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"There's something really wrong with that kid": The comment about my son that made me sick.

April is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Awareness Month

Last week Australian Comedian Josh Thomas shared his diagnosis of Autism, as he felt that “representation of people in the media with Autism is so slim, and the Autism Spectrum is so varied.”

We have three children, and none of them are neurotypical. 

Watch: What life is like with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Post continues below.


Video via Autistica

One of the most refreshing things about living in a neurodiverse household is getting to see the world through their eyes.

In a world where so many filters are applied to the way that we project our lives to others, it's very grounding to constantly hear the truth.

Our eight and ten-year-old sons are living with ASD and our five-year-old daughter is yet to have the formal testing, but has been flagged as likely also being on the Spectrum. 

When recently speaking to a group of teachers at their new school, the kids enthusiastically volunteered their knowledge of ASD.

They know that they have something called Autism and they self-describe this to mean 'that we learn things differently to other people’, ‘we just see the world a bit differently and go to lots of appointments’, and ‘sometimes it makes me have crazy meltdowns and not want anyone to touch me'. 

We have told our children of their diagnoses in the same way that we have told them that they have blue or brown eyes, that they have male or female genitalia, that they need to brush their teeth or wear a seatbelt. We are simply stating a fact.

 A fact that we can’t and wouldn’t change, but we will stand alongside them and be present as we work out how to navigate it as a family.

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The Quicky speaks to an expert in Autism, and a woman with lived experience, to find out why so many people with Autism go undiagnosed. Post continues below.

Being at the helm of our family with additional needs has made me reflect so much on my own childhood and many of the “naughty kids” that I grew up with. 

Understanding ASD the way that I do now, it terrifies me to think what would have become of our kids had they been born generations earlier.

Through early intervention, speech and occupational therapy, and intensive learning support, they are both making great progress. I am proactively managing their additional needs, rather than being seen as a parent who is failing to discipline their child effectively. 

I shudder to think how many people have tried to “beat” the ASD out of their children to make them more compliant, and how traumatic and useless that must have been, as this contradicts everything we now know about parenting children on the Spectrum. 

The optimist in me hopes that those “naughty kids” who would now be adults are empowered by the stories of those like Josh Thomas and Hannah Gadsby, to seek testing and support. 

But when I see people’s reactions to our children’s behaviours and diagnoses, I realise that attitudes towards ASD have such a long way to go.

We are still met with “no... are you sure? They don’t look like they have Autism,” or “they will just grow out of it,” or “just like every other kid these days… give them some medication instead of a decent dose of discipline,” or “but aren’t we all just a little bit Autistic?” (Definitely not, and this statement is highly offensive to the Autism community - so please don’t say this).

And then there's the one that made me the sickest, “there is something really wrong with that kid”.

From our perspective, the only thing that that is “wrong” is people’s attitudes to those who are neuro-atypical.

The difference that I hope that can be overcome in this generation is a greater understanding of neuro-atypicality and how to embrace differences and celebrate attributes.

I often use the well-worn statement, “In the same way that we wouldn’t expect a wheelchair user to use stairs to access a classroom to enable them to learn, I also need accommodations to be made to enable my children equal access to educational opportunities.” 

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I do this because a good education will afford my children so many more experiences in life, and in their social lives. I do this because my children deserve this just as much as neurotypical children. 

I hope that this insight gives adults the opportunity to reflect on their attitudes to people on the Autism Spectrum.

One of the greatest myths associated with people with ASD is that they lack empathy, and they are unable to love and be loved. 

This could not be further from the truth. My children are some of the most sensitive little souls that I have ever met.

Sometimes they will crave the sensory support of love and physical contact with the same intensity that other people need food and water. 

In that moment, it feels to them as if their lives depend on it. 

Kate Fisher is a social scientist with a background in public health policy. She is also an author and sex therapist. She can usually be found drinking great coffee or great gin, both out of mugs, unapologetically. 

Feature Image: Getty

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