Like many of you, Autism Awareness month was a time when I would hear stories of amazing triumphs for special needs kids/adults and the families who pour their hearts into their growth and development. Eventually, the stories would stop and we would move on to the next holiday or celebration.
All that changed for me 11 years ago when my daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of two.
At first, my husband and I were paralyzed with fear because there is no clear road to take, you have to research and find out how to get your child help all while managing sensory issues, sensitivity to everything from sounds to people and places.
I won’t get into the many meltdowns, the times we had to miss important family functions because she would not enter the room, the hours I spent on the road driving her to school because the school was an hour and a half away.
Those stories I will share on my personal social media so we can laugh and cry together, but today I want to share with you what I would like for you to know from an Autism Mom.
1) Not every child that you see speaking out loud, moving about, or “acting out” is doing it on purpose. They may be on the spectrum and I’m 99% sure the adult with the child is trying their best to console them.
2) Non-verbal children and adults can still hear you very well. Speaking unkindly about them or making fun is cruel. Just because they cannot verbalize their thoughts does not mean they do not have feelings.
3) There is no blueprint to parenting and with a special needs child every time a parent or caregiver walks into the world with their child they realize they are taking a chance that something may go wrong. If you see someone struggling allow them some grace to try and manage their child.
4) Children and adults with ASD can learn and can be part of this world at their level. It takes time, sometimes months and sometimes YEARS for them to learn very basic life skills. Be patient when you see an Autism family at the grocery store or at a function. Parents are always trying to teach their children to live in this world as best as they can.
5) Awareness is the first step… Acceptance is what we strive for every day of our children’s lives.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the support of my family and friends throughout our journey. I’m also very grateful to the plus-size community that has been open to learning along with us and allowing us time and grace when we have needed it the most.