I wrote the post below on my other blog about a year ago. I still feel the same – that acceptance is key, not just awareness. I would like to add a side note though, something that I have learned over this past year. When something happens in your life – something you never would have thought would be a reality – something not even on your radar, it changes you. For me, Autism was my game changer and for me, there have been different seasons of change. I’ve struggled in the past with thinking that my faith wasn’t strong enough, or that I didn’t pray enough, or that I wasn’t doing enough to help C and to help my family adjust with all that Autism brings into the picture. I’ve asked the proverbial question “Why Me, Why Us, Why C?” In the past 6 years since this journey began I’ve dealt with anger, frustration, resentment, regret, a feeling of loss… But in working through all of those things and clinging to God for direction I’ve also experienced joy, love, empathy, friendship, trust – complete trust. I want to share a few things that have been spoken into my life over the past year that have changed my perspective – because sometimes that’s all you need. A different perspective.
- Regret is a dead end street.
- Let your blessings tip the scale.
- “Why me?” – Why not you?!
- God entrusted C to us.
- Let the gift change your life – for the good.
- It’s a challenge – not a problem!
- Don’t be a victim – be a victor!
These are just a few things that have helped me change my perspective – I hope they will help you if you are currently struggling with something. When something happens to you that changes you, work through your emotions and your pain, and try your best to come out on the other side letting the change that occurred in you light a fire within, and don’t let it extinguish your purpose. God Bless!
***April is Autism Awareness month but I prefer to call it Autism Acceptance month. When C was diagnosed in 2007 I wasn’t sure what to think or feel or do. I read everything that I could get my hands on: special diets, different therapies, causes, Jenny McCarthy (yes, sadly, I fell into that trap for a short period of time), “cures, fixes”, the list goes on and on…
I was determined to find a way to “save” my son. Little did I know that I was the one who needed saving.
I want what every parent wants for their child. I want him to be happy, successful, kind, and to live a full life. What I needed to learn was that the picture in my head, my perfectionist fairytale, was not attainable. Not because of Autism, but because I needed to allow my children to be who God designed them to be. God created C for a purpose. I see that purpose in the eyes of every school personnel and therapist that has had the pleasure of working with C. I see that purpose in an 8 year olds smile that is pure. I see that purpose when his sister cheers him on. I see that purpose in myself, because C has opened my eyes and my heart to a completely different world.
I was the girl in Wal-Mart or Applebee’s years ago that saw your screaming child and thought you didn’t know how to be a parent. That’s right, I’ll admit it, I was judgmental. Take note that I used the word WAS. I became the girl that had to drag her child out of Wal-Mart or Applebee’s (and countless other places) due to sensory overload or tantrum. I became the girl that others looked at with hateful eyes as they judged me thinking to themselves (and yes, on occasion out loud) that I was the bad parent. Now I am the girl that sees a child melting down somewhere and gives the mom or dad a look of compassion. I ask that if you are reading this that you do the same. By doing so you will reaffirm to that parent that the world is not working against them. Trust me, you will make their day and they will remember you and your kindness in their moment of panic and fear forever.
Do I ever get frustrated? You bet! I’m not perfect (shhh, don’t tell my husband). Having Autism in my life has taught me to admire the small things, rejoice in every achievement, give compassion to others because you truly do not know what someone else is facing in their life, and accept.
Accept. Take and receive with approval and favor.
My son does not need “fixing” and he does not need to be “cured”. What he needs is to be accepted for who he is.***
I’ve always been a “to-do” list kind of person. I will scratch my checklist down on any scrap piece of paper that I can get my hands on; the back of a piece of mail, an old grocery list, you name it! I even put my neurotic lists in the note app on my iPhone if I can’t find paper or if it’s the middle of the night. I always check things off when completed and make new lists when my current list is getting low – I am fairly certain it has been a long time since I’ve actually marked everything off of my list and had nothing to do!!
Here’s the problem. A few months ago I realized that my life was a checklist. All of the things that I did, day in and day out, were part of a list that needed completion. Now I know we all need lists to stay organized but mine had become something that I didn’t like. Maybe you can’t relate to what I am saying, but for me it was this:
- Get up
- Get kids up
- Feed kids
- Make sure kids are clean
- Get clean, fed kids dressed in something that is clean and doesn’t make them look ridiculous
- Take clean, fed, decently dressed kids wherever it is they are supposed to go at that particular moment in time
- Go to this appointment, go to that appointment.
- Clean, organize, pick up…
- Pay bills
You get the point. I won’t go on and on and bore you with the millions of tedious things that make up my day!
My list was guiding my day. It was changing my interactions with my kids, my husband, and other people in my life. It was consuming me. I didn’t have a checklist that I used to get things done, my daily life was literally a checklist. I would finish one thing and move on to the next, getting annoyed if I was stopped mid task by one of the kids. Feeling like I had failed if I didn’t get everything on my list for the day completed. I don’t want my life to be a checklist! I have to retrain myself to slow down. I have to remind myself to enjoy the little things – before they are gone and I’ve missed them. Life keeps moving and while it is important to make sure certain things get accomplished, that laundry will still be waiting for me tomorrow, so it’s better that I take advantage of the opportunity to follow my three year old who is tugging at my shirt to show me something rather than miss his excitement at the block tower that he’s built because I just HAD to check that one thing off of my list… I’ll be honest, I’ve missed a lot of moments in life because I was too busy.
One of my goals this year is to “be still”. Enjoy the now. See what my kids are showing me and truly hear what they are telling me without thinking of the things on my list. Hang out with my husband instead of using every free second as an opportunity to get something else done.
I’m learning to just be still.