living with autism family issues siblings

Raising a child with autism places some extraordinary demands on parents as individuals and on the family as a whole. Prime among these demands is the lack of enough hours in the day to do all one wishes. Specifically, the time involved in meeting the needs of a family member with autism may leave parents with little time for their other children.

Many parents feel that even as they do all they can for their child with autism, they are always struggling with how best to respond to the needs of the family as a whole. They say that although their own life as an individual may be put “on hold” and a couple may share an understanding of the need to make sacrifices on behalf of their child with autism, few parents are willing to make that same demand of other children in the family. As a result, there is a continual tension between the needs of the child with autism and those of the other children.

This section offers suggestions to parents about ways to help the other children in the family cope gracefully and effectively with the experience of having a brother or sister with autism. Research indicates that the majority of brothers and sisters of children with autism cope well with their experiences. That does not mean, however, that they do not encounter special challenges in learning how to deal with a sibling who has autism or a related disorder.

There are special demands on these siblings, and learning to manage these demands will make their childhood easier and will teach them skills that will make them more effective and resilient adults. The most important teachers of these coping skills are a child’s mother and father. The gifts you give to your youngsters in childhood will serve them immediately and in all the years ahead.

Sources of Stress for Siblings


Not all siblings will experience these stressful issues, but here are some to be aware of:

  • Embarrassment around peers; jealousy regarding amount of time parents spend with their brother/sister
  • Frustration over not being able to engage or get a response from their brother/sister
  • Being the target of aggressive behaviors
  • Trying to make up for the deficits of their brother/sister
  • Concern regarding their parents’ stress and grief
  • Concern over their role in future caregiving

Many of the suggestions provided below are things parents can do within the family to help a child understand what autism is all about, to improve interactions among the children in the family, and to ensure brothers and sisters grow up feeling they have benefited from the love and attention we all need.

Explaining Autism to Children


Common sense tells us and research supports the idea that children need to understand what autism is all about. The rule of thumb: Do it early and do it often! It is important that your children know about autism and that the information you give them is appropriate for their developmental age. From early childhood, they need explanations that help them understand the behaviors that are of concern to them. For the preschool-age child this may be as simple as “Rick doesn’t know how to talk,” while for the adolescent, it may involve a conversation about the possible genetics of autism.

The key is to remember to adjust your information to your child’s age and understanding. For example, very young children are mostly concerned about unusual behaviors that may frighten or puzzle them. An older child will have concerns of a more interpersonal nature, such as how to explain autism to his/her friends. For the adolescent, these concerns may shift to the long-range needs of their sibling with autism and the role they will play in future care. Every age has its needs, and your task is to listen carefully to your child’s immediate concerns.

Another key to success is to remember that children need to be told about autism again and again as they grow up. Young children may use the words they hear us use, but not understand the full meaning of those words until they are much older. Don’t be misled by a young child’s vocabulary of words like “autism” or “discrete trial.” That does not mean the terms have real meaning for him/her. Just as you would not expect an early conversation about the obvious physical differences between boys and girls to constitute a sufficient sex education for children 5 or 10 years later, similarly, you must explain again and again, in increasingly mature terms, what autism is all about.

The Autism Society offers practical, age-appropriate information on teaching children and teens to make friends with their classmates on the autism spectrum.

Helping Your Children Form a Relationship


Because of the nature of autism, it is usually difficult for a young child to form a satisfying relationship with a brother or sister who has the disorder. For example, your child’s attempts to play with his/her brother are probably rebuffed by his ignoring her, fall flat because of his lack of play skills, or end abruptly because his tantrums are frightening. How many of us would keep trying to form a friendship with someone who turned her back when we spoke to her or, even worse, seemed angry when we approached? It is not surprising that young children may become discouraged by the reactions they encounter and seek playmates elsewhere.

The good news is that young children can be taught simple skills that will enable them to engage their brother or sister in playful interactions. Research has shown that siblings can learn basic teaching strategies to engage their brother or sister with autism. These skills include things like making sure they have their brother’s attention, giving simple instructions, and praising good play. One research study showed that videotapes made before and after the children learned these skills showed in a very touching manner that, after training, they played together more and seemed much happier than they had been prior to training.

Special Times


Along with ensuring the child with autism is a fully integrated member of the family, it is important to remember that other children in a family need their times to be special. Families are often urged to find some regular, separate time for the children in their family who do not have autism. It may be one evening a week, a Saturday morning, or even a few minutes at bedtime each night. If your child with autism has a home-based program or exhibits serious management problems, you may have neither the stamina nor the energy to give your other child exactly the same amount of attention. It is not necessary that everything in childhood be exactly the same. What is important is the opportunity to feel special to your parents and to feel an overall atmosphere of equity in your home.

Not Everything as a Family


There are activities that should be shared by the entire family and those that should not. Along with having regularly scheduled special times for each child, it is also important to remember that there will be some events when one child in the family deserves to be the focus of everyone’s attention. Children have told us that it is sometimes frustrating to have to do everything with their brother or sister with autism. In fact, there may be times when it may not be fair to insist that he or she be included. For example, if your child with autism cannot sit still for a school play, then it may be better if he or she stays home while your other child performs.

Adult Siblings


Being the brother or sister of a person with autism does not end with childhood. This is a lifetime relationship that matures and grows over the years. The concerns of an adult sibling will be different from those of children. For the young adult, questions may focus on his/her own plans to have children and be concerned about whether there is a genetic component of their sibling’s autism. In some cases, young adults may also feel a keen sense of responsibility for their brother or sister with autism that makes it difficult for them to leave home and begin an independent life.

It is important that parents discuss with their adult children the expectations they have in caring for the person with autism, as well as reassuring them about the legitimacy of assuming their own role as adults.

The questions of the role of the adult child become most acute as parents age and begin to anticipate the point when they will no longer be able to continue to care for their child with autism. If the person with autism is not already living outside of the home, this may be a time when placement in a group home or supervised apartment becomes important. In families where such care is necessary, adult children and parents must together address the question of who will assume guardianship of the person with autism when the parents die.

It is not easy for any of us to talk about our own death, and both you and your child may shy away from the conversation. Nonetheless, your adult children need to understand the financial plans you have made, the care arrangements in place, and your own expectations for them. Having these difficult conversations will ultimately be a gift to your adult children who will knowthey can honor your wishes.

Most Siblings Cope Very Well

While growing up as the sibling of someone with autism can certainly be trying, most siblings cope very well. It is important to remember that while having a sibling with autism or any other disability is a challenge to a child, it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Most children handle the challenge effectively, and many of them respond with love, grace and humor far beyond their years.

Boy with autism attacked by bullies, left with nail embedded in his head


A boy with autism has been attacked by bullies after falling behind his family during a walk home.

Romeo Smith, nine, was with his family as they returned home from a visit with his grandmother when he was confronted by older boys waving sticks, The Mirrorreports.

The incident happened at Mansfield in Nottinghamshire in the UK.

Romeo was left with a nail embedded in his head after being attacked by bullies. Image: The Mega Agency

Terrified of being attacked, Romeo climbed a tree to try and escape.

When his parents noticed he’d fallen behind, father Craig, 35, went to find him and bring him home.

It was then that one of the boys threw an eight-inch piece of wood with a nail protruding from it, embedding it in his skull.

“It was terrible, mother Natasha Smith, 30, told The Mirror. “He was sat there waiting with a plank of wood sticking out of his head, like something out of a horror film.”

Romeo told The Mirror the experience was “scary”.

“When they threw the plank I could feel it stick in the back of my head.”

His mother said it’s hard for Romeo to talk about his feelings due to his autism but she can tell that the experience affected him, although he has tried to open up about this.

“I thought the worst and thought that I was dying,” he said.

“I have no idea how long the bullying has been going on but it is worrying that they have done this in front of an adult,” Smith told The Mirror.

“You wonder what else they are capable of?”

The boy is now recovering at home.

Nottinghamshire Police are still searching for the offenders however told the parents due to their age, they are unlikely to be prosecuted.

Vaccines for adults: Which do you need?

Vaccines offer protection from infectious diseases. Find out how to stay on top of the vaccines recommended for adults.

You’re not a kid anymore, so you don’t have to worry about shots, right? Wrong. Find out how to stay on top of your vaccines.

What vaccines do adults need?

Vaccines for adults are recommended based on your age, prior vaccinations, health, lifestyle, occupation and travel destinations.

The schedule is updated every year, and changes range from the addition of a new vaccine to tweaks of current recommendations. To determine exactly which vaccines you need now and which vaccines are coming up, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

What factors might affect my vaccine recommendations?

Several factors can affect whether you need certain vaccines. Be sure to tell your doctor if you:

  • Are planning to travel abroad
  • Have had your spleen removed
  • Work in certain occupations where exposures could occur
  • Are or might be pregnant
  • Are breast-feeding
  • Are moderately or severely ill or have a chronic illness
  • Have any severe allergies, including a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of a vaccine
  • Have had a disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Have a weakened immune system or are being treated with an immunosuppressant
  • Have recently had another vaccine
  • Have recently had a transfusion or received other blood products
  • Have a personal or family history of seizures

Your doctor might also recommend certain vaccines based on your sexual activity. Vaccinations can protect you from hepatitis A and hepatitis B, serious liver infections that can spread through sexual contact. The HPV vaccine is recommended for men up to age 21 and women up to age 26.

Why are some vaccines particularly important for adults?

Adults of any age can benefit from vaccines. However, certain diseases, such as the flu, can be particularly serious for older adults or those living with certain chronic illnesses.

How can I keep track of my vaccines?

To gather information about your vaccination status, talk to your parents or other caregivers. Check with your doctor’s office, as well as any previous doctors’ offices, schools and employers. Some states also have registries that include adult immunizations. To check, contact your state health department.

If you can’t find your records, talk to your doctor. He or she might be able to do blood tests to see if you are immune to certain diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. You might need to get some vaccines again.

To stay on top of your vaccines, ask your doctor for an immunization record form. Bring the form with you to all of your doctor visits and ask your provider to sign and date the form for each vaccine you receive.

World Autism Awareness Week: What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The condition is different for each person, and they will all have different symptoms, skills and levels of disability, depending on where they fall on the spectrum.

Why do so many women still hate getting oral sex?World Autism Awareness Week: What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

People with ASD will usually have social difficulties, which impacts the way they communicate and interact with others.

This will affect their ability to function socially, whether at school, work, or in other areas of their lives.

They will also often demonstrate repetitive behaviours, as well as limited interests or activities.

Symptoms range from a mild impairment to a severe disability.

There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – which is more than 1 in 100.

When including families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people across the country.

What are the symptoms?

ASD is often identified early on, in babies and toddlers – and school staff can recognise behaviours in older children.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Repeating certain behaviour or behaving unusually
  • Being overly focused on certain things, such as moving objects or parts of objects
  • Having a long-lasting and intense interest in certain topics – especially numbers, details or facts
  • Getting upset by a slight change in routine, or being placed in a setting that is new or overly stimulating
  • Making little or inconsistent eye contact
  • Looking at and listening to people less often
  • Responding in an unusual way when people show anger, distress or affection
  • Failing at or being slow to respond to someone calling their name, or trying to get their attention with other verbal cues
  • Speaking at length about a favourite subject, and not noticing that those around them aren’t interested – or not giving them a chance to respond
  • Struggling to keep up with the back and forth of conversations
  • Having facial expressions, gestures or movements that don’t match what is being said
  • Finding it difficult to understand another person’s point of view, or being unable to understand other people’s actions

Other common difficulties include being sensitive to light, noise, clothing or temperature.

They may also have trouble with their sleep, have digestion problems and be prone to irritability.

What strengths and abilities do people with ASD have?

Joshua Whitehouse, who has Aspergers syndrome, is a talented artist (Picture: Getty)

Many people with ASD will have certain strengths and abilities, as well as challenges they face on a daily basis.

These include:

  • Having above-average intelligence
  • Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for a long time
  • Excelling in maths, science, music or art

How is it diagnosed?

An Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist who works with autistic children (Picture: Getty)

Young children can usually be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder by the age of two.

Doctors diagnose the condition by looking at a child’s behaviour and development.

Older children can be evaluated when a parent or teacher raises concerns based on watching them socialize, communicate and play.

Diagnosis becomes more difficult once people reach adulthood, as ASD symptoms can overlap with those of other mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia or ADHD.

Getting a correct diagnosis of ASD as an adult can help someone understand the difficulties from their past, work out what their strengths are, and seek the right help.

What is the difference between Asperger’s syndrome and ASD?

Luke Treadaway in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Picture: Rex/Alastair Muir)

Asperger’s syndrome used to be separate from ASD – however, this has now changed.

Those who were previously diagnosed as having Asperger’s syndrome are now included in the Autism Spectrum Disorder category.

People with Asperger’s syndrome will experience similar difficulties to those with ASD when it comes to social difficulties and struggles with over-stimulating environments.

This is what autism acceptance looks like for my son

This blog post was written by Kathy Hooven and her son, Ryan, who has autism. You can read more about Kathy and her family on her blog, “The AWEnesty of Autism.”

So, Wednesday night Ryan was in his first HS Musical. Our High School, Cumberland Valley, puts on shows that could truly rival many off Broadway shows. Ryan has NEVER danced and he has NEVER practiced anything for 11 hours at a time (except killing Minecraft Creepers)!

This was the toddler who could not wear hats or mittens and who struggled with the change of seasons because that meant wearing different or new clothes. The little boy who wore the same doctor’s costume (shirt only) for three Halloween’s in a row because costumes and change were terrifying.

This was the elementary student who sat alone at lunch and stood by the door at recess afraid of thunderstorms, bugs and the possibility of an ill fated social encounter.

This was the middle schooler who almost didn’t audition for Chambers Singers because it was new and taking risks was too much for him to handle. The middle schooler who couldn’t wear cargo shorts and khaki pants like all the other kids because his body just wouldn’t allow it.

This was a new high school freshman who felt like he was invisible and that no one knew he existed within the walls of his high school. The freshman who believed he had no future because he is autistic.

This is a teenager who still worries about taking risks (because sometimes things don’t go as you plan), but, overcame that worry and took a risk by auditioning for his high school musical where he has never danced a step in his life. A teenager who once felt like he didn’t belong yet now declares his fellow cast members “family”. A teenager who told his directors and his parents that he has “never felt so confident and proud of himself in his entire life” as he did last night on that stage taking risks.

This is my autistic son. Crushing stereotypes, destroying fallacies, proving “experts” wrong and showing every single person on that stage and in that audience the real meaning behind, “different, not less”. The most important person he proved that to, was himself.

Watching him cross the stage confidently wearing different costumes (costumes made of non-Hollister magic cotton), seeing him singing and dancing and watching him hit his mark show after show, made me worry that a heart could literally burst with pride, but, nothing prepared me for the onslaught of emotions that happened after the show.
Seeing the hugs, the high fives, the genuine admiration from his fellow cast members (some of whom have been acting for years) and the joy, oh my friends, the indescribable joy that was truly emanating from every fiber of his being, nearly wrecked me. I went from looking like The Joker with this huge, near maniacal smile permanently plastered across my face, to quietly crying as I clung to each and every exchange not wanting the moment to end.
A moment he has been waiting for, for a very long time.
They were seeing what I knew was there all along and equally as important, he was letting them see.
Did he go to the cast dinner? No. Did he go to the cast party? No. But a door has been opened. A door he has never really even so much as peaked into before. And one day, thanks to these gloriously, accepting, AWEsome kids, he may just walk through it.
Thank you to all the “Kiss Me Kate” cast, crew and Directors. A little awareness, a little acceptance, and a little kindness can mean a lot…a lot more than you can ever know.
And to you my son, thank you. Thank you for showing me how beautiful the world is when you look outside of yourself. You inspire me every day. I have never been more proud of you

Taking antidepressants in pregnancy may raise risk of an autistic child, study suggests

Antidepressants may raise the risk of autism 

Mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy may be putting their children at risk of autism, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Bristol found that the children of women who took pills in pregnancy were 41 per cent more likely to be autistic.

However the absolute risk is still small, rising from 2.9 in 100 children to 4.1.

Up to eight per cent of pregnant women are prescribed antidepressants during their pregnancy in Britain, and there are around 700,000 births a year.

Researchers analysed data from 254,610 individuals aged 4-17, including 5,378 with autism, living in Stockholm in 2001-11.

Up to eight per cent of pregnant women are prescribed antidepressants 
Up to eight per cent of pregnant women are prescribed antidepressants  CREDIT: ZOONAR GMBH / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

The researchers estimate that, even if the association between antidepressant use and autism is causal, only two per cent of all cases would be prevented if no women with psychiatric disorders used antidepressants during pregnancy.

Prof Ian Jones, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of National Centre for Mental Health, Cardiff University, said: “It is possible that the higher risk of autism is due to the medication, but it may also be due to the effects of the mood disorder for which the medication has been prescribed.

“Given that family studies show increased rates of mood disorder in the parents of children with autism it is also possible that an overlap in genetic factors between mood disorders and ASDs is also involved.

Dr Christoph Lees, Clinical Reader in Obstetrics, Imperial College London, added : If there is indeed a causal relationship between antidepressants and autism it is a very modest one.

“It is possible that factors other than antidepressants explain the relationship seen with autism. In other words this study raises important questions but does not prove that antidepressants cause autism.”

The new research was published in the BMJ.

What It’s Like For Me As A Woman On The Autism Spectrum


My name is Cass, I’m a 30-year-old graphic designer and I have high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Like some other women on the spectrum, I wasn’t diagnosed until adulthood. It was recent; in fact, it was only last year. It’s still very much a secret as well. I had no intention of telling anyone, but my husband accidentally “outed” me to my mum, so then I tried to tell one of my sisters and then I gave up on telling my family. Both my mum’s reaction and my sister’s reaction to the news was immediate and negative: “No you don’t have autism.” My sister called it a pathology. I was so hurt.

I tried a few close friends and they had similar reactions. All of them said things like, “I don’t see that in you” and expressed general disbelief. So I gave up telling people. My husband consoled me that it should be enough for me just to know, and not to look to others to validate what I know to be true. I married a wise man. So I stopped telling people. My other two sisters don’t know, my in-laws don’t know, the majority of people who know me wouldn’t have a clue. Being a designer does tend to give you latitude for being a bit quirky; I guess I chose my camouflage well.

My husband on the other hand was amazing, as he so frequently is. When I told him what my psychologist suspected, and what in myself I knew for certain, he was reflective. I could almost feel him working it through, then in his quiet way he said exactly what I needed: “I think that fits, too. How do you feel about it?” You see, he’d become something of an unofficial expert on autism. Our 4-year-old son had been diagnosed with severe ASD (among other things) nearly two years earlier.

What I don’t think people realize about women on the spectrum, especially high-functioning women, is that sometimes we can mimic and model behavior perfectly. I can only speak for myself, but I know that my “social mask” was in place by about age 16. If you met me now at a party or out socially, I would present as a highly social, outgoing and self-confident woman, and as much as I would like to be that way, I’m not. I struggle daily with things like anxiety, self-confidence, selective mutism, OCD, ridged thinking and trying to cope with situations that are unpredictable or out of my control. I’m photosensitive, struggle with crowds and too many different noises at the same time, and I’m funny about textures.

Professionally I struggled. Why call someone when I can email them? I took criticism, even in its most constructive and valid forms, as a personal attack. As one of my roles as a designer, I had to attend social networking functions that involved public speaking and making small talk with what seemed like a never ending sea of people. By the end of one of these functions, I’d go back to the studio, talk nonstop at high speed for about an hour and then I wouldn’t utter a single word for the rest of the day. If someone talked to me I wouldn’t hear them, it was like static on a TV ringing in my ears. I now know this is a sensory meltdown, and I try not to put myself in situations where this can happen. Even attending dinner in a crowded restaurant, lots of ambient noise, table conversation and close quarters will leave me needing frequent bathroom breaks or trips outside for space.

Motherhood is a challenge for me (like all mothers I know), and I struggle with the little things. I struggle to go with the flow and can get panicked and anxious if the baby wont sleep when she’s supposed to or feed when I think she should. I love my routine and I need the safe predictability of knowing what’s next. I envy those mothers who seem to instinctively know how to mother; it really doesn’t come easily for me. I honestly spend all my mothers’ group catch-ups watching other mothers interact with their children, so when I go home I can try it out with my kids. I also have a predisposition to post-natal depression and anxiety.


10 Signs of High Functioning Autism that I Missed – Term Life

The average age for diagnosing a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is age 2-3.

My son is 8 years old and he was not diagnosed as Autistic until 6 months ago.

I try not to beat myself up, but at times,  I wonder, “How could we have not known!? Why couldn’t I see?”

The reason is complex.
First, my son has high functioning Autism, and, statistically speaking, most high functioning children (Asperger’s) are not diagnosed until ages 7-8.

But still.  I was a very attentive mother–I was actually LOOKING for the signs because I had this little niggling feeling that something was not right. Plus, he was my first (twins) child–I was in hyper-vigilant mode!

I remember going from website to website, reading lists of symptoms or children with Autism.
I would tick down the lists:
No, he doesn’t flap his hands or spin for hours.
He can make eye contact.
Sure, his speech is a little delayed but he’s speaking more every day.
Awkward social skills? How can I tell?!


Happy little Benji baby! Smiling, cooing, making eye contact. He never lost skills in his communication and development.

So many of the “symptoms” mirrored every day childlike behavior too:
Dislikes disruptions in routine. Check. Like every kid…
Sensitive about foods or how clothes feel. What 2 year old isn’t?

I tried to dismiss my concerns, telling myself his issues were just due to his premature birth, a quirky personality, and the fact that he’s a boy.

Looking back though, I really didn’t know what to look for. What I didn’t know then was that lists of symptoms on websites like Autism Speaks are very general. Every kid with Autism is different but there are certain signs that I would recognize now if I saw them in my child or perhaps another child.

Here are 10 signs of (High Functioning) Autism that I missed in my son that, looking back, I see were part of his Autistic tendencies:

1. Sensory issues (not just High Energy)

Most boys have a lot of energy. I thought my boys were pretty high energy but figured they were just “being boys.” Looking back, what I realized was not typical was their nearly insatiable need for stimulation (I say “boys” here because it is difficult for me to separate my twins’ behavior sometimes, even though Micah is not on the spectrum. Micah does have ADHD, which overlaps symptomatically with ASD at times).


Such happy little balls of energy (2 years old)

One of our babysitters once told me that Benji used to run and slam into her over and over again. He would fall down laughing, and then rev up for more. She didn’t mind this game but, now, I understand that Benji was trying to stimulate his sensory system by jarring his body over and over again.

My boys would also wrestle constantly. In fact, if we were in the house, they were wrestling. For a few years (ages 3-pre-K) we left every morning to go to a park, etc. because I couldn’t handle the wrestling.
It was literally the only thing they did.
They didn’t even play with toys!

They would only wrestle.

These are just a few examples of Benji’s sensory-seeking behavior, craving movement and bodily sensations in order for him to “feel” the world or “feel” his body moving and working.

2. Sensory issues (not just Pickiness).

About 80% of children on the Autism spectrum have sensory issues; either their sensory systems are under developed and they crave sensory input (like wrestling, swinging,  spinning, or flopping on the couch over and over again), or their systems are over-developed and sensory input feels like an assault to their systems.

Benji has both. He is a Seeker and an Avoider.

I have written a lot about Benji’s auditory sensitivities at church, but even before that, I remember how he would do things like hold his ears and cry if the plates clattered when I was setting the table for dinner.

He is also super-sensitive to certain food textures. He refuses to eat anything wet and lumpy like cereal, oatmeal, applesauce, yogurt with fruit bits, or the dreaded, GRITS
(In fact, he has described grits as one of his “greatest fears.” That’s real grit-hatred, folks).

Another huge issue for us has been clothing, especially pants and shoes. I cannot even count the number of screaming meltdowns he has had because his shoes or pants did not “feel right.”

For a long time, I thought these things were just typical kid-pickiness. Some kids are just picky eaters and fussy about clothes, right?
I remember hating corduroy pants. My  mom made me wear them to kindergarten one day and I hated the way they felt and the noise they made when I walked. I never wore them again.

The thing is though, that I didn’t throw a 40 minute tantrum because my pants didn’t “feel right.” I just didn’t like them.

Sensory sensitivities can overload the system of an Autistic person to the point where he or she cannot not function or communicate.

Tantrums were part of my daily life. I didn’t know how “not normal” it was.*

Not every child with sensory issues has Autism (Sensory Processing Disorder can be a challenging diagnosis all on its own). However, I include Sensory Issues twice because it is such a huge part of the Autism struggle for many people, and I feel like it is not understood or talked about enough when discussing or diagnosing Autism. For more information on Sensory Issues, I recommend The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz. 

3. Underdeveloped Fine and Gross Motor Skills


My twins, sitting up unassisted for the first time at 10 months

Both my twins have struggled with gross and fine motor skills. As they got into school though, Benji’s struggles became more evident. This struggle is tied to his sensory issues, often not knowing where his body ends and where an object begins (such as holding a pencil and pressing it with appropriate pressure to write on paper).

It seemed like a very  long time before my twins learned how to use a fork and spoon effectively to eat. They also constantly spilled their drinks; we used sippy cups until they were 5 years old.

However, now, my 3 year old never uses a sippy cup and rarely spills his drink, and my 15 month old can use a fork with ease. I didn’t realize my twins had fine motor issues  because I didn’t have anything to compare them too.

In their gross motor development, after my twins learned to walk, both boys were still very unsteady on their feet. They had poor body awareness and fell down constantly. I found myself finding excuses not to go on walks because inevitably, someone was going to fall down and get a bloody knee–cue hysterical crying…again. They had scabs on their knees for months.

Another example: At 8.5 years old, Micah and Benji just learned to ride a bike without training wheels.


We are so proud! We seriously wondered if it would ever happen, especially due to Benji’s struggles with balance, sensory integration, and gross motor struggles (all of which he now works on in therapy).

In my research, I’ve found that many people with ASD struggle with fine and gross motor skills, or executive planning (thinking and then carrying out an action with appropriate skill and force). But before his diagnosis and my research into ASD, I had no idea.

The signs were there but I didn’t know what I was looking for…


…this is just Part 1 of “10 Signs of High Functioning Autism that I missed.”

Read Part 2  here where I discuss Communication and Listening challenges, Not Pretending, and Not “checking in” while playing

Read Part 3 later here where I discuss Transitions, Obsessions, and THE MOST IMPORTANT SIGN I missed

*All kids throw tantrums, some more than others. However, for us, the tantrums were frequent, over seemingly small things (sensory issues we didn’t realize), excessive, long lasting (20min-2 hours), and my son could not be reasoned with at an age when one can  usually reason with a child (3-4 years old).

Does your child have SPD or ASD?
What were the signs for you?



5 Main Types of Autism That Everyone Should Know

Many parents are worried about autism; actually they are often the first to notice problems in their child that might lead to that diagnosis. However, some parents or physicians might be in a bit of denial, and try to downplay the symptoms for as long as they can. It is very important that children who are suspected of having an autism disorder be evaluated by a professional. Once you know your child has autism, you should identify which type of autism he or she has. With the 5 main types of autism listed below, you’ll figure out what to look for and how to best help your child.

5 Main Types of Autism

There are many levels on the autism spectrum, but these are the most common types of autism that you might encounter. Keep in mind that some of these will mimic other conditions or problems, so it is always best to check with an autism expert if you are very concerned that you child may be presenting any of the following symptoms.

1. Asperger’s Sndrome

In most cases, kids who have Asperger’s syndrome are diagnosed much later, usually between the ages of five and nine, and possibly even later than that. These young people often have normal intelligence and language development, but severely impaired social skills.

Symptoms: Signs of Asperger’s syndrome include poor social interactions, odd speech patterns, obsessions, few facial expressions, a lack of understanding the body language of others, obsessive routines, extreme sensitivity to certain stimuli, and limited interests. Other signs might include clumsiness and delays in motor skill development.

2. Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

This refers to a series of disorders that include delays in development, including social development, communication, and the ability to use their imagination. Parents might notice a problem when their toddler is not walking, talking or developing well.

Symptoms: Children with this type of autism will have delays in stages of development, especially communication and social development. They might be confused about the world around them and have trouble understanding how it works.

3. Autistic Disorder

Children with autistic disorder have significant difficulty with communicating and relating to other people. These kids will start to show signs at a very young age, and will continue to show further signs as they grow up. Some have below-average intelligence, but many have average or above-average intelligence and are considered “high functioning.” Autism might present with other problems, such as Fragile X syndrome or epilepsy.

Symptoms: Symptoms of autistic disorder include an inability to communicate, including not meeting the eyes of others, not responding to their name, no change in pitch when they speak, and repetition of particular behaviors. They might also become fixated on certain things, like a particular part of a toy instead of the whole toy. They tend to use their peripheral vision rather than looking straight ahead at something or someone, and they might have sensory issues as well, such as problems with certain textures or sounds.

4. Rett Syndrome

This occurs almost exclusively in girls, and tends to show up at around six months of age and progress through the rest of the child’s life. Severity varies from one child to another, but typically follows a pattern of mental and physical degeneration.

Symptoms: Symptoms often begin with behavior that seems like autism, but then progresses to sleep problems, breathing difficulties, a strange gait, teeth grinding, slowed growth, seizures, and a slowing of cognitive abilities. Early onset usually happens before 18 months of age and includes delays in motor skills or loss of skills that were already mastered. Between the ages of one and four, the child begins to lose certain abilities, such as speaking and hand skills. Between the ages of four and 10 years, the child begins a physical decline. In the final stages, the physical decline can be very severe.

5. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

This complex disorder includes numerous different aspects of a child’s development. Research suggests that the neurobiology of the brain plays a significant factor. It is also associated with seizures or medical disorders of the brain, but the rarity of the condition means that little research has been done.

Symptoms: Most children with this syndrome tend to have normal development through the age of two, but they gradually begin to lose all they have learned after this period. The loss may be gradual, but most often it happens really fast within only a few months. The transition may start with sudden changes in behavior, such as agitation, or anger, which is followed by the loss of bowel or bladder control. Children with CDD might repeat certain behaviors over and over, and it can be very hard to move from one activity to another. They lose virtually all social skills and most of self-help skills, such as feeding themselves. Even though the regression usually stops, the losses are not regained.

If you are curious to learn more about the types of autism, including symptoms and behavioral changes of the various degrees of the disorder, this video can help:

Important Notes: If you suspect your child might have signs of autism, speak to a doctor right away. Though some doctors might say that your child is simply undergoing a minor developmental delay, be sure to watch closely for other signs that might alert you to autism. If you have further concerns, remember that a child should be examined by a professional who has experience in autism in order to get a firm diagnosis.

Donald Trump Has Said Vaccines Cause Autism, And He Couldn’T Be More Wrong

The President-Elect of the United States of America has said he believes that vaccines are harmful, and has repeatedly and erroneously claimed that they cause autism. This is untrue and it’s dangerous.Back in 1998, British medical researcher Andrew Wakefield published a paper in the health journal The Lancet which claimed to show a link between children who were given the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism and bowel disease.No other scientists were able to reproduce his results — something that is vital in research. Most of Wakefield’s co-authors withdrew their support for the study. After conducting an official inquiry, a tribunal of the British General Medical Council concluded that Wakefield acted dishonestly and irresponsibly, and even performed unnecessary invasive medical procedures such as colonoscopies on the children.

The Lancet eventually retracted the paper and Wakefield was struck from the UK medical register with a statement identifying that he’d deliberately falsified scientific results.By then, however, the damage had already been done. Many people in the US and Europe still believe that vaccinations cause illnesses and conditions in children, including autism. Despite official medical advice that says vaccines are safe and vital, many parents still worry about inoculating their children. The belief is heavily ingrained in a lot of people’s minds, including celebrities such as Jim Carrey.

According to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center, about one in 10 Americans believe that vaccines are not safe. One of those ten people is the President-Elect. “I’ve seen people where they have a perfectly healthy child, and they go for the vaccinations, and a month later the child is no longer healthy,” Trump said on Fox in 2012. “It happened to somebody that worked for me recently. I mean, they had this beautiful child, not a problem in the world. And all of a sudden, they go in, they get this monster shot. You ever see the size of it? It’s like they’re pumping in — you know, it’s terrible, the amount. And they pump this into this little body. And then all of the sudden, the child is different a month later. And I strongly believe that’s it.”

During the GOP debate in September 2015 he spoke about that supposed case again, and claimed that vaccines were causing an “autism epidemic.””people that work for me, just the other day, two years old, beautiful child went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later, got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic,” he said.For starters, there is no epidemic. Secondly, Trump’s opinions of vaccines do not appear to be backed up by any sort of scientific research either. He has claimed to be for vaccination, but argues that they should be given over an extended period of time.