A Different Outcome

As I learn more and more about autism and therapy- past and present, I’ve looked at how I grew up and how different it might have been had I been in different therapies. I was only in therapy specifically for autism once. It was play therapy and I didn’t see the point of it, so I stopped going. Other than that, my therapy consisted of the school speech therapist and the occasional psychologist.

Now when I say this I’m not saying that this is the ideal path for everyone with autism, but it worked for me. Although I think some additional therapy might have helped with certain things, I am at the age now where I can form my own therapy and work on things that I specifically need help with.

On the other hand, I look at some therapies used in the past and I am very glad that I was not involved in those therapies. I look at stories and videos of children having meltdowns and exhibiting self injurious behavior and I think that could have been me if I had been in a different situation. If people had tried to restrain me from being autistic, if people had tried to pressure me into situations I was uncomfortable with, if people had forced me into the mold they wanted to see, I think I would have had a lot more problems. I could see myself responding to those types of things with anger, aggression, meltdowns, self injury, and even hate and dissociation.

I have a very strong personality and I respond very negatively when people try to change my thought process or emotions. I need to change my own thoughts and emotions. Sometimes with help, and sometimes on my own. If someone tries to force me to change though, it usually makes my behavior worse.

I was very lucky to have grown up in a house where I was allowed to process things at my own speed and find my own way of responding to things. I was lucky to not have been put in a therapy setting where I was forced to comply to demands that I would have negatively reacted to. I was lucky to be challenged to grow within my own realm instead of being forced into a different world that I did not yet understand and pressured to grow there. I was very lucky.

I didn’t start researching autism until I became an adult and learned about autism in my college classes. I had no need to research autism before that. I had no need to understand autism. The only thing I was worried about understanding before that was myself and the world around me. And I am grateful that I didn’t worry about autism back then because it’s a lot to handle. All the information and stories and articles and studies and blogs and comments and videos are a lot to handle. Knowing you have autism is one thing, but knowing autism is something completely different.

Now that I know autism better I am so grateful that my family didn’t treat me as autistic. I am grateful that my diagnosis didn’t change my life. I am grateful that I was able to develop in the way I needed to in order to become the person I am today. And I only hope that others will be as lucky as I was.

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7 thoughts on “A Different Outcome

  1. Thank you for writing this deeply personal post about autism and therapies and what you did. I think many parents struggle with the pressure of trying to do everything they can possibly can to help their child after listening to all these well-meaning professionals. One early childhood educator pulled me aside a while back and said always remember to ask myself this question “is this really the right fit for my son?” Or am I trying to do a specific therapy under pressure from more professionals. I am also worried about teachers and other professionals trying to make my son appear to be normal if you know what I mean? That really bothers me because I think he’s fantastic the way he is and should be allowed to learn the way he likes to learn and let him spread his wings that way. I like hearing that you’re able to do that growing up and had a very supportive environment at home as well. It does give me pause regarding the behaviour issues that pop up when autistic children are in some therapies. It’s one of the reasons I turned down a social skills building group that was ABA based. My son wants to go to the playground a lot this summer and be with kids and play with them. I argued let him generalize his skills on his own terms while on summer holidays like any other kid. Thx again.

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    • Yeah, choosing therapies is a difficult decision to make. Especially now with so many therapy options and the consistently advertised need for early therapy, it’s hard to know what is right for your child. I’m personally against full-time therapies, but I always try to lay aside judgement because everyone’s story is different.
      I wrote this hoping to give people a little different side of the story and maybe a little pat on the shoulder saying it’s alright if you didn’t choose to go the therapy route. The important thing is letting your child grow at their own pace, but not being afraid to challenge their comfort zone sometimes.

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      • I like the idea of letting him grow at his pace but also taking him out of his comfort zone as well….my husband likens it to training when you are an athlete. Slowly you push a little at a time and keep stretching your abilities. When it comes to therapy we didn’t end up going the full time therapy route but decided to address each need if you will. When he was having fine and gross motor difficulties and balance issues we went to an OT…when he needs to work on speech a specialized SLP for motor speech etc. I’m also learning when to just give some of that a rest so he can just have some time to process what he has learnt. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It really does help.

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  2. I grew up undiagnosed but I had some speech therapy and some kind of sticker chart therapy when I was little. I think probably the speech therapy was helpful but the sticker charts just trained me to be obedient without addressing the anxiety and other problems that caused my behaviour problems. I used to wish I’d had some ‘proper autism therapy’ as a child so my social skills would be better, but now I’ve read about how abusive ABA can be I feel lucky that nobody specifically tried to make me less autistic.

    The downside of not having a diagnosis was that I didn’t understand why I was different. I tried to act like the other children, which in the long term was very bad for me, but at least it was my choice to try to pass and it was not forced on me by a therapist.

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    • Yeah, I kind of wonder if any kid really understands their diagnosis anyway. I was diagnosed when I was 12, but I didn’t really understand what it meant and I still didn’t quite realize why I was different.

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