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The perks of autism

Being the mother of two children with autism does have its perks.

By Parenting Magazine May 23, 2013 8:32PM

Don’t get me wrong; my boys certainly bring out the “extreme” in parenting.  However, when I talk with my friends who are raising neuro-typical (NT) children and I listen to their many frustrations in raising them, I have noticed a number of difficulties we do not share.  In fact, I have a much easier time of parenting the Trouble Brothers because they don’t engage in many of the “normal” behaviors of their NT peers.The positive side of autism

No Whining. 
My boys do not whine.  Ever. They may scream loudly like wild banshees at times when their developmental limitations prevent them from using words to express their dissatisfaction with something but they never resort to that incessant nails-on-the-chalkboard whine that lasts hours and leaves a mother white-knuckling it through the day.

Lack of Sibling Rivalry.
Growing up with two sisters I remember the antics we used to pull that left our mom wanting to sell us to the gypsies.  Every trip in the car, grocery store visit, and family photography was laden with the whines of, “MOOOOMMMMM, Caryn poked me!”, “MOOOOMMMM, Sunday touched my new Barbie and gave it cooties," “MOOOOOMMMMM, Molly picked her nose and touched my pillow!”  Truly, I don’t know how any of us lived past the age of 10.

Thankfully, I have never had to experience this with my own children.  My boys tend to steer clear of one another and will gladly enjoy their own books, videos, or toys independently from one another.

No Fashion Awareness.
“But MOMMMMM, everyone has more Silly Bandz than me!”, “I can’t wear THAT!  All the kids will make fun of me if I don’t have such and such jeans!”, “I am NOT wearing anything that comes from Walmart, Mom!”

Thankfully the Trouble Brothers will never utter these words.  Individuals with autism do not recognize the social desire to fit in and follow the crowd.  They are their own crowd and they like it that way.

Lack of Greed and Competition. 
Thankfully my boys don’t spend Christmas morning counting who has more presents than the other.  If money is a little tight and they only have one present on their birthday they are overjoyed with what they do have instead of being mad that there wasn’t more. 

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In fact, I can visit the local children’s consignment shop and buy a gently-used toy for a quarter of the price of a new one and they could care less.   They are happy to have anything that is new…even if its only new to them. 

Not hearing “WHY???” Endlessly.
If there is one thing I am most thankful for in having children with autism it is that I never have to listen to barrage of whiny ad-nauseam "WHY?" questions. In general, individuals with autism do not tolerate not knowing what is coming next. This is why the question "Why?" makes them uncomfortable. The autistic mind prefers knowing the answer to a question before asking it. At the very least, they prefer a simple "yes" or "no" answer over the unknown that can follow the question, "Why?"

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My kids have a very set routine to their day-to-day life.  Their diets are boring and quite limited but those limitations also make meal times a snap.  I know that as long as I have bread, cheese, and chocolate chip cookies in the house the boys are set for life.  Noah has a definite addiction to Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers but other than that my kids are easy-peasy eaters.  I don’t have to listen to my kids whine and complain that they are having peanut butter and jelly AGAIN or that they want to try those expensive yogurt snacks all their friends have in their lunch.
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Similarly, the boys love watching the same DVDs and episodes of "Dora the Explorer" or "Yo Gabba Gabba" over and over again.  And while I do sometimes complain about watching Finding Nemo for the 1,342,893rd time I am happy knowing the same movie makes them laugh in all the same spots each time.  It's simple and yet, beautiful.
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I’ve never been a Pollyanna optimist but I am neither a cold-hearted pessimist.  Instead I find myself being more of a realist, and reality dictates that when you raise children with autism, whether it is high-functioning Asperger's or a diagnosis of profound autism, it's imperative that you find the joy in the small things. Like the above.

Sunday Stilwell writes about having two sons on the severe end of the autism spectrum at  Adventures In Extreme Parenthood . This post originally appeared on ScaryMommy.com:  http://www.scarymommy.com/the-perks-of-autism/

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Oct 9, 2013 9:57AM
Why is it so awful that this woman has found some positives out of a difficult situation? We all know special needs children are a lot of work and yes, they can sense if you resent them. Congratulations to Sunday on focusing on what is lovable about her boys. Taking a positive approach to life does not mean in any way that you are crazy or deluded about the future. 
Sep 6, 2013 11:58PM

   Having an Autistic Son is extremely difficult for me.  This probably religious nut who acts as if Autism is some type of blessing is an IDIOT.  The WRONG message is being sent to people that have normal children by this article. 


Ya Autistic parents have it easy(Sarcasm).  I have had Cashiers at the grocery store suddenly put up "closed " on there register when I am coming with my son.  I have had unbelievable nightmare trips to the restaurant or stores or doctor offices.   Old ladies make nasty comments about my son being a "Spoiled Brat" because he is freaking out at a Store.  He has been made fun of at school numerous times.  I was P%ssed when without telling me they assigned my son to clean tables at the highschool for the normal kids.  Nothing like slave labor.


>GCMOM is correct what many of us have to look forward to is when we die to have our child now at the mercy of the state facilities and the Abuse and Neglect of these state homes has become infamous from "Fight Clubs" where Disabled at these facilities were made to fight each other for the amusement of staff.  My son can be very difficult to deal with if you do not know how to deal with him(or the willingness to try) So he is likely to be beaten, starved as punishment denied water or medical treatment, locked in restraints for days at a time...  Just google State Homes and abuse and be prepared to be sick at the results.


   This lady has put on blinders to the longterm future. As do all of us parents of the Severely Autistic just to get out of bed and go on for another day.


>Do not get me wrong I love my son and have devoted my life to caring for him.   I have had to quit work and just get by on what we can get from the state to live off when his mother abandoned the family.  I worked in Accounting for over 20 years so have not been a welfare leach or anything.  Now I spend my time trying not to worry about tomorrow which is not Rosy...

Aug 31, 2013 3:52AM
I love the fashion awareness part.  I have a son with high functioning autism age 12  and last week before school started I asked if he would like something nice and new to wear to school. (His clothes all still fit from last year) He told me "no, I don't care about that stuff"  Most of his clothing comes from thrift stores and he could care less. Before anyone yells at me, I am low income and only buy myself clothing if it is under $5 marked down and I also use thrift stores
Aug 31, 2013 2:39AM
I praise this Mom for looking at her boys in a positive frame of mind. My son is now 28(and ,yes, he still lives with us, Mom&Dad), but my son is a happy man and has very little demands. He does have to have the foods on his list that he will eat or not eat. As he doesn't like any mixed together foods, like casseroles, etc. I know not every Autistic person is the same, and of course I worry what will happen to him when we are no longer there to care for him. But we have always treated him no different from his younger brother, who doesn't have Autism. Looking at the glass half full, is a much better way to cope, than to worry about tomorrow and the what if's. Yes, more is talked and done about CHILDREN with Autism, than what happens when they become Adults. We as parents, have to give our young people with Autism a little push in order for them to try anything new, but when we told our son when he was 14, he was going to work with his Grandmother at an Indian Trading Post, he said a definite "NO." But after making him go, he quickly added working after school, as part of his routine. Now since graduating H.S., he works full time in the summer since graduating H.S. and after 8 tries with help on the written test from his Special Needs Teacher, he drives to and from work by himself. The owners of the store just love him,as he is NEVER late, works hard and does, what most would see as a routine "boring" over and over again job. Still, we are frustrated with the State of WI, as to the help he needs as an adult, but I am constantly talking with our Congressmen, Senators and local political people, to help to change or implement changes for our Autistic Adults, so we know he will get the help he needs when we are no longer around. Everything in an Autistic's life has to be taught over and over until it becomes part of their routine. I made both our boys learn how to cook, wash their own clothes, etc and it also helps to give them "written lists" of their daily to do's and have them "check" each box when it's done. My son loves game shows(as the rules never change), so I make choirs like a game and he is excited when he gets his list done before his brother. Yes, he still wants certain "brand name" foods, but I tell him that he has to pay for anything that he wants and will not compromise with. I have also put all the cereals in a tupperware container with the front of the Brand Name taped to the outside of the container and I then can buy a generic brand of the same cereal he loves and he eats it thinking it's his true brand name cereal. Tricky, yes, but it works. My only wish is for him to find a good woman to marry, but since he has trouble socializing, she would have to be a girl that would ask him out and lead him all the way. He didn't like being "touch" at all since birth, but from Dad, Mom and brother constantly hugging him, he has become tolerant to hugs now and will even hug and kiss his Grandmother and even cousins and our friends. He also started a Men's League Bowling, since we were Coaches when he was little. He is also the Assistant Coach to the H.S. Bowling Team every year. I know each Autistic is different, but never give up on these amazing people. My son continues to surprise me everyday.
Aug 31, 2013 2:32AM

I'd gladly trade autism for whining, sibling rivalry, fashion awareness, Why, greed, and competition b/c  you know what? Then I know I wouldn't have to worry about him being abused and neglected in a state home when I DIE!!


Ridiculous! There are NO PERKS to autism. Trust me!

Aug 19, 2013 7:47PM
Perks?  Maybe first in line at Disneyland all the while behaving like an ****.  There are no perks and if what we experience are perks I'd gladly trade places any day.  I hope Sunday isn't trying to speak for all parents who have children with Autism.  My son absolutely whines, obsesses on name brand clothing, obsesses of the fairness at Christmas and always asks why.  Autism is most definitely an individual disorder meaning no two are alike.  
Aug 3, 2013 1:26PM
What is wrong with you? There are no perks to autism. Wait until your boys are adults and you will know what true heartbreak is. I am fighting for benefits for him because I will not be here forever. I cry when he says he wants to be like everyone else. IDIOT!
Jun 29, 2013 7:01PM
HOW could you ever claim that there were "perks" to autism?
What?! Are you collecting welfare because of it!
There is nothing positive about dealing with a child that has special needs, and clearly, you are thinking only of yourself. SHAME ON YOU.

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