Home » Autism Parenting Advice » Diagnosing Up the Family Tree: When You Realize You Might Be on the Spectrum

Diagnosing Up the Family Tree: When You Realize You Might Be on the Spectrum

December 9, 2020


That moment when you realize your child isn’t the only family member on the spectrum…

So, adults can be on the spectrum. And so can women.

Two profound sentences that really shouldn’t be quite so profound, but we continue to be amazed when we find women on the spectrum.

When You Realize You Might Be on the Spectrum

Here is a typical scenario in my office: I’m meeting with a mom about her child. She casually mentions that she has fully researched all the available practitioners in our area, detailed notes about treatment options, suggested timelines, and school schedules (to reduce missing school by scheduling appointments on days off). I squint, observing the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) dotted throughout the mom’s narrative, and wondering if she knows she might be her child’s best ally for reasons other than she thinks.

I might mention, “You seem like you truly know this child best—the way she thinks, feels, and what she really needs.” Currently, about half the time the answer is, “Yes, because I am her mom.” The other half of the time the answer is, “Yes, and honestly, the more I read, the more I wonder if I might also be on the spectrum.” I’m left wondering if the diagnostic gender ratio isn’t really 50-50  and if perhaps more moms are on the spectrum than we think…or than we fail to think.

I’ve later asked these moms, “How does it feel, that moment when you realize your mom superpowers come from a place you didn’t expect and when you realize you, too, might be on the spectrum?” Most of my moms take a moment to really ponder the question. Their answers generally sound like:

  • I had no idea I was on the spectrum. I thought I was just shy.
  • I always wondered how the other girls figured things out. I thought there was something wrong with me.
  • I often felt left out or isolated, but didn’t know that feeling was related to ASD.
  • I just didn’t click with the other girls. They talked about things that were kind of boring.
  • In hindsight, this helps me understand my dating issues.
  • Now those weird work experiences make sense.
  • Where were my parents and teachers? My life would have been easier if anyone actually helped!
  • Thank goodness I’m on the spectrum! I can give my child what my parents didn’t know to offer to me. I’ll improve on parenting, starting with my family.

Special Offer

Don't miss out on our special offer.
Click here to find out more

If I push harder, we get to highlight a combination of marvelous strengths and persistent loneliness.

These moms have a hard time finding each other, befriending each other, providing comfort. Sometimes that sense of isolation keeps the moms apart, even as they are working hard to help their children overcome the same hurdles of connection and isolation.

Back in the day, moms didn’t ask me if they might be on the spectrum. Now when a mom turns to me and asks, “What if I’m on the spectrum?” my answer generally approximates, “That would be great! My spectrum moms are the best parents ever! That would be such a gift for your child!” I’m hoping that as we better understand women on the spectrum, we also find better ways to provide meaningful connection and insightful resources. I’m also hoping that we learn from these super-moms about both ASD and parenting!

To all those moms waiting for the invitation, here it is: please, teach us! We want to learn. And I’m sorry we didn’t think to ask sooner!

This article was featured in Issue 98 – Fresh ASD Guidance For A New Year

Support Autism Parenting Magazine

We hope you enjoyed this article. In order to support us to create more helpful information like this, please consider purchasing a subscription to Autism Parenting Magazine.

Download our FREE guide on the best Autism Resources for Parents

Related Articles

What Happens to Autistic Adults When Parents Die?

What Happens to Autistic Adults When Parents Die?

Read More
Seven party planning ideas to prepare your little one with autism or sensory needs for social events.

Planning Parties for Kids with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder

Read More
How to Manage Tough Situations and Conflicts

How to Manage Tough Situations and Conflicts

Read More
An autism mom shares advice for raising a daughter on the spectrum, told from her own family’s perspective. 

Raising a Daughter on the Spectrum: the Unique Challenges

Read More
Worried About Autism? Unveiling the World of Autism https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/worried-about-autism/

Worried About Autism? Unveiling the World of Autism

Read More
Autism and Grief: What to Do and How to Prepare https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/prepare-autism-grief

Autism and Grief: What to Do and How to Prepare

Read More
Feeling Isolated in Your Parenting? Three Things You Can Do to Feel Less Alone

Feeling Isolated in Your Parenting? Three Things You Can Do to Feel Less Alone

Read More
Tips For Parents: Coping & Thriving with Autism

Tips For Parents: Coping & Thriving with Autism

Read More
Four Low Maintenance Pets for Children with Autism

Four Low Maintenance Pets for Children with Autism

Read More
Teaching Concepts Rather Than Individual Skills

Teaching Concepts Rather Than Individual Skills

Read More
Creating a ‘Perfect Environment’ at Home

Creating a ‘Perfect Environment’ at Home

Read More
How to Make Travel Fun for Your Child with Autism

How to Make Travel Fun for Your Child with Autism

Read More
>

Autism Parenting Magazine