Autism Awareness and what that means to our family
It’s that time of year again! And this year I stopped and asked myself what do I want people to be aware of concerning Autism. Here are a few things:
* My children are different from neurotypical children. Yep, very different. And it is ok.
* My children are not damaged. Their brains are wired differently. (and work better at lots of things than “normally” wired brains)
* Because of this different processing, my children can’t always handle things that neurotypical children can. (big crowds, loud noises, bright lights, pounding music, over stimulation)
* My children need structure all the time. They need routine. It’s very hard for them to be off schedule, and even one deviation from that can cause a meltdown, or rough day.
* My children love to play with other children but sometimes it is very difficult for them to understand the subtleties.of social cues. We work on it all the time.
*When my children have a meltdown, it’s not a temper tantrum, it’s not them being difficult or spoiled. It’s a response to being overstimulated, or feeling out of control. Trust me, I’m trying my best to either get them out of the situation asap, or calm them down. Stares, comments, rude looks and eye rolling doesn’t help out the situation. Not because it hurts my children’s feelings, but because it ups my stress level and they can FEEL that. Besides, it’s just plan rude to do that to anyone anyway.
*My children aren’t Rainman. They make eye contact, they are affectionate, they are very verbal, they are hilarious. Autism is a spectrum. Not a movie character. Every child on the spectrum is different!
*My parenting style with my children may not be the style you have with your own children. I do what works for our family dealing with autism. Parenting is not cookie cutter. What works for you, probably wouldn’t work for us. And that is ok.
*There are times when we just can’t do what everyone else does. Birthday parties, social events, meeting friends for dinner at restaurants.. (just some examples) It’s not that we don’t want too, or that we are self-absorbed…. It can just be too stressful for our family as a whole.
Here is what we are aware of as Parents………
* This journey with autism is a marathon not a sprint.
*I will always be my children’s advocate. I will always make sure they have what they need to succeed.
* It’s ok that we aren’t a “normal” family. We don’t always do “normal” family outings, vacations, or holidays.
* I need to forgive myself for the mistakes I make as a parent. I can lose patience, become overly stressed and very tired. I must remind myself that all parents go through that. No one is perfect.
* The feelings that come along with being an autism parent, it’s a roller-coaster. HUGE HIGHS……………… HUGE LOWS. There can be joy and celebration one minute and frustration and sadness the next. It’s ok to cry. It’s also ok to yell HURRAY in the middle of a restaurant when your child tries a new food!
*I am aware that we are so lucky to have the best, most understanding, compassionate, educated teachers in our children’s lives. They have made such a huge difference not only for our boys, but for us as parents. They have shaped what we do as a family.
*I am aware that not all of our family or friends can accept our world of autism. And I need to be mindful to let them go and just move on.
*I am aware of how much my children love me. And they are aware of how much I love them. All the stars in the sky.
With awareness comes acceptance. Part of my journey as an autism parent is to research and try to understand as much as I can about this spectrum. If you have questions you should always ask. Understanding the world of autism is so very very important. 1 in 68 now and who knows what the numbers will be in the next decade: 1 in 50? 1 in 20? 1 in 5? It very well could be the norm. Autism is by no means the end of the world. It’s just a different world. It’s an interesting world. It’s our world.