Hello everyone, I've been quite nervous about joining and then posting here, as I'm still uncertain about everything about autism!
I've not yet sought a formal diagnosis, but firmly believe my youngest daughter (9), an older son (27), and my husband are autistic to varying degrees, and have come here looking for more information and, possibly, advice.
From being very young, my daughter's always had meltdowns when asked/told to do something she doesn't want to do, walked and talked quite young (although so did all our other children - slowest to walk was just under 12 months), is often obsessive abut her interests (spending all her waking hours on them at times), and has great difficulty understanding others' feelings, although she can also be quite loving towards very close family. When she wants to know something, or learn a new skill, she will NOT take help, but does things over and over, until she can do it - even though this often results in spectacular tantrums when she can't get it right first time (in her eyes). She has many fidgety habits (although, as a child I was a terrible fidget, and exasperated my mum!), as does her slightly older brother. (about whom I'm starting to wonder, too). Adult son has similar traits, but to a lesser extent, and his wife is thinking he's autistic, too.
I've always thought my husband's lack of empathy, drive, and obsession a product of his upbringing, but I'm increasingly thinking that's not the whole story. He can often be totally self-absorbed, conversations around him, holiday destinations his choice, not understanding others' thoughts/feelings, not accepting others' experience as valid as his own...(but I do love him!)
Am I on the wrong track with hubby and my youngest, or is this worth pursuing? I've read such a lot over the last few months, and during recent studies at university, and spoken to people with autism in their families (themselves and relatives), but I'm not confident enough to take things any further. I always feel that other people have worse problems, etc., but I'm coming from a place of bad MH history myself.
Thanks if you've managed to get to the end of my ramble! :)
I can relate to a lot of what you have said about your 9 year old daughter. I was quite similar to her at that age, and my early childhood development sounds the same. For me the real problems began at secondary school - not unusual as this is when social pressures become more intense. My mum was anxious enough to seek advice from a psychotherapist friend, and from my headmistress when I was 15. Both said I was perfectly 'normal' and just going through typical teenage angst. I was always very well behaved at school, it was at home where everything fell apart. I grew up back in the 1960s and 1970s when autism in girls and women was barely recognised. I eventually got my ASD diagnosis late last year, aged 58.
There's a very good online course on autism in women and girls on the NAS website you might want to take a look at. It is free to access at the moment: https://www.autism.org.uk/professionals/training-consultancy/online/women-and-girls.aspx
One reason that you might want to explore things a little further in relation to your daughter is that she may be experiencing more distress than is apparent to those around her. This was certainly true in my case. My mother remembers me being a happy sociable child, but I was secretly tormented by anxiety, which continued throughout my adult life. I am only now, since my very late autism diagnosis, starting to become free of this.
In your hubby's case a lot depends on how much he is adversely affected in his daily life. I'm pretty sure my dad is autistic but because of the kind of career he pursued, and the way he handled his homelife, it didn't result in any detrimental outcomes for him. I think it has had a significant impact on my parents' marriage though, and if he had been diagnosed things might have been easier for my mum. She has stuck with him but often exresses huge frustration about his behaviour. I think my mum may actually be autistic too as we share many similar traits.
When I was assessed lots of little things all added up towards the ASD diagnosis - and a significant part of it was direct observation of how I interact and communicate with people now. Autistic girls and women often tend to be very good at masking and camouflaging which means our autism appears less obvious from the outside. That is why it is really important to seek advice from people who are experienced at working with autistic females if at any stage you decide your daughter might benefit from being asssessed.
Very best wishes to all of you.