to say x

    1. Asher

      I’m where Michelle is. That no man’s land of being pushed into isolation. I know they are intentionally doing it, because it happens with friends who invite us over to their house or on outings. I know they want to hang out with me or my wife, we are fun people. I know we don’t get invited out again because our son has autism. Friends I can understand (sort of), but it stings when it’s family. So we drift into isolation. My son deserves more, especially from his family. My wife, a social person, deserves more than being socially abandoned. I do want to talk to my family about it…I will…eventually, but now i’m a little bitter and somewhat aggitated. Thank you saying what i was thinking, and good luck Michelle.

  5. Jennifer Costa

    Nailed it. It’s very hard to describe the special kind of heartbreak that goes along with an autistic child not being included. The first time I had a relative suggest that my son not attend family gatherings because other children might be encouraged to start engaging in certain behaviors, like rocking to self-soothe or holding ears when the noise gets to be too much, I felt like I’d had a load of bricks dropped on my chest.

  6. Kris

    Posts about parenting a child with autism seem to either offend and anger us (I have felt that so often), or we totally identify with them and they make us want to cry. I suppose it depends on our child, where they are on the spectrum and the stage we are at as parents. Personally this post rings so true for the stage I am at with my 5 year old now and I appreciate that you expressed your thoughts so beautifully. Thanks xx

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