I want to spent this week talking a little bit about our autism journey.
It wasn’t until the spring of 2013 that we my youngest was flagged for autism.
It really should have happened years earlier – by that point she was nine, her older sibling was 12 and her dad was 36.
Why does it matter what ages the other two were?
Because within two years, we had come to realize that both of them were also on the spectrum.
At first I found this very difficult. Although most parents or partners receiving a diagnosis for their child or partner will experience loss with a diagnosis, for me it felt more than that. I felt left out.
As we were learning more and more about autism, there were parts of it that made a lot of sense to me, but other parts that didn’t. I felt like I could relate on some levels, but not on others. In short, it felt like my family had carefully crafted the entrance requirements of a club in such a way that I would be excluded, and yet left to shoulder all of the burdens of care and maintenance for the group.
Fast forward three years from that initial diagnosis, and over a year from the third diagnosis (the process of diagnosis is painfully slow!) and my oldest came up to me one night and said, ‘mom, I want you to read something.’ They showed me a Tumblr post on Atyipcal Autism and I was transfixed.
Here was an explanation for almost all of my experiences. I was mild in a lot of the areas, but it explained so much of my challenges socially and emotionally.
And all of a sudden the pieces fell together. I was both different and the same. I was autistic, but not in the way that anyone expected me to be.
Like my husband and many, many other adults on the spectrum I have never been formally diagnosed. But finding that page came with this enormous sense of resonance and relief. It was as if they’d just created a new seat in the clubhouse, and now I was welcome to join.