Sunday, 31 December 2017

Parenting with Autism - Part One

It was becoming a father that set the ball rolling for my eventual diagnosis with Aspergers.  This transpired through a number of different channels.  One, which I will explore in Part Two, was the way that fatherhood effectively obliterated my safe and steady routine that I'd developed over my adult life, exposing me to painful levels of spontaneity and change.  Two, I had a new person in my life, and for the very first time ever I had met somebody that I felt utterly relaxed round.

I may sound extreme but it's very true.  Up until the birth of my daughter I don't remember a single person who I have felt entirely at ease with, entirely chilled out and happy.  Of course, for the first 32 years of my life I had no idea this as the case, as I had nothing to compare it too - having never experienced peace with a second person I didn't even know it existed as a concept; I assumed (I assume) that this was how everyone felt; that everyone was on edge even with their closest friends, that life was inherently stressful when other folk were around.  How wrong I was.

Spending time with Poppy, even when she was very small indeed, gave me an insight into what life was like for everyone else - I just didn't know it at that early stage.  All I knew was that for some reason I could be myself around her, and this never changed.  As she got older and more communicative, I could still be myself with her, and she didn't drain my energy like other people did.  Even now, as she approaches three and can be very dismissive of people, places and things, I still feel totally relaxed around her.  It's a combination of not having to mask or camouflage for her, but also not feeling the rapid-battery-drain of social interaction when I'm around her.  This was so novel that it made me take stock and reassess - clearly there was something different going on here.

I did my research and lo and behold, an affinity with one's own child that feels different to every other social relationship is a typical sign of autism.  And of course I'm aware that all people feel a special bond with their child - I'm talking about something different - a sense of acceptance and calm that isn't the same as deep, unconditional love (though I have that too).  This discovery was the final push I needed to getting diagnosed, and now I am very interested in identifying exactly why it is that an autistic person's offspring is so unique and untaxing.

A short one tonight - it's New Year's Eve - but I'll write Part Two within a few days.

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