Should you have more kids? What are the benefits and drawbacks of having larger families if at least one of the children is on the autism spectrum? There are plenty of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to expand your family. This is true for families with typically developing children and for those with one on the spectrum. Although every family’s individual needs will vary and thus this can’t be discussed holistically, from our family’s perspective, each new sibling has offered our autistic son many irreplaceable benefits we are grateful for.
Ms. Simone is the author of 6 books, founder and creator of www.Help4aspergers.com, and the founder and President of The International Aspergirl® Society. Credited with coining the term “Aspergirls”, Simone, along with Liane Holliday Willey, helped bring female Aspergers to the forefront of cultural awareness. She created the first “Table of Female AS Traits” now widely used by doctors everywhere to help identify AS in women and girls.
Simone gives presentations and webinars for professional and personal development and is also a composer, musician, recording artist and engineer, and actor. This week Ms. Simone shared with us her perspective on autism, dating, and her work with the International Aspergirl Society.
Rickkie Johnson is an autistic parent of 3 daughters, two of whom are autistic, and lives in Melbourne, Australia. Rickkie is an advocate for neurodiversity and writes about the full acceptance and protection of autistics. Rickkie manages the website proudautisticliving.com and contributes to the Penfriend Project autistic writing team on geekclubbooks.com. This week Rickkie shared with me an evolving perspective on autism, and how to raise autistic children using a “person-centered approach.”
It’s the time of year for formal thanksgivings, so I decided to compose a few notes about my autistic son and my gratefulness to have him in my life. The following is a list of reasons why I am thankful for my son as well as the presence of autism in our society.
- Learning about autism and autism advocacy has helped me understand the life experiences and behaviors of my brother, who is also on the spectrum. The role/experience of a sibling is different than that of a parent to a child on the spectrum, and I am grateful for both of these experiences which help me relate to and connect with a variety of different people in my life, including my siblings, parents, and my neurotypical children.
- Learning about autism and disability has offered our family an intimately rich and diverse life experience not shared by everyone. My son’s diagnosis and the subsequent research I’ve conducted since have helped me embrace and appreciate the value of life’s differences, not merely tolerate them.
- My son challenges me to learn more about the world through his special interests.
- His “perseverations” (or work ethic) at a young age with letters and numbers led to early reading skills and fantastic penmanship. He is also diagnosed with ataxic cerebral palsy, so balance and coordination are challenging for him, which makes these skills all the more impressive.
- The neurodiversity movement is a nice extension of the disability rights movement, which has challenged the standard of normalcy and welcomed all kinds of abilities and societal contributions.
- A unique way of thinking and differing approaches to solving problems helps grow a society. Autistic people certainly offer that.
- I’m grateful for my autistic son for the exact same reasons I am grateful for my other neurotypical children. I’m grateful for their humanity and all the wonderful things that accompany it–hopes, fears, love, and potential.
But enough about me. Here are some other articles written by people on the spectrum about autism appreciation and pride:
Megan Amodeo is a writer, autistic self-advocate, and stay-at-home mother to three, 2 of whom are on the spectrum. Prior to staying at home with her children, she worked in special education. She currently writes for geekclubbooks as an “Autism Insider.” This week she shared her experience receiving a late diagnosis and the joys of being an autistic mom. » Read more
Lana Grant is a specialist advisor and advocate for people with autism and their families. Lana has worked within the field of autism for nearly twenty years. Lana specializes in autism and females, particularly pregnancy and motherhood. Her book “From Here To Maternity, pregnancy and motherhood on the Autism Spectrum” was published in March 2015 by Jessica Kingsley publishers and is the only book that focuses on this issue. Lana is a trained birth partner (doula) specializing in supporting pregnant women on the autism spectrum and their partners. Lana has recently contributed to the Scottish Autism Right Click Women and Girls Programme. She is a passionate advocate for female empowerment and speaks for the NAS and other organizations about female issues. She also has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome.
This week Lana shared with me some of her background and advocacy work for mothers on the spectrum.
Motherhood has dominated my conscious thought lately (especially mothering infants) since the birth of my fourth child last week. Mothering a newborn brings both exceptional joys and significant challenges for neurotypical and autistic mothers alike. I hadn’t thought about the challenges unique to women on the spectrum until I interviewed Lana Grant who has written a book on this topic and consults with autistic women. She will be sharing some of her advice with us next week. Since then I’ve read more about this special stage of life and learned how it uniquely impacts women on the spectrum.
Jeanette Purkis is an Autistic author, public speaker, and self-advocate. Jeanette has worked in the Australian Public Service since 2007 and has a Masters degree in Fine Arts. She is the author of three books on Autism. Jeanette has given many presentations including at TEDxCanberra 2013 and presenting alongside Professor Temple Grandin and artist Tim Sharp in Melbourne in 2015. Jeanette facilitates an Autism women’s group and is the 2016 ACT Volunteer of the Year. This week Jeanette discussed some of her background and advocacy work and how to help individuals on the spectrum develop a positive autistic identity.
Halloween is a fun holiday to celebrate for both children and adults, and there are plenty of ways to help children on the spectrum enjoy this time of year. Some children may find it exciting to dress up and participate in spooky-themed activities while others are frightened by the new sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of this holiday. This article offers some ideas for planning an autism-friendly Halloween to help your autistic child or family member fully appreciate this fun holiday.
Caroline Hearst is an autistic autism trainer and consultant from the U.K. who runs post-diagnostic peer support groups for autistic adults. She runs Autism Matters and is the director of AutAngel, a community interest company run by and for autistic people. She also blogs about her autism perspectives at http://www.autismmatters.org.uk/blog.
This week Caroline shared with me her perspective on the neurodiversity movement and autism advocacy both in the United States and the United Kingdom. This interview was conducted via Skype and is transcribed below.