Very shortly after recognizing that I’m probably autistic, I realized that my kid, whose nickname is Apple (and mine Tree) because “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” must also be autistic. It was a Facebook post by Quirky.Stimmy.Cool., and the comment made by Autistic, Typing when they shared the post – “My kids were diagnosed late because I mostly understood them, ‘oh, I do that, too, no big deal.’” Wow, did that hit me like a ton of bricks. Now, instead of a poorly-edited montage of my childhood, I now also have a poorly-edited montage of my kid’s childhood.
So yeah, if I’m autistic, my kid is autistic. We’ll call them Apple for now (not because they want to remain anonymous, but for the moment, I do). Apple is genderfluid and uses all pronouns, but I generally stick with they/them/theirs in writing. Apple is 16 years old.
Apple and I were eating dinner and watching Fringe, our usual nightly routine. We had had a great day, both actually left the apartment …. to go get Apple’s covid vaccine. We were both in a positive mood (not common when we both struggle with multiple mental illnesses). The moment just felt right. I paused the TV, looked seriously at Apple, and just said, “Do you think you might be autistic?” The response was a pause, a curious look, and “Hmm, I never thought about it, but it makes sense.”
And boom! Now, my kid’s been cycling through their own poorly-edited montage. It’s kinda cool, going through this journey together, but there’s also the mom guilt that I should have noticed it sooner, that I could have gotten Apple better supports throughout school. But Apple is super talkative and very social when around the right people and articulate beyond their years and super empathetic and all of these things that we’re conditioned to believe are contrary to autism, but they’re not, not in the slightest.
Apple needs structure and routine. They get overwhelmed by lights and sounds fairly easily. They have trouble speaking when their anxiety is high. And, most importantly, everything we read about autism resonates with Apple, and it’s helping them make sense of their world, and I am so thrilled to be a part of that with them.
While I don’t think seeking a formal diagnosis will make any difference in my life, it’s important to Apple. So, this summer we’re working on finding the right doctor(s) so that Apple gets a valid and reliable autism evaluation. I am prepared for a rocky road, but even when I can’t muster the energy to do things for myself, I always have spell slots reserved for Apple.
This journey is exciting for me, but also frustrating and super overwhelming, but for Apple, it seems to be all excitement. This kid recently spent 10 days in a partial hospitalization program for their anxiety and depression. The partial was amazing and exactly what Apple needed. But obviously, depression and anxiety don’t go away after two weeks of intensive therapy. (Oh gods, I wish!) But this new realization that Apple is also probably autistic is helping them make sense of so many things. And I am told, Gen Z is much more accepting, so Apple doesn’t feel the same apprehension I have with sharing all of this. They even asked me today if they could a do a guest post on this blog, and I’m like, “FUCK YEAH, YOU CAN!” So, keep an eye out for that!
I try really hard not to put my burdens on my kid, while at the same time being honest about my struggles. It’s a delicate balance, and I know I don’t always get it right. While our journeys are certainly intertwined, we each have our own paths. It’s an interesting exercise in letting go and maintaining support at the same time. But Apple keeps me grounded, reminds me what’s important in life – family, friends, love, and joy.
***Apple read and approved of this before publishing.***