The Reasons I Don’t Like People (Thoughts from an autistic 9 year old)

Some people like lots of friends and team sports and doing lots of activities with others. I am not like that at all.

I quite like my own company. I don’t really like people at all to be honest.

I don’t like little babies. They make me felt helpless when they cry. When people cry it makes me feel very sad too and I want to cry so I want to stop them crying but they can’t tell me what they want so I can’t stop feeling sad. I also worry they might be sick. I hate sick. It makes me feel sick too. So I don’t like babies much, except maybe when they are sleeping or smiling or laughing but just a little bit.

I don’t like toddlers. They don’t understand personal space at all! They touch things that aren’t theirs and move things. They put things in their mouths and wander about and I can’t even cope with that. They don’t wait their turn, they try and do things that are dangerous and they throw tantrums when you say no. So I basically don’t like toddlers much. Plus they are still fragile and babies really but walk about like they are the boss which is so confusing! They look cute and makeup words but it doesn’t make up for the other stuff so I’m not a fan of toddlers at all.

I don’t like nursery kids or those who have just started school much either. They look at me like I am clever and follow me and copy me and I hate that! I hate being looked at. I hate other kids watching me. It’s like they think I am God or something. Just do your own thing please and leave me be. No you can’t play with me and no I don’t want to show you what I have. Just find other friends or go away. Don’t play football near me either or in parks. Balls are so dangerous in parks! See that age is so annoying!

I don’t like children my own age or a little older. The problem with that age is they notice my differences. They notice my brothers differences too and laugh at him. Thats so wrong and makes me cry.That’s all I want to say about that.

I don’t like teenagers. They don’t follow rules like they climb up slides you should slide down and show off to friends. They say naughty words and laugh at me and that is wrong. I can’t work them out much either as some times they can be really moody and grumpy and other times nice. Just be the same all the time please. Be the nice one actually.

Adults are not good too. They think they can boss children even when they are not my mum or dad. They shout, change rules, move things, walk over my stuff and sit beside me. They interrupt, have phones that they talk to all the time when I need them and forget my routines. It’s like they forget children even exist sometimes.

Old people are even worse. They talk when I am talking, touch me when I don’t want touched and ask me things that are personal like ‘awwww how old are you then?’ I mean what does it matter how old I am it’s not like you are buying me a birthday card is it?’ Plus they never have a clue about what I like and then just say ‘when I was your age…’ I hear that enough from my dad as it is! I know the world was black and white and flat and there used to not be iPads. I even learnt about Vikings and Romans at school but I live now so that’s what matters to me.

Another reasons I don’t like people is the fact we have people rules but it’s like everyone just forgets them. Isn’t there meant to be rules about who goes first? Some people just forget that queue rule all the time. Then there’s the talking rule thing. Mum says don’t speak to strangers but strangers speak to me when I am a stranger to them so they break the rule! Then I get told off for not replying…ahem…they broke the stranger people rule first not me! Then there’s the truth rule. Aren’t people meant to tell the truth? Even children break that one sometimes and I am like what? That didn’t happen like that why are you making that up? Remember imagination and make believe are for stories people not real life. Tell the truth. That’s the rule.

There is so many rules I wish people lived by that would maybe make me like them more. I’m just going to tell you them because this is my story and the rules say I can say what I want in my own story. So:

Give me space

Give me time

Give me peace

Don’t touch my things

Let me finish talking, writing, watching, listening or whatever else first before interrupting me.

Never laugh at me

Don’t stare at me, copy me or point at me

Don’t touch me

Don’t hurt me

Just let me be me and I’ll let you be you.

Then it doesn’t matter if I don’t like people because we can just do our own thing anyway.

That’s exactly how I like it actually.

The end.

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Why I No Longer Tell People My Children Have Autism (even though they do)

I always thought I was a proud ‘autism mum’, unashamed of my children and spreading autism awareness wherever we went. It turns out I have actually been harming my children, and the autism community, without even realising it.

Let me explain.

It’s the school summer holidays and both my children are autistic. One of my children has severe autism. He has also recently been diagnosed with epilepsy. At 9 he has no spoken language so he often screams. He chews his cuddly toys, flaps, spins, claps and makes repetitive noises. His twin sister has anxiety, is selective mute, freezes if someone talks to her or even looks at her and is very much in her own imaginary world.

Yesterday I took them out ten pin bowling followed by a trip to a well known fast food restaurant.

When we arrived at bowling, despite pre-booking the lane online to save waiting, there was still a queue. My daughter panicked and became anxious and distressed, asking a million questions over and over again

‘What if it’s too busy mum and we can’t play?’

‘What if all the lanes are broken and we need to go home?’

‘What if there are no staff because they are all sick?’

‘What number lane did you book because I can see people on lanes and they might be on our one…’

And so on.

Meanwhile her brother was wandering, flapping, chewing the nose of his teddy and otherwise just acting happy and excited in line with his developmental age of around 18 months or younger.

This time last year I would have not stopped talking. In fact I would have been similar to my daughter who was saying so much out of sheer anxiety. Except my anxiety was different as I was much more socially aware and I felt I had to ‘explain’ my children’s unusual behaviours. I would have turned to the strangers behind me and said something about how both children have autism and find waiting difficult and my son can’t speak. Even if they were not even looking at the children or even bothered by them in any way I still told them anyway! I then would have made a big deal of announcing to the person at the counter how the children had autism and global delay and my son could not speak and this and that and…well more than she or anyone else actually needed to know!

I truly thought I was helping. I thought I was explaining behaviours and educating strangers. I believed I was spreading ‘autism awareness’.

Actually what I was doing was embarrassing my children, portraying autism as something that needed excusing or apologising for and exposing my vulnerable children to the world. Would I have felt the need to broadcast my children’s difficulties if they had been wheelchair users? Would I have shouted it to the world if they had a hidden genetic condition or a medical condition like diabetes? Yes my children were noticeably different but by mentioning that fact I was actually drawing MORE attention to it and not less. My anxiety was making things worse.

This year things are different. Naomi is asking question after question, Isaac is flapping, wandering away and chewing his teddies. They are openly different.

But now I keep quiet.

Now I no longer tell strangers my children have autism even though they do.

I am not ashamed of my children, neither am I embarrassed. Never. Not even for a second. In fact I accept them totally and wholeheartedly for who they are. That is why I stay quiet.

My children deserve respect and privacy. Society should accept them without any justification.They should not be accepted because ‘they have autism’ but because they are wonderful, beautiful and unique just like everyone else in life.

So yesterday we were issued a lane (number 19 if you really need to know) and I supported my precious children to take turns, use a support frame to push balls down the lane, and to watch excitedly as pins fell down (much more often when they rolled than when I did!). No-one stared, no-one asked questions or even really cared about us much and I never once told anyone my children have autism.

When we had had our ten games I helped them into the car and I drove to the nearby well known restaurant. I ordered nuggets and one ate just the skins and drank only milk while the other licked the table as well as his food! Still I never once mentioned autism to anyone. Both children clapped, flapped and made baby noises. I still never mentioned autism.

My children haven’t changed. I have.

Last night I apologised to both my children. I can’t say how much either of them understand how my own anxiety caused me to feel I had to tell the world about their diagnosis when in fact it was no-one else’s business. If THEY wish to tell someone about their own autism (I understand my son is likely to never reach this stage due to lack of spoken language and severe learning difficulties but he still deserves the same respect and I treat him as if he does understand anyway) one day that is THEIR choice. If my daughter (or son) wanted to wear clothing stating they had autism again that would be their choice.

But until then I have no right to disclose their diagnosis to complete strangers just because I feel the need to justify and explain their behaviours. Everyone is different and we should all just accept that without explanation or labels.

I am learning. I am not anxious anymore. So I no longer tell people my children have autism even though it is obvious they do.

It is making for a much more relaxed life for everyone.

P.s. They both beat me at bowling…I wonder how I would feel if they told everyone I was rubbish at bowling…

Blessed with a different child (A caravan holiday in peak season with a disabled 9 year old)

Back home we live in our own world: You go to school in a town far away and I take you to quiet places where few people go, like the park early in the morning or swimming much later after dinner.

Here we can’t do that.

Here it is obvious that I am blessed with a different child.

Caravan parks don’t isolate the disabled children like education does. Caravan parks don’t give you preferential treatment or appointments like the health service does. Caravan park restaurants won’t let you order mashed potato for breakfast like I make you at home. Here you are the same, but different. A bit like the caravans which on the surface all seem similar yet every single one is different.

When we arrive and unpack those around see I am blessed with a different child even before I park the car. There you sit in the back flapping with excitement and chewing on the nose of your cuddly toy. It’s not something 9 year olds do really and you look…odd.

I forget that others see you and stare. It makes me uncomfortable and reminds me why I don’t take you out as often as I should.

Is taking a disabled child to a busy caravan park in the summer holidays the right thing to do?

I think it is.

I take you to the on-site pool. Other 9 year olds are swimming unaided, playing with friends, drying and dressing themselves and doing hand stands in the water. You are lead by the hand by your mum, still using swimming nappies and a rubber ring and you giggle just sitting at the side dipping your feet in the shallow toddler splash pool. You are every bit as happy as all the other children, just in a different way.

I watch you and smile. Being blessed with a different child has taught me to enjoy your happiness every single day. As I look about I notice a life guard watching and smiling. Your different-ness has made them smile too.

I take you to the busy park. Other parents sit nearby chatting and drinking. I am lifting your legs, guiding you to the steps each time, and encouraging you down the smallest of slides so that children 7 years younger than you can take their turn. You make happy baby noises and wave your hands with excitement. Some parents move their children away, some children leave of their own decision but some carry on regardless. I am not embarrassed by my child but I am embarrassed at how others respond to him.

What’s so bad about seeing someone blessed with a different child?

Being in a busy caravan park with a child who is noticeably different to his peers has made me realise something:

My child is not the issue, the issue is how others respond.

I have not helped my son or my community by going to places others don’t. So from now on I promise to change that.

I am blessed with a different child and I won’t hide that anymore. If he wants to swim at peak times that’s where I will take him. If the park is busy what have I got to be afraid of?

I’m done with the isolation. If I can cope with a busy caravan park in summer season with a nine year old who can’t dress himself, can’t speak, can’t jump and still eats with his fingers then I can do the same back home. If he has a seizure in public so what? If he has a meltdown why should I apologise? He is a child just like any other child. He is beautiful, funny, full of mischief and entitled to play just like any other child.

I thought I was making things easier for my son by protecting him from comments and stares but in reality I have made both more likely because children like my son need to be seen more to be accepted more.

I am blessed with a different child and it’s about time the world saw a lot more of him!

I’m so glad I took him to a busy caravan park in the height of summer season. It gave me confidence and delight to be the one blessed with the different child.