4 Things My Autistic Niece Taught Me
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4 Things My Autistic Niece Taught Me

Sometimes you can learn a lot from a 10-year-old.

4 Things My Autistic Niece Taught Me

My 10-year-old niece has pretty severe autism. When she was about 3, her parents noticed that she wasn’t talking as much as she should have been at that age. They had an intervention specialist work with her, and at age 4, she was diagnosed with autism.

She doesn’t communicate on a typical level. People with autism typically have communication difficulties in one form or another. Some speak fluently without any trouble, while some don’t talk at all. My niece is somewhere in the middle. Sometimes it seems like she’s in her own little world.

She doesn’t understand the concept of danger. If her parents are making dinner and the stove is on, she doesn’t understand that she shouldn’t touch it because it’s hot and she could get hurt. Even though she’s 10, she doesn’t understand that she should tell her mom and dad before she walks off somewhere. She’ll just go.

When she was about 7, she had her first seizure. It was pretty bad, and terrifying for both her and for her parents. The seizures got worse as she got older, and she was eventually diagnosed with epilepsy. There are some weeks when she doesn’t have a single seizure, and others when the seizures are awful. It’s a terrible condition I wouldn’t wish on anyone. That being said, there are a few things she’s taught me in the last 10 years:

1. Appreciate the Good Days

When you have a mental illness, you are going to have good days and bad days. The sooner you learn to accept that, the sooner you’ll learn how to handle both kinds of days. It’s difficult to get through the bad days and through the seizures that are REALLY bad. But seeing how happy my niece is on those good days is priceless.

2. Some Days You Might Have a Meltdown, and That's OK.

Because my niece doesn't communicate like a normal person, she sometimes gets upset when people don't know what point she's trying to get across. She's also very noise sensitive, so if she is in too big of a group of people, or things are just too loud, she gets upset. It's not that uncommon for her to have melt downs from time to time. It happens. When things are just too much for you to handle, it's okay to have a bit of a melt down. You gotta let it out somehow, right?

3. When You Like Something, Don't Be Afraid To Show It

If you love a song, don’t be afraid to dance around your living room every single time it’s on. My niece goes through periods where she is very interested in a movie or a show (usually a specific episode) or a specific song (lately, it’s been Dark Horse by Katy Perry). She’ll watch it or listen to it repeatedly. So if anyone complains that you’re watching that movie again, or listening to that song again, just ignore them. You do you!

4. Be Patient

Having a family member with autism requires a great deal of patience, something everyone could always use more of. Not everything happens according to plan, and that’s okay. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow. Be patient during the bad days, because good days always come around the corner. Sometimes, all it takes to conquer the bad days is a little understanding.

Although her condition is difficult, she has a lot of love around her, and I wouldn’t trade that little girl for anything.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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