|Artwork by K. Turner|
My daughter has autism.
I wish I could tell you she’s a savant, like in Rain Man. I wish I could tell you that you could tell she’s autistic by looking at her. I wish I could tell you she can be cured.
But I can’t.
I can’t tell you why she screams, outraged over some slight I can’t perceive. But it hurts when you look at me, and the expression on your face is clear. You’re disgusted. You think I’m a bad parent, and my child is merely being a brat. Because you don’t know. You don’t know the turmoil my daughter is in, how she may want to stop her rages, but can’t because the wires in her brain have crossed. You can’t tell by looking at her my daughter has autism.
I have a scar on my face from when she attacked me years ago. She’s bigger than me, and when she’s come after me, it’s my husband who’s had to intervene, holding her down until her fury eases. Not once have we punished her for these outbursts. They are a part of autism. We know they will pass. But it’s no fun to have the police come to our house at 2 AM because our daughter’s screams have woken the neighbors. Luckily, the officers were understanding when we explained the situation.
Luckily, her outbursts have lessened considerably, and she’s better able to calm herself down. Because she’s nonverbal, it’s difficult to discern what upsets her. At school, she uses an app called Proloquo2Go, a communications device, and we are hoping to get one for home use.
Because her autism is severe, my daughter will always need supervision.
Despite this, she’s also active in school, playing on the united basketball team (similar to Special Olympics). She usually scores two or four points a game. (I heard that she made 35 baskets in a row in gym class.) She volunteers at a local animal shelter. At home, she likes to exercise, draw, and watch YouTube videos, including old Walter Conkrite news reels. She’s better at math than I am, although I suspect she gets that from her father.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this is autism is not a “one size fits all” disorder. While one child may be severely autistic and non-verbal, another may be verbal and higher functioning, able to communicate. Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders share symptoms, but the severity of these vary with the individual. They include but are not limited to:
Difficulty communicating with others
Repetitive behavior (e.g. hand flapping, rocking, jumping)
Inability to establish relationships
For more information about autism:
Autism Speaks/Cure Autism Now
Pamela Turner drinks too much coffee and wishes she could write perfect first drafts. Writings include reviews, articles, poetry, screenplays, plays, and short fiction. Her 10-minute play “Brides of Deceit” was part of a local performance and “Cemetery” placed second in The Writers Place short/teleplay screenplay competition. Publications include “Family Tradition,” a short dark suspense story (MuseItUp Publishing) and Death Sword, an urban fantasy/paranormal (Lyrical Press). She’s a member of RWA, Sisters in Crime, EPIC, and a supporting member of HWA. Besides coffee, she likes cats, cemeteries, and old abandoned buildings.
You can find her at: