There are few perks that come with the severity of Teghan’s autism. We will take what we can get. Falling lower on the spectrum makes her autism more obvious- and with that comes easier acceptance and understanding from others. If there are services to be qualified for, it is usually an open and shut case. If there is a meltdown in public, most people catch on right away to what is really happening. People overall seem to be more supportive and less judgmental. Even those loud mouths out there who believe autism is not real do tend to accept our case as a true example. How wonderful.
I think it mostly has to do with the fact that Teghan is nonverbal. It’s an automatic clear disability to most. And, most not really understanding that much about autism, they are willing to accept it as proof. But this has very little positive impact on our lives. It mostly involves people who don’t know us and who we may never see again (if we have seen them at all).
We would gladly take judgmental stares and accusations if it meant we could have a conversation with our daughter. On the other hand, it would also cause us additional anxiety, stress, and anger to have everyone doubt the validity of her autism. It would possibly make us feel even more afraid for our child’s future in such a cruel world. Actually, we know exactly how it would make us feel, because we have experienced it from our own family.
The first time Dave’s parents visited us after Teghan’s diagnosis, Teghan was three years old. She did not talk to them. She did not attempt to interact with them in any way, except for dragging them to an item she wanted so she could place their hand on it. She didn’t smile at them, wave goodbye, or make eye contact. She did not play with toys. She tapped on things, galloped back and forth, and wore a diaper. She was everything you would expect out of a child with classic autism.
My mother-in-law meant well when she argued with me that this was all normal three year old behavior. That Teghan was too young to care about playing, and that she was obviously trying to talk with all those vocal noises. She made it clear that we were letting Teghan get away with bad behavior by not spanking her. She believed we were using autism as an excuse. Maybe she wanted us to feel hopeful for a cure. But it was as if my mother-in-law was the good guy- defending Teghan from the mother who would give her own daughter a label as ugly as autism. Continue reading