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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Thanks Jess xxx
Thank you and thank your wonderful son.. They make us whole.
Thankyou Lindy. It certainly does take all points of view to make a complete picture. XX
What a shock … I’m reading your lovely open letter to me (my son is on the autistic spectrum too) and what do I find but a photo of us together!!!
You’ve said all the things that needed to be said, Cassie … congrats on the fabulous job you have done with your boy. It’s a hard road, but oh so rewarding. Sharon XXX
As we were going through the diagnosis process, Sharon, you were on my mind a lot. I couldn’t believe that I had known you for so long, and yet never had a clue that we had a lot more in common than just scrapbooking, photography and quilting! Thankyou for your sweet comments 🙂
The “white cane” comment resonated with me. In 2 months my aspie daughter will legally be an adult and yet she still looks to me for the answer when someone asks her a question. Do you think a potential employer will allow me to go with her to a job interview?? I don’t think I’ll ever be done worrying about her.
Hi Kay. I feel very much the same way as you do. Having just finished High School, he is lucky that he has a disability pension to support him. I can’t see him working or being independent any time soon. This world is just not geared to work for anyone that doesn’t think the same way as “normal” people. Although he thinks that his way is best, and the rest of us are the ones that are wrong lol….. Hugs Mum, you’re doing a great job.
Beautiful letter Cassie. I think your children were very blessed to get a mom as caring as you. 💖
Thanks Melissa. It’s a challenging road, but with prayer, no mountains are unclimbable! XX
As I was scrolling your blog for info on the Dottie Angel frock sew a long I came across your letter. Thank you,,,my daughter (15) is not officially diagnosed as an Aspie but I know,,,so thank you for the encouragement and sharing your story.
Thank you so much Kim for your comments. Yes, you don’t need a piece of paper to just “know” something is different! I’m glad that you found it encouraging, and I do hope to see you here again in a couple of weeks for the frock along!!
Came to you blog to read about the dottiefrock sew along and found this. My middle child aged six is awaiting assessment! Great but its hard work! Laurie is a gorgeous boy though and a wouldn’t change him for the world. Well perhaps at mealtimes!!! Thanks for posting.
Thankyou for your comment Louise! It’s great that you are working through the assessment phase and will get some help now while it can hopefully make a huge difference. They are special kids, I have to agree.
Beautiful letter, Cass. I’ve been meaning to come back and read it when I had time, and I’m so glad I did. This letter is not just for other mother’s with ASD children, but all of us. The more we are educated, the more we can be a better support. You are doing great! And thank you for being the mother that you are. Xx
Thankyou so much for your heartfelt comment Raquel. I agree, parenthood is such a tough gig. We need to be kinder to ourselves and kinder to others too! You are a pretty awesome Mum, even though you might not always realise it. XXX
What a beautiful letter. I needed this just now 🙂
We moms of these children have so much to give each other just by understanding.