Monday, April 29, 2013

Autism Awareness Month 4/29 - Adventures on the Spectrum - Blogger

I included a post earlier this month about the stigma of aggression (here) in our children. 

What about when it's a girl?

Adventures on the Spectrum is a fantastic blog written by a mother raising a daughter on the spectrum. I was delighted and impressed when she agreed to write this one for us.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored to present, Adventures on the Spectrum...

There's a girl at the Birthday Party doesn't seem to quite fit in. Her social cues are off and she rather run around than sit and play. She's a gorgeous little girl, some say her beauty portrays a porcelain doll. She pushes kids out of the way, not because she's mad, but because she hasn't quite figured out her place in space and using her words correctly to do so. Everyone notices she's a little different. But she's so cute. But she can talk. But she's so smart (splinter skills). But she can walk. But she looks so normal.
"Happy birthday to you Happy Birthday to you YEY" the crowd screams. She screams in horror and sometimes flees under a table. No one reacts, but everyone is wondering why this little girl just did that. It's cake time. Also an indicator the party's almost over. She melts. Screams. Hits her mommy. Scratches her mommy. The whole room stops. Mommy removes her from the room. She's calm again playing with all the kids. I can see she's melting. I see her time ticking away but I remain on the sidelines. I watch her, she flees under something and lays there for a while. A parent looks at me like how could u let her do that. That parent scolds their child, "You do not go under there like Grace" while side eyeing me. Like Grace? I say to myself. I swallow a lump down. Are you blaming Grace? Sometimes I want to scream, "you can not discipline a neurological disorder!"
I know when things like this happen, most people can not wrap their head around my daughter. This is hard for me, because of this, some lack empathy for her. And my girl needs empathy.
Being a girl with ASD is tough, add aggressiveness and impulsivity the painted picture becomes more difficult for an outsider to process. In a room full of people who watch her melt down a huge part of the room say to themselves, discipline, spoiled, mean child. I can feel it. Their eyes burn through me as my daughter scratches my face or kicks me in the stomach or tosses a full cup of soda across the room. It's so hard to keep my heart from racing and to calm my daughter down when everyone's watching. I've learned over the years to block everything out and focus on my daughter's struggles.
Every mothers dream is to do "girl like things" with their daughter. No one pictures a mother restraining her daughter. A mother telling a school district my daughter will aggress towards anyone who puts demands on her. A mother zipping up her daughter's bus harness. A mother covering up scratches on her face with make up. A mother making sure nothing is in the backseat so nothing gets thrown at her while driving. Society is not aware of this side to motherhood in an ASD girl's life. It's never spoken about.
I am not ashamed of my beautiful girl, Grace. She does not mean what she does, and I will never give up on her. And I will work with her as long as it takes to calm her down. She's worth every scratch, bruise, and scrape. She's funny, so smart. And on her good days she's so loving. She loves so purely and so innocent.
She's not a monster. She's not a bad kid. She's not spoiled. She's Grace. She is a girl with Autism
Spectrum Disorder. She needs help navigating in a world that her brain can not fully process. She needs empathy. She needs you not to fear her or make her feel like she's a bad example in front of your kids. She loves. She needs your understanding. She needs your love. She needs acceptance. 
She needs above all AWARENESS.

Ed. Note - Adventures on the Spectrum asked for a song title for this post (as is the "Find My Eyes" style). The choice was mine.


  1. My child can behave like that at times - but he's a boy. But if I saw a girl behave like that, I wouldn't think it odd because she's a girl - because to me, I don't think much about the percentages that more boys are diagnosed w/ ASD than girls. But if I were a mom of a little girl with ASD, I would probably have that thought of doing little girl things with a little girl & maybe being disappointed sometimes that I don't get to do that. But then, what if my little girl were a tomboy anyway? Nobody can say what the personality & likes/dislikes of any child is going to be.

  2. My son avoids birthdays assiduously. This would be a good description as to why.

  3. This is should write a book..I could read these all day