Figuring It Out
One day my daughter mentioned that we shouldn’t discourage my son from stimming. I didn’t know what she was talking about, so she explained to me what stimming is. I wanted to know more, so I did a Google search for stemming- and found out I was spelling it wrong- that’s the first new thing I learned from that search. Then I saw lots of things written by parents of Autistics telling me how to make my son stop. Then I saw things that were written by Autistics about how stimming makes them feel better, they do it when they are happy or sad or upset or for a number of reasons. When I read a list of some typical stims, it sounded very much like my son, but it also sounded like me. I had heard of Asperger’s Syndrome before, and thought that we were probably ‘on the spectrum’, but never seriously looked into it until then. That was a few months ago.
I decided to look into Asperger’s and see what it really is, and the more I read the more it fit. Things started to make sense. I felt a bit nervous, but mainly relieved. Then I felt worried that I was just being a hypochondriac because of all the reading I was doing about Autism. I had just started seeing a therapist for depression and anxiety- it took me 30 some years to work up the nerve to make that first appointment. It was a couple of sessions later that I started reading about Asperger’s/Autism and I took every online quiz that I found. They all said that I am most likely Autistic and should probably be evaluated by a professional. I told my therapist about it, and showed him my three ring binder full of test results that I had printed. He said he didn’t think that I am Autistic because I was able to have a conversation with him. That’s when I realized that he wasn’t the therapist for me.
I realized that I had been too polite with him. I had listened to his stories about his wife, his neighbor, his daughter, his previous patients, his love of telescopes, his friend who was dying of some undisclosed disease, his parenting style, his neighbors children, and more. He was supposed to be listening to me, but most sessions ended up being him talking about whatever my words brought up in his mind about his life. I think he called it giving me advice, but it was almost always irrelevant to my actual situation. I didn’t know what therapy was supposed to be like, but the longer it went on the more sure I was that it wasn’t supposed to be like that. It took me a few weeks to definitely decide to cancel my future appointments with him and find someone who was actually knowledgeable about Autism and the different ways it presents in people, especially in females. I’m so glad that I did make those phone calls though.
I found a wonderful Doctor who did my evaluation just this morning. She said I am obviously ‘on the spectrum’, and made some very helpful suggestions for me and my family. I wasn’t dismissed, I was given lots of information, and what’s better is I was given a plan on what I can do to improve things for me and for my children.
We are a family of Autistics. We do not fit in with society. That’s okay. Before I would worry that my marriage wasn’t a ‘good one’ because of articles I read in magazines, or things that were said on T.V. or by neighbors and other acquaintances. I thought that my husband wasn’t happy with me, because he didn’t do the things that those other husbands did. I tried for years to be someone I wasn’t, trying to find out who I was and how to be a good wife and a good mother and a good friend. I was already all of those things all along, I just didn’t know it. My husband is on the spectrum also, and the more I read about Asperger’s, the more videos I watch by Autistics, the more I learn about each one of us. It’s a huge relief to realize that we aren’t broken, we aren’t doing things ‘wrong’ and we aren’t destined for divorce because we don’t fit the typical roles that society expects us to fit. I can accept that if we are actually happy with the way things are, that’s all that matters.