My daughter Eden is four years old and she is on the Autism spectrum. I wanted to make this video because April is Autism Awareness Month and I am an advocate for those with Autism. I want to help you understand what Autism is and what it isn’t.
Autism is a developmental disability. Autism is not curable. And guess what? Disability does not make you disabled, it just means that there are certain things that just don’t compute or fit the box that we say humans should act in. Autism is also not a mental disorder.
To follow are three things that I personally learned to help me navigate this world that I’m in. Check out the video above to meet Eden, and hear much more from me on this subject.
1. Stick to a schedule or keep a system.
Eden does this high-pitched scream that could disrupt traffic. For a long period of time, we didn’t know what it was. So, I started to implement different things to understand it. The number one thing I realized once we got into the screaming for Eden is that she thrives on systems and schedules and anytime you set it off and you do not allow her to understand and give her ample time to compute and respond, it’s gonna be a problem. I also realized that that’s a big problem for me — I am very much a fast, fast, fast, fast-paced person. People tell me to slow it down. People who have Autism need patience and grace, and you giving that to them is ultimately the greatest gift you can give.
I’ve encountered people saying that my daughter is rude or disrespectful — no she’s not. She’s autistic and she doesn’t have the sensory or the input to understand exactly your frequency and she doesn’t like it. It doesn’t work for her — that doesn’t make her rude or disrespectful, it makes her Autistic.
My daughter is all the things great, beautiful, educated, magical, and brilliant.
2. Give people with Autism time.
They need extra time to comprehend and understand what it is that you are telling them so that they can effectively delegate the action needed. When I ask Eden to hand me something or do something and I have to repeat it, she does not like that because, for her and her sensory and everything going on being on the spectrum, she needs a little bit more time. It doesn’t mean that she’s not listening, doesn’t mean she doesn’t understand, it doesn’t mean that she’s being disrespectful, she just needs more time.
So I allow myself to understand that and that has changed me as a person and made me better — understanding patience, understanding grace, and understanding that not everybody is quite as fast as I am. I’ve seen it work wonders with others in her program, too, when we give them great patience and we allow them time to just understand and respond.
3. Communicate clearly.
Number three is to be very clear and concise when communicating. I am a very fast talker. Now, with Eden, I’m more direct and specific. I might even say, “Could you please get me that purple blanket that is underneath your bed to the right?” because she’s very much all about concise communication and clarity. Again, I’ve learned it with other children as well.
Sometimes she does scream, but screaming is a sign that she can’t communicate the emotion or understand that it’s okay to be frustrated. For her, frustration means yelling, so it’s okay for me. I could have a picky eater. I could have a kid that doesn’t sleep. Instead, I have a kid with Autism and it’s okay because we’re rocking it together.
Catch the rest of what Chrissy has to say in the video above. To read more from her and Eden, be sure to follow @sociallychrissy on Instagram!