What Having a Child with Autism Has Taught Me

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Although April 1st marks the beginning of World Autism Month, there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t see and feel the presence of it in our family.  For us, and millions of other families, it is just another month we walk through the many struggles and joys that Autism brings. This is just a list of things I have learned since my daughter’s diagnosis.  It is not everyone’s journey, but it is ours.

  1. Find people that love your child for who they are. Connecting with other families that are on the Autism journey is invaluable. You, as a parent, need to know that you are not the only family struggling, and your child needs to meet other children who may be more like them.  Although Autism is a spectrum, and their needs may be different, you and your child need to feel like you are part of a larger family can walk this road with you.
  2. Her voice is a blessing. I am thankful she can verbalize to me what she wants, needs and feels. There are many with Autism that use others means to communicate, such as a speech program on an IPAD, because it’s hard for them to verbalize their needs. So, although like most moms, the endless questions flying at me from the back seat can grate on my nerves, I am grateful we can have a conversation in the traditional sense.
  3. Flexibility is important. Not just for my daughter, but also myself. I need to be okay with things not going a certain way just as much as she does.  I need to be able to roll with the punches and manage my expectations as well as hers. This has been a tough one for me personally to manage.
  4. There isn’t anything she cannot do. Although some skills may take her longer to master, she continues to learn things that even a year ago seemed out of reach. Success for her may not be linear. We may take two steps forward on one thing and two steps back on another, and that’s okay. She is brilliant and can achieve anything she puts her mind to, the road to get there might just look a bit different.
  5. Even if they seem uninterested in others, they desperately want meaningful friendships. It may just be hard for them to approach others or maintain friendships because the social complexities of our world can be hard to navigate. My daughter is extremely outgoing and wants more than anything to have good friends. She wants to have sleepovers and friend-filled birthday parties just like everyone else her age.
  6. It’s harder than it should be for families to get help for their kids. There are hoops to jump through to get your child into the correct therapies and is shouldn’t be that hard.
  7. It takes a team to help my daughter be successful. It took a long time for me to realize that I cannot help her on my own, no matter how hard I tried. I have read all the books, gone to training seminars, and listened to all the podcasts and I am still at a loss on so many things when it comes to help her.  At any given time, we may have occupational therapy, speech therapy, tutors, ABA therapy, teachers and family all working together to implement strategies to help Ellie reach her potential. It’s important to know that you can’t do it alone.
  8. Most schools fall short in adequately helping those with Autism. It’s just how it is. I wish it was different, but it’s not.  Public schools only have so much funding and therefor are limited in the services they can provide, and private schools may not want to take on the extra accommodations that an autistic student needs.  This leaves parents in a difficult position on how to educate their child.
  9. The emotions my daughter feels are big. Whether it’s happy, sad, mad or glad, she has more of an outward expression than others.  Although that can be difficult when it’s a negative emotion like being mad, the level of her joy, even over something so small, is so heartwarming and leaves me wishing I experienced life like she does. I wish I could see the small things through her eyes and experience her joy and happiness over things I typically overlook.
  10. Awareness is important, but only as a first step. Accepting someone with Autism is what is truly needed. Accepting that they are quirky and amazing. Dig deep and get to know who they are and their interests. Our society as a whole, needs to value neurodiversity more.  Being able to think and explore things in a nontraditional way is a gift and not something that should carry a stigma.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for this article! I have two autistic sons, and it is easy to feel alone and misunderstood. I agree that the greatest blessing is having people in our community who love our children for who they are. I am just so grateful for those who see the brilliance and heart of our unique, fearfully and wonderfully created children. ❤️ 🧩

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