I Used To Worry About My Autistic Child’s Future Until I Met An Adult Just Like Her

All parents worry about their children: Will they make good healthy choices? What if they get hurt? Will they have friends? How will they cope with handling money? Will they be safe?

It’s standard parenting really to worry.

That worry is amplified if your child is autistic. You worry even more about them misunderstanding language, making friends, and being independent because they are more vulnerable and different to their peers, and because society isn’t yet as accepting and embracing of difference as it should be.

I worry about both my autistic children but for very different reasons.

My son is profoundly autistic. He is, however, likely to have the support he needs throughout his life because his needs and difficulties are very obvious to people. The fact he has no spoken language, he has significant medical issues and severe learning difficulties on top of his autism mean that my worries for him are more about will he carers look after him, will he be understood, will he be respected and so on.

With my daughter, who is also autistic, but who has no accompanying medical issues other than anxiety (which is huge and I would never underplay that), and certainly no learning difficulties, my worries are very different. I worry about people taking advantage of her when she is socially naive to their motives. I worry wether she would manage a work environment with her unseen and often misunderstood sensory difficulties. I worry that her communication difficulties and social anxiety will mean she is isolated and unsupported. I worry that her naturally caring nature and very tender heart would mean she is vulnerable to bullying and cruelty.

I try to never let her see my worries but they are always there. When she struggles with change at school on days like sports day or comes home in tears because she had been unwell and unable to tell anyone. When her anxiety is so high she has panic attacks and nose bleeds and I am powerless to make everything right.

She worries about everything and I worry about her.

Then I met Tom on a social media group. I say ‘met’ him but he was a stranger posting on a group both by commenting on posts relating to my daughter (and other posts too) and writing his own posts. Very quickly to us both it became obvious that Tom and my daughter had so much in common. Examples included little things like the fact:

1. They both preferred to sit on hard surfaces like the floor instead of traditional furniture like armchairs and sofas. Naomi spends hours a day, often all day, playing on the floor. It turned out Tom does that too but as an adult to relax in other ways like watching TV.

2. Naomi really struggles with needing personal space. She builds barricades out of toys to create circles around her that no-one can enter. Tom struggles with personal space at work in a similar way.

3. Naomi takes language literally timing me for example if I was to say ‘I will be back in a minute.’ Tom was struggling with the same thing and mentioned misunderstandings at work and with his family due to the same literal understanding of language.

4. I mentioned in one post that Naomi was terrified of flies, wasps, bees and any other small flying creatures. Tom was reminded of the time his parents told him he was so scared of bees he refused to get out the car.

5. Both Tom and my daughter would rock to self soothe.

I could go on but the resemblances continue to grow the more Tom posts about his life and the more he reads about my daughter.

Coming across an adult who is so like your child is incredible. It gives me hope when I once had worry, it excited me when I used to fear and it inspires me when I was once disheartened.

I know Tom isn’t my daughter, but with so many similarities I feel we were meant to meet to ease my worries. You see Tom is independent, he has a full-time job, he has friends, and though he struggles with isolation at times he never loses hope and he never stops trying. Of course he still has struggles but he did well educationally and he has achieved in so many ways. He lives the sort of life I hope my daughter might have one day but yet I worried wether it would happen.

Tom only found out he was autistic as an adult. My daughter was diagnosed aged 5. Tom doesn’t live in the same country either and his family life and dynamics are different. Yet the similarities are just enough to make me feel encouraged. What is even more important though is that hearing about Tom is helping Naomi.

While my daughter isn’t on social media yet I have been telling her about Tom. She is amazed at the similarities (have I mentioned Tom even shares her birthday?) and so encouraged to hear that while he may have some struggles (don’t we all, autistic or not?) he is achieving, happy and doing well.

She may never meet Tom but that doesn’t matter. We don’t have to meet people in person to be encouraged or inspired by them.

My daughter will one day soon be an autistic adult. Hearing about an adult just like her has been life changing for us both.

Thank you Tom.

I used to worry about my child’s future until I met an adult just like her.

If only every autistic child could meet an adult just like them too. Believe me when I say it really is life changing.

13 thoughts on “I Used To Worry About My Autistic Child’s Future Until I Met An Adult Just Like Her

  1. This is comforting as a parent, and I’m thrilled for your daughter. It’s an excellent way of showing her that some of the ways she thinks and does things are similar to someone else. The confusion lies in how one diagnosis of autism also presents so very differently in my 2 boys also. I’ll actively hunt out someone similar for my ds also.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And this is one of the reasons I am seeking diagnosis. My niece was diagnosed as a toddler and I want her to know that things like work are possible- hard, but possible. My other reason is validation- I want to know that there is a name for my struggles, for my quirks.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My son is16 next month. He is sitting his GCSEs next summer, being autistic means he spends most of time alone in his bedroom and does t really have any real friends. School say he has a friend group but he tells me they are just acquaintances because they are all annoying. I’m really concerned about how he will manage as an adult as like your daughter his autism isn’t obvious. I also worry that he might lose it in a public situation and punch someone. What a minefield plus his DLA runs out next month so we have the pip debacle to get through
    .happy you have found comfort through meeting someone similar to your daughter

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hopefully Naomi can learn from Tom in that with the right help and things, she can participate in life as much or as little as she wants to and if she needs time to herself, she can take that too. I am glad it was of some comfort to you both x

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That post is amazing. It’s so great you are now comforted now. Ive have worried about this myself for awhile until I started to see independent things come out of my child. Now it’s just a case of teaching the right things with great guidance. I haven’t met anyone that is similar to my daughter.

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  6. Pingback: I Used To Worry About My Autistic Child’s Future Until I Met An Adult Just Like Her | faithmummy – International Badass Activists

  7. Thank you for this. It is exactly what I needed tonight. I have been struggling with my worries & anxieties over my 8 year old sons future. He is currently being evaluated for a diagnosis. He sounds very much like your daughter…. sensitive, some might say “quirky”. Most people would never guess that he struggles as much as he does. You have given me some hope & for that, bless you

    Liked by 1 person

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