Language
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • Swedish

Insurance Funding Request

Did you know Firefly products may be funded by your insurance?

Learn More
Back to Firefly Blog

Letter To My Adult Autistic Child

Letter To My Adult Autistic Child

It’s the best part of twenty years now since you were diagnosed with Autism, and just over three since you were diagnosed with ADHD. Looking back over those years with hindsight I can see so many ways in which I could, and should, have done better.

I don’t know if I can ever apologise to you enough for my failings.

I’m sorry I didn’t notice sooner that you are neurodivergent.

You were my firstborn, the baby I’d waited for so long. In my eyes you were perfect. I’d never heard of autism, ADHD, dyspraxia. You always seemed so contented and happy, especially once I got you onto a four-hourly feeding schedule.

When you were slower than most to sit, to stand, to walk, I decided that you would do it in your own time and that I was content to wait until you did. But if only I had asked questions, kicked up a fuss, maybe you would have got a diagnosis for your co-ordination issues as a child, opening the door to some kind of help. But now you’re an adult, none of the professionals are interested in exploring the possibility that you have dyspraxia, and you still injure yourself on a regular basis just moving around a room.

When you showed no interest in playing with your toys, but just sat and looked at them without ever picking them up, I thought you just weren’t interested in those particular toys. I must’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of pounds buying different kinds of toys for you on birthdays and Christmases, but you never played with any of them.

As a small child, of course, you couldn’t tell me that you didn’t see the point of play – it took fifteen years or more for you to be able to articulate that. But how did I, as a mother and as a former child, not understand that your lack of play was a red flag?

And I’m sorry that the only vocabulary I have for all of this is the language of deficit and ‘problem’.

It’s the only language I’ve ever been given.

But your disinterest in imaginative play hasn’t really been a problem in the long run, has it? It might have been one of the things that marked you out as different to most of your peers, but your preference for fiddling with gadgets rather than playing with toys has taught you so many skills and ultimately probably helped lay the foundations for your career.

When it was just you and me at home, doing our own thing, we never had a problem, did we? You were gentle, charming, and funny. You noticed things that never entered my head. You taught yourself to read like you’d absorbed the knowledge by osmosis. I was as delighted with you at the age of three as I was the day you were born. We were happy and life was good. It was only when nursery and school came into our lives that the talk of ‘problems’ began.

I’m sorry too, that I listened to the psychologists, teachers and other professionals who told me that I needed to make you ‘fit in’ to the world and behave like your typical peers.

I wish I’d been able to see the harm in this. But the world I grew up in was one of conformity, respect for authority and (especially as a woman) making sure you took up as little space as possible. I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to realise what a crock of you -know-what this is.

I’m sorry I never realised that I ought to listen to adult autistic self-advocates instead.

Then I might have better understood the ways in which your experience of the world might be different from mine.

Then I might have better understood how you might struggle with some of the things that most people take for granted.

And I might not have inadvertently forced you into situations which must have been almost unbearably uncomfortable for you.

But it wasn’t so easy to find people back then. I didn’t know about social media in those days. I’m not sure Twitter was even a thing. Tiktok definitely wasn’t.

I’m sorry that I didn’t fight harder to get you the help you needed.

I was told repeatedly that there was no help for us – none of the services available in our area had a remit to work with us because you had no learning disability. So, I accepted this and booked myself onto every free course I could (the only ones we could afford) to try to help you myself. But on my own I wasn’t enough. I wish I had made more fuss, kicked up a stink, shouted from the rooftops, until somebody, somewhere, listened.  

I’m sorry that I didn’t realise that autism wasn’t the only issue.

The fact that none of your teachers nor the Autism Outreach Team ever noticed either is of no comfort to me. I should have known.

I’m sorry that in all these ways, and others, I haven’t been the mother you needed me to be.

But I’m not sorry you’re autistic, because autism is part of the person that you are. And I love you exactly the way that you are. I am as delighted with you now as I was the day you were born.

And even in the hard hours, that never changes.

Firefly Blog

Real life stories, issues and experiences of day to day life by special needs parents and
healthcare professionals.

47 Stripey Socks

Meet Our Blogger

Down’s Syndrome, my family and me – one mum’s account of family life with an extra chromosome.

View Kerry’s Profile

Become a Firefly Blogger

Would you like to write for Firefly? Join our blogger network of parents, therapists and professionals.

Get In Touch

Become a subscriber today

Join over 40,000 subscribers to our weekly newsletter with insightful articles just when you need them.

Join Mailing List

By using our site you agree to our use of cookies. Click here for more info.

Accept & Close

No Interest if paid in full in 6 months on

Purchases on $99+

US Customers only. Subject to credit approval. See terms below

Paypal Credit

Pay now or pay over time with PayPal Credit. Just use PayPal Credit in PayPal checkout.

Subject to credit approval.

Purchases of $99+:

No Interest if paid in full in 6 months on purchases of $99 or more.

  • A minimum monthly payment is required and may or may not pay off the promotional purchase by the end of the 6 month period.
  • No interest will be charged on the purchase if you pay it off in full within 6 months. If you do not, interest will be charged on the purchase from the purchase date at the Purchase APR applicable to your account.
  • For New Accounts: Variable Purchase APR is 25.49%. The APR is accurate as of 6/1/2018 and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate (as defined in your credit card agreement). Minimum interest charge is $2.00.
  • Individual items that are less than $99 qualify for special financing when combined for a total of $99 or more in a single transaction.
  • Multiple separate transactions of less than $99 per transaction cannot be combined to meet the minimum purchase amount.

Purchases of $98.99 or less:

Buy now and pay over time with PayPal Credit when you spend $98.99 or less.

  • If you pay your balance in full each month by the payment due date that is on your statement, you can avoid paying interest.
  • Or, make minimum monthly payments, or any additional amount of your choosing, until you've paid off your balance according to your standard account terms. Please note, interest charges may apply.
  • We'll send you email reminders when your payments are due. You can also keep track of your account and view your statements online at any time.

About PayPal Credit

  • PayPal Credit is a reusable credit line available on purchases at thousands of stores that accept PayPal. It's also available for purchases on eBay and exclusively at thousands of other online stores. Plus, it comes with the same security and flexibility you trust from PayPal.
  • If approved, we start you off with a minimum credit line of at least $250. See FAQs for more info.
  • For New Accounts: Variable Purchase APR is 25.49%. The APR is accurate as of 6/1/2018 and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate (as defined in your credit card agreement). Minimum interest charge is $2.00. See Terms and Conditions tab for more info.
  • If you miss a payment your late fee could be up to $38, even less if it's your first time. See FAQs for more info.

Please wait...