20 Questions: When Being With Your Autistic Child Feels Like Surviving the Spanish Inquisition by Carrie Watts
During my first pregnancy, my husband joked that he’d rather our child was pretty than smart, as smarts only get you so far. I replied I’d prefer a smart child because looks fade. As he grew, we could tell he was very smart, indeed, though we had no idea the extent until he started to ask questions.
He asked things like, “How does the TV work?” and “What’s ‘ampersand’ in Gaelic?” Google and I quickly got tight as I tried to get answers for him. He needed specifics, and you had to answer the same way every time he asked.
I felt like I wasn’t up to what he needed. What we didn’t know then was that this was an early indicator of autism. His repetitiveness was rooted in a need for predictability in a world that was becoming overwhelming. Once we learned that repetition made him feel safe and secure, it was much easier to meet both our needs:
- I made up songs with alternating parts, giving him control but keeping it interesting for me.
- I perfected the scripts so I could easily memorize them.
- I often told myself I was building a foundation of trust, not teaching Gaelic vocabulary!
By removing the pressure, I could focus on what really mattered – him, me and our relationship.