Raising children on the autism spectrum has its challenges, its rewards, good days and bad days. Perhaps, as a parent, you’ve often questioned yourself on what life would be like if your child was not on the spectrum, and if you would even want that. On today’s episode, we’re speaking with Chana Bennett. She’s the mother to twin boys that are on the autism spectrum, and last year she was also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Chana is now advocating for others, and advocating for herself.
There was a time when it was thought by experts that the high-functioning autistic female didn't exist. I am here to tell you that is not the case. I am 38 years old, and I found out that I have Autism Spectrum Disorder last year.
My life has been hard, but my struggles were seemingly imaginary to the world around me, until recently. This discovery, that I am Autistic, came after both of my 2-year-old fraternal twin sons were diagnosed with severe Autism late in the summer of 2016. It was a confusing time. I did tons of research on Autism after the twins were diagnosed, but I was only focused on my boys.
I wasn't aware that Autism presents differently in boys and girls until mid-2017. It was information that changed my life. I recognized myself in the research I was doing about females with Autism. The Mental Health Community had mislabeled me many things over the years, but Autism was never mentioned.
As a matter of fact, no one had ever mentioned Autism to me in any capacity until it was about my kids. When I talked to my mental healthcare team about my concerns that I was Autistic, they pretty much disregarded me.
It took a lot of searching to find someone to see me about an Autism Assessment for myself. It wasn't easy, but I am fairly persistent so in June of 2018 I was tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder. The results were conclusive that I do, indeed, have Autism.
It was upsetting in a way and relieving in another way. I was finally able to focus on getting the proper help.
I was soon to find out that there aren't many women like myself. Most of the professionals I have talked to in the Autism Community have rarely seen anyone like me. This is frustrating, so I have made it my mission to advocate for women like me to help inform people of the gender differences in High-Functioning Autism, mainly because I have had little luck finding information out there with which I can relate that has current relevance.
I hope that this introductory insight into my world can help other women like me, and their families create an accepting environment where talents can be discovered and utilized. I don’t claim to know everything, but I know what it is like to be me, and I am learning to accept it. Not only am I becoming more comfortable with myself, but I am thriving as a mother, partner, and overall human being.
This will benefit my family and the Autism Community as a whole because I am now advocating for changes in the treatment of Autistic People in the Metro-Denver Mental Health System.
No matter what your journey, and how hard and frustrating it may be, know that there are many people out there on a similar journey. Maybe they’re on a different path. Perhaps they are making different choices. But at the end of the day, isn’t it everyone’s goal to reach the same destination? Happiness. Acceptance. Inclusion. To love and to be loved. Thanks for being a part of My Autism Tribe.