I live with a family of undiagnosed Autistic people. If you were to ask me, “is Autism hereditary?” Then through my experiences I would give you a definite yes as an answer. My Granddad on my Dads side was Autistic, my Dad was Autistic, I’m Autistic, as is my Son. There seems to be a definite pattern there right? The thing is though, only my Son is diagnosed, and that’s because we know so much more about Autism now than we ever have. I spent my youth and early adult-hood with a basic understanding of how people work and why they do the things that they do. I really couldn’t get to grips with society when other people had “being awesome” licked, and there was me struggling to understand the most basic of social queues.
Is Autism Hereditary? My Dad, and me
For those of you that don’t know; Autism is a spectrum. There are extreme cases that cannot talk and spend all day banging their head off the wall, right up to people like me that can pass off as a regular mentally well, integrated member of society. It may have been far more noticeable when I was a child, but back in my childhood anything that strayed from the median ‘normal’ of society was pegged as weird and outcasted. I spent a lot of time learning how to mirror other people’s actions, appear non-threatening to anyone, and generally have people like me. I spent a lot of time at school being the outcast — I didn’t want this to happen to me again, therefor I learned deep coping strategies.
Then there was my Dad, and yet, as I look back to when he was alive he was largely different to what I was. He didn’t care what anyone thought of him; bullshit would spout forth from his mouth and he’d believe his own torrent of codswallop, as would others around him. Until they became wise of course. I used to think that Dad was an extremely fierce and confident man. Yet when I reminisce with my Aunties (his sisters) of our time with him, they describe a different person. To them he was a man of a broken home, he was extremely unconfident and had to use a continuous alcohol stream as a way to express himself confidently. As I analyse that I realise we weren’t too different at all. I had problems with addiction and confidence too. All the same things as my Dad also. Is Autism hereditary? It’s certainly becoming clearer now. Definitely from what I’ve witnessed from my Dad and myself, and the reflections I can take from my Son. But then again, I may be an isolated instance. I’m looking for suggestions here.
Then there’s my Son, and he was the key to me asking is Autism hereditary? He was the one that sent me on this thought train; that I may actually have Autism, and the way I experience life may not be central to all things. My Son has addictions. He’s young right now but I can already see him fostering an attachment to his technology, and if we leave it unchecked, like we have done in the past, then he could be up until 11pm watching YouTube. Then there’s the difficulty he has with integrating with his peers, which is standard with Kids with Autism, but we can see the confusion on his face as he tries to communicate with them. He doesn’t understand his body either. I’m trying my best with teaching him what feelings are which, and this is something that I’ve only learned recently, so we are taking our journey together in learning and understanding our bodies.
This was all me. I’ve went all through these stages in life. I feel Alex has mirrored a lot of what I went through in the past. I may have not had YouTube but I certainly had a computer, and if left unchecked I would have been up until 1am playing. I was also terribly bullied as a kid; other kids didn’t get me and I didn’t get them. My childhood was from a time where if you were weird and different then kids would bully you, rather than accept and tolerate others. I had to learn deep coping strategies, and this is why it’s not apparent in me whereas it is in my Son. He can be himself. I wasn’t allowed to. Neither was my Dad, or his Dad, and so on.
Me, Myself and I
I feel somewhat blessed, but at the same time I feel that I’ve missed out. I’m only recognising my strengths now and owning them. As a kid I had to learn and adapt fast. I was like a human being fused together faster than how he could adapt on his own. I had to learn social skills without properly understanding them. This is safe — so I’ll do it that way. My longing to be finally understood was replaced with frantic clutching at people to be accepted within their circles; learning their ways, adapting to their needs, and defending the friend-circle like a fierce predator. I learned this quickly, and perhaps that was a blessing, because as I begin to explore and understand myself and realise that I need to understand who I am before trying to figure out anyone else, I develop a deeper understanding of the world. I take my old skills honed through the years and develop my skill-set into a balance. It’s been enlightening.
But enough about me. I see Alex in me, and me in my Dad. My Dads Sisters see me in my Dad and my Granddad in my Dad. It seems to only affect the men in my family. Why this is? Well, I’m no genetic scientist, but I can tell you that it definitely runs in the family, and I have came to this conclusion through intense reflection and deep discussion with others in my family. None of the women have it, or not that we are aware anyway.
Is Autism hereditary? Yes. It’s too much of a coincidence to not be. You could argue that who am I to make such assumptions? I’m just some two bit gangster with a keyboard and a blog. Well, my Auntie has worked with Autistic kids for most of her life and I have ten years in the Mental Health sector under my belt. I’ve worked with many Autistic people too, and there’s one thing that’s very standard with these people, is that they have lived their lives very parallel to mine. We have an educated opinion!