It is Autism Awareness month. It has almost been a year (exactly a year on May 11) since it hit me in the face like a ton of bricks that things needed to change around here. Life was not going to be what I had tricked myself into believing it would be.
However, in eleven months, we have gone from beggars on the street, knocking on every door for help, for answers, to warriors in a damn fortress. Purged of the negative and fortified with so much love. I have learned so much and my opinions have evolved.
I admit that there was a time in the beginning of great “ignorance” if you will. I was not fully prepared and I didn’t know what to treat this like. Was it a disease? Was she going to grow up or was she always going to be trapped in her own head? Was the child I thought I had dead? I grieved a lot. I talked a lot about that on here. A reasonable response I think, but not one that should remain. It wasn’t a permanent feeling. It was me going through the motions and, as always, embarking on a never-ending quest to keep myself woke.
I was successful. WE ARE successful.
Eleven months later, after phone calls, paperwork, doctor’s appointments, school meetings, little to no sleep, AND my own demons, I have landed exactly where I should be in this journey with Scar. I feel like there is a sense of second chances; though, I feel in the field of special needs mom, there are always chances to get better, to get it right. Right won’t stay right for too long so adaptability is key. Evolution is our new normal.
One of the most valuable new lessons I have learned is to influence great independence in her. Even I, as a neuro-typical child, did not have as many opportunities to be this independent (single, working mom, grandmother/babysitter who decided to handle things instead of letting the kids handle it, etc.). I feel that she is liberated from her mind when she can throw out her own trash, undress herself for her bath, or read her favorite books to ME at story time. She has progressed so much by way of expressing herself and I feel independence is one of the keys to unlocking her mind from whatever strange shackles this has placed on her. Not that there is anything really negative about those shackles. She just needs to work harder than others to break them and that’s okay, I will be here to make sure she does it.
I think if you can, even in small ways, independence is the way to go. I think special needs children need whatever chance they can from a very young age to handle something, anything, on their own, no matter the severity of their autism or any other disability. And you keep trying to teach it, no matter if it works the way it is supposed to, no matter if it takes years.
This is something I am just grappling with too! I spent the last year coddling to no end, still coming to terms with the phrase “different not less.” I would be lying if I told you that I was okay with this from the start. That I didn’t stand in judgement of my own child for a moment and wonder if she was unable to accomplish the same things I have. I don’t like lying. I don’t like pretending that everything is okay. I have had to do it a lot in the last year for multiple reasons, including this, and I am done. Because I am aware. I am so aware and I am ready to open myself up for everyone to see the warriors Scar and I have become and what got us here.
I am so proud of her, especially during this, our first, Autism Awareness month. I am proud of me and how I got here and everything I am doing to keep myself from looking back.
And my boyfriend, Michael, whose knowledge and understanding of autism, patience and love, and overall nurturing demeanor has helped transform my way of thinking and pushed me along my evolution as an autism mom. I have learned so much more in a short time and I am forever grateful for his entrance into our lives.