Like mother, like daughter?

by Abby
(Midwesterner now living in Oregon)

I am a mother to a 3 year old daughter who routinely checks some of the boxes on the autism screening questions. I have wondered if my daughter it autistic, but she is extremely bright, social, and verbal, so the pediatrician always says, "she clearly doesn't have autism."

I'm not so sure! About her, or me! Maybe we both have SPD? I have an insane number of "hypo" characteristics. I smell almost nothing, I am immune to noises others notice. I am not ticklish, anywhere, and was constantly attacked as a child by people thinking I was lying who tried to find where I was ticklish. Nowhere! Stop touching me invasively!

As a child, here are some "symptoms" that stand out:

1. I was a notoriously slow eater and was ridiculed for how long eating took me

2. I was known for only eating yellow foods

3. I was known for hating clothes and wanting to only wear my swimsuit at home, even in the dead of winter

4. I got in trouble for lying a lot, even though I didn't understand why what I was doing was wrong when I was trying so hard to make other people happy

5. Not ticklish, anywhere

6. Clumsy but also liked mogul skiing

7. Cried myself to sleep for inability to make friends in 2nd grade

8. Encyclopedic memory for song lyrics, could memorize any song lyrics easily/ immediately, obsessed with the radio

9. Hated shoes

10. "Would talk to anyone," I swear this is connected somehow, no knowledge of when NOT to talk to someone.

As a teenager/in college:

1. The itching/allergic reaction described by so many others in reaction to exercise/running

2. Failed my driver's test 3 times, complete and total inability to parallel park

3. Ate the same yellow and white lunch every day for almost all 4 years of high school

4. Found success in drama and acting, could memorize well but struggled to find friends, no female friends

5. Hated shoes, wore flip flops even in winter despite getting in trouble for this

6. Not a night owl by temperament but only able to complete most difficult assignments/writing in the middle of the night in essentially sensory deprivation--dark, silent, no distractions from others in the library, etc.

7. Ability to not pee for long periods of time/frequent UTIs without realizing or recognizing that's what's happening

8. Loved sex but not light touches which drive me crazy/feel frustrating, sex life challenging at times

As an adult:

1. Did better in long distance romantic relationships

2. Panic attacks with no explainable cause

3. Complete and total inability to get dressed for work even when it makes me late and there are consistent negative consequences

4. Difficulty wearing anything that is polyester/not a natural


5. Hate shoes, have had to learn you can never take shoes off at work, on planes, etc.

6. Husband is annoyed with my 'inability' to make eye contact even when I am listening deeply and criticize my selfishness/"inability" to notice when something needs cleaned

7. Strong desire to listen to the same song on repeat for hours to get work done that requires a lot of focus

8. Feedback that I'm rude/arrogant at work with no understanding of why

9. Want to fit in but always seem to get too excited/ramble on too long/realize a minute too late I've annoyed someone

10. Still find many foods too spicy

11. Obsessive need to read/research but criticized for not having real 'interests'

12. Encyclopedic ability to memorize names, faces but few true friends


1. Really noticed smells during pregnancy for the first time in my life and found smell in general SO confusing! What are these sensations??!!??

2. Marked improvement in ability to parallel park/throw/catch (awesome!!)

3. Oversupply/mood swings/anger from milk letdown

4. Finding a nursing bra that worked for me was AGONY, hated them all, needed constant compression to feel like I could live/function but this I suspect led to mastitis

5. Extreme postpartum anxiety that severely limited functioning

In my daughter:

1. Noticed my daughter staring early on

2. Daughter hated being swaddled in any way, disliked being held as a baby

3. Daughter hates hats, constantly takes off her socks, shoes, and coats even when it's cold out

4. Daughter refuses to wear leggings/ hates tight clothes or non-cotton materials (too itchy, too tight!)

5. Daughter is slow eater, struggles to eat enough essentially all the time despite being hungry

6. Daughter already demonstrating same freaky ability to memorize lyrics/story she's only heard one time

7. Daughter loves to touch things, obsessed with sounds, notices details and sounds no one else does

8. Daughter does significantly better with strict routine

9. Daughter struggles in loud environments, with lots of children

10. Talks to anyone/strangers with same fearlessness others noticed in me as a child. Currently they think it's cute, but I worry about the future.

What I find the most intriguing/strange is how I get Lots of people commenting on how I am a great mother because it is clear I really "get" my daughter and listen to her. I get social praise in a way I've never really heard it before! I'm happy to advocate for her, but I don't want her to feel and experience the overwhelming loneliness I've struggled with.

I'm not sure she to start when everyone always says there's nothing wrong with us! But I've always felt different and I feel exhausted from pretending/masking all the time.

How can I spare her from the same struggles?

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Oct 23, 2018
Help for your daughter
by: Mary C

My son was only diagnosed autism at age 11 because he was so high functioning - As and Bs in school, very verbal, no motor function affected, etc. - but you knew something was not right - low social skills, meltdowns, retains all memory details, needs tight pants, socks, and shoes, etc.

Now at age 12 with a diagnosis we are able to help him - OT and ABA therapies. If things seem off, don't be afraid to ask for a 2nd opinion.

Get a referral to talk to a SPECIALIST because PCPs are not specialists. I've learned how to fight for my child, especially with schools, so IF she is autistic, welcome to the world of being THAT mom who has to question and look out for everything.

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