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Portrait of a Hero - Sarah

Today's article is from Accepting and Embracing Autism: Sarah is the mother of 5 children and deals with several different challenges with her children and herself.  I invite you to read her post and see how she has 'Risen Above'!

From what Mum tells me, her pregnancy was normal, I was born a day early and she had a normal labor. I met all my milestones, even walking at 10 months old. It really wasn't till I reached school that mum noticed I was struggling. I was lucky that I actually went to a really small primary school where there were only 8 kids in our Grade, plus it was a country school, so maybe kids aren't as nasty. I don't remember having too many problems with friends, at Primary school. When I was 5 years old mum and dad bought a General Store which served everything from fast food to petrol. So growing up in a shop I regularly had to deal with people, by the time I was 10 years old I was working in the shop, and I suppose through this I learned lots of social skills.

I remember having problems with textures of certain foods. I also remember having trouble looking at people in the eyes and keeping things to myself. When I was 10 there was an incident where I was talking to my friend who lived next door and telling her about this girl who worked in the shop and didn't want her dad to know. Dad over heard me and later had a go at me about it and said I had a big mouth. I remember that so distinctly and because I felt guilty for what had happened, I think from that time on I had anxiety about saying too much, but I always had problems when people told me that it was a secret and not to tell anyone. It was really hard for me to keep it to myself. I would feel like I was going to burst.

Also around the time I was 10, I was especially struggling with a certain part of school, where we had to watch a TV program about news and take notes and then write a report. I had lots of problems transferring in to writing the information from what I heard and then writing the report. Mum decided to take me to the doctors to get me checked out, as I was still wetting the bed. He did an eye test and I mixed everything up. So he suggested that I go to see a pediatrician. He got me to do a writing test and thought that it would be a good idea to see an occupational therapist. When I was tested by the Occupational therapist it showed that my muscle tone was about 5 – 6 years behind what I should be.

At High school as I was going into puberty, I started to notice that I didn't really fit into any one particular group. I had sort of friends, but not really close friends. I would hang out with different groups of friends at different times. I also found that I got on with girls that were either older or younger than me. I never really had a boyfriend other than a brief period in Grade 8 when a boy who was Grade 10 liked me and wanted to go out. I didn't really understand how this worked and didn't know how to talk to him. So I decided to break up even though we didn't even really talk. Once that happened, I became really infatuated with him and did some really stupid things.

I also found silence hard to deal with so when I was around those who I felt intimidated by I would talk lots. I also would smile lots especially when I was in trouble or if something stressful was happening. People often misinterpreted this as me not really taking the situation seriously.

By the time I got to Grade 10, I was doing really bad in Maths that Mum decided to get me extra help to help me pass….Mum decided to send me to a Catholic All-Girls school for year 11 and 12 in Toowoomba where I would catch the bus in every day. There I didn't have to do Maths and Science. I wasn't planning on going onto Uni when I finished. Half way through year 11 mum and dad moved over to the Sunshine Coast which was about a 3 hour drive from Toowoomba. This meant I had to go into boarding school. I found that I was even intimidated by girls who were 3 years younger than me. I tended to say things that made me look stupid and silly.

I made it through high school somehow and passed most of my subjects. I got a job at KFC and started a course doing Fashion design. Around that time my dad had a started to have a break down due to undiagnosed PTSD. In the May 1995, I turned 18 and just wanted to start going out to nightclubs. I hadn't ever really drunk before then. I also didn't smoke and wasn't rebellious. But when I turned 18, I knew I was allowed to do what I wanted so I started going out regularly which my dad wasn't very happy about. He also would get upset about the way in which my room was (which I was very messy) but I didn't think that he had much right to go in there cause I was paying board.

One day I got home from work and dad had decided to go in there and threw all my stuff out of the room in a big pile. He had done this over the years at different times when things got to stressful. I had had enough of living with this so decided to move in with friends from KFC. Because dad felt guilty over this he then tried to over dose on tablets and ended up in hospital.

Once I was out of home I started smoking pot, getting blind drunk and going out every night for 3 months straight. Most nights I would end up at some guy's... I sort of went really wild. It became so bad I dropped out of TAFE and then left my job at KFC. I then had a falling out with the roommates and so I moved down to Brisbane with my Grandmother. I applied for a job at Woolworths Supermarket in the fruit and veg section the January, 1996.

I had no friends and was lonely so I started going out to night clubs by myself and meeting up with guys there. I sometimes would go out on a Friday night and not turn up till the Monday. My poor Grandmother would be so worried (I have since apologized heaps of times).

I worked at Woolworths for about 6 months before looking at getting a job doing door to door sales. It was there that I met James. I had just turned 19 and he was turning 22. I was only working there for a week when we started going out… 6 months later we got engaged and then 6 months after that I fell pregnant in the April. I worked a few different jobs before we had Joshua in the January of 1998. We got married on 11th July 1998, the day before James birthday.
I had a miscarriage when Joshua was about 8 months old. I always thought I would fall apart if that had happened but I seemed to cope really well and just dealt with it. I then fell pregnant not long after and had Nicola at March, 2000. Matthew arrived on 4 August, 2002... I then had another miscarriage when Matthew was about 18 months old. Samuel was then born on 10th December, 2004…. 3 years later Jessica arrived at 33 weeks. James and I have now been married for 13 years…

After Matthew and Samuel were both diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Matthew also with ADHD, I found that reading the information I seemed to relate to the traits. Not so much with the male traits but finding information about females with Asperger.

I have always had a strong faith in God and as I have gotten involved in the recent years and been baptized about 2 years ago, I found that some of those traits I don't suffer with any more. I am a lot more confidant in who I am and what I stand for now. I found that when I had kids that it helped me to be able to relate to others and give me something to talk about. I have learned to ask lots of questions and find out information. I plan to go to University in a few years and study Psychology to learn more about ASD and help children in schools cope better.

My greatest influence and inspiration has been my mother. She has always been there to support me and is forever trying to help me. She has been at the birth of each of my children and organized my wedding.

Here are the traits for Females with Asperger.

 Emotionally immature and emotionally sensitive
 Anxiety and Fear are predominant emotions
 Strong sensory issues – sounds, sights, smells, touch, and prone to overload
 Problems with Ibs
 Stims to soothe when sad or agitated: leg bouncing
 Prone to meltdowns when things over stimulated by sensory or emotional
 Hates injustice and hates to be misunderstood;
 Prone to mutism when stressed or upset, esp. after a meltdown.

 Words and actions are often misunderstood by others
 Will shut down in social situations once overloaded, but ok to socialize in small doses. May even appear to be skilled, but it is just a performance
 Doesn't go out much. Will prefer to go out with partner only or children if she has them
 Will not have many girlfriends and will not do 'girly” things like shopping with them or have get togethers to hang out
 Will have a close friends in school but not once adulthood is reached
 If in a relationship, she probably takes it very seriously
 If she likes a male, she can be extremely, noticeably awkward in her attempts to let him know, e.g. she may stare when she sees him or call him repeatedly. This is because she fixates and doesn't understand societal gender roles. This will change with maturity

Appearance/Personal Habits:
 Dresses comfortably due to sensory issues and practicality
 Will not spend much time on grooming and hair. Hairstyles usually have to be 'wash and wear'. Can be quite happy not grooming at all at times.
 Is youthful for her age, in looks, dress, behavior and tastes
 Thinks of herself as half-male/ half-female (well – balanced)
 May not have a strong sense of identity especially before diagnosis
 Usually happiest at home or in other controlled environment

 May have had obvious learning disabilities
 Often musical, artistic
 May be high educated but will have had to struggle with social aspects of college May have one or many partial degrees
 Can be very passionate about a course of study or job and then change direction or go completely cold on it very quickly
 May have strong talents
 May have strong interests in computers, graphic design, things of visual nature. May gravitate to writing and psychology
 Highly intelligent yet sometimes can be slow to comprehend due to sensory and cognitive processing issues
 Will not do well with verbal instructions – needs to write down or draw diagram
 Will have obsessions.



  1. Thank you for sharing this as it has really opened my eyes to autism...and how it affects people differently.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. I first learned about asperger's last year at a mom's of preschoolers meeting and wondered if that was what was going on with me. My parents thought I was autistic at a very young age but the test showed that I wasn't. I still wondered all along if something was going on with me and I am checking alot of boxes on the symptoms list above. Can't tell you how much I appreciate you posting this!

  3. very inspiring! and not for nothing- but LOVE the wedding dress, LOL (sorry it's off topic- but it's so pretty!)

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Sarah. I am so happy that God has given you a family and helped to strengthen your confidence. Thanks for listing the signs of female autism. I think we often take for granted that male and female signs will be identical.

  5. Hey! Just checking in from Voiceboks to say hi!
    Oh, and I wanted you to now that I nominated you for the Versatile Blog award. You can check it out here:
    I'm following you now, btw. I hope you'll stop by my blog sometime, too!
    Oh, and before I go, I'd love to highlight you and your blog sometime for one of my "Saturday Shout Outs". Let me know if you'd be interested!

  6. What a wonderful... Truthful story. Not many people would be so truthful about things that happened in their life.

    Thank you so much for posting this and thanks to Sarah for sharing her story.

  7. My thought as I read your post, life is life and we all have "issues" and the greatest threat to each of us right where we are at in our life the separated life from God ...
    Your post was enlightening with excellent information, truth for a lonely heart, and hope that there are others out there ...but the greatest truth is that no matter God is always there to hold us and keep us as we journey through the hardships of this earthly journey on our way back home to HIM. Thanks for sharing

  8. Thank you for sharing such a touching story.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this!! What a wonderful "true" story :)

  10. Wow, Sharah has really had to overcome a lot! It's wonderful how her faith has carried her through even to the point that she doesn't suffer from some of the "traits" anymore. I'm glad she has her mother too. You can't go wrong with the Lord and a strong faithful mother!! Thanks for sharing Sarah's story, Becky Jane!

  11. This is a great post! Thank you, and Sarah for sharing her story. I was both educated and inspired. Wonderful!


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