You’re Nothing Like My Kid

Mom and I, 2005

I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard this since going public about my autism diagnosis. The kid that I’m usually “nothing like”, for context, is a 5-8 year old. Which… makes sense, considering I’m a 22 year old woman. Parents of disabled children, understandably, have that period of time where they feel like their dreams for their kids have flown out the window, especially because of how inaccessible the world is and how doctors have nothing to offer but the medical, deficit perspective.

Before I was diagnosed with autism, my mother was told that they weren’t sure if I would ever walk or talk. The doctors were going to do their best, but my parents should be grateful for whatever they got. Again, this had nothing to do with autism. This had to do with a heart condition which needed several surgeries to even begin to “repair” (loose sense of the word), some of which had less than a 50 percent survival rate. I was slow to develop and reach milestones, because of being physically disabled, and because of autism (which was unrealized at the time). I was always last to do anything, getting tired easily, retreating to my safe space alone because everyone’s legs were longer, everyone was faster, and more coordinated, more everything.

There were plenty of times my parents could have written my story – and I’m sure they often did, unbeknownst to me. Their image of a “regular” kid was out the window on July 19th, 1998 when I came out of my mother blue in the face and wouldn’t eat – and again when I hit five years old, when I wasn’t supposed to be alive, and they realized I wasn’t going to be able to ride a bike until many years later. (I was 12, for reference, and I still hate bikes to this day.) Their image of a regular kid was dashed again when I wouldn’t stay over at anyone’s else’s house, when I was getting migraine headaches every month for an unknown reason (sensory overload), when I was kicked out of ballet classes because I “needed too much help”. Again when I realized I would probably never be able to drive a car. Again when I got my official autism diagnosis at 22.

All this to say – Your child at 5 is not the same person they will be at 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 40. Life moves forward. Nobody is stagnant. Please don’t write your child’s story before they have a chance to write their own.

Published by Taryn Jaye

Autistic. Writer, advocate, and future therapist. Yes, I support individuals with high-support needs.

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