The Day my Autism Saved my Daughter’s Life

wrote this back in October. Then I decided not to post it. Why? Because I feared judgement. 

When it happened I blamed myself. I should have been watching every second. I should have been better. I had run a risk assessment of the field: I’d noted no heights to fall from, no water to fall in, no animals to fear. There were brambles to scratch and stones to bump, the usual risks. I knew there were poisonous plants (it’s the countryside, there are wildflowers, there are always poisonous plants), but they were not in bloom and would have died back, I also knew that they were horribly bitter, and had never heard of anyone being poisoned by them. I categorised them as a potential threat but not a realistic one. The older children knew not to eat things. The two year old was playing with them whilst my husband and I kept a vague eye on them nearby.

The reason for my pause before posting was that whilst it had all been judged a terrible accident that no one could predict, I was pre-diagnosis at that point. I was in the middle of the lengthy task of getting an NHS Autism diagnosis. I couldn’t help but wonder if my reception might change from “You did so well” to “It wouldn’t have happened to a neurotypical mother” once people knew I was autistic.

People’s incorrect preconceptions could get in the way. 

But that was selling my autism short. So here it is. The story of the day that my autism saved my daughter’s life. Please leave any preconceptions at the door.

It’s raining. 

I usually like the rain. The sound it makes as it tumbles through the sky, each drop pounding its own drumbeat on whatever is highest.

I usually like how much it holds my notice, how other people walk through it hurriedly, whilst I look up and smile as the coldness taps its fingertips on my face. 

I usually like the things my autism gives me. Not all of them, no one ever likes everything about anything. But mostly I can separate the bad bits off, the problems interacting, the difficulties building friendships, the exhaustion when I do interact, but today it feels like the world is pointing out all my edges.

That shouldn’t be the case. Not today. Today of all days I should be looking at the positives, but I’m not.

You see a year ago today my autistic brain saved my daughter’s life. Writing that sounds odd, but it’s true.

A year ago today, on a day of autumnal sunshine my daughter found a poisonous foxglove leaf in a field and ate it. We didn’t see it happen, her dad and I. She was playing happily with her older siblings.

Such a quick, small act. Such a meaningless moment. 

When she started getting ill an hour later, it was my brain that took over. Within minutes of finding plant in her vomit, it had catalogued which plants were present, what could have caused it, what we needed to do in the worst case scenario. 

My autistic brain had overridden my panic to gently ask the other children to describe the leaves, it had cross-referenced them against the ridiculous amount of usually unnecessary knowledge I have in my head, and it had come up with the right answer and a course of action.

In the time it took me to walk to the front door I had worked out what had happened, what we would do, how we would do it, and given everyone instructions.

Many people have said to me since, “I never would have thought of that. It never would have crossed my mind.” My husband had all the same data from the day as me, but his brain didn’t come to those conclusions. Pattern-searching, problem-solving did that. 

One hospital led to another, three hours away from home, with a specialist unit. She was in intensive care for days, hooked up to machines, my bionic baby. All her noise silenced. I sat by her bed for a week just waiting to jump on the scales if they tipped the wrong way. Everything stopped when she went silent. Every strand led back to her. 

Thankfully she is fine. She is better than fine, she is lively and irritating and joyful and mischievous and my constant companion on every adventure. It took months for her heart to fully recover, but it has.

It’s hard not to think of the “What if..?”

What if I’d thought it was just a stomach bug and put her to bed? No one would have seen her heart all a-flutter.

Today I am irritated by my autism. I want to be out there fighting for my rights and arguing the cause, but I know that excessive contact drains me. I know my current limits. I know I need that energy for me and my family, and that there’s only so much more I can do. I know that that gives other voices advantages over mine. I know that’s unfair. 

On today of all days I should be eternally grateful that I think the way I do, but I guess I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t find aspects of myself frustrating at times.

I know in my heart that my brain has already done my life more good than I could ever express. If I didn’t think the way I do, I would not have put the pieces together. Autism isn’t a puzzle piece, it’s a completed jigsaw, put together by an autistic. It makes perfect sense.

 

42 thoughts on “The Day my Autism Saved my Daughter’s Life

  1. Have you posted that story somewere else? It’s familiar to me but in a longer version.
    I think this proves that we are all needed just the way we are. NT:s, people with autism or any other diagnose – were all needed and there are alway situations where we can make a diffrence to someone else. It may not be lifesaving but an omportent diffrence non the less.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely. That’s why I think different ways of thinking complement each other so well. The more ways we have, the better we can all see the big picture.

      And yes, I have shared the story, back when it happened. So that people would know the dangers if ever something similar were to happen again.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Agree it is so important to recognise autism, like all other dispositions, is multifaceted and has both limits and advantages. The latter are very rarely acknowledged by ourselves and much less by the broader world.
    It brings me to recall a post I made called ” Removing the Door” .

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Such a scary situation to find yourself in and no judgement from me. Knowing all the shenanigans we got into as kids, it would be impossible for any parent to pre-empt all the dangers. You should be proud of yourself. You might say it’s the way your brain is wired, but it was all you. I would’ve gone to pieces. I’m just glad it worked out for the best x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Finding patterns, all the stuff stocked in the brain, the supersonic cross-referencing to arrive at the most probable answer. Yes. That’s so true. And your comment about being calm in a crisis and only later, once it is all over, having a shutdown…this is so true too. Loved this post – thank you🌻

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! It was only when I heard over and over again “I wouldn’t ever have thought of the leaves” that I began to realise that other people don’t automatically think in patterns and need to know why for everything.

      Like

  5. OMG Rhi this is a truly amazing account. So glad your daughter is well. And such a good description of how our brains can work. I know exactly what you mean (in less life threatening ways) but difficult for me to describe in words like you have done so beautifully – it’s getting to the right conclusion before others have even started (when we have years of catalogued material to draw from)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! It’s why I confuse people by saying things like, “Because of Q, we need to do Z.” They don’t know I’ve already gone via R S T U V W X and Y to get there, and I forget they won’t automatically follow that 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Omg good for you! What an amazing story! Nope, no shaming from here, only admiration. You never cease to amaze me with how your mind works! 😊

    I especially love this: “Autism isn’t a puzzle piece, it’s a completed jigsaw, put together by an autistic. It makes perfect sense.”

    Bravo, girl! ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh we are all so different! And that is such a good thing. I never understand why people judge others – we’re all human, none of us perfect. When my daughter was 5, we went on a caravan holiday and as her dad and I were unpacking the car, she was happily picking daisies in the field the caravan, one among many others, was parked in. We turned around to call her in for lunch – she wasn’t there. In two minutes, or so it seemed, she had disappeared. She was so involved in her daisy picking, she’d unintentionally wandered off. I’ve never felt so distraught before or since. Well aware that children can be abducted within minutes, I panicked. Our story ended well, she was spotted by an elderly couple who realised that she was lost. We’d taught her not to trust people she didn’t know (how awful that looks in print) but when they asked her if she was lost she nodded and they helped her to get back to us. Rows and rows of caravans, all looking the same and confusing to a child of 5. Fortunately we were shouting her name and were quickly reconciled, and so very grateful to the people who’d helped her. As far as I’m aware I don’t have autism but I am a parent. I don’t know how I would have coped if my daughter had disappeared forever that day. I don’t ever like to think about it. We were lucky, and that experience taught me that sometimes, people don’t have second chances. I’m not saying that I have your insight, or your way of processing thoughts but – we parents have a hell of a responsibility, autistic or not. We do our best, and who are others to judge us?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Phew! So glad she was found safely!

      Absolutely, we all have skills and weaknesses, and we are all doing our best for the people we love the most.

      Thank you so much for your comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow…I think you are one on the ball mom! You knew exactly what to do and WHY to do it. Did autism alone save your daughter…no, I think YOU and YOUR unique skills did. You are who you are because of your autism, not despite it. Your different way of thinking and looking at the world makes you an amazing and and incredible person. In my lifetime of experience, I have come to believe that there are way more people like you than not like you. I know so many people who are on the spectrum of autism, but thrive and bring great joy and love to everyone around them. I believe YOU are one of those special people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kathy 😊 I like to think all people are equally special for their own reasons. So long as we let kindness and compassion for others drive us forwards, the world will be a better place.

      I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t autistic, and I quite like being me 🙂

      Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. i’m happy to know that your kid survived and it’s well. i believe that some things happen for a reason, and that you are your daughter’s mom, for a reason. 😉 i want to tell you that you’re already fighting, you’re writing and publishing! and that i admire you for putting your family first, when we take care of our tribe they grow to be better people, and their own tribe will be even more awesome, and that will go on for generations.

    also, would you like to share your stories on my blog? i’ve created rrrepeat to connect people by stories, to grow together, to change perspectives. i know you’ll do just that. if you’re interested i can give you all the details. thanks for sharing this heart-warming story. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. i’m writing my sunday love with articles i enjyed through the week, yours is already there. 😉 but if you’d like to share another story about autism or other aspect of your life, you’re most than welcomed. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing. Absolutely book can judge you, for what? Being an awesome alert mother!

    And your voice is heard, it is heard here in your blogs your writing speaks to me every time and that gives me a sense of calm that you so beautifully express what I can’t find the words to say, and often put things into words that i hadn’t even realised were troubling me or inspiring me until I read your work. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Firstly, let me say how glad I am that your daughter is fine. Brilliant.
    Secondly, thank God (or genetics, whatever) that you’re autistic. Seriously. I’m Autie too, I’ve worked ass a firefighter and as Emergency Ambulance crew as well as running medical centres etc. When a crisis hits, I am always so relieved I can rely on my ASD brain to take over and just /get on/ with things without panicking – that can come later, after. You did a fantastic job, you were brilliant, and you still have a daughter because of it. I really hope that that profound, deep knowledge gives you another level of confidence in yourself. xox

    Liked by 2 people

      1. 😄 excellent ass.

        It is so good to know that there are people with these brains of ours in the emergency services. The world is a better place for you being on the front lines.

        Thank you for such a lovely comment.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. My ass is amazing. Nearly as amazing as my ASD brain 😉 Yeah, unfortunately I invalided out of the services (naughty spine) but it was fun while it lasted. I think it helped that I joined all pre diagnosis – I didn’t have the fear of being judged then. Now I’m a bit more cautious. I’m just glad your toddler it back to being a nuisance ❤ 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Being different from others, makes you see, think, act and do things differently(in a good way). I have vitiligo, and since I was a kid, somehow that has helped me understand people and their behaviors in a total different perspective – from others around me. It’s amazing how it’s pure and real and it’s good. I wish you and your daughter all wonders in life and best wishes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great story. Thanks for sharing! We all have some fears to be charged and this stops us from living a great life and discover new things! Getting out of the box and share your reservations is the best learning experience ever and great examples to others! Well done indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

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