Saskia has autism and two children: ‘If they do not listen while eating, I go upstairs with a plate’ | Family

Saskia van Toorenburg (37) has two children, but friends do not come to her home. “That children come into a tidy room here and mix the sorted Lego and Playmobil? I do not like that. “Saskia tells her sons that things are different in her head than in most mothers. The reason: She has ADHD and autism.

As a little girl, Saskia from Rotterdam is different from other children. She has few friends and likes to be alone. If her mother picked her up and her father came, the world would be too small. She grows up as an only child and has a mother who knows exactly how to treat her daughter: ,, To get dressed, I had to put on my socks first, then my pants. Then my shirt went into my pants and then my pants were allowed to close. If everything went according to a fixed order, then I was fine. ”

Researchers believe that autism is four times more common in men than in women. But according to the Dutch Association for Autism (NVA), the numbers are in practice much higher among women, only it is less well known and diagnosed. Women seem to be champions of camouflage for the condition. This makes them invisible and often misdiagnosed. From April 2 to 9, it’s Autism Week; a week asking for understanding for people living with autism.


Things go wrong at school, Saskia goes to different schools and ends up at a ZMOK school where she undergoes intensive day care. At the age of fourteen, she was diagnosed with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. After special education, she obtained with great difficulty her MBO diploma, of which she is very proud. As a child, she is very much to be found at the riding school; horses are her desire and her life. It is unchanged. When she is out of balance, she visits her neighbor’s horses; it is her therapy. She can not live without animals at all. She has a dog, three cats, two rabbits and fish: “I can not maintain relationships with humans, but between me and animals it is always good.”


Birthdays are tough for me, so I avoid them

Saskia van Toorenburg

Saskia is anything but modest or shy: she talks a lot, is spontaneous and enthusiastic. ADHD overshadows her autism, and it is sometimes pleasant but often difficult. She knows she’s different from the average schoolyard mom. For example, she has a hard time with change and unpredictability: “If the kids unexpectedly have the day off that I normally wash four times, I have to change my schedule, and I find that difficult.” Her children’s friends do not come over, she does not like. She never gets visits: People who know her know they do not have to show up unannounced.

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

Set boundaries

Her sons Jayson (11) and Joshua (7) know no better than that mother needs regularity and structure. When playing a computer game, they have to put on headphones, because Saskia can not stand the sound. “When I say something about it, they shout, ‘Mom, are you bothered by your jokes again?'” At home, everything goes according to a fixed schedule, and she does not deviate from that. They eat together at the table, but if her children do not listen during the meal, she goes with the plate upstairs: “Either I explode, or I continue to eat quietly upstairs. I’d rather choose the latter, so at least it stays fun. “

Mother Saskia and her children, Jason (11) and Joshua (7).
Mother Saskia and her children, Jason (11) and Joshua (7). © Saskia van Toorenburg

The single mother has learned to set her limits: ,, I ask myself with everything: do I want this? Do I like it? Does it give me energy? If the answer is ‘no’, then it does not happen. Birthdays are tough for me, so I avoid them. As we go for a walk with the dog and it turns out to be busy outside, I load everyone back into the car and drive home again. I then compensate my children at home with an ice cream or a movie, but in a forest with hundreds of hikers, it will not be for me. “

Contribute something to society

She has since embraced her autism. ,, I count everything, put sweets by color and have to chew gum when I walk out the door. I got to know myself, and now I accept myself as I am. ” She would like to emphasize that it is not bad to have autism, and that you as a parent can find a way to live with it. She herself finds it important that she is of added value. That is why she works as a home teacher at her children’s primary school. “It is nice that I am expected somewhere and that I contribute something to society. I want that feeling for everyone with autism. ”

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