This post is now available in the ‘Life with an Autistic Son’ ebook available to download from Amazon.
I think I am guilty of living too intently in the autism bubble too. Although L can be violent in his meltdowns, I think I’d got out of proportion what that meant (maybe because the main element in meltdown is that I have no control). At the park with friends recently they were sharing stories of their children (none of whom have autism) and I realised that the level of inter-sibling ‘violence’ (and I may stop using that word because it perhaps gives too strong an impression) is just the same if not worse than between my two. Also, my two are incredibly close too and spend time loving each other visibly as well as hating each other. All normal stuff for any siblings. As for the girls, I know someone who is struggling because she has been told her daughter may have Asperger’s and she doesn’t recognise what she’s read in the books (which may as you say perpetuate the male side of Autism). My favourite author du jour – Jennifer Cook O’Toole has Asperger’s and has a daughter with Asperger’s her take on in it is very refreshing and perhaps less male.
Thanks for this reply- I recognise what you’re saying. It’s only as B has begun to develop his understanding of the world around him that he and his brother have come into conflict. Before that, there was none of the usual sibling rivalry or violence! I welcome their clashes now as it shows a greater ‘normality’ in their relationship, which is healthy for both boys. They are the best of friends, rather than B being the baby of the family, and are increasingly able to play together, being boys.
I have to be honest, I don’t recognise my older NT son at all from the “typical boy behaviour” description. He’s a mini-me – total geek LOL. We love maths, numbers, puzzles, Lego etc but neither of us are at all sporty, boisterous or aggressive. Even the younger ASD child isn’t aggressive or destructive in his behaviour. Yes, he will take apart the tower we have built but in a careful one brick at a time way rather than smashing it down!
When my son’s peer group of Year 4s play together after school there doesn’t seem to be the same gender-split the media tell you about. All of them are tearing around the field together! If anything some of the boys in my son’s friendship group are more tender hearted than many of the girls.
I do agree that in many ways it is easier for females with ASD to hide it because it’s not being looked for. In the same way that a doctor will miss an ED in a male because “only teenage girls get anorexia”.
I also think the “ultra-girly” party was a result of the parents’ age as much as the girls themselves. In my experience women of my age (40s) are much less likely to have girly-girls than the younger generation. My belief is that we fought hard for equality in the 70s and 80s and want our children to be more gender-neutral whereas the younger women inherited a more equal world and see nothing wrong in dressing their DDs head to toe in pink.
Thanks for this thought provoking comment. But the girly-generation thing- you mean The Spice Girls ‘Girl Power’ movement was for nothing?!!!
Haha. Sorry, but your description of the party made me laugh. I think there is a very fine line that is hard to work out & I often struggle with the where does autism end and being an 11 year old boy begin? question. I sometimes think its not necessarily the behaviour that is defined by autism, but how we respond to it that needs to be defined by autism.
For the record I think both my children would have stormed about a house & garden at that age, especially at a party of younger children. And if they thought they were getting a reaction with the crying etc. they would have carried on.
I’ve been to a few of those parties. Always uncomfortable. Never fun. Toughest part for me is always trying to find the line between discipline and letting my son be who he is. I know he can behave appropriately but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for him. Excellent post.
I saw this rather timely report today:
StephsTwo Girls posted an interesting response to this blog post here:
The party description made me laugh out loud! I knew I was in for a bad morning too at a local park when a dad turned up with two beautifully turned out girls in matching sun hats, frocks and sandals on shiny pink scooters … Beam me up Scotty!!!!
My daughter sounds very much like your son, only younger. She is almost 4 years old. And from what I’ve read on your blog, acts very much the same. If I were to compare my daughter to your son, I’d say she’s gentler, quieter and slightly less prone to destructive or disruptive implusiveness. I have a NT 5 year old boy, so I definitely see the differences that appear to be related to gender. She is much more subdued and able to control herself in certain situations than my son, but her meltdowns and outbursts seem more random, illogical and catastrophic, compared to my son’s fits about not getting his way. The hyperness is non existent when her brother is not around, but when he is and they play, it’s like having 2 boys, she can climb, run and jump fearlessly with little regard for safety, just like my boy. Girls are different from boys for sure, but maybe not as drastically as we think, maybe girls are no different from boys than every person is different from eachother.
As for the party, that really struck a chord with me. My NT son is like that, at every party we go to. He’s so high energy we don’t get invited out much. However, my daughter is the one who will quietly go into some one’s room and peel decals or wall paper off the wall, rearrange fragile ornaments so that they all face the “right way” and have the correct spacing between them, or reprogram the host’s PVR.
It’s refreshing to read your blog. Thank you.
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this is the first post I came across on your blog, and have come back to it many times since! I think about this often, while we raise our three boys. I linked this post in my latest blog post, and hope many more will get the chance to read it. Thank you for your frank, honest writing. It makes all parents feel comfort…whether your children are autistic or not. God bless.
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