Parenting my child with Autism
There are steps in this journey of parenting a child with special needs like Autism or ASD (autism spectrum disorder). By steps, I mean what you are going through and how you are dealing with what is at hand. I am now at a point in my son’s ASD journey where I have stopped convincing myself my child might speak one day or be able to connect with people outside his comfort zone. I have also entered the stage where I need to have those tough conversations with relatives about who my son’s guardian will be if anything happens to his father and me.
This all makes me sound pretty responsible and together, but the truth is, it has taken a while to get here. You can’t fault a parent for wanting the best for their child, but part of the heartbreak of being a special needs parent and parenting any child, really, is when you break up with the plan you had for that child. Like many parents (since I am being raw and open here), I had hoped my child would someday outgrow the stemming and not talking.
Being honest with myself does not mean I was giving up; this acceptance took the pressure off me and, most importantly, my son, the innocent one in all these mind shenanigans I was bringing upon myself.
But we must be gentle, not just with our children, but with ourselves as this is all new. It is a lot. It is hard. There are moments when you can’t believe life is so tough. But with acceptance comes power and strength. You switch gears and work vigorously as your child’s number one advocate. You start to be open and see the lessons.
One of the biggest hurdles I currently deal with is that my child, at age five, is no longer a toddler but at an age where he should be ‘like’ other kids his age. This is where it gets tricky. Do I work on changing my child so others can feel comfortable because his behavior isn’t checking the ‘normal’ box? The answer is NO. I hope education and special needs teachings help him to become more functioning, but any discomfort he brings upon others belongs to them, not us, and certainly, it is not his burden.
I’m learning to be open to lessons from other special needs parents, especially those who have been living it for some time. Pre-pandemic I joined my husband in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (I know… those were the days!) on a work trip. It was my first time away from my kids in years, and although I was in this gorgeous town, I was filled with anxiety about the next steps for my youngest. While I sat at a cafe at the Saturday French market, a father strolled by with his tween (she looked about fourteen) in a custom-made decorated wheelchair with a radio blasting appropriate tween tunes. She had a pacifier, and they all looked content, basking and strolling in the French sun. And I thought to myself, hell, yes, the French even do Special Needs in style.
And then I knew. I may not ace this parenting thing, but I will mom my Autistic son with style and grace and, most importantly, be grateful for the lessons he teaches me daily.
Psst…check out how to help Ukraine parents ….Brooklyn Mother Joins U.S Moms in Helping Ukrainian Parents by Donating Baby Carriers