Most of us have experienced some kind of loss or life change and are familiar with the 5 steps of mourning:
1. Denial / isolation
This past year since the kids were diagnosed with Autism I’ve definitely gone through these steps. I went through them in the order above, but maybe went back and forth between each stage. I was mourning the life I thought I would have.
The past few months I’ve gone through a depression, the 4th step. Feeling pretty numb. The best way I can explain it is that I didn’t feel like myself at all. I’ve been going through each day just completing my tasks. I also think in part of being depressed I was isolating myself. I didn’t have a lot of contact with friends and family and have been horrible keeping in touch or visiting them.
I’ve started to read again and picked up some books written by Temple Grandin. I also had a friend suggest watching the Temple Grandin movie with Claire Danes. I found the movie really fascinating and after reading “seeing in pictures” I’ve begun to see Autism differently. It gave me a glimpse into how the kids possibly see the world, in pictures. Her book has given me a whole new perspective.
In my depression I felt somewhat (ok, very) pessimistic about the kids future, about my future, about autism, about how much we miss out on certain things because of autism, my general opinion was not great. I felt like “Normal” families had no idea how easy they had it…I was down right bitter. Back in May I wrote a blog post about how sad I was, called BE UNIQUE, which I think was near the start of my depression. Thanks to Temple Grandin and the constant reminder of that print on the wall, I’ve started to think a lot differently.
Slowly the fog of this depression has been lifting. I am feeling a bit more energetic, more motivated, and most importantly, like autism is NOT a curse.
I’ve started the road to acceptance.
We need to develop the habit of looking at whatever happens through a positive mindset, instead of a negative and defeatist one.
I need to receive with open arms, Autism, because if I fight and resist it, then I am generating a lot of turbulence in my mind. My depression didn’t stop me from being my children’s advocate, it prevented me from peace, and from accepting them for who they are.
I read this quote from a book “Parenting Girls on the Autism Spectrum”. It was exactly what I needed to read.
“When parents depict raising children with autism as heartbreak or a nightmare, they are disparaging every person with autism in the process. How can we expect the world to see our children as whole people if we ourselves see them only as a shadow of what we want them to be. I believe my job as a parent is to love, accept, and celebrate my daughters, just as they are, so that I might show the world how to do the same.”
Now it is time to get out of my depression. It’s time to accept that my children are Autistic. That they have beautifully complicated brains, that they see the world entirely different than I do and it doesn’t make them any less. I need to accept that the world may not understand and may stare, but I need to also find acceptance for people’s lack of knowledge and understanding, and sometimes plain rudeness.
I’ve grieved for the life I thought I would have, now it’s time to accept my beautiful children for who they are, not who I had imagined they would be. To accept how WE do things in this household and not compare the differences to typical families.
My mantra will now be “acceptance…acceptance…acceptance”.
The world seems brighter already.