My mom is not an Autism (Warrior) Mom(TM)

My mom is not an Autism Mom.  She never was.  (I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to be one; there’s enough debate about that already elsewhere.  I’m just stating the facts as our family experienced them, which was just the way it was for us, probably a natural product of the times.)

Of course, part of the reason for this is that she never had the chance to be.  Back in those days, none of us knew that I was on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, nor did Asperger’s/autism “exist” (in the diagnostic manuals) as we recognize it today.

My mum knew I was different…and that’s all she knew.   Because back then, that was all there was to be known.

That’s all any of us knew.  And she played to my strengths and accommodated my weaknesses as an individual.  She guided me into the world, teaching me how to live and work within it.  This did involve teaching me the yardstick by which we’re so often erroneously measured, but it also helped set the bar for me in terms of becoming an independent individual.  There were certain standards, and not meeting them was not an option.

That’s not quite as ableist as it may sound.  Since neither of us knew the truth about my autism, what other option did we have?

My childhood took place in another era, an era during which autism was married to a nebulous label known as childhood schizophrenia.  In fact, any reference to autism was nestled underneath the schizophrenia label.  And I certainly wasn’t schizophrenic by any definition.  So, no one thought to look there, and even if they had, they wouldn’t have seen me there.

So my mom never had a movement to become part of.  She never had a bandwagon to jump on.  She never had a megaphone to speak through.  She never had a website to visit.  She never had a blog to write, nor blog comments or other blogs to read.

She never even had a support network.  She traveled alone.

I don’t know if she ever felt alone or desperate.  She simply accepted me for who I was, whatever I was.  We didn’t have the benefit–or the curse-of a label.  We didn’t have the insight that a label would have granted, but that also meant that we were also free of its stereotypes and misconceptions.

The movie “Vaxxed” was never made about me.  Autism $peaks was never trying to cure me.  ABA was never used to treat me.  Government databases were never trying to get their hands on my genetic test results and catalog me.

My mom simply knew that I was “obsessed” with feathers, that I played with Legos, that I collected rocks, and that my ability to tell her the key–and mode–in which the song she was listening to was written.  She knew I was good at music and not so good at ice skating.  She knew I was liberated by reading books but intimidated by science.

In short, she saw me as a person.  She saw me as the little girl that I was.  She watched with amusement as I lined up my matchbox cars.  She marveled at my Lego cities.  She requested songs I had composed.  She cheered me on in karate.

She did everything that today’s Autism Moms(TM) do (by now, y’all probably know the type to whom I’m referring, yes?).  She consoled me when I got teased at school.  She tried to sort out the confusion bestowed upon me by the world.  She weathered my meltdowns.  She set reasonable standards and expected me to meet them.  She avoided certain places at certain times because she knew that, for reasons unknown to us at the time, those environments would set me off.

We didn’t even have the terminology to identify what I was, and yet, she still did these things.  My mother is an astute, tuned-in person, with a Masters Degree (the Science variety) in Special Education.  She completed a long string of classes in Psychology and Child Development.  She knew her shizz.

This also meant that she knew what “average” kids were “supposed” to be like.  She had to have known from a fairly early age that I wasn’t one of them, because she was also a very attentive parent (without crossing the line into Helicopter Territory).  She watched me grow and develop.  Being a detail-oriented person, she also noticed–and noted–my activities.

She was progressive, though, too.  She never got stuck in Milestone Obsession Land, panicking if I didn’t have the exact x-number-word vocabulary by x-number-of-months-old.

Like all of the other awesome parents of Asperger’s/autistic kids today, she was (and still is) all about letting kids grow and develop on their own, and she’s flexible and open-minded enough to say that they would do what they were meant to do when they were ready to do so.

She noticed when I didn’t talk until I was two, but she didn’t freak out.  She shrugged and thought, “oh well, she will when she’s ready”.  She noticed when I suddenly began talking one day, out of the blue, in clear compound-complex sentences.  She noticed when I could suddenly read one day when I was three.  She noticed that I clapped my hands under the glass top of the coffee table repeatedly.  She noticed that I spun for hours, with glee, in the living room to music.

She noticed that I tended toward a lack of coordination, so she enrolled me in ballet and tap dance lessons.  But when I tired of it, she didn’t push.  She brought up the karate idea when I was 14 and my mom and I are pretty parallel thinkers, so I had already been thinking for a while how much I might like to learn karate.  There was never any push to get involved in anything.  She wasn’t about to transfer an extension of her unrealized childhood dreams onto my life.

Yep, she did everything that any good parent does.  She did all the “extra” work, too.  She just focused her parenting activity toward constructive directions.  Rather than put me in therapy because of my meltdowns (yeah, I made baby-sitters cry–often (unfortunately)), or Helicopter-parent me because I didn’t talk until after I turned two, she simply spent time with me, and worked with me academically, tutored me, and played with me (which I admit, is a luxury that, try as we all might, not everyone has).  She guided me, gently disciplined me, and provided a safe, stable, predictable environment.  She hugged me and watered my soul with plenty of words of affection and terms of endearment.

She was much more constructively involved than (some of) the parents today, and I’m pretty sure that includes the martyr-like attention-addicted Autism Parents(TM), because unlike the small-but-noisy, woe-is-me subset of today’s parents of autistic children, she didn’t perceive that she had any extra recognition due her, and she never had a blog with which to seek it.

She just did her thing, and it turned out to be right.  Completely right.

We had our occasional figuratively-knock-down-drag-out arguments.  I could be quite the obstinate handful, and even a saint has their breaking point.  I’m not saying it was all roses.

There were still aspects of life that I couldn’t hope to understand until they simply clicked into place one day.

There were still emotions that I possessed that I couldn’t explain or express properly; usually my mom could pick up on their underlying roots, but even my mom isn’t infallible, and there were times were we both missed the underlying stressor.

There were still behaviors I exhibited that irritated her and confused us both.

Shit happens.

It helped that she knew that, and it also helped that she taught me that.  We learned to roll with the punches.  We knew that it was pointless to dwell on the past beyond that of being able to extract a lesson or two out of it.

Since we didn’t even know I was Aspergian/autistic, we never considered any of the “therapies” that Asperger’s/autistic children underwent.  My mother never ranted about our meltdowns or messes to the neighbors or the fellow neighborhood moms in the same morning carpool.  She never thought of me as the autistic “mentally ill” child that I would have been known as during those times; she simply thought of me as her daughter with talents, deep feelings, a sometimes-fiery temper, introversion and shyness, and an extra-sensitivity to the environment.  She knew I stared.  She knew I was dreamy.  But she never saw me as “lacking”.

Since she didn’t know the temporary name for my neurotype condition, she couldn’t make it her crusade.  Knowing her, even if we had known the proper terminology, she would have refrained from making it about her.  Because she inherently and absolutely knew that parenting was not about her; it was about us.  She didn’t give birth to us in order to have little people to serve as human pets in her life, or have someone to call her “mommy”; she had children to contribute something to the world, and she parented as such.

For her, the best recognition or reward she could receive is to produce kind, logical, self-sufficient/independent offspring who did our best according to our abilities to “earn our keep” (a mere figure of speech, not her words or mine) in the world.

And that’s exactly what she did.  Bravo to her. 🙂 ❤


Related Posts:

Dear Mom, Happy Mother’s Day! Love, An Aspie ~ May 10, 2016

Another Aspie’s View on the Subject of Touch, Especially Hugs ~ July 21, 2016

Why the ‘Rest’ of the World Is Largely Unaware of People on the Spectrum ~ July 10, 2016

Autistic, Staring, and Silent ~ January 19, 2017

Repetitive, Repetitive, Repetitive Movements ~ November 2, 2016

Looking in the Mirror ~ How I Measure Up To Tania Marshall’s “Asperger’s In Young Girls- Preschool” List ~ Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 ~ October 20-21, 2016

 

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46 Comments

  1. One one my first jobs when I was in college was to care and work with an fully autistic kid. Love it since day 1. And I was obsessed with observing him. I remember telling mother that it was good practice in case one day I had an autistic kid! Little did I knew that I would get married and husband died. And my one year old was in fact autistic. I remember a close friend telling me how surprised she was I was not worried or sad about it. It shocked me. “Why would I be? He is who he is and I’ll just learn. As long as he is happy, that’s all that matters”….that what’s all there was!!!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Great read. You are very lucky to have such an amazing mom! What about your dad? I haven’t read about him and I apologize in advance if that is a touchy subject, as I know it can be. I only ask because of my experience with my husband and our Aspie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words! It used to be a touchy subject, but now I’m like, “meh” 😉 He was a well-intentioned but volatile and unpredictable man. Luckily for me at the time, he was absent much of the time. He entered a recovery program for alcohol addiction when I was 7 and he has never relapsed ( 🙂 🙂 ) but he did play the role of “dry drunk” for many, many years. I never knew where I stood with him. Over the past few years, we have all changed rapidly and profoundly and made peace with ourselves, each other, our pasts, and our presents. I really lucked out in that area, even if it didn’t come until later ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I Think your mother and my mother had similar philosophies on child tearing, although yours had an advantage of higher learning. My mother substituted education with serving as a nurse near the front lines during WW2.

    Like your mother mine knew I was different but had no other term for those differences. She was 89 years old before we learnt I was on the spectrum, and as she said the only difference the diagnosis made was to give the difference a name.

    Perhaps my mother had one aspect that made her life easier with me compared to the relationship your mother faced with you. I never had meltdowns, nor even temper tantrums that typical children exhibit. I was one of those rare children that on the outside did not exhibit emotions and apparently did not seem to experience much in the way of emotion at all. When Star Trek first appeared on our screens, she instantly took a liking to Dr Spock because she said he immitated my personality. I think my Mum and your Mom saw their role so differently from many parents today. They didn’t see children as status symbols or burdens, or as substitutes for unrealised dreams, nor as tickets to a better life in the future. For that I’m very grateful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s too cool! Omg your mom sounds amazing 😁.

      I do think that in general (with many exceptions, of course), there has been a fundamental shift in parenting, and this even stretches to include reasons why people become parents in the first place. I think you nailed it perfectly, with substitutes for unrealized dreams, status symbols, and the like 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. Although my parents were Baby Boomers, they were old school in many of the better ways, and they were very progressive in other ways 😎🌺👍🏼💜

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this, good parents are important to anyone, especially when you have extra challenges in life. My folks were (are) great, but there’s one thing that even now bugs me a bit: My mom worked for years with “special needs” kids in an elementary school, but never once suspected that I might be on the spectrum. Now, I do understand that diagnosises were much different then, but she worked with changing definitions until she retired about 5 years ago. I haven’t told her of my suspicions of Asperger’s/ASD (I want to wait til I’m ‘official’ because I think she’ll be in denial). What’s funny is that my wife bought me a Fidget Cube for my birthday this year. Mom had never seen one before and I explained that its for people who fidget and can’t keep still, to help them concentrate. Her response:”Wow, that would be great for someone with Autism!” My wife, son, son’s GF and I exchanged knowing smiles 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this! 👏🏼👏🏼. Thank you for sharing your story, John 😊. Isn’t it interesting how our own parents worked in this realm and yet are completely ignorant (willfully or not?) about our places on the spectrum lol. And yep, I can relate to what you said about being “official” before coming out, due to possible denial. Even after I got my official diagnosis, both parents but especially my mom seemed very much in denial, like it was a sore spot but I’d never be privy to more info than that, because she sorta clammed right up beyond that. I do hope that yours is more accepting! I’m pretty sure she will be 🙏🏼👊🏼🌟💞

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so glad you have such an amazing mom, my friend. I can imagine how much difference it makes.❤ The subject of mothers and mothering has been such a tricky point in my life, of course. But, as I strive for healing from the past, I seek to be all I can to my own children. ☺

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are an extraordinary person, dear one 😘💓. I have no doubt that your kids will be saying the same about you as I have toward my own mom 🌺❤️🌺. I think you might even be ahead of where she’s at because you acknowledge your children’s neurodivergence on a very whole/complete level, whereas my family (including my mum) is eerily silent on the issue and there does seem to be a strained vibe about it and a flip of emotions when the subject is brought up 💚💙. So yeah, I think you’re completely amazing, and you’re Doing Everything Right 😉😘❤️💖🌷

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you luv!! Yep I definitely think you’re spot on 😊😘. That’s definitely (a big) part of it, I think. My dad has surprisingly come around. Both sort of “obligatory” humor me when I mention it. Both have loosened up a bit on it though lol. Yeah, I’ve tried to do a lot to reassure my mom that I don’t hold her responsible for “missing” anything. I assure her that overall, a big chunk of me is relieved that I *didn’t* find out until I was much older 😊💓💚💜

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That sounds hopeful, then. I can talk with my dad about my autism better than my mom. He seems enthusiastic to understand where my mom is more all over the place-sometimes listens, sometimes brushes me off, and nearly always circles it all back to herself and her troubles. Where I used to just dismiss the last as narcissitic, I am beginning to wonder if it is her way of trying to relate. I see Aspie tendencies in both of them-albeit two vastly different parts of the spectrum…kind of like my husband and me. lol. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Your mom sounds great, lovely post.
    My mother is great, too. I will have to write something about her at some point. We both really like Mr Spock, btw – I always say I’m part Vulcan on my mother’s side 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your mom sounds pretty awesome. 🙂 I think that she must have done something right, because from what I can see, she has a pretty cool daughter. While my son was diagnosed at an early age, and maybe because he was not a “typical” aspie (is there such a thing?), we gave him support when he needed it, but also his space. The world may be understanding, but it’s not always accommodating. He has had more than a few bumps along the way, but he’s turned into a pretty awesome teen now. His Tourette’s was always more of a concern because some tics were painful. Using warmth and humour did wonders too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg cool!! You sound a *lot* like my mom; warmth and humor 😊👏🏼. I also sense an astute, intelligent, earthy, and easygoing vibe from you 😎💖. Your son is über-lucky 😁💙. Thank you so much for your kind words 🤗💜💞

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sadly, mom helicopter parented me on my executive functioning skills or told me to just keep trying. Otherwise she is a really cool mom and generally accepting. She says the diagnosis helped to pinpoint where my other issues are so that we can work on them. I already learned through trial and error growing up about social skills…

    Liked by 1 person

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