Throughout this process, my wife and I have been learning more and more about autism and the way it presents itself, notably in girls. We’ve spoken to lots of people about autism, including doctors, psychologists, behaviour analysts and teachers. And the more we learn, we realise there is still so much more to learn. Books like ‘Neurotribes’ and ‘Martian in the Playground’ are becoming increasingly common on the bedside tables of reading material.
We’re thankful that information is out there; in order to understand our daughter, we need as much information as possible. Words on the page, words on a computer screen, the media doesn’t matter – we are devouring them. All these new words, as helpful as they are, are overloading our already emotional brains. We pounce on any information specific to ASD girls like starving hyenas – there is simply not enough of this information in proportion to those people it is affecting. And there are still misunderstandings and misconceptions of how girls with ASD present themselves.
The process of trying to achieve a diagnosis can be lengthy and all-consuming for families. It’s difficult sometimes to think of anything other than what the diagnosis and its implications will mean. Which brings me back to – words. Not written down, but spoken between friends.
Last night I went to the pub with a friend of approximately 30 years. We spoke about autism and my daughter. We spoke about what it means for her and for us. And it was good to talk about it. Men are often not great at talking about these things. It wasn’t a long conversation, but it was honest and heartfelt. I know my friend supports us and would do anything he could to help. And just knowing that someone else understands a bit of what we are going through is a massive help.
Words. They really are powerful.