What is Autism

Prior to having my daughter, my only experience with autism was watching Rainman my senior year of high school. Little did I know that in just five years, I would be living within the world of autism. In a short time, I would know more about autism than I ever thought possible.

Autism became my world.

To celebrate my daughter’s 30th birthday and the path of autism that we have navigated together I came up with thirty things that she has taught me in her thirty years.

What autism has taught me.

  1. It is okay to be disappointed, angry and incredibly sad.
  2. You will be excluded from some people, but you will also find your own tribe.
  3. Unconditional love really does exist.
  4. Not everyone will get it, and that is okay.
  5. It is not your job to make people get it, it is your job to model how to, and then walk away.
  6. Milestones are incredibly hard.
  7. Parenting a child with autism is very lonely.
  8. Most marriages and relationships with be deeply affected.
  9. Your role as an advocate never ends.
  10. The spectrum of autism is truly just that–not one is the same so don’t compare.
  11. It is hard.
  12. It is okay to grieve…a lot, and in the most unexpected times.
  13. Siblings need extra attention because they also grieve the sibling they didn’t get.
  14. You will learn more from them than you might ever expect.
  15. The quirkiest of quirks will be part of your everyday life.
  16. Plan on worrying about things that other parents might never even think of.
  17. It is likely you will feel at times that you are a full time taxi driver even longer than a typical parent.
  18. Therapies become your weekly outings and social time.
  19. You will be scared about the future.
  20. Schedules will run your life, if you let them. I opted to not and teach flexibility instead.
  21. Meltdowns are hard. Don’t take them personal and let people stare, they have no idea what it’s like.
  22. Your special child will become your GREATEST teacher, if you are willing to be the student.
  23. Literal thinking will make you laugh and cry at the same.
  24. Be ready to explain in various ways instructions. Written seems to be the best around here.
  25. A cell phone became the emotional connection that was needed to share feelings.
  26. Birthdays are hard.
  27. You might never hear the words “I love you”….trust that your person does, though.
  28. You will be a lifeline and it can be exhausting.
  29. Allow the quirks to lead your heart to a place it may have otherwise never known.
  30. Trust yourself. You know what it is best.

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