In acknowledgement of #AutismAwarenessMonth, I found this fitting. I did not write the short story in the image above and cannot seem to find the original author on the web. However, I felt so compelled to share the message and unravel what that means for our son and our family. Nothing to cure…..just different struggles than the norm. I am not going to lie and say that the difficult symptoms of having a neurodiverse brain are a beautiful song…I don’t think someone with autism would say that either.
But the way it impacts our life is quite a tapestry of beauty. It alllows those close to the neurodiverse person to grow in patience, grace and acceptance. It has allowed me to begin to shake away the fear of judgment from others and to learn how to ignore comments, advice, stares and eye rolls that would have and did crush me before. It has allowed me to look with crushing humility at my old self, in the mirror of the past before I was a mother. Back when I felt so confident that the behaviors I saw in some children would “never be my child.” That allows me to have compassion on those people who say things and just don’t know….and it also causes me to wince for them knowing in the future that they may have to learn the hard way, as I did, just how clueless and judgemental they really are.
Raising my son has taught me to ditch things in my life that were not good for me. I dont drink alcohol because raising my child requires extra energy because he needs extra attention. Schedules need to be stuck to, conversations and corrections need full brain power and patience. For me, alcohol just clouds all of that and gets in the way.
I have gotten really good at saying no to certain invitations or requests that pull me away from my responsibilities and almost really good at not feeling bad about it. So I am thankful to my son for requiring more of me and forcing me to grow and be present.
Most important of all I have learned to lean on and trust God in bigger ways than I have ever been capable of, which is what has enabled all of this growth. Autism is not a plague or death sentence. It’s hard, but so isn’t everything and it doesn’t need any pity. I don’t think parents of people with autism are super heroes. I dont think people with autism are super heroes. People are just people. We all have our struggles and gifts and they are all different and important and the struggles require extra support from others. And these struggles really do shape and mold us into something better when we let them. Autism awareness month to me, is about being thankful for the opportunity to raise my son and grow where I otherwise would not have grown as quickly. It’s also about asking others to try and grow for the sake of others.
To spread awareness and acceptance, I would love to share something a friend told me after our child received a diagnosis: If you’ve met 1 kid on the spectrum, you’ve met 1 kid on the spectrum. Every person is effected differently.
Here are some things I’d love to clear up during Autism Awareness Month:
Having autism does not neccesarily mean:
The person is secretly a genius or has some incredible talent for counting hundreds of items that just fell on the floor. That’s media portrayal and not everyday reality.
The person is an awkward, introvert. Many autistic people are extroverted, which presents a different set of challenges at times.
The person cannot speak or has verbal delays. Many children with Asperger’s, a form of autism, develop language skills on time or earlier than usual.
The person does not have empathy or a sense of humor. My son is hilarious and loves humor and he has wealth of empathy. It just doesn’t always present in the way that neurotypical people express empathy.
The person should look autistic. I am not even sure what that means but I’ve heard it nonetheless and it always makes me laugh. How is someone with a neurological difference supposed to look exactly?
Thank you for reading, I hope someone was able to either relate to our life or learn from it in some way.