Dear Autism Parent:
We made it to another year. If you’re like me there were days you didn’t know if you would or even could. Almost unbearable at times, but we’re here. Having a child with autism myself, I can imagine this road has not been easy. This “road” (filled with uncertainties, all because the name of the path comes with no definite outcome…no assurances…and many times, no hope) is one that often cannot be fathomed unless there are fellow travelers. But let me also say that traveling the same road is not equivalent to having the same journey. I cannot begin to know what your 365 days, hour by hour, minute by minute and second by second are like. Autism may be the line that connects our dots, but our challenges and how we persevere changes the dynamic a bit and causes our stories to differ. I can speak of my child, and the tries, the successes, the falls, the fears, the courage…..the bottomless pits and the brighter days. I even have four sons, and as difficult as it can be to take care of all four, when the needs of one of my sons are more, I still do not know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. I cannot tell your story. But what I can tell you is autism parents need support. We need encouragement. We need to feel like we’re not failing even though signs of improvement are nowhere in sight. We need someone to listen and not feel like they have all the answers. We need someone to care…..and to finally meet someone who “gets it.” No explanation needed. No judgment. Just someone who understands. Well, I get it! And without ever meeting you, I applaud you for being a remarkable parent. Your strength, courage & tenacity are to be admired. And yes, every Mom & Dad should step up to the plate because that’s what you do when you’re a parent. However, sometimes the reality is too great and many find it easier to walk away. Optimism is hard to find when the days & nights intertwine. So, on behalf of your child, thank you for staying. I know it’s tough. I don’t think any journey is meant to be a piece of cake, no matter how hard we pray for it to be. Nevertheless this walk we take makes us stronger and more determined to make sure the needs of our children are met. This doesn’t mean that your strength won’t be depleted while you journey and you won’t have a meltdown, yourself, from time to time. But don’t ever think your work is in vain. Don’t think your words are empty. Don’t think you’re not being effective. And please do not think that hope is lost. The fact that your children are still here has so much to do with you loving them, believing in them and never giving up on them. The truth of the matter is no one can do what you do and get the kind of results that have professionals baffled and scratching their heads in disbelief. No one is more dependable…..no one defines advocate more….and no one knows your child’s every waking moment and every end of the day than you. So, although exhaustion, fear, confusion and at times discouragement may encompass your daily, and rewards are far and between, look at your child and know this fight for accommodations, for quality of life and for just getting through the day are beyond worth it.
I’m here to give you a high-5, a pat on the back and a thumbs up…and to start your year off by saying, “you’re doing a great job!” The possibilities are endless, and my hope and prayer for you is that you have a year of acceptance, progress, achievements and miracles….and much strength and appreciation along the way.
Have a Happy New Year and always know you’re not alone….
From the heart of one autism parent to another,