So I’m 29 right? I’m still young. I’m not 21 young, but all things considered I’m still young. Well last week I was doing my hair and I noticed a grey hair. Not just one grey hair actually, multiple. How many? I don’t know, I didn’t count.
My husband happened to walk by and I told him what I found. He is a good man so he started to reject this idea telling me there was no way. I stopped him and told him to look for himself. He looked and with a smile asked if I wanted help getting them. I told him, “No way! I earned those!”
I’ve been told by my grandma that getting old isn’t any fun and that in fact it hurts so if I could avoid it altogether I should. She’s a funny lady, but I’ve seen the young die and even though I only have the earned wisdom of a 29 year old I’ve come to the conclusion that old age is a gift.
I’ve earned the tiger stripes (stretch marks) of 3 pregnancies, the dark circles under my eyes of keeping my daughter alive through many sleepless nights, and now I’ve earned a few grey hairs from being in the middle of raising my son on the spectrum.
While we’re here talking about life being a gift, getting older hurts, and the fact that my oldest son mr. L is on the autism spectrum let’s talk about the life expectancy of someone with autism.
I’ll try to keep this simple so we don’t all tumble down that rabbit hole of mom worry when it comes to our children and their innocent lives.
There was a Danish study done in 2008 that found that the mortality risk for those on the spectrum was nearly twice that of the general population. But it’s not the diagnosis of autism that is cause for a shorter life expectancy. This scary fact is due to suicide, higher chances of drowning and from other accidents often caused by individuals running or wandering away.
So what does this look like in numbers? Those diagnosed with autism have a life expectancy of 54 years and those diagnosed with autism and a learning disability is expected to only live to 39.
The good news though, is that there are things we can do to lengthen this short life expectancy.
- Swim lessons, early and often if need be.
- Inclusion, invite them, include them, listen, and stop bullying from peers and yes- adults.
- Early intervention, get them diagnosed young and help them get the therapies they need.
- Stop using funding for a search for cures, and start using it towards resources to make life better for those on the spectrum, and for those helping them.
I came across an article a few weeks back by an autistic author, Sarah Kurchak and her view of her life expectancy on the spectrum. Here is a link to her piece, “I’m autistic. I just turned 36- the average age when people like me die. The stress of living with autism is exhausting”.
Maybe my tiger stripes will fade with time, and maybe my daughter will learn to sleep more then 4 hours at a time. But I earned these grey hairs and I don’t have any plans for hiding them.
Do you have any beauty features you earned through living life? Do you look forward to living to an old age? Or do you worry about your child becoming an adult? So many questions for all these thoughts today!
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