What is it Like Being an Autism Mom?

I get this question a lot. With two kids who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, life isn’t exactly what I expected it to be. First of all, let me explain my story a bit.

When our daughter was 2 years old we started to notice that she was showing behaviors that were different than we had seen in other children around her age. She would have meltdowns for no clear reason, ran away from us in public, and even destroy many toys and furniture in our house.

That’s when we started seeking help to find out what was going on. Four years and another baby later, we finally received a diagnosis for her of Autism Spectrum Disorder. At that time when I was looking over some of the paperwork for our daughter, I felt like many of the symptoms sounded exactly like how I was feeling so I saw a doctor as well.

Shortly after that, I was also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder followed by my 3-year-old son. So just to give you an idea of our household, Both of my children and I have Autism Spectrum Disorder. With 3 out of 4 people in our house being autistic, our family doesn’t exactly run like other families we know.

Here are just a few examples of how being an autism mom is different.

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1. Mealtimes Aren’t Always at the Table

There are times when everything falls into place and we can all eat at the table but sometimes when you have a special needs child (or two in my case) meals are eaten wherever is best that day.

The important thing is that we all eat together as much as possible.

2. Going to Bed Early is a Faint Memory

I miss going too early. Most of the time we can get both of our kids asleep by 9 pm but that is after having a “winddown time” (winddown time is where we get the kids to calm down and start relaxing before bed) and medication to help them sleep.

3. Kids Call Us Many Times Before Falling Asleep

My kids will call my husband and me numerous times until they fall asleep for prayer or blanket adjustments. This happens much more with my daughter who often needs comfort through an extra prayer or to be tucked in again.

4. What Are Breakfast Foods?

My kids know what breastfast foods are but they don’t want to eat them.

Most of the time, breakfast consists of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and yogurt. We have tried to offer foods like pop tarts, waffles, eggs, and bacon but they never seem to want them.

5. Family Outings End in a Meltdown

Part of having autism spectrum disorder is often having difficulty in public with so many people.

Usually, my children are okay to go out to a grocery store or in public but after a couple of hours, they have had enough of people and need to have a little quiet at home.

6. No Breakables in Kids’ Rooms

We learned quickly that we couldn’t leave many common things in our children’s bedrooms. Many toys and anything that can be ripped up or broken would.

7. Potty Training isn’t Happening at Two

We tried everything to potty train our daughter at two years old but nothing worked. It seemed like she was disconnected in some way and she didn’t get fully daytime potty trained until she was around 4 years old.

The same thing happened to my son. He is now 4 years old and just starting to wear big-boy underwear but has a long way to go.

8. Age-Appropriate Toys May Not Be Age-Appropriate

My kids don’t often have toys that are for their age either because of distraction or not knowing how to play with it correctly. They seem to catch on a bit later and have much more fun with them at an older age.

9. Picky Eaters

Now this one I cannot complain about because I am also a very picky eater. The biggest problem in our home is that everyone wants something different or a meal has to be modified for each person.

10. Obsessions with Numbers

My son has the biggest obsession with numbers. He is 4 years old now so everything must come in fours.

Now I’m not just talking about how many toys he wants to bring to grandma’s house or how many times he wants to race his sister down the hill. He gets upset if we don’t go to pump #4 at the gas station or if the doctor’s office puts us in a room number other than #4.

We’ve had many meltdowns because of this and it’s often hard on him.

11. Beds are Not for Sleeping

Of course, both of my kids have their own beds and do sleep in them but there are just some nights that they may want to fall asleep in a hammock swing or sleep in a cozy chair.

It’s a sensory thing and as long as they are comfortable I am okay with it.

12. No Curtains Allowed

Curtains cannot be hung in kids’ rooms because they are ultimately pulled down. Recently we have been able to put curtains up in our daughter’s room now that she is older and will not pull them down.

13. Alarms on Doors

All doors leading outside must have an alarm on them because kids with autism like to run. We can trust our daughter not to run out of the house now that she is older.

14. Lock All Doors

We lock all of our doors that lead outside to prevent running as well. Thankfully our youngest still cannot unlock doors yet.

15. Baby Proofing to the Next Level

When you have an active child who is autistic, baby-proofing or childproofing is a must.

There are so many unknown dangers that your child can get into so make sure to get down on their level and think of what all they may get into so you can secure it properly.

16. Put Locks on Everything

This may sound extreme but we have had to have locks on our fridge, cabinet doors, and our oven to keep our kids from opening them and hurting themselves or from pulling everything out.

17. Fragile Home Decor Cannot Live in this House

We have hardly anything fragile on our walls or shelves because I know it will get broken. So skip all of those breakable home decor items for now and reevaluate later to see if your child’s behavior changes as they get older.

18. Bare Walls

Unfortunately, the walls in the kids’ bedrooms are bare because they will tear every picture, shelf, or even paint off the walls. Again, as our daughter has gotten older we can now put things on her walls but our son is still not there yet.

19. No Clothes in the Closet

For both of our kids, we have had to keep their clothes in the living room because pulling clothes out of drawers is fun. We honestly didn’t even use our daughter’s closet for clothes until the last few years now that she has grown out of that stage.

20. I Like This Shirt

For our kids, the same shirt is sometimes worn multiple days in a row especially if it has Buzz Light Year on it. This is so common among kids on the autism spectrum. Sometimes having the same clothes over and over is comforting.

Don’t worry we can change their clothes often – we just have to wash and dry very quickly.

21. Brushing Teeth is a Negotiation

With our kids, brushing their teeth is a debate or sometimes a negotiation.  Thankfully our oldest child will brush her teeth with no problem, but our 4-year-old has to be convinced each time to let us brush his teeth.

One system that has worked for a while is taking turns. We will often say, “Mama first then Owen.”

22. No More Scissors

I have had such a hard time with scissors and keeping my daughter from finding them. I cannot tell you how many times she has gotten ahold of scissors and cut her hair. It’s been horrible.

Thankfully, we have been able to trust her more and more and can now let her have them supervised.

23. But I Wanted the Blue Cup

It’s a struggle to find the right color cup and plate for that particular day. Every day often comes with a new favorite color of the day, unless you are my son Owen who wants the blue cup every time without fail.

24. Saying No Ends in a Meltdown

When a toy is seen and wanted, hearing “no” does nothing and often results in a meltdown. Honestly, since my kids have both started therapy these meltdowns are fewer than they used to be but they still do happen.

25. Tip-toe Walking Tears Up Shoes

Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder often have sensory issues that can cause them to walk on their tip-toes. My daughter is the tip-toe walking princess and she always tears up her tennis shoes after just a few months.

26. Paw Patrol Again…

Repetitive behaviors are a common occurrence with kids who have autism.

My son for example likes to have everything the same or likes to do the same task over and over. He often watches the same TV show or movie again and again.

27. Haircuts Require Bribes

Another sensory issue my kids face is having hair on their faces or other parts of their skin when they are getting haircuts. Both of my children still have a very difficult time with this.

We have found a few hacks to work around this but haircuts in our house are usually very quick and require a treat afterward.

So as you can see, having kids with autism is challenging in many ways and although it’s hard some days, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Are you an autism mom? Tell me what you’ve learned about your kids and how things are different from a typical family.

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