How did we miss it?

Today, we reached a pivotal moment in our family’s journey. A moment of profound learning and self-reflection that prompted me to ask, ‘How could I have missed it?’ With Quba’s permission, I’m sharing our story, hoping it might illuminate the path for other parents navigating similar terrains.

Our firstborn, Quincy, was diagnosed with autism at two. He displayed the traditional signs—tiptoe walking, flapping, spinning, delayed speech, and a deep fascination with numbers.

Quincy’s world was one of patterns and precision, his talents blossoming in a home environment tailored to his needs.

Then came Quba. In a household already primed to support special educational needs, Quba thrived, showing remarkable verbal skills and intellectual abilities from an early age. His achievements shone brightly, a beacon of potential and promise.

Yet, beneath the surface of academic excellence and social acceptance, there were signs we didn’t fully understand.

Quba began to show signs of fatigue, disinterest in school, and a longing for solitude and free time. Initially, we thought it was the academic pressure or the desire to escape into his gaming world.

However, as we delved deeper, we discovered that these were manifestations of burnout from masking—masking that stemmed from his undiagnosed autism.

How did we miss this? Our family is no stranger to autism. We’re educated, aware, and deeply embedded in the world of mental health and autism support. Yet, Quba’s ability to mask his struggles led us down a path of misunderstanding.

This realization hit hard. If we could miss the signs, how many other parents might be in the same boat, especially with children who don’t fit the ‘traditional’ autism stereotype but are instead super maskers?

Masking can be a coping mechanism, but at what cost? For me, masking created immense anxiety. While as an adult, I’ve learned to mask intentionally in a way that feels authentic, for a child, this balance is much harder to achieve.

They are still learning who they are.

So, to all parents out there, if there’s even a whisper of doubt in your mind that your child might be struggling, listen to that voice. Don’t dismiss it as I did, thinking, ‘He’s doing fine.’ Our story is a testament to the complexity of autism and the myriad ways it can manifest.

Quba’s diagnosis has brought relief and understanding, not just for him but for our whole family. He is happier than ever because he now understands himself, and we are better equipped to support him.

Let this be a call to action for all of us to embrace the nuances of autism, to look beyond the surface, and to support our children in understanding and celebrating their true selves. If our story resonates with you or sparks even a moment of recognition, please don’t hesitate to seek guidance.

You are not alone.


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