“We’re All on the Spectrum” and Other Dumbass Things People Say 

"We're All on the Spectrum" and Other Dumbass Things People Say It’s a fact that people say dumbass things when they’re flustered and aren’t sure what else to say, but sometimes it’s best to say nothing. As much as you might want to contribute to the conversation, staying schtum is the way forward. Unfortunately not everyone adheres to this simple life rule.

We are not, I repeat NOT all on the spectrum!

The most annoying platitude people regularly say to me is that “we’re all on the spectrum”, closely followed by “maybe she’ll grow out of it.” Last time I checked, I wasn’t hoping that my daughter was going to change thanks very much. She might be challenging beyond words at times, but she’s also amazing in so many respects.

Polly is becoming fiercely independent

At seven and a half she knows her way around the kitchen like no other child I’ve encountered. She uses sharp knives and the Vitamix. She can bake cakes all by herself and often makes Freddy and Clara’s breakfast (as well as her own). She’s a fabulous waitress when I’m serving dinner, and takes her daddy’s lunch up the stairs when he’s working at home. She carries his coffee as carefully as a new mother would hold her one week old baby.

Polly’s less resistant to cracking on with her learning in the mornings. She face paints Freddy, does Clara’s hair and avidly watches YouTube tutorials so she can learn new styles. She confidently rides the bike she was terrified of just a month ago, and has adapted to jui-jitsu astonishingly fast. 

She still erupts like a volcano, but afterwards she asks for cuddles. The meltdowns are becoming shorter, and more manageable. She’s becoming more and more able to articulate her feelings, and we try to find solutions to the things that cause her problems together.

If this then that

Most significant of all, Polly is finally joining the dots and understands that her behaviour has consequences. It has taken years to get to this point, and at times I’ve felt like a mean mama. Standing firm and taking away her most coveted things has felt harsh. But a zero tolerance policy when it came to violence towards her brother and sister was absolutely necessary.

Through being consistent, Polly knows where her boundaries are. If she lashes out and hurts Clara or Freddy, she knows there will be ramifications. Her relationships with them now are blossoming and incomparable to what they were six months ago.

Am I spoiling my kids?

I got inadvertently told recently that 3yo Freddy is spoilt. As you can imagine it went down like a lead balloon. My little man is very quirky, no doubt about that, and I suppose from an outsider’s perspective it probably does look like he’s a little (lot?) overindulged.

He doesn’t eat well, he doesn’t sleep in his own bed, he hates being away from me. The mere suggestion that he’ll go to nursery (ever) will bring on tears. Freddy is very particular about the things he’ll wear, and the toys he’ll play with. He’s rejected brand new shoes on sight before and refused to even get them out of the box. The thing is though, when he’s doing life on his own terms he’s as happy as anything, so why would we want him any other way?

Is Clara autistic, or displaying traits?

Our biggest challenge at the moment is 5yo Clara. In the last year our sunny ray of sunshine has changed. She doesn’t sleep as well as she used to. She’s sad and frustrated, often. She beats up Freddy on a daily basis, and gets into pointless arguments with Polly. She has a good appetite, but is exceptionally fussy with her food. Her meltdowns are horrendous, and last up to an hour.

She had one that left her hyperventilating the other night, and it reminded me of the panic attacks I’ve had in the past. When she calmed down she said, once again, how much she hates school. This is a common theme, and has been since before Christmas.

I’ve got to be honest, it feels like de ja vu. Just as with Polly, Clara’s teachers are telling us that she has a great time when she’s there. I don’t even disbelieve them either, I just think she’s a complex child and mainstream school, right now, is probably not the right environment for her.

Come what may and all that, but as you can see we have much to think about. Which is why it would be nice for people will think twice before saying dumbass things.

Instead, offer a hug. Offer a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Don’t criticise and judge what you have no experience or knowledge of. It’s not helpful and never will be.

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