I remember when my child was first diagnosed with Autism, there was a huge part of me that was relieved. We finally had a name to explain why my son was the way he was. I also remember feeling very unsure of all of our futures. What would this mean for us? What kind of therapy was involved? Would he be able to move out, get a job, or get married? There was a lot of uncertainty at that time and to be honest there are still a lot of questions as to the future.
Once the initial diagnosis came, we started looking for more resources. My child was diagnosed at a later age, although I was pretty certain he had Autism before testing. We already had him in counseling but started Occupational Therapy soon after. We also tried to read everything out there to better understand the diagnosis. With all the researching and therapies, there were and still are many bad and frustrating days. There are days that both my son and I want to give up on trying and just want an easier road. Now I’m not saying that I want to change my child, but I think he and I would both agree that sometimes we just need a break from the hamster wheel. Here are some helpful hints for those days.
Find and See the Good
There are days when your child has a complete meltdown right in the middle of the store and goes jelly legs and arms. On that day, I try to remember that my child can speak, and express his thoughts and that while we are still working on appropriately voicing his concerns, we are making progress. It can be difficult to see the good when a child is acting out, but it is always there and when we can focus on that, we find more joy.
Celebrate the Milestones
The journey from newborn to becoming an adult is filled with many lessons. Some are learned quickly, some are painstakingly slow, and some are even thankfully avoided. I remember thinking at one point, why do we go to therapy week in and week out? I felt there was no sign of progress by attending. It was a pointless waste of an hour that I could spend doing something else, but on that day we happened to do our evaluation. By the time, we finished the evaluation, I was amazed by my son’s progress and by him. It is sometimes difficult to see growth when we are so close to it so when we do see it, celebrate it! Wherever your child is on their journey, find the joy in it and celebrate it because they will never be there again.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I think when our kids are struggling it is really easy to see that child who is sitting nicely in the cart while their mom pushes them through the aisles or what about that other child who giggles and smiles at their mom. This is one where you have to see the good again. That’s okay that their child sits nicely in the cart because my child is excellent at rock identification. Remember something your child is amazing at and turn your focus on their unique gifts.
Understand you are Not Alone in this Journey
There is something very comforting in knowing that other moms are with you on this journey. They know, they understand, and they’ve got your back. So as you pass that momma with the child who is screaming in the cart, smile and maybe even air high five because team mom is winning at parenting.