It is so easy to get preoccupied and caught up in the negatives and the challenges that come with an autism diagnosis. Yes, there are hurdles to face and problems to overcome – there certainly are.
However, there are also some amazing opportunities that arise as part of ASD, things that are often overlooked or forgotten amid the grind and struggles of everyday life.
I call them the positives of autism. And we shouldn’t forget that some positives do indeed exist.
I wanted to acknowledge some of the positives as I know that I would not have had the opportunity to experience them if it wasn’t for autism:
- I love the special interests that I have been introduced to by my kids. I have learned about all sorts of things like the instruments in the orchestra, about the planets and the solar system and about the world of My Little Ponies. I would have never had known about them in the same sort of depth if it wasn’t for autism.
- I love the focus and intense concentration that my kids display when engaged in their special interests. Sometimes it is infuriating when they are so totally absorbed to the point of disengagement with the world around them but mostly I’m proud that they have the ability to maintain such focus for long stretches of time.
- I have developed greater patience because of autism. I’m still far from the most patient person on the planet but I have learned to wait and to bide my time in order to best help my kids. I know I am definitely a better person now than I was pre-diagnosis.
- I have a stronger bond with my kids because of autism. I have had to take the time to know them better, to understand how they respond to the world, to read their signs of stress and anxiety. I am their daily go-to person. I help interpret the world for them and make sure they know what is going to happen next. I am their guide yet I will always follow them. Always.
- I appreciate the opportunities and experiences that have come our way because of autism. I am thankful for the connections made and the communities developed and the relationships formed. I do not feel alone. I know that we belong.
- I am thankful that autism has forced me to take the time to understand the little, seemingly insignificant things that so affect my children. I am glad that occupational therapy and speech pathology assessments and sessions have shown me how to make seemingly small changes in order to encourage huge strides in development.
- Most of all I feel lucky to have been given the chance to see the world through very different eyes.
These are just a few of the positives that I have experienced because of autism. What positives would you add to the list?
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What a beautiful post Kirsty. It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives of ASD, I really appreciate hearing the positives. xx
It’s sad Jane, but I do read far more posts about the negatives than the positives. I’m trying to do my little bit to let people know that it’s not all bad and that there are things that we should celebrate and embrace and enjoy. I’m glad that you appreciate hearing these things!
Great list! Your children are very fortunate you have such an understanding attitude towards ASD. We have a good friend who has asperbers, and his special interest is insects and reptiles.
Special interests can be such a double edged sword. As I said in my post I have learned so much from the evolving special interests of my kids (Gilbert’s interests have included musical instruments, speed humps & pedestrian crossings, ATMs, clocks and now movie making while Matilda loves My Little Ponies, Skylanders, Lego and anything video game related) but it can also be so debilitating, especially when they are fixated on them to the exclusion of everything else. I’m thankful that my kids have never been interested in insects and reptiles, I don’t think I would be so encouraging and supportive if that was the case!
Since coming to the world of blogs, I have been fascinated by the ones I read by mums that have kids with autism. I have learnt beautiful lessons to apply to my own little family who do not have autism from the women who have put the hard yards in to get the big wins with their kids.
Thank for everything you have shared this year 🙂 xx
Thanks Elise. I do try to make a conscious effort to be as positive as I can yet still share the reality of living with autism. It can be challenging but the rewards are so special and are truly to be cherished – we should try to find the positives a little more often, I think!
Gorgeous Kirsty. Love that you are able to focus on the positives as well as share the challenges. You are both lucky to have each other xx
Thanks Martine. I truly feel lucky to have my kids – I can only hope they feel lucky to have me too!
It’s good to hear some positives on ASD from somebody who isn’t on the spectrum. I find it hard to see anything positive at times, beeing on the spectrum, so it’s interesting to see it from another point of view.
You raise an interesting point Ness – it’s easy for me to see positives in autism but I am not on the spectrum. My kids are too young to tell me how they feel with the diagnosis so it’s possible they don’t see the positives as I do. But I hope I can raise them with an appreciation of the unique gifts that they have as a part of their diagnosis. I’m trying to teach them that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and that everyone is special in their own individual way. Whether that will be enough to help off-set some of the negatives they will inevitably feel as they get older, I truly do not know…I can only support them as they grow and hope I do enough to prepare them for the world.
I love this post!! These are gorgeous lessons. I hope you have a wonderful New Year. Rachel xx
Thanks Rachel. They have certainly been lessons learned over time – it has taken me ages to realise that there are positives there! Cheers to a wonderful 2013 for you!
Thank you for writing this! My little guy fall under the spectrum and it is wonderful to think about all the positive that comes from this!
Cate, it’s so easy to miss the positives as everything seems to be so negative with an autism diagnosis. One thing I did forget to mention was how special all those milestones are, especially when you’ve worked so hard to achieve them. Recently I bawled my eyes out at the school Christmas concert as my son got up on stage with his class and actually performed – I never, ever thought I would see him on stage with his mainstream classmates. That was an extra emotional and special moment and I know it would not have meant that much to me if it wasn’t for all we’ve been through with autism.
You are an inspiration Kirsty, and make me realise that I should focus more on the positives in my life. What an amazing mum and journey you are going through!
Emily, thanks for your lovely words. I’m just trying to do the best I can and I know that focusing on the positives in life helps me better deal with everything!
Love this, Kirsty.you’re n amazing mum to come up with such a comprehensive, heartfelt list. I particularly love the point you make that you have a stronger bond with your kids. Beautiful x
Thanks Grace – I try to find the positives in everything and I really do think that there are positive to be found even in a diagnosis that is associated with so many negatives. I should have added a further positive – the over-the-top sense of emotion and achievement when ordinary milestones are reached after years of effort and struggle. You certainly never take the little things for granted with autism!
I agree with all the commenters…I understand everything you say about this teaching you but also it’s been one heck of a journey to reach this point still. You’ ve really been a supportive and caring person to many and I know that there needs to be more people who have kids recently diagnosed to pop over here too. Good stuff, Kirsty! And I havent forgotten I asked you for a guest post…in January?? Love D
Thanks D – your support means a lot to me, as always! More than happy to provide a guest post, I’ll email you with some ideas next week…
This is such a wonderful post! I share in your positives with autism as well. It not only taught me so many great things about my kids, it helped me learn a lot about myself. Still learning! 🙂
Thank you for sharing!
I don’t think we’ll ever stop learning about our kids or about ourselves – but that’s the beauty of life, isn’t it? I was so pleased to have found your post about the positives, there needs to be more written to show the special gifts that come alongside the challenges of an autism diagnosis. I’m going to do my best to spread the word about these amazing things in the New Year – I hope others can as well!
Yes, there are lots of positives Kirsty. You hit the nail on the head there.
My son wouldn’t be who he is without the autism, so I wouldn’t have him any other way 🙂
You’ve just nailed it there too Tracey – my kids would not be the same without autism either. It is as much a part of them as any other characteristic and I also wouldn’t have them any other way!
I agree with all you have said here. I am without doubt a better and stronger person and parent. The greatest gift for me is to be thankful for every step forward our boy makes, from the huge to the tiniest. I am so grateful for every bit of progress and i take nothing for granted. I also have a really low tolerance for crap and I do not sweat as much on little things that don’t matter. Fabo post xx
Exactly Suz! I’ve also learned to stand up for myself and for the needs of my kids more than I would naturally do. I’m normally fairly laid back and non-assertive but I’ve learned through all this that it is okay and it is right to make a stand when it counts. I don’t care if I’m the demanding mother anymore – I only care about getting them access to the care and support they need to thrive. It looks like I’ll need to do a follow up post, I keep thinking of all the other positives I could add!
What a wonderful post! Your kids are so lucky to have a mum like you. 🙂
Thanks Danya – I think I’m the one who’s lucky. They continue to surprise and amaze me everyday!
Kirsty, I love your positive view of the world. And it’s a REAL view, so very authentic. I’ve only read a few of your posts, but your mother heart and your compassion shines through. xx
Thanks for your lovely comment Deb – that really means a lot to me!
This is a great post and I hope an inspiration to other mothers whose children also have autism. Thanks for linking up for Flash Blog Friday 🙂
Thanks, as always, for hosting Bree. I hope this post can help other parents understand that amidst the negatives there are many positives that come with an autism diagnosis – sometimes they are difficult to find but they are there!
I think it’s fabulous to be positive. You appreciate the little quirky things they do. I am a big fan of “Temple Grandin” who said “I am different not less”. I wouldn’t change anything about my son, he has enriched and fulfilled our lives and he is only 4. Well done lovely lady for bringing out the positives of LOVING OUR CHILDREN unconditionally.
Great post. I love all the special things my ASD son sees and appreciates in life that I might otherwise have missed. I love the special moments we share. His insights and knowledge and the fact that he educates me every day with things I’ve either forgotten or honestly don’t know. And yes, the milestones … they are incredibly. Honestly wouldn’t swap him for the world. He has made me a better mother.
I completely agree Bronnie – my kids have definitely made me a better mother and I wouldn’t swap them for anything!
Hi Kirsty. You will be this weeks featured flasher for Flash Blog Friday. Cheers Bree 🙂
Wow Bree – what an honour – thanks so very much!
Hi, I’ve recently been a lurker around your blog for a couple of months. I love this article along with your entire website! Looking forward to reading more!
Great post Kirsty.
Two of the positives for our family have been the many chances to develop our planning skills and sense of humour.
You always need a plan b (& sometimes a plan c) when out and about with my kids.
Hahaha – and occasionally even a plan Z!