Sympathy for the Autistic / Being Autistic

“Having any child is a life-changing experience. Having one who isn’t like you, though, is also a learning experience. I think I cried when it fully sunk in that “childhood wonder” is a real and short-lived thing for allistic children, and I did a double take recently when my wife stated that soon our son’s emotions would open wide up. He’s already more emotional than I ever have been!

On a day-to-day basis, my son is a lot more talkative than I ever was. He seldom wants to play with toys unless he can do so with other people . . . and he plays in a completely different way. He wants to have the characters talk, and often he wants to narrate the entire “story” telling me what my characters do, as well…

…Both of them are also way more comfortable asking me for things than I am with doing the same. The issue is, they tend to be extremely vague.

My life is punctuated with “Can you do something for me?”, “Can I have a favor?”, “I’m hungry.” , “Can you do it for me?”, “Can you get it for me?”, “Daddy, can you play with me?”, “I’m lonely. Can you be with me for a bit?”

If there’s one very important thing I’ve learned from having a neurotypical child, it’s this:

Independence is not something you are going to have with an NT child. They need a lot of attention.”

-Jaime A. Heidel, “What Is It Like for An Autistic Parent to Raise a Non-Autistic Child? June 26, 2019.

There are occasions, such as when reading this, when I find I am very much in sympathy with the autistic perspective. This is not just an issue with children, but people in general. They are emotional. Frequently people are asking for something from those around them that assumes you know what they want. They always want to be together. Frequently, people don’t want to be responsible for their own problems.

The funny bit is how I use “they” in the preceding paragraph. Largely, I do not need to be around people. I only ask for help when there is no other way to get something done. I am not going to talk about myself or my emotions. All of which points to the possibility that perhaps I’m on the spectrum?

The strange bit is when around children, and their torrent of emotions, I find I’m much more sympathetic than when I’m with adults. Adults hide their pain and often lash out. Children will show it, and then you can tell them, “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I’m not used to being around small children.” They, rarely hearing such an admission from an adult, often feel much better after. Truly, I’m not trying to hurt their feelings. While this is also true of adults, it’s much harder to recognize that you have hurt an adult’s feelings, and even more difficult to say you didn’t mean to do it.