My daughter, Eliza, is 10 years old. She’s an absolute bookworm that loves sequin cushions, unicorns, Pokémon and any techy gadget she can get her hands on although her most treasured one is the iPad.
She’s inherited my sarcastic tainted sense of humor and she tells the most dreadful jokes that she thinks are hilarious.
Eliza’s also inherited my love for Christmas and anything Christmassy.
Yes, we’ve been singing carols and watching Scrooge this week!
She’s an absolute joy to be around, her smile is infectious and when she giggles, it’s the cutest thing ever seeing the dimple on her cheek and the glint in her eyes.
Oh, and she’s autistic.
I added that at the end on purpose because I found, through experience, that if you start with the diagnosis early in conversation, that’s all people tend to focus on.
And it often leads to assumptions being made and unnecessary sympathy.
Mainly as people don’t know how to react or what to say but there’s nothing worse than getting the ‘head tilt’ along with the ‘Oh, I’m sorry’.
We’re not ashamed of the diagnosis, that’s not why I don’t mention it straight away (and there are times I do or need to for her safety and wellbeing) but if you get to know her first, you’ll see that Eliza is an amazing individual.
She deserves to be seen as an individual and not as a label, a diagnosis or a statistic.
She’s an incredibly intelligent child that is loving, empathetic, caring and creative that just happens to have a lifelong condition.
You’ll miss so much if you just focus on the diagnosis. Always See the child first (or adult).
It’s important to understand the diagnosis and what it means to each child regarding needs and support, but you need to acknowledge that person as a person no matter what.
Eliza loves to read and reads at two years above her actual age.
Some of her favorite books include the Captain Underpants series, The Worst Witch and the Bible!
Eliza loves to play games where she can be creative.
Minecraft and Roblox are her go to games but she also loves an app called stickman where she can create her own characters and stories.
She has an incredible imagination.
There is nothing Eliza loves more great weather, so she can be outside running around, up a climbing frame or on a swing just watching the world go by.
Eliza loves going to the cinema and the theatre and she enjoyed her first ever Panto last Winter.
Oh, and she’s autistic.