Have you ever met a “one-upper” parent?
You tell a story about your child. Good, bad, funny, concerning – you decide to share.
And then the one upper parent tells you, “that’s nothing – guess what my child did!”
I know a few one-uppers in my circles. I avoid talking about my family with them, knowing their child did something better or worse than the story I am telling.
But sometimes, if I was sharing an “oh no!” moment about Cate, I wondered if they were right. Was Catelyn’s behavior a big deal? I mean their kids did something even more concerning. Right?
In my previous post I looked at why boys are diagnosed with autism 5 times more often than girls. The link to the post can be found above.
In short, girls and boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) appear differently, and could be argued, would need different diagnosing tools based on gender.
Girls with ASD are rare. Girls with Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism (HFA) are extremely rare. The ratio of boys to girls with Asperger’s or HFA is 10:1 (Sarris, 2013).
So I took a look backwards to see if Catelyn was on the path to being overlooked.
Catelyn has always been a happy child. Smiley, bubbly with a huge imagination.
But she has always had social problems.
I had heard her play with other children, of course. Catelyn was bossy. She made the rules. She would somehow turn a whole playground of children into 2 different “us vs them” sides.
But isn’t that what STRONG little girls do?
I feel like we celebrate those attributes in little girls.
I had many meetings with Catelyn’s teachers and other parents through the years because of Catelyn’s behavior.
She was excited and impulsive, talked back, was downright mean if a snack was offered that she didn’t like.
Is that something you take your child to therapy for?
The nurses and I always watched Catelyn take her shots without tears for years. It was like she didn’t feel them. On separate visits I told the Doctors and nurses she never slept. “No cause for concern” was their response.
She started speaking and then began to speak in whole sentences. Just spitting out whole strings of words that she heard on the TV.
She never cried when I left her. Not on her first day at day care, preschool, church nursery, elementary school. NEVER. I had misty eyes while she never even said goodbye.
Clothes and food are still limited. She is not concerned with her appearance. Her voice can be ear piercing, she is very determined, she seeks out younger children to play with.
All of these things and so much more made Catelyn, Catelyn.
.But were these reasons to reach out for help? The Doctor’s already told me she was fine.
And if your child is strong willed. Sassy even – isn’t that a parenting issue?
The time had come to seek assistance. After a rough school year, it was time to be proactive instead of reactive.
For Catelyn, she knew she was having tremendous social problems. She was extremely emotional, argumentative, and had a mountain of sensory issues. And she was depressed.
When Catelyn would normally fight, she retreated to her room or would stand in front of me and break down in tears. Our happy, bubbly, strong-willed, smiley little girl was crumbling.
When her behavior got in the way of her ability to function on a day to day basis in a productive manner – and then affected her mood – we reached out.
I told the clinician the problems Catelyn was facing, and the clinician told me Catelyn would be treated for HFA
I had learned about ASD from trying to help Declan. I then learned about HFA and saw Catelyn on paper. The issues that were effecting her had been identified. Supports were put in place. Catelyn is working hard in therapy. She is happy again and growing everyday.
In the article, Gender and Autism” by The National Autistic Society, many studies are mentioned that speculate women and girls are never referred for a diagnosis. Their information is then simply missing from statistics, even though they are in need of diagnosis and support.
We chose to seek out help for Catelyn To help her smile again. The road to treatment and her reaction to therapy and “High Functioning Autism” are in the posts ahead.
Sarris, Marina, “NOT JUST FOR BOYS: WHEN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS AFFECT GIRLS.” Interactive Autism Network at Kennedy Krieger Institute, 13 February 2013. 17 January 2017
“Gender and Autism,” The National Autistic Society, The National Autistic Society 2016, 17 January 2017