When my son was first diagnosed with autism, I enrolled on workshops which would give me valuable insight into a condition I knew very little about but I rejected the support from the autism parenting community.
I didn’t want to hear what they had to say as my only taste of it was a bundle of negativity and I couldn’t cope with that as I had plenty of my own I could pass on. I wanted to hear stories of hope and stories of courage and I feared that I wouldn’t find it here. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want false hope or lies but I needed to find people on my wavelength and deep down I knew that might be an impossible task given what my wavelength is.
I learned to find my own way and some of that was to my advantage, I relied on my own innate parenting skills to muddle through the challenges of parenting a child on the spectrum.
Along the way, I’ve learnt an awful lot about myself (and some of it is awful!) but I’ve also learnt how to choose my battles wisely, increased my patience (some would disagree) and most importantly that my way is not the only way (some would argue I’ve not mastered that one yet).
As time progressed after Joseph’s diagnosis, I became more confident in my own knowledge, didn’t necessarily believe everything I read and felt more comfortable looking towards the community for support and guidance. I saw that people had different beliefs and strategies for dealing with their autistic child. I saw that some believed their child was a blessing whilst others struggled to comprehend why they had a child with autism. I saw people debate over what they perceived to be the correct use of autism and autistic and I enjoyed reading different takes on the subject.
What I didn’t expect was that for some people it was an opportunity to criticise and attack other’s views and life choices. I’m not sure whether it’s because it’s easier through social media but I doubt very much that the comments being made would be made face to face.
Our children’s autism journeys are unique and we try and raise awareness globally by educating others that there are lots of different facets to autism. Why is it so difficult to accept that us as parents are unique too and that we will not all parent the same and have different experiences?
When I started writing my blog, I dared to push my head above the parapet and say the things I wanted to hear so many years ago. I wanted to be able to feel comfortable saying that acceptance was hard and that there were days I wanted to kick the shit out of autism for the challenges it brought my son. I did not want to be vilified for owning up to those thoughts and I wanted others to know that they were not alone.
None of these thoughts make me love my son any less, it actually makes me love him more if that is possible. Every single one of us wants what is best for our child, we just try and achieve it in the way that works best for us and we do in order to survive our rollercoaster lives.
There are days that I find hard and days that I find easier. I can see my son progress in areas that I never expected him to and I have an overwhelming sense of pride in that I am helping him achieve.
His autism diagnosis does not prevent him from sharing some common traits with me. We are more alike than I care to admit; he wants to be in charge and I want to be in charge. He makes me laugh almost daily, but equally he gets on my tits, he is my son after all.
Let us learn from each other and accept and embrace our own differences not just those of our children.
We are all striving for the same destination, let us gain strength from each other.