Charlotte loves going into big brothers schools to collect them. She waits for them to come running out of their classes to embrace them with hugs. We pick up Dylan first which involves going through an intercom door which is the door we are let back out of by one of his teachers. She usually excitedly runs towards these doors on the way out which I don’t mind as I know she will stop once out that door, but she’s often stopped by staff beforehand. Today one of Dylan’s teachers said in reply to my ‘she knows to stop’ that he’s so used to not stopping and rightly so. Just like Dylan, much of the attendees of his school have no danger awareness so preventing a child go out that door is second nature to them.
It made me think of the last couple of mornings where another parent on the school run has encouraged me to let Charlotte go that little bit further by herself on the school run. Other children her age at scootering along where as I’ve not long stopped pushing her in the pram on the school run in favour of pushing her brother in it instead. She can see I’m nervous and she knows why. Dylan has no awareness of the dangers around him; this includes traffic which is obviously our main worry. Charlotte is an intelligent girl and is outsmarting me by the day; I’ve been holding her back because of my gut instinct to protect from those dangers. It’s become second nature to me now to stop her from any potential hazards, but at the same time, I’m not aiding her in learning danger awareness.
Dylan’s autism has affected the way I parent Charlotte from day 1. Her first year was spent with us discovering that Dylan wasn’t like any other child and coming to terms with the way life was going to be for us. I’ve always said I wouldn’t let autism affect what we do in life, but today I realised I’m letting it affect how I raise our daughter. She doesn’t have autism; she is as normal as they get if you were to look at a health visitor’s checklist. Just last week we introduced drinking out a cup to her, she nailed it straight away and of course, she would as she’s at that age now. Dylan does not know how to use a cup, and I’ve let that blur the fact Charlotte would be able to. I’m sure if I was to think about it these aren’t the only examples.
She’s living in the shadow of Autism, and this is not fair to her.