The Short of It
After his daughter is diagnosed, an Australian man realizes he is autistic, too.
Chris Offer, 33, spent his whole life thinking he was just "quirky." Then three years ago, when his eldest daughter Sno was diagnosed with autism, it occurred to the father of four that perhaps he was, too.
"He's always been quirky," his wife Jessica told ABC News. "He's always been kind of unique. He's always paid more attention to detail where I'm more scattered. So I've always really loved it because he contrasts my personality. We never looked into it because it was never a problem in our relationship."
The two have been married for 10 years, and Jessica recently opened up about both her husband's and her daughter's diagnoses in a beautiful post on her blog girltribe: "I knew my eldest daughter wasn't neurotypical from about age 4 in kindergarten. Back then I didn't drive. So we walked everywhere. If I dare walk a different route to kindergarten she would fall apart. If I didn't give warning when I planned to change her usual breakfast food, she would not handle it. She never liked to be touched by other kids in kindy. She didn't cope well with the singing songs. She would cry and cover her ears when someone sang "Happy Birthday" louder than a hush tone. She didn't give good eye contact. She didn't cope with meeting new people very well. She was rigid in her routine and there were plenty of routines. I mentioned these quirks of hers to my husband. He dismissed them as normal. Said he didn't see the issue. Wanna know why? Because for him it was his normal, too."
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Still, no one made the connection until after Sno's official diagnosis. "A few evenings later, my husband and I sat down on the couch together and went through her diagnostic criteria," Jessica writes. "And it was here that we discovered that so many of her quirks were the same as his."
A few months later, Chris was assessed, and his official diagnosis came at age 30. "All the pieces began to fall into place," Jessica writes. "The reasons behind his social overload. Along with his exhaustion from talking to people. Even down to the specific way he liked to organize the pantry (hey who was I to interrupt such beautiful methodology?). We chuckled over just how many things were there that we had automatically adapted to without even noticing."
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According to Autism Speaks, more than 2 million people are on the autism spectrum in the U.S. and tens of millions are living with autism worldwide, although more research is needed to determine the prevalence of autism in adults, like Chris.
"Autism didn't change my husband," Jessica writes. "He's never not been autistic and it's what makes him who he is. But maybe his earlier formative years would have been a lot less stressful and hard for him had his autism been recognized so he could have gained the appropriate support and learned strategies at a young age; rather than having to cleverly wing it for over 25 years. I guess that's why we are both passionate about early diagnosis and intervention. Because when you love someone you love them fully and wholly and you want to support them to be the best they can be; whoever that is."
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It's obvious that while Chris's autism may have come as a surprise to him and Jessica, that hasn't changed the way his wife feels about him: "When I said yes to marrying my husband I said yes to him even and along with his quirks. I loved him for the way he saw the world and how he worked within it. I loved him for the way he can fix anything that is broken. I love him for the way he can problem solve. I love him for the way he's a straight shooter and doesn't suffer fools. His dry sense of humor. Looking at the big picture I guess you could say that the things I love about my husband the most are probably his most autistic traits. Fancy that!"