Over involvement with Autism

Have you noticed any of these symptoms recently:

• Irritability?
• Hyper-vigilance?
• Repetitive speech?
• Avoidance of social interaction?
• Disregard for personal appearance and social niceties?

I’m not talking about your child with Asperger’s or autism. I’m talking about you. And me. And a common occurrence I’m calling MASK (Mothers of Autism Spectrum Kids) Syndrome. It occurs when a mom spends so much of her waking life focusing on her child’s special needs and fighting for his interests that, somewhere along the way, she starts to lose touch with the person she used to be. How ironic it is that, in fighting autism, many of us start to become a little more autistic ourselves.

Irritability. Are you suffering from lack of sleep? Worried about your child’s future? Worried about your family’s finances? Ever find yourself snapping at your kids for interrupting you, then feeling guilty afterwards for discouraging this social interaction?

Hyper-vigilance. Do you scan each room you enter for things that might set off a meltdown in your child, such as unusual smells or loud noises? Do you find yourself doing so even when he isn’t with you? For that matter, after avoiding those things for so long, do you find that they now irritate you, too?

Repetitive speech. Do you ever get so caught up in one subject – maybe IEP worries or your frustration with your child’s para – that you catch yourself repeating the same complaints to anyone who will listen? Have you found yourself getting annoyed when your spouse or sister tunes you out or tries to change the subject?

Avoidance of social interaction. Do you choose the self-serve lane at the supermarket and the ATM at the bank because doing things by yourself is just easier? Do you keep meaning to pick up the phone and call a friend, but find yourself too busy or distracted


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