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Parenting a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Date Posted: January 16, 2018

Dear Parents, this one's for you. Especially you! We see you! We see you fighting battles that no one else understands! We see you crying because you are overwhelmed. We see you looking for help, but being afraid to ask. We see how hard it is to be a parent of a child with Autism.

We see it, we live it, and we completely understand. We are also parents of children with Autism. We are families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder, and we, as a community are here to tell you that you are not alone - not even for a second.

When we have children, we have these beautiful expectations of who they will be, what they will become, and big aspirations for their future. We start dreaming before we have their name picked.

From the moment we realize we are going to become parents, we wish and hope for everything to be perfect, wonderful and amazing for our children, not only because we already love them more than we ever thought possible, but because there are our miracle.

We get so excited when a new little life enters our world, we feel this incredible unconditional love in our hearts that we never thought was possible! We feel so much joy but sometimes a little overwhelmed, and somedays, all we can do is sit and stare in disbelief at the perfect little creature that we made. Our hearts swell!

Each accomplishment, each smile, each milestone makes our hearts feel like they are going to burst out of our chests and we want to scream to the world to look at how amazing this miracle we are here to parent, truly is.

With that incredible pride, we become inspired. We become inspired to be better, to do better, to give our children every opportunity we possible can. With each milestone and heartwarming tear, we hope for more. We yearn for it, so we can just feel that incredible joy that only our children can bring us. We are parents, that's what we do.

Wow, this parenting thing is pretty incredible! This little tiny human gave us the ability to feel like we've never felt before, and we want that every single moment of every day. It's addictive, it's incredible, and it's truly a gift.

We start to experience incredible moments with our children. We take them out, show them off, introduce them to family and friends. We get hit with a barrage of questions and advice. The people in our lives go crazy seeing these little tiny humans, they celebrate with us when our child meets their next milestone.

Most of our friends and families have a remedy for a crying baby. They all want to soothe the baby and be the one that the child falls asleep on, the warmth and love is so deep and everyone wants to experience that connection.

Is This My Fault?

We want our children to meet other children and have friends. We become part of parent playgroups. We connect with other parents and celebrate the milestones of our children. We share experiences, we give advice, and we connect. We watch, we learn, we adapt, and we share. We are parents, that's what we do!

We start to notice that we are becoming a little competitive with reaching milestones. We watch other children and their peers, and we see if our children seem more advanced, because that's bragging rights.

Sometimes though, we notice that our children aren't reaching those milestones quite as quickly as the other kids. We watch, we take advice, we listen to reassurance, and we continue on. Then one day, we start to notice that the gap in hitting those milestones is getting bigger, and we begin to think that maybe it's time to talk to our a doctor, just to be safe.

Maybe our child isn't hearing or seeing properly, or maybe our child just doesn't share the same interests as the other children of the same age group. We get their hearing and eyes checked and everything is normal.

Then, we start to question at that moment if it's something we are doing as a parent. We stop going to the playgroups, and we stop interacting with the parents, we start isolating ourselves, while we try to figure out what is making life a little more difficult for our children. We wonder if it's something wrong with us because there is no way in the world there could be anything wrong with this tiny little human we created.

As parents, we get scared, and we worry, and we cry a little more of the sad tears, and we wonder what is wrong with us. We deny that there is a possibility that this child could have something different about them. So we wait, we watch, and we wonder. We read and educate ourselves more about the milestones our children should have reached, we get scared, we feel fear. What if this perfect little child, isn't so perfect? What will that look like for us? For them?

Why am I so sad?

We begin to see doctors and specialists, and one day, we get hit with a diagnosis. We have a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Our hearts fall through our chests, and again, we question ourselves. What did we do wrong? Is it our fault? Did we eat something we shouldn't have? Did we take too much medication? Did something happen during labor that we were unaware of? What did we do as parents to cause this for our perfect little child? We grieve. We grieve hard!

We feel it sink in through our souls as we grieve the loss of all those beautiful dreams we had for our child, right from the time we found out they were coming into this world. We get angry. We blame. We go through a stage of denial. Then, we go through it all again and again and again, until one day we start searching for answers.

We find out more about what life will look like for our children, and for our families. We look into different therapies, we visit doctors, we talk to specialists, and we figure out absolutely everything we can to ensure our child has the very best opportunity at fitting in and enjoying the life that we want for them.

This is parenting. This is what we do. We brace ourselves for new learning curves, and we prepare for constant intervention for our children. We have sleepless nights, and days and nights full of tears.

Every single day, we cry, we wish, and we hope, but now it's for something completely different. We beg for speech, we beg for the ability to play, we beg for eye contact, we beg and plead and bargain every single day.

We avoid other children because there is no way at all that the parents of those children could possibly understand what it's like to have a child with Autism. We get lonely, and we cry, and we grieve not only the losses we are feeling for our children, but for ourselves too.

Is there hope for my family?

This cycle tends to repeat itself over and over again throughout the lives of our children. We celebrate in huge ways when they reach a milestone, when they learn new things, when they make it through the day without any serious meltdowns, when they try a new food, when they sleep through the night, and when they communicate.

Celebrations are shared with our family and understanding friends, our occupational therapists, our doctors, our community that we build around our children in order to give them the very best opportunity for success.

We focus all of our time and energy into making things wonderful for our children because in all honesty, we don't have time for much else. We lose relationships; often lifelong friends, spouses, and family. We begin to resent that in every single way, but we keep going because we know we are doing the very best we can to ensure our children become amazing humans.

Here's the plot twist. They already are these amazing, intelligent, beautiful, unique humans that just learn a little differently than we do. They are our future. These children are here to help us find patience, to become more compassionate, to help us learn how to teach, how to live and how to enjoy life. In all their imperfections, they are here to show us just how perfect they are.

Your dreams for your children don't have to change. The way you get there may be a little different, but the end result will be so much better than you could have ever expected or anticipated. Our children will grow into a beautiful strong generation of loving and intelligent adults that will be our future teachers, caregivers, politicians, doctors, lawyers, or whatever they choose to become.

They, right now, are helping us build a world of acceptance and unconditional love. Our children are amazing miracles, and we are honored to share their lives.

We are parents of children with Autism, and we are strong, proud and brave. We fight the good fight every day. Do you know why? Because after all the blame, denial, grief, sadness, and hard work, we get to see these beautiful little miracles that are our children, and we see all the potential we thought we had lost.

We advocate for better. We stand up and we make sure people hear our voices, our children's voices. We are helping to shape our communities and systems into a society where our children feel safe to be expressive and unique and brilliant. We are Autism warriors and they are our heros!

What do I do next?

Questions happen. They happen a lot when we have children living with Autism. Consult a behavioral therapist, speak to the teacher of a classroom or special needs unit. Ask questions about how to parent a child with ASD. Ask other parents how they do it. Always look for knowledge and solutions!

Parents and families often feel secluded because of an Autism diagnosis. There are resources all over the place. There are parents that understand and are full of incredibly insightful knowledge. There are people that have been trained to work with our children that are also parents of children with Autism. Ask them. Never be afraid to keep gaining knowledge, or to keep trying new things.

If you feel stuck, reach out. There are so many people out there that have been through, or are going through your journey. We are the Autism community of moms, dads, siblings and specialists, ready to help answer questions, give advice, or just listen.

Your dreams for your children don't have to change. The way you get there may be a little different, but the end result will be so much better than you could have ever expected or anticipated. Our children will grow into a beautiful strong generation of loving and intelligent adults that will be our future teachers, caregivers, politicians, doctors, lawyers, or whatever they choose to become.

 

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