April 2, 2012
Autism is a word our family knows well. Not so long ago, I was obsessed with this word and what it meant for our family. I read books about treatments, behavior plans, sensory activities, social stories, therapies, cures, diets, stories of families. You name it, I read it, digested and tried it. If I wasn’t doing EVERYTHING those books recommended, I felt like I was failing my kid. What if my child does not move forward? Somehow, I felt responsible. If our lives were hard, and they weren’t getting better, then I was NOT doing something. The hardest part was finding that magic something that could make our lives better. It was a slippery lonely slope, and I pray to never feel like that again.
We did, in fact, find out what our child needed. Our child needed TIME. TIME for therapies to work, TIME for us to make a family routine, TIME to grow, TIME to learn the social world, TIME to navigate through social skills. I also needed time. I needed to learn to try, fail, try again and be patient when it didn’t work. I needed to learn to accept help, swallow my pride, and accept that my child’s struggles weren’t a REFLECTION on ME, but on where my child was at that point in time.
Do I regret all of the hours I spent on finding a fix for my kid? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I believe it was the knowledge I gained that help teachers, friends, and family members respond to our situation. SOMETHING other than time did work, we just don’t know EXACTLY what it is. At this point, it just doesn’t matter.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day. I am dedicating this post to the families who are affected by it. We have to be aware. We have to know that 1 in 88 people have a form of it. We have to know that the numbers are rising. We have to know that a child/baby can engage with their parents and still have Autism. We have to be aware that we are all made unique and how to reach out to those who develop differently than the masses.
Our family is lucky. We have a story, it is moving, and we are moving forward. Our story has a happy middle, and WILL have a happy ending years from now. I have to admit, I barely think about Autism any more. While my child is not cured, we have to learned how to help our child and regulate the symptoms. Most of all, we have learned to accept Autism, but not let it rule our family. I pray for a “cure,” not for us, but for others. We are lucky, not everyone’s story is as happy as ours.