Dear Autism Spectrum Mothers everywhere,
You’re doing it tough. I know this. My son was diagnosed as Autistic this year, at age 17 and 10 months. I’m exhausted from the past 17 years. But I’m not going to tell you how to improve your routine, your teaching, or 10 tips on how to make mealtime better.
I am just here to say you’re doing great.
Believe in yourself. Trust your instincts. I was a young mother with her first child, so all my fears were discounted. Play more with your child. He’s just different. He’s obviously going to be a genius. While all the time my instincts were screaming that there was something wrong. How much suffering could have been avoided we will never know.
Be kind to yourself. I was described by a psychologist as my son’s “White Cane”… through me he interprets and negotiates this world that is so alien to him. I am his tutor for general life, friendships, relationships. I am his mentor, his counsellor, his ally and adversary all rolled into one. These are the roles that we have been given in this life, and we are all doing the best that we can. Do not beat yourself up about what else you could or should be doing, about unmade beds or unwashed dishes. Do not compare either your child or yourself. Be kind to you, you’re running a tough race the only way you know how. One foot in front of the other.
Take time out for yourself. My son was infinitely demanding. He was unable to play alone for a very long time, he constantly sought me out for entertainment, but would not actively participate in play with me. The demands of his care, his routine and his insatiable need for activity were exhausting. You need a hobby. Go out once a week to book club, have a regular movie night with girlfriends, and don’t forget about date night with your partner. These children take so much of our time and energy that our other family members can be overlooked. Our own needs are even further down the ladder, so don’t be ashamed to recharge regularly.
Ask for help. Constantly changing and always challenging, it’s often beyond the scope of our emotional levels. Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re struggling, seek help from a trusted family member, friend or a doctor. It is not a failure, it takes strength and courage to reach out.
Finally I want to tell you THANKYOU. No one else will probably do that, so make sure you thank yourself. This can be a very satisfying job, and at the same time terrifying, frustrating, and exhausting. Focus on your wins, however small they may be, and make sure that you pat yourself on the back for all of them. Without us these children would be forever lost. We are doing a valuable job, and we are important.
You’ve got this. I know you do.
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