It is often said, “If you meet one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.” meaning each child is unique. I say, If you meet one autism parent then you’ve met one autism parent.” We are not all alike. Just as our children with autism are on a spectrum, so are we. Our children are unique, yet similar, and we are too. Some of us handle the stress and strain a little better than others. Most of us give it our best because we are motivated by a powerful force. Love.
Some of us have children with huge handicaps, while some of us have children who function at a much higher level. Some of us have children who never learn to speak, while others have children who do. Some of us deal with sensory meltdowns and others do not. Some of us have more than one child with autism, while some of us have only one. Some of us have enough money to do all the recommended therapies and some of us do not. Regardless, most of us step up and do the best we can, with what we have, to help our children meet their potential.
I occasionally hear, “God only gives special kids to special people.” Yet, there is no list of requirements needed to qualify to have a child born with autism. Children with autism are born to ordinary people every day. We have no credentials or qualities that make us stand out. Our little ones are fed, changed, rocked, cuddled, sang to, played with, taught, tickled, read to, and loved. We do all the things other moms and dads do and then we hear the word “autism” from a doctor.
When our children receive an autism diagnosis, often around age two or three, we do not suddenly become more special on that day than we were the day before. We only step up to the challenges we are faced with, just like any loving parent would for their child.
My thirteen-year-old son has high functioning autism. He can talk but he cannot have long conversations. He has a lot of anxiety. He is developmentally about eight-years-old and will probably never be able to live independently. Some days I feel a little sad about it but mostly I do not. He is a great kid with a super personality. I try to concentrate on the things he can do instead of the things he cannot.
People often say to me, “I don’t know how you do it!” or “You are amazing.” and “I’d never be able to do the things you do.” I always respond with, “I do it because I have to. You would be able to do the same for your child.”
I had lunch with a dear friend yesterday. Her son has low functioning autism. He cannot talk. He does not sleep much at night. He is an escape artist and cannot be left alone for even a minute. Some days my friend feels a little sad about it but mostly she does not. Her son is a great kid with a sweet disposition. She tries to concentrate on the things he can do instead of the things he cannot. After hearing some of my friend’s latest stories about her son, I heard myself saying, “I don’t know how you do it! You are amazing.” She responded with, “I do it because I have to. You would be able to do the same for your child.” Of course I would.