Autism Soup Bowl

Have you ever noticed that it is rare for someone with autism to have just that one diagnosis? People who are on the autism spectrum will often have other diagnosis such as ADHD or dyslexia, or something else. This makes being on the spectrum so much more complicated than just being on the spectrum.

I like to call this mixture of diagnosis the ‘soup bowl’, with so many complexities all mixed in together, you’re sometimes not quite sure what you’re going to get.

Having a child with such complex diagnosis makes it difficult for parents, teachers and other family members to know exactly what they’re dealing with at any given time, and how best to support the child.

I should know, I have one of these ‘soup bowl’ kids, and let me tell you, life is no picnic in my household.

My son was diagnosed with autism at the age of six. He was perhaps a bit old in the scheme of things, but nothing was mentioned to us about any ‘difficulties’ until he was nearly five. Once we were advised, we started looking into it, and by the time we saw a few specialists and received a formal diagnosis he was six and in primary school.

Once we had the first diagnosis for ASD, others started to crop up along the way. The next one was ADHD, which explained a few things. Later an OT picked up that he may have some vision problems. After a visit to the optometrist and a nice new pair of glasses we found he had dyslexia.

A few years later while attending a behavior intervention program we found that he also had ODD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Well that explained a lot more. No wonder we were having so many problems at school and at home.

Years later we found out about Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), and wow, that diagnosis blew us away and put so much into perspective.

This is why my parenting journey has been so difficult and continues to remain so. I have a child with a soup bowl of diagnosis – ASD, ADHD, ODD, PDA and Dyslexia!!! Not to mention the anxiety and depression that also tends to associate itself with these conditions! WOW!

It’s no wonder that parenting this child has been a monstrous challenge. Schooling him has been perhaps even a bigger challenge, given that he is one of many students within the school who has disability and mental health issues.

Being this child, well I can’t even begin to imagine how his brain works and what he is thinking and feeling at any given time. How does he feel in this world? It’s no wonder he struggles to cope with the pressures of every day life. He’s brain must be exhausted and extremely troubled, trying to make sense of everything that is going on around him. His view seems to be very black and white, he cannot rationalise things, and lacks the ability to reflect on how his behaviour affects others around him.

This poor young adult is really struggling to figure out how to fit into the real world and find his place and to know what is expected of him. The challenge is very real and we see it every day. Even with the support of family, school and the NDIS, life is hard, and with all the help in the world, it may forever be a constant battle for him and for us.

If this blog has bought up any issues for you and you need help here are some useful numbers you can call.

  • Parentline – 1300 301 300
  • Lifeline (24-hour crisis counselling) – 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636


SASI Guest Parent Blogger

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view out the windscreen of a car with 2 cars ahead on the road and grass either side of the road