Passing it on

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about genetics and epigenetics and the role they might play in determining who gets autism and to what extent. I’ve also been thinking about what can be done to mitigate the potentially debilitating effects of Asperger’s.

Encouragement

When I think back to my own childhood I remember that my Mum was always encouraging me to do different activities and try to mix with other children. The whole class was invited to my early birthday parties. I went to gymnastics classes, dance classes, karate classes, yoga, horse riding and swimming. I later went to a youth club too.

If my Mum hadn’t pushed me into all these things I dread to think how anti-social I’d be now. Compared to a lot of people on the autism spectrum, even fellow Aspies, I think I do quite well. I have been able to hold down full time jobs working with the public, make friends and even get married.

I recently found out that this was precisely why my Mum pushed me into these activities. She was scared I’d turn out as anti-social as she was. Now that I’m expecting my own child I’ve also been worried it’ll turn out like me. Socially awkward and prone to depression, facing a daily struggle to communicate and fit in.

Sacrifice and gain

I plan to adopt the same behaviour my Mum chose. It didn’t take away the autism, but I do believe it helped me a lot. I can’t know for sure that it made a difference, or how big the difference might be, but I feel even more special knowing that she took such trouble specifically to help me out.

It must have been hard for her, as my social life began when I was very young at parent and toddler coffee mornings. I can only imagine how she must have struggled to make conversation in a room full of women and noisy children while I ran around eating biscuits and looking at the floor. She was always telling me to look ahead instead of down at the ground.

It has taken me a long time to appreciate how much my Mum did for me. I know there were many times when she was upset and worried about me because of my behaviour. Now she can be happy for me and know that her efforts were worthwhile.

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