The Spectrum


Autism is a spectrum, true to the word in every aspect. This is not limited to how severe someone appears to be affected or how 'intellectually disabled' someone is, which I feel a lot of society views Autism as. The most common misconception I've experienced with having a child with Autism is that for the most part people think Autism is black and white. People tend to think that a person is either nonverbal, unaware, and feel bad for you or your child has savant syndrome (some sort of amazing skill or ability), is verbal, and struggles minimally. Both of these misconceptions really do no justice in explaining Autism. For one savant syndrome is very rare. And secondly, under-minding a person's abilities or struggles because they appear 'normal' or thinking someone is 'stupid' because they're non-verbal couldn't be more further from the truth. People tend to think of the spectrum as two extremes and forget the in between, where a lot of people on the spectrum fall.  

A lot of people don't realize Autism itself impairs people for the most part in ways that cannot be seen on the outside, because it is a neurological disorder. What this means is you don't see how the environment around a person is affecting them, you just see their reaction. And it may be hard to understand why someone is having such an extreme response. Over stimulation can happen with any of the five sense. Hearing certain pitches and tones may be painful, certain textures may feel sharp or feel uncomfortable. Sometimes people forget that the spectrum also consists of hypo-senstive individuals. These individuals are under responsive or slow to response to stimuli. For example, Olive is pretty much indestructible. She's under responsive to pain and touch. And craves stimulation in all senses. She's a chewer, smeller, licker, purposely bumping into things, clumsy, non stop energy, and never stops moving or climbing. Pretty much the complete opposite of what some people think of Autism of in the traditional sense. This doesn't make her limited to having sensitivities. She can't stand certain textures. Meaning she won't swallow certain textures of food. When younger she would store food in her mouth for HOURS, or chew up her food and spit it out on her plate EVERYDAY. She was had a very limited diet because of this. Jeans are non existent, because they hurt. You may wonder how someone can love being in the water so much, but then have a meltdown when entering a car wet from the rain or immediately cries when her shirt get wet and removes it. Or how she'll sometimes start yelling to compensate for loud noise she hears. AUTISM SO COMPLEX. Which brings me to this, please understand the annoyance in unsolicited advice. They're a reason they say, "If you've met one person with Autism, then you've met one person with Autism.", no two people are a like and these goes double for people with Autism. 

It's so important for people to understand just how complex Autism is. This is the only way to begin inclusion, acceptance, and most or all understanding.At one point I was a mom, when Olive turned two years old I became a special needs mom. Autism can be come part of your life at anytime. Educating yourself will not only give you a better understanding, but also equip you with the knowledge to spot Autism early. This is so important because their is no medical test to diagnose Autism. If your child or someone you know exhibits two or more behaviors, look into it. Thinking someone is too smart to have Autism (yes, people really think this.), or makes eye contact, or seems social shouldn't be what dismisses your concerns. Autism is part of a person, it doesn't define them. Someone can be verbal, seemingly normal, and out and about with no problem and STILL have Autism. You will be amazed at what people one the spectrum can do, experience, and feel. They're such a vast group of individuals. All you have to do is open your eyes.