I had one of my on-the-outside-looking-in-autism moments the other day.
I ran into an old friend and her three year old daughter. We haven't seen much of each other over the last five or six years but our kids were happily playing nearby, so we got a chance to catch up a bit.
It was nice to get to see her. But there was a bit where she was talking about dealing with her daughter's anxiety and how she hoped to have it dealt with before an event coming up in August.
My first reaction was that there was no way she'd be able to get the anxiety under control with gentle exposure in that time. And then I realized, maybe she will. Because her child isn't autistic and thus is likely to respond faster.
These are the little moments that leave me feeling isolated and bring my unusual circumstances into sharp focus. (I like fuzzy focus, it's easier to pretend it's not there.) My children do have special needs, no matter how much I like to throw that phrase in quotes and pretend it's more semantics than reality.
They need the extra help just to achieve a level playing field. They don't get an advantage from it, especially not an unfair one. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that fact, no matter how much I don't like the feelings which come with such reminders.
I hope my friend's daughter is able to overcome her anxiety quickly. Being afraid sucks, no matter how irrational it is. And even children know when they're being irrationally afraid. I've always gone with: the feeling is real no matter how I personally feel about the trigger. I genuinely believe that's the only way to help someone overcome anxiety. The feeling must be respected and then gentle exposure can help to reduce the fear.