More on Autism – The Unfamiliar

Reading this post by Rachel Carrera this morning reduced me to floods of tears, not just for the kindness in answering my question, but for sharing her experiences so that I might better understand the little mystery which is my daughter, Carys. Carys has never been diagnosed with autism, although some children with her syndrome (cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome) have, and I have always wondered about some of her behaviours. It has been very distressing trying to include her in all our family activities at times. Leaving her behind results in huge guilt, which takes away our enjoyment. But maybe that’s what we have to do, if it makes her happy. I’ll let Rachel explain, she does it far better than me. Thanks so much, Rachel!

Rachel Carrera, Novelist

First of all, I apologize for being late in the day with my Autism post this month, but in the immortal words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

A couple of months ago, Ali Isaac commented, “I’d be interested to know how Autism affects children’s reactions to the unfamiliar, with regard to places, people, objects etc.” 

Any parent of an Autistic child can tell you, this type of scenario almost never turns out good.  It’s been my experience that bringing my Autistic son into a new setting almost always induced a meltdown.  It was worse when it was a public place, such as a store or restaurant.  It was for that reason, that I almost always left him at home when I had to run errands or dined out.  I did this for his sanity, my sanity, and to be courteous…

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9 Comments on “More on Autism – The Unfamiliar

  1. Ali, if you are familiar with cats, think of an autistic child like a feral cat… YOU want them to come inside, allow you to pet them, snuggle with them, get out of the rain, and make sure they’re warm… But the feral cat is foreign to domestication. What you think it would want is actually so stressful to them, and they would have a heart attack if you tried to bring them inside out of the cold or the rain. (When I’ve actually tried this with a feral cat, it literally climbed the walls in an effort to get back outside.) But they ARE happy to allow you to feed them regularly. What I’m saying is, don’t feel bad if Carys can’t cope with what you think “should” be a fun time. Fun for her may be staying at home in her safety zone, and going out can be quite stressful. And honestly, you and the rest of the family deserve some fun time because it is also stressful on you to deal with her needs appropriately. Don’t feel guilty. If she’s extra sensitive to sensory stimuli, that can be very stressful for her to be out, and just like many autistic children, if she can’t talk to tell you what’s wrong, she’ll have a meltdown and leave you guessing. You’re a terrific Mom! ❤

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    • You know Rachel, the more I think about it, the more I think that’s exactly what’s happening. Thanks for making me realise. My hubby and I have been talking about your post all night… it’s such a revelation!

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    • We have Rachel to thank for that. I never understood how severely Carys might percieve the world around her. She has the power to completely destroy a family outing with her behaviour, which is so hard on the boys. It helps to understand why.

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      • ADHD kids also do not tolerate change or places with crowds and noise. We’ve had outings that were more to be endured than enjoyed. He once told me it was like having a TV turned on with all the channels running at the same time and at a high volume.

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