My son has the type of autism that is not a hidden disability


My son was running away from me in the supermarket yet again. I had held him tight as we went through the checkout but let go of him for a second or two to pick up my bags. That was all it took. As I chased after him towards the automatic front doors and into a very busy car park I noticed a stranger was gently holding his shoulder.

“Is he yours?” she asked as she saw the sweat appear on my forehead.

“Yes”, I puffed as I once again held his wrists.

“He has autism and he is heading right for the car park lift. Thanks for your support.”
“I knew right away he had autism. You can tell.”
If I was given just a small amount of money each time someone told me something similar I would be rich.
My son has the type of autism that is NOT a hidden disability.

So what makes his difficulties and diagnosis so obvious?
Is it the fact he flaps and stims CONSTANTLY? I really means constantly! He can not sit or stand still. He shakes things, chews things, flaps things, flicks things, squeezes things and licks things all the time. It is impossible to NOT notice it. His body movements are not hidden.
Is it the fact he can not talk? That may seem like something you would think would not be noticeable but to hear the noises he DOES make it is pretty clear to most people that these are not noises you hear everyday. His noises are not hidden.
Is it the fact he screams? He can scream longer than a fire alarm and more high pitched that a whistle. He screams randomly and inappropriately whenever he feels like it. There is nothing hidden about that in any way.
What about the fact he is still wearing nappies? As much as I try not to show this he thinks nothing of pulling up his top to chew or pulling at his trousers making it obvious. He has no social awareness and no understanding. Yes he could be incontinent for any number of reasons but combined with his noises and movements it adds to the number of reasons why people realise right away upon meeting him that he has autism.
He runs, he flaps, he obviously has learning difficulties, and he behaves quite differently to other children his age. He is sometimes in a wheelchair for his own safety and if I have not got the energy to run a marathon while doing my shopping then I often use a disabled trolley for convenience.
He would rather spend hours at hand dryers in the bathroom than anywhere else in a store, unless they have a lift. He is entertained for hours just watching lift doors open and close and open and close over and over again.
He is unmissable. He is loud. His tongue is more out of his mouth than it is in. He is handsome, cheeky and adorable. I don’t hide him and I don’t hide his autism. He doesn’t hide his diagnosis either. In fact he flaunts it.

People see him and people see his autism. 
Sometimes they don’t react very well to that. Other times, like the beautiful stranger today, they see a child with obvious difficulties and look out for him.
They comment, they look, and they react because my child has the type of autism that is NOT a hidden disability.
For many who are not as severe as my son I understand why autism can be a hidden disability. But it isn’t true that it is a hidden disability for everyone.


17 thoughts on “My son has the type of autism that is not a hidden disability

  1. Thank you. We are exactly the same. Especially the lifts, hand dryers and noises. Was beginning to think only I braved the supermarket with a child as “obvious”. Relieved I am not the only one x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our kiddo’s are very similar. My son goes crazy for elevators. He’s also non-verbal and people can quite quickly tell he has autism. So much so that I had a random man decide to pray for him to be healed In a supermarket line up. As you can likely imagine I was none too pleased with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My grandson Tom is also exactly the same …… and most people are very good , understand and will help …… Tom is also very loveable ……but very hard on his parents who have to cope with him 24/7 …….. God Bless all these parents……..and also any siblings in the family.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. U just described my son autusim to a tee he does all that ur son does i am afraid he is going to get hit by a car someday though.especially if he gets faster than i can run. Plus he has speech apraxia too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Liam now 24 wouldn’t know how to hide his autism if he tried!! Some hilarious moments and a shed load of tears. Children with autism grow into adults with autism. God bless the woman at the door of the supermarket

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful article. You have described my very gorgeous special little princess & sometimes I struggle with the “looks”. Thank you for sharing and hopefully making people more aware. Love to super mom & unique son xxx💙❤️💙

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for your post and thanks for the empathy I felt as a fellow parent of a child with autism.
    I too struggle with day to day activities when my son is with me as I too don’t want to hide him but expose him to the world so he can overcome difficulties when I am no longer around to help him.
    I hope you have a good day and your son feels safe and happy.
    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know what you mean. My son has chromosome disorders and autism. It is quite obvious also. Only he is 39 , 5ft 2in and weighs 200 pounds. He is happy most of the time and thinks he is perfect just like he is. And so do I. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. One day when my children were small, I was leaving the supermarket when I noticed a very distressed woman obviously searching for a child, aided by staff. I had four little ones with me so reckoned I wouldn’t be much use. As I exited the slip road I saw him and immediately ‘knew’. The young boy was dancing in the middle of the road, completely oblivious to the four lanes of traffic that swerved to avoid him – but didn’t stop. I slammed on my breaks, put on my hazard warnings and shouted at the children not to leave the car. I ran into the middle of the traffic and took his hand, he passively accompanied me. I walked back to the supermarket and reunited him with his mother who at this stage looked like she could do with a cardiac ambulance. I then sprinted back to my own car which was obstructing the traffic.
    My eldest is now 21 and works for a well known and popular ‘customer focussed’ store. She recently requested ‘disability awareness training’ for all shop floor staff and her request is currently being considered by management. The other night she said to me ‘Mum, if a parent with a child with autism was shopping where I work, how could I support them?’

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can’t say I had a positive reaction toward your article. I am hoping you can help me gain a better understanding as to what you are trying to say in regard to visible vs invisible Autism?


    • I would say the article explains itself well. For some autism can not be noticed by someone on the street but with my son this is very much not the case as I stated at the beginning when a complete stranger was able to tell say he had autism with no knowledge of him at all.
      Autism is commonly known as an invisible disability and my point is this is not always the case at all.


  11. My son has a HFAD diagnosis. He is highly able at English and Science and above average with Mathematics. He doesn’t flap. He stopped running away at 5. He toilet trained at 8. He speaks in sentences and paragraphs. It still doesn’t help. He stands out like a sore thumb when surrounded by his peers. Even three year old’s sense something is up, they frown and stare. Three year old’s just seem to know.


  12. Has someone suggested it IS hidden for everyone? No one in my circle of colleagues who are autistic would ever speak in a way as to leave your son and his high needs out of the dialogue.


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