Video – My mom has autism. Wendy Hamilton, TEDxOmaha

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Can a mother have autism? Wendy Hamilton reveals her family history to show what happens when children with autism grow into adulthood.


“We always knew she was a little bit different. I used to think we shared this magical mystical secret that no-one could understand. And then I would think ‘Oy, who would want to?’

So to answer the question that is sure to be on most of your minds: What was it like growing up with a mom.. like that? Well, Moppy provided us with basic needs like food and shelter and clothing. She performed regularly scheduled activities and household chores like taking out the garbage, driving the carpool, attended our school plays and concerts and dance recitals. She was extremely attentive to our pets, always greeting them with hugs and kisses and loving…. but why was she so different? And unfortunately, the list of things she didn’t do while raising us.. goes on and on. She didn’t cook for us. She didn’t clean the house. Didn’t help us with our homework. She didn’t reaaaally teach us about the birds and the bees. She didn’t teach us about make-up.

But luckily, our dad was there to fill in a lot of those gaps, quite frequently playing the role of both father and mother. Moppy was much more comfortable being affectionate with us when we were very small children. And, as we grew up she required hours upon hours of ME TIME! during which she would obsessively watch her TV shows and read her magazines. Which, to me, was unbearably painful, because I felt like I was being rejected by my own mother. As a child, I was anxious and depressed, and I needed a mommy to make it all better. And what did I have? A woman I called Moppy who couldn’t relate to me, who didn’t know how to support me. And her distance toward me made me wonder if I was just some selfish ungrateful child who didn’t know how to love her mommy the right way.

I mean, was it all in my head? Was I doing something wrong? Was I a bad daugher? Why doesn’t she like me! Is it my fault? I felt isolated and defective. I felt invisible.”