Comparison is the Thief of Joy

by Ponderings Radio | Kate O'Donnell Author Planet Spectrum

Kate O'Donnell

Kate O'Donnell

Wordsmith & Teacher

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

words by Kate O’Donnell

I would like to tell you that there are specific types of autism, but the truth is whilst with new terminology there is only one umbrella term of autism; the word Spectrum is used to describe the varied range or degrees of autism. The fact is that not one person is the same as another. Every single child with autism is different and exclusive.

There are many different shades in the spectrum.

One observation I have made over the years is the need for parents to compare their child with other children; to see how their child sits against or is doing in comparison to other children. Whilst I have no doubt that this observation and comparison has its place and seems natural, it isn’t helpful in the slightest when it comes to children on Planet Spectrum. Every one of these munchkins is absolutely unique like a fingerprint.

Sure there might be certain characteristics or traits that appear to be similar but the fact is no two personalities are the same so therefore no two ‘autisms’ are the same. Your child is like a once off work of art, each brush stroke differs, each shade is different. Life on Planet Spectrum is one of stark contrast and differences. Once you start to work out your little individual’s quirks, reactions, triggers and focuses, ‘language’ becomes easier to negotiate, understand and facilitate.

Often other people feel the need to adapt their experiences to your child, as a means of trying to emphasize or relate to you.

This may start with “I know a person with a child with autism and they do this… this is like this…” We call this the Great Comparison of Misunderstanding. But autism is not a one size fits all, and like all good misunderstandings, they can be changed.

This is actually a great opportunity for you to educate those around you. If someone opens a conversation with you that resembles the Great C of M, explain to them that in fact no two autisms are the same!

You can often get verbal feedback from people who are not educated and can be both generalised and unhelpful.

There are thousands of stories of total strangers giving negative and ignorant feedback which takes you right over to Planet Frustration and wanting to bang your head against a brick wall, maybe even have a meltdown of your very own but we will touch on that more in the later chapters.

In the case of the Great Comparison; treat it as a positive opportunity to inform and educate (if you have the energy). Not everyone has visited Planet Spectrum before, so it can be unknown territory. Some people have really great intentions that just don’t know any different. Our aim is to have everyone in the community educated, so they know all about our beautiful Planet’s inhabitants and how to treat them and care for them with respect and understanding.


We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. 

We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

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