Heather Adair Hawkins | Drowning



09 Sep 2015, by Heather Hawkins in Uncategorized

They say that drowning in real life looks nothing like it does on television. There is no flailing. There is no screaming. There is no, “HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME!” Its almost silent. Its bobbing below the surface and a fearful face reaching the surface. And then the person is just simply….gone. Falling into the abyss, no longer in control, the person is just overwhelmed by the water.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5, or the DSMV, lists ASD criteria to be this:

Autism Spectrum Disorder           299.00 (F84.0)

Diagnostic Criteria

A.      Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative, not exhaustive, see text):

1.       Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.

2.       Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging, for example, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures; to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.

3.       Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers.

Specify current severity:

Severity is based on social communication impairments and restricted repetitive patterns of behavior (see Table 2).

B.      Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative, not exhaustive; see text):

1.       Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., simple motor stereotypies, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic phrases).

2.       Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns or verbal nonverbal behavior (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficulties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route or eat food every day).

3.       Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g, strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interest).

4.       Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g., apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).

Specify current severity:

Severity is based on social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior (see Table 2).

C.      Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).

D.      Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

E.       These disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder) or global developmental delay. Intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder frequently co-occur; to make comorbid diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, social communication should be below that expected for general developmental level.

Note: Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Individuals who have marked deficits in social communication, but whose symptoms do not otherwise meet criteria for autism spectrum disorder, should be evaluated for social (pragmatic) communication disorder.

So, that is a mouthful. For me, its a lungful. Its my ocean to drown in. My eyes are open and pleading, but I can’t speak because I’m afraid if I yell for help, I’ll just be letting more water pull me down.

This isn’t something to fight. I have no foe. When Miss Aiden had cancer, I could HATE the cancer. I could blame everything bad on the cancer.  But this is just supposed to be an “ah ha moment.” I supposed to look at that diagnosis and see how I can most help her because its not going to go away. She’s not broken, so there is nothing to fix. The only thing I can do is try to understand.

Please excuse me if I accidentally sputter and emotionally bleed all over you. I understand blood on your doorstep, my pain in your ears, is painful. If not equally so, it might be, for a short while, more intense a pain for you than me. Because you don’t even know what to say, or you say the “wrong thing.”

What I need from you, my friends, my acquaintances, isn’t a life raft. I know you don’t have one. What I need is to hear, “I see you, Heather. I’m going to talk to you while we get help. You aren’t alone. You are never alone. You’ve never really been alone. I’m here for you.”


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