For many of us, when you first discover that you're pregnant, you can't help the idyllic wonder that immediately follows the news. Images of rosy-cheeked, feather-haired, chubby little babies fill your mind and you wonder what this little child will look like and who they'll be. Later, though, come the all too real worries about everything that could go wrong. Is he developing normally? Are all of her fingers and toes accounted for on the latest sonogram?
And later still, you think about pretty much all of the cases out there of developmentally delayed children and everything they go through. You won't typically find out if your child is on the autism spectrum until he or she is well into toddlerhood, but the moment the diagnosis is made, you suddenly have a new set of worries and wonders for the rational side of you to contend with.
But, as with any quirk or strong personality aspect of your kid, the way to settle yourself down is to, simply put, live with it. An autism diagnosis is not the end of the world or the end of anything really. If anything, you should feel relief at a concrete diagnosis to make sense of any behavior you were worried about. And, while social situations and routine interruptions are always going to be trouble for your child, there are so many positive aspects of autism to consider.
Your child's memory, for one, is likely much better than that of everyone in your home put together. And often, those on the autism spectrum or Asperger's spectrum possess the intelligence to surpass the average child, as opposed to reaching below the average level. Your child's mind may be working differently, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are truly so many ways and reasons to turn this diagnosis into something positive.
9 It Can Mean A Unique Creativity
Not only do artistic activities aid in teaching autistic children and cultivating their minds, but they also bring out a natural creativity that autistic children possess. Studies show that autistic children who have a hard time with their motor skills are able to fine tune them as they carefully draw or color on paper. And doing so can give people a picture, so to speak, of the child's interests when they may not be able to voice those interests themselves.
Engaging in art also enables autistic kids to gain better control over some aspect of their lives. While in other areas things may be stressful or seemingly out of their control, while working on art they can have control over something. And for them, that may be a small victory among lots of other small ones that can feel great for them.
8 Autistic Children Stick With Things And Rarely Give Up
Since autistic children are routine-driven, this behavior turns into the ability to almost never give up when attempting something. They're so set on getting something accomplished that they will stop at almost nothing to achieve that goal. This is especially good for kids as they develop into adults. Having a set schedule makes it possible to stay organized, and being incredibly anal about a strict schedule means that they won't veer off course.
As adults, this is something we could all benefit from. The unwavering ability to stick with something and keep our minds laser-focused on that is what can drive anyone to stay on a proper course. It’s true that a disruption in an everyday routine can cause great emotional and even physical distress for an autistic child, but on the plus side, a routine is one way to keep things in order and keep things making sense for them.
7 They Have Strong Memories
If an elephant never forgets, then autistic children have minds 100 times stronger. Maybe that isn’t the best analogy, but we think you get the point. But this is another positive aspect of having autism that keeps on giving. Kids with autism have the ability to retain large amounts of information, and then just as quickly access it, this skill can aid them in doing well in both school and the workforce.
In school subjects like math, autistic children can readily recall information that may be super difficult for other children to even comprehend. As an adult, an individual with autism can continue to cultivate their memory bank of information to wow bosses and go far in the workforce.
6 Those With Autism Treat Everyone As Equals
Kids who are autistic don't see others who are in higher classes or more powerful positions as people to revere or treat any differently than the average person. Which is an important quality for pretty much anyone to have, so take comfort in the fact that your autistic child naturally sees everyone as equals. This is the sort of personality trait that we as adults work years to cultivate and even still end up having trouble holding onto.
True, autistic children may have a harder time reserving a certain amount of respect for adults in power, like caregivers or teachers, but in a way this is still kind of a good thing. They are learning early on that respect is a two-way street and that they are just as important as anyone else.
5 A Unique Intelligence Comes With The Diagnosis
Remember that great memory we were talking about before? Yeah, that goes hand-in-hand with this natural intelligence that kids with autism have. In a recent study performed with music prodigies, it was found that three of the eight studies were on the autism spectrum and possessed a high level of intelligence thanks to minds that could retain and relay tons of information.
Not only that, but the study also suggested that these kids have the ability to stay focused on a certain task and maintain a strong, unwavering attention to detail. But while the intelligence seemed over the moon for some of these kids, their tested IQs were average at best, with one reaching 108. Still though, there is something great to be said for the intricate, fast moving and ever mindful brains of children with autism.
4 They Show A Refreshing, Unwavering Honesty
You've heard the old adage about kids being too honest, right? And almost brutally so, even. With children who are autistic, they may seem a bit brash at first. And yes, the honesty may be a little off putting when you first encounter it. But then you kind of realize that this honestly is a refreshing dose of what pretty much anyone can do with.
Having someone there to tell you like it is isn’t something we see or experience very often, but it is a necessity all the same. And you can take comfort in the fact that when your child exerts his or her almost brutal honesty, it isn’t to hurt you or to be rude, instead, they’re simply doing what is right to them and being as honest as possible, to both inform and help you. No, you didn’t really want to know that those stark white jeans don't flatter your thighs, but it's probably good to know before you leave the house.
3 There Will Never Be A Dull Moment
That can be said when you have any child running around the house. But when you have a child with autism, you have a child whose mind is always working, the gears constantly shifting as they see things in different ways and tell you so, too. Their imagination is always working in overdrive too, as can be seen through their natural creativity. Which, in turn, makes for some interesting games of Pictionary and Hangman.
And the laughter to be had with your child is all too real, as they tend to take things you say very literal or seriously, like this mom, whose son was unsure of how to give her a "high five" and instead smacks her right in the forehead, all the while allowing his facial expression to remain passive and calm. Which just enables situations like that to end in laughter, at least on the parent's part.
And it helps in showing you how tough days, where confusion and frustration for all parties can be involved, can still end in all smiles. As the mom in the aforementioned story says, "It feels good to laugh -- and it feels even better to know that it’s OKAY to laugh about a subject that is so often anything but funny."
2 Children With Autism Have Strong Moral Codes
Kids who are on the autism spectrum or with Asperger's syndrome are nothing if not so very matter-of-fact like. Like we said, they tell you like it is. But likewise, they expect the same thing in return. They don't respond well to some of the more vague jokes out there and they don't welcome "sayings" that are more silly than fact-based. That being said, they tend to have a strict right and wrong moral code. Mostly because that’s the way they see things. Correct or incorrect. Accurate or inaccurate. And good and bad.
Because of their ability to view the actions of others this way, you can rest easy knowing that your child will make the appropriate life decisions of their own based on this little mantra. To them, there is no real gray area in the middle. Instead, they understand only the good decision or the bad one.
1 They Are Still Your Children
Autism or not, blonde hair or brown, green eyes or dark gray ones, this is still your little girl or boy. You still carried them for nine (ish) months and though their personality may be different than you expected, guess what? This is simply who they are. But as you can see, he or she is an intelligent, mindful, respectful and patient child who will grow up to be an adult with all of those qualities too. And all you can do is be the parent to cultivate those strong and useful personality traits.
Being a parent to any child has its challenges and its days when you feel like a superhero of a parent. Remember that on the tougher days and repeat as a mantra for you. We all make mistakes and have blowouts because of stressors that come with raising children. But every other part is the exciting adventure of parenthood that can be had with any child.
You didn't expect your little one to come out looking and acting like everyone else, right? So go with this, embrace the quirks and be there to comfort them when they need it and don't push them to do anything they deem uncomfortable. Just be a parent to that kid of yours.