Saskia, autistic and two children: “If they don’t listen while eating, I’ll go up with a plate” | family

Saskia Van Thurnburg, 37, has two children, but friends do not come to her house. “For kids to come into a tidy room here and mix Lego with Playmobil? I don’t like it. Saskia tells her sons that things are different in her head from most moms. Reason: She has ADHD and autism.”

As a young girl, Saskia from Rotterdam is different from other children. She has few friends and loves to be alone. If her mother carried her and her father came, the world would be very small. She grows up as an only child and has a mother who knows exactly how to handle her daughter: In order to get dressed, I had to put my socks on first, then my pants. Then he put my shirt into my pants and then I was allowed to close my pants. If all goes according to an established order, I’m fine.”

Scientists believe that autism is four times more common in men than in women. But according to the Dutch Autism Association (NVA), the numbers are in practice much higher among women, yet they are less known and underdiagnosed. Women seem to be the protagonists of camouflage for this case. This makes them invisible and often misdiagnosed. April 2-9 is Autism Week. A week in which understanding is required for people with autism.


When things go wrong at school, Saskia attends different schools and ends up at ZMOK, where she undergoes extensive day therapy. At the age of 14 she was diagnosed with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder. After her own education, she received an MBO diploma with great difficulty, which she is very proud of. As a child you could find her in riding school quite often; Horses are their lust and their life. This has not changed. When she loses her balance, she visits her neighbor’s horses; It is her cure. She cannot live without animals at all. She has a dog, three cats, two rabbits, and a fish: “I can’t maintain relationships with people, but between me and animals it’s always fine.”


Birthdays are hard for me, so I avoid them

Saskia Van Thurnberg

Saskia is not shy or modest: she talks a lot, she is spontaneous and enthusiastic. ADHD casts a shadow over autism and that’s fun sometimes, but often difficult. She knows she’s different from the average schoolyard mom. For example, she struggles with changes and unpredictability: “If the kids are unexpectedly free on the day I usually do four washes, I have to change my schedule and find that difficult.” Her children’s friends do not come, she does not like it. She never gets visitors: people who know her know they don’t have to come without warning.

Children with autism spectrum disorder often benefit from regularity and clarity. This article by Ouders van Nu provides an overview and general advice.

Define the limits

They don’t know her sons Jason, 11, and Joshua, 7, better than a mom who needs discipline and structure. When they play a computer game, they should wear headphones, because Saskia can’t stand the sound. ,, When I say something about it, they shout: Mom, do your antics bother you again? “In the house everything goes according to a set schedule and she does not deviate from it. They eat together at the table, but if during the meal her children do not listen, she leaves with her plate upstairs: “I either explode, or I continue to eat quietly upstairs. I’d rather choose the last option, at least it would still be fun.”

Mother Saskia and her children, Jason (11 years old) and Joshua (7 years old). © Saskia Van Thurnberg

A single mother has learned to set her limits: “I ask myself everything: Do I want this?” Do I like it? Do you give me energy? If the answer is no, it won’t. Birthdays are hard for me, so I avoid them. When we go for a walk with the dog and it turns out he’s busy outside, I get everyone back in the car and go home. Then I make up for my kids at home with ice cream or a movie, but in a forest with hundreds of hikers, it wouldn’t be for me.”

Contribute something to society

She has since embraced autism. I count everything, I put candy by color and have to chew gum when I walk out the door. I have come to know myself and now I accept myself as I am.” She wants to emphasize that it is OK to be autistic and that, even as a parent, you can find a situation to live with. She herself finds it important to be value-added. That is The reason why she works as a home teacher in the primary school for her children.” “It is good to be expected somewhere and to contribute something to the community. I wish this feeling to all autistic people.”

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