Autism: It’s a colourful, vivid world in there

Raising Children with Autism - An Everyday Story

Raising Children with Autism - An Everyday StoryHe hums a tune in his head. He’s miles away.

‘It’s a colourful, vivid world in there, isn’t it?’ My husband says to me.

Autism. I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now but each time I tried something stopped me.  Even now the words seem hard to find. I think I wanted to protect Jack. I didn’t think his struggles were mine to share.

But I am seeing more and more that with his struggles come the most incredible inner view; a way of seeing and responding to the world which leaves me in awe. Sights and sounds which go unnoticed by me, I am privileged to experience because of him; because of autism.

Jack has autism.

Autism. I can see the look in people’s eyes now. Oh I am so sorry. That must be so hard for you.  Yes Jack cries, a lot. Yes, he struggles with unpredictability. Yes, he is upset by loud noises. Yes, he has difficulty sitting still. Yes, he is a little bit odd and a little bit crazy.

He has many anxieties and fears about being hurt, lost or dying. He needs to be within his comfort zone of not-hungry, not-tired, not-too-cold-or-hot or there is nothing you can do to calm him.

His emotions lay ever so gently below the surface, ready to burst forth at any moment; whether it’s a wail of joy with little arms flapping or a scream of frustration and a slump to the ground. His emotions are always right there.

Homeschooling Children with Autism - An Everyday StoryBut it is so much more than that. Autism is beauty. Autism is passion. It’s deep thinking and wonder. It’s being so closely connected with our emotions. It’s processing the world on a whole other plain.

Yes it is hard. But it is oh so wonderful too. Seeing that little mind work. Watching as Jack de-constructs something in his mind, examining every piece of the puzzle, then putting it back together again in his own unique way;  spreads light and joy and knowledge on all of us. We are seeing and feeling and hearing the world differently because of him.

Jack is teaching us compassion and patience. He is teaching us to look beyond our own preconceptions of what should be and instead to really see what is. He is teaching us to slow down and think; to be mindful, to be present.

Autism is not a disability or something to be pitied.

Autism is a gift if we choose to see it. A gift which opens our eyes to new wonders and teaches us to be better people.

Autism is one part of what makes Jack so incredibly special.

How could I not be thankful for that?


29 Replies to “Autism: It’s a colourful, vivid world in there”

  1. so beautifully said Kate, thank you for sharing so we can also increase our understanding of your amazing little man. He has so many gifts to share and a wonderfully supportive family to help him flourish too! xx

  2. Beautifully put. You write with such clarity and heart. Wishing you and your family a beautiful new year!

  3. So very true! It is a gift to be able to think very deeply about things that interest you as Jack seems to do. I love this TedX talk by a teen on the spectrum who’s parents homeschooled him and let him follow his interests – An amazing person.

  4. What a lovely heartfelt post. Our nephew has autism. Thank you for sharing! <3

  5. Marie Willingham says:

    Thank you for writing this. I’m a follower of your blog and I have a son with autism too. They sound alike in many ways. You describe it well.

  6. Kate, you are such a wonderful, compassionate mother. When I first saw your instagram photo, I wanted to say I am so sorry as I know this can be news that many do not want to hear…but knowing what little I know about your family, I knew that wasn’t the right thing to say at all. Jack and Sarah have been blessed with parents that love and care for them. Ones that take the time to follow their children’s paths and time. Thank you for sharing your families’ joys and sorrows and for allowing us to take part in it both near and far. This new gift is just another part of your beautiful story. Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of it.Savannah

  7. Hi Kate,
    Thanks for sharing your inspiring post about Jack. Your family’s journey helps all of us see the world differently. I have been connected to the World of Autism for 27 years as a researcher and educator. Every child I have had the pleasure to befriend has made me a better person. One of my Little Kindergarten friends just got his diagnosis. This doesn’t change how I see him. He is the child I am most drawn to as he in engaged in our world with all of his senses. With our new “Full Day Inquiry Based Kindergarten” curriculum, he is our expert. Our mission statement is to “Look Closely” at our world. One day when we were on our Fall nature walk, most of the children were moving quickly from one place to another with their magnifying glass. J. found one leaf and spent the whole time examining it, smelling, listening, feeling. He even licked it. Other friends were wondering why he kept looking at one leaf when he had the whole forest to look at. They tried to encourage him to look at other things. They looked at his leaf and said things like “Nice leaf.” All they saw was the embossed veins on the leaf. Then J pulled one friend in to show that there was a minuscule spider in the crevasse of the leaf. He is the inquiry expert. He is the one who sees the little things that the rest of the world misses. He reminds me everyday to forget about the “Big Picture” and take some time to focus on those little things in life. For this I am truly grateful.

  8. You don’t know me, but I love you!

  9. the wonderful world of autism… it is only a problem when OTHERS don’t understand… my son also has the same diagnosis, with a helping of ADHD too – and if homeschooling had been legal here in Sweden I am quite sure I would have opted for that and not forced him into a system that quite obviously cannot think outside of the box like my son does daily.

    My three children have taught me many things… but my son’s autism has enabled me to see life with an even broader spectrum… has allowed me to understand children better, allowed me to understand life better…

    It IS a gift… I just wish the rest of the world had their eyes open enough to see it.

    We need more voices singing the joys and normality of autism – to allow it to be viewed as it is and not as a problem. To see that thinking differently is not a problem but an asset.

    I too have had problems writing about my son… and it took me a long time before I felt brave enough too… for the exact same reasons… and as my son is older, at the age of 10, I have been able to talk with him about me writing… as he WANTS to be able to help other children who have autism or ADHD or both – by letting other adults understand how it feels. I feel enormously proud of him for having this approach. He is not ashamed of it… although he asks for it to be taken away every once in a while as he sees how it gets him into trouble at school… but he also knows that his creativty and his imagination and his attention to detail are found within his autism…

    HUGS to you and your family.

  10. Tracey Findlay says:

    What a beautifully written process of thoughts about autism. Thank you for giving me a different perspective.

  11. Kate, you are an amazing human! I love on the Big island of Hawaii and found you because I too have a reggio inspired Homeschool with plans to open a large scale Sensorial Reggio-inspired Preschool. Your story has prompted me to reach out and let you know that my husband is part of an organization called “Surfers Healing” a foundation started by Izzy Paskowitz for families with autistic children. They are planning to come to Australia for the first time , hopefully this March. Please look it up online if the idea of taking Jack surfing appeals to you and your husband. The events are big and free!!! Izzy and his band of surfers are amazing people. Lots of Aloha to you,
    Brittany Farmer

  12. Kate, your loving, insightful words will bring not only comfort to many but a new perspective!

  13. squashedtomatoes says:

    What a wonderful honest post. Thank you. 🙂

  14. A beautiful post about a beautiful boy. Your love and understanding shines through. Cheers to you guys!

  15. Wow, it’s funny how connected we all are. Thank you for sharing, it’s amazingly generous of you. It’s only been a couple of days since your blog touched me, inspired me to keep reaching for all that is wonderful for my children. In all honesty, as I read your blog and admired your pictures, I wondered how I could make something like that work for my girls, all the while thinking about the behavioral/sensory/emotional challenges my oldest deals with. So thank you for showing me, encouraging and challenging me to step up and be the mum my girls need. Blessings and love. Kate

  16. amrita sharma says:

    hi kate…so much honesty in your post…i believe theres so much more beyond the word “AUTISM”.Jack wil turn out to b amazing human and add value to d world..happy new year to you n ur family..

  17. Thanks….I profundly understand what you Say about Jack and Share your point of view….my little boy also has autism and I constantly find The beauty in it

  18. Beautiful post. I wholeheartedly agree that it is a special gift.

  19. What a beautiful post. I was both teary and smiling when I was reading it.
    thankyou for sharing and a happy 2015 to you all.

  20. corinnalake says:

    Hi Kate,
    Thank you so much for writing and sharing this post. I am a follower of your blog from the US and this post is particularly special to me. I pray that our education system can also see Autism as a gift rather than a disability. I have learned a great deal from one of my students on the spectrum. I always feel like our time together is a time for me to learn and see the world through different lenses and using that insight to guide my teaching. Anyhow, I wanted to make sure you knew the author, Paula Kluth. Have you heard of her? She is absolutely wonderful and I think her books and blog would be a great resource for your homeschool journey. She is someone who listens deeply to children and adults with special needs and strengths as a basis for instruction. I find her work very encouraging and hope you will too.
    Again, thanks for sharing.
    I also want you to know that your blog inspired me to start a homeschool group with other stay at home moms in my area. I have an almost 3 year old and another on the way! Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world via world wide web! Much love!

  21. What beautiful words and post and such a loving insight on autism. I can understand the difficulties and the pain and frustration that go along with all that you are learning and trying to comprehend. But you must also know that the way you have always shared your life (and the lives of your children) with us, you have deeply affected all those who read your blog and are privileged to have such a glimpse into your life. As you share more of the struggles and joys of living with autism, you know you will be uplifting and empowering other mothers and other educators around the world. Thank you for your honesty, and for your profoundly beautiful remarks.

  22. Kate, I recommend you to visit this blog:
    Anabel, a mother of a child with autism posts awesome activities for his son, the best blog for parenting a child with autism in Spanish (it’ so visual I think it will be useful)

  23. What a heartfelt and beautiful post Kate. Jack is indeed special, he’s also a whole host of other qualities (creative, inquisitive and kind come to mind, but there is so much more to that little guy of yours). He’s so blessed to have you by his side. Thank you for sharing this with us. xxx

  24. Thank you so much for sharing, Kate. I think this is one of those topics that is so important to talk about to increase connection and understanding. My older sister is autistic and the world has changed so much since she received her diagnosis almost 40 years ago. At that time, my mom was so incredibly isolated and shouldered a lot of unnecessary guilt. There just weren’t the resources that there are today; autism was something new that very few people had even heard about. What a blessing that Jack has such a kind and compassionate mama. There is much greatness ahead for him.

  25. You are a truly enlightened person. I have crossed paths with several people in my life that have autism and they see it as a burden, and I am sure at times it can be, but there is beauty and freshness in it as well if you look deeply enough. Your son is so lucky to have you.

  26. You expressed perfectly how my wife and I feel about our little boy. He too has autism and like your boy, he too has been blessed beyond our imaginations.
    Let’s enjoy the journey with them and be reminded to always be thankful that we have been blessed and graciously allowed to tag along.

    Lots of love to you and your boy.

  27. Love this! So beautifully put what a blessing this adventure can be!

  28. The need to understand and support autism is so important. It’s great that there are insightful articles like this and autism services to help early learning and child care like this:

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