“There is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more.” – Robert M. Hensel
In just over a month it will be 4 years since my twin girls and son were diagnosed with Autism. Over the past 4 years people have often said to me – “I don’t know how you do it.”, or they ask “How do you do it?”.
What is “it”?
It – being a single parent to 3 children with Autism.
Daily life with Autism is interesting and it’s stressful at times. It’s super silly and funny a lot of the time too. The giggles around here and laughter are frequent and are music to my ears. I would say the greatest challenge with Autism has been how isolating it can be. There was a period of time when I felt a lot of unhappiness with how Autism affected my children’s lives and my own. I really grieved the loss of the life I thought my children would have. The life I thought that I would have. I had to let go of the picture in my mind of how I thought life would be. That was the first step.
Can I take my children’s Autism away? No. I can continue to teach them ways to cope and learn new skills with the help and support from the amazing therapy team we’ve had for the past 3 years, going on 4 years now. I fully believe that Autism cannot be cured. It doesn’t go away.
I needed to accept it and change my view and thoughts. I needed to accept the fact that Autism is our way of life as a family. The only control I have is my feelings and attitude towards the unique challenges my children face.
My children are the ones who are coping with life in a way I can’t fully understand. My question is turned around and I wonder to myself, how do my children do it? How can I make their life easier and more successful?
I don’t ever want them to feel like their existence has been a challenge for me. I don’t want them to ever feel that who they are has made my life less because of their disability. If I am not ok with their Autism, then I am not accepting them for who they are.
My children have taught me things that I never imagined. I have become less judgmental. I look at each person and no longer assume I know a damn thing about them. I have what I call “Autism Radar”, I can pick out autistic traits in others pretty quickly. I look back at a past co-worker who people labeled as odd, and I now realize that he was very likely Autistic and very misunderstood by the entire company and office.
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude” – Scott Hamilton
How do I do it? Five things:
- Love + Acceptance – I want my children to feel loved, special, and accepted, the way that every child should feel. The way that every person should feel.
- Perspective + Empathy – Instead of looking at how Autism has impacted my life, I look at it from the perspective of my children.
- Exercise + Nutrition – I find if I’m unable to get in some exercise or I eat poorly one day it changes my mood hugely. It’s been a journey, but it’s very clear to me how those two elements contribute to my mental wellbeing.
- Humility – setting aside my own wants for my children’s needs.
- Support – Having extra help in home has been a life saver. As my twin girls have gotten taller, stronger, and more curious and adventurous it’s become more and more challenging to keep them safe and also to take them out into the community by myself. I have two caregivers who are so important to us and who are an enourmous help. I have been so fortunate and thankful to receive the support we have from Family Support for Children With Disabilities (FSCD). It has been life changing. There is no doubt in my mind that this has been a huge factor.
True power lies in accepting when you can’t control what is happening around you, but the way in which you respond. You are in control of the way you look at life, don’t be a prisoner to the things you cannot change. Embrace them, see the good.