I'm not naughty, I'm autistic

A child with autism gets too much information, but do you have enough to know what that looks like?

By Danielle Colley
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It can be difficult for an outsider to fully grasp what goes on for someone with autism when they experience a sensory overload.

Simple tasks such as going to the shops, or something or someone touching you can send a child into a spin that to the uneducated eye may look like a tantrum, but is actually a mind overloaded with information that just wants the internal noise to stop.

The last thing the family needs during an episode is the judgement of bystanders, but sadly many people love to judge a child’s behaviour in public.

About a Bugg blogger, Renee Bugg, writes regularly about her experiences with her daughter, Poss*, who was diagnosed with autism when she was five.

Poss is a highly intelligent, determined, funny and loving 11-year-old, but there has been many sensory overloads in her life, and Renee has felt the scrutiny of the judgemental public eye.

“Once we had a diagnosis and understood what was happening for Poss, we cared less about people’s judgement and more about calming her down and removing her from the situation,” Renee tells.

“I’ve had people say in the past 'she’s too big to be in a stroller' or 'why is she behaving like that?', or even older women walking passed and giving me the tutt,” she says. “Some people are really understanding and just get it, and other are just waiting to pass judgement. Your job as a parent is just to focus on your child in that moment.”

Some parents carry cards that say “My child is not naughty, they have autism,” with a link to a website for more information about the subject. This is a great way to educate people, but for Renee, she just found it easier to get a thick skin.

“It’s a good tool for educating people, but I just don’t really think it’s anyone else’s business. If I have the opportunity to educate, I will, but if I’m on my own, my focus is on my child.”

UK’s National Autistic Society has created a powerful video to try to show what an autistic child experience when they have a sensory overload. Although this video is very good, it can only visually show us a couple of the senses, missing out the power of smell and touch which also have a huge impact.

The campaign hopes to spread the message-

TMI (too much information)- I’m not naughty – I’m autistic. Sometimes I get too much information. And if you only see a naughty kid, you haven’t got enough.

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