If you’ve been floating around in the world of Autism for a while you won’t have escaped this saying. And it’s true: if you’ve met one person with autism, the chances are, whilst you might meet another with the same diagnosis, chances are they’ll be a totally different kettle of fish.
But the reason this saying exists is because people like labels. They want to have a nice handy means of describing someone. But just in the same way that not all people are the same just because they are labelled Homo Sapiens, no two people with Autism are the same either.
Hence why Boo is not the same as my friend’s son who also has Asperger’s. Whilst there are some similarities: tics, stimming, and a few of their quirks and social difficulties, these boys are two distinct personalities. Boo is sporty, whilst James is not. James loves Mini Beasts, Boo thinks they are utterly dull. Boo is a maths whizz, James can do puzzles. James loves to be on the stage, Boo would run a mile.
Yet because they both have the same diagnosis it’s easy to lump them together and assume the trials and tribulations, and the methods for dealing with them, are the same. The reality is that there is no one size fits all approach. Rather for each Autistic child there are a million different variables that need to be learned and planned, got around and mitigated, that can only ever bear a passing resemblance to strategies that worked for someone else.
This makes for a tough learning ground for everyone. Whilst some wisdom can be gained from others who have travelled the Autism path before, and experiences shared, and burdens alleviated, the reality is that all of us parents of children with Autism are having to find our own way.
It makes for a bewildering, lonely, and somewhat difficult place at times, when your ASD child doesn’t even fit in to the expert’s stereotype. Hence it’s always good to remember: if you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.