When I first started reading about other families and their experiences with autism, I came across a lot of parents who seemed like experts. I read countless articles and blogs written by experienced mothers and fathers in a constant fight for their children. They had tried everything, with varying results, and all of them had the same advice: work hard and never give up.
I kept searching for different perspectives, because these stories overwhelmed me. I could never do it. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around half of what they were saying and doing. These stories are meant to be encouraging and inspirational. And they can be. But when the world of autism is all brand new to you, they can also make you feel defeated. They can make you feel as if you have already wasted too much time.
Sometimes I felt as if I were ruining my daughter’s chances in life out of my own selfishness and laziness. So I would try harder- and fail. Now I was ruining her life out of plain incompetence, as well. And still there were more and more parents saying that their children were succeeding because they never stopped working with them and trying all the options. I always seemed to be falling short of other parents. I did feel like giving up. Except, I wasn’t exactly sure how I would even do THAT.
Then I figured something out. I wasn’t failing at being a parent; I was failing at being someone I’m not. I was falling short of what someone else needed for success. Continue reading →
Sometimes I have actual moments of clarity. Times when, just briefly, I understand what it means to be luckier than most people who have ever lived life on this planet.
Other times I just say I understand it.
And still other times I let myself become concerned with how much luckier people may be in the future. I mean, will they have a life expectancy of 150? Then I get led to other topics of science fiction and apocalypse….evil future government plots.
But right now I am seeing clearly, and I know that I am self-centered.
I was thinking about last Thanksgiving. As we drove home from dinner, we passed a man on the road with a sign that read “Homeless and Hungry.” We had a lot of extra food with us, but we did not stop. We did, however, seriously discuss stopping. Continue reading →
Truly believing those words will get you through a lot in life. I first learned the importance of this with my marriage. The best advice I have to offer newly married couples, other than to pick your battles– is that you will not be in love every day. But it will come back around, so don’t pack your bags quite yet. We are moody creatures, and perspective can change easily.
This advice took on a whole new meaning while I was learning to accept my daughter’s Autism. The idea that this struggle may never pass was too much to bear. And it is a struggle. So everything comes down to that ever-changing perspective. Knowing it will change, even when it feels impossible, has gotten me through the darkest moments.
Some days are harder than others. We were married, without children, for eleven years. We tried for over three of those years to have a baby, and we probably won’t be able to have any more. This is not what we imagined family life to be. It could be worse, and there are no guarantees in life; but we are talking about perspective, and these facts are important.
There are days when I make the mistake of thinking about what Teghan would be like if she had typical social skills. I think about what we would be doing together if she were like other four year old girls. I wonder what we would talk about if she could talk. I imagine a world where she understood pretend play, or could follow storylines of a book or a movie. Continue reading →