I see it all the time. Autism moms judging other autism moms in online support groups. Mom’s are judged for their child’s diet, or for making the choice to use medication. Can we all just acknowledge how wrong this is and stop?We are already constantly judged by mom’s whose children are neuro-typical. Their judgement is due to ignorance, what’s your excuse?
If your child has autism, you should already know that autism is a spectrum disorder. It is an extremely broad, extremely diverse spectrum. When your child is diagnosed they are given a level, as described in the DSM. These levels divide the spectrum up based off severity. Level 1 is considered high-functioning and level 3 is considered severe. The problem is that even within these levels the spectrum is broad.
Children with autism struggle with social skills and verbal skills, and also with sensory input. 95% of children with autism have atypical sensory processing . There are seven senses: touch, hearing, sight, smell, taste, proprioception, and vestibular. Atypical sensory processing means any, or all, of these senses could be hypersensitive or hyposensitive. There could be any combination of both over and under sensitive, or normal for any or all of the senses. The number of possibilities are 2187. It is nearly impossible for anyone to comprehend what this may be like for another individual. On top of this, communication skills also vary. A child could be completely non verbal but understand everything you say, or verbal and understand nothing you say. They most likely fall somewhere in the middle, but again this is a broad spectrum. For example my sons vocabulary is in the 99th percentile, but his receptive language is in the 7th percentile. He speaks extremely well, but often doesn’t understand others.
Now that you have wrapped your head around all of that information, there is more to consider. 75% of children with Autism also have a co-morbid condition. The most common co-morbid conditions are anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, ODD, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, toileting disorders, and bipolar disorder. All of these conditions also come with their own set of symptoms and challenges, and their own type of treatment or management.
Now ask yourself – how can one autism mom judge another for choosing to medicate their child? The saying “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism” could not be more true.
There are autism moms in support groups, telling other autism moms that if they eliminated certain things from their child’s diet that his issues wouldn’t exist anymore. If a diet change worked for you, that’s wonderful. I am so happy for you that you have been able to get your child to eat good food and that they feel better because of it. However, at the same time there are children whose sense of taste is extremely sensitive. They may refuse to eat almost everything. There are mom’s who’ve had to get feeding tubes for their child in order to keep them alive. Please, don’t judge these mothers. The mom whose child eats great food could be non verbal, and the child who needs the feeding tube could talk great. We are all on a different journey.
This is another things I constantly people judging each other over. Do you medicate your child or not? There are mom’s who are completely against medication. If that’s you – and you use essential oils, or a sensory diet, or ABA, or some combination alone, great! That was your choice and I’m sure you did what was best for your child and your family. However, please don’t judge the other mom who uses medication. Three quarters of children with autism also have a co-morbid condition. A child with a sleep disorder may need medication to help them sleep. A child with ADHD may need medication to help them focus at school. There is no one size fits all. Even different medications work better or worse for different people.
Can we please all take a step back and support each other? We are all autism moms, we need to stick together. We need to accept the differences our children have and understand that everyone’s challenges are unique. Some of us have strengths where the others have weakness and vice versa. We are all doing our best. I often write about ways to avoid meltdowns, or ease transitions . Do I expect them to help everybody? No, not at all. But it helped me and I know there may be someone out there who hasn’t tried what I’ve tried and will take away something positive from what I have to say. But I will never tell you that your way is wrong.
Let’s all spread some love today.