10 Things I’d Tell Myself Before Raising 2 Kids on the Spectrum


Eleven years ago, my husband and I entered a developmental pediatrician’s office with our then 17-month-old son, Justin. We were both nervous and resigned, anticipating, and in some ways welcoming, the autism diagnosis we were sure our boy would merit.

Four years later, we would retrace our steps in a different state with our second son, Zach. On this occasion we were much less scared, even eager to get a diagnosis to help us to access services. It wasn’t that we were less concerned about the progress of our second child. It’s just that by then, we’d been doing the “autism gig” for the length of a presidential term, and we had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Those four years had taught me indelibly what it means to be a special needs mom.

I learned so much from my eldest child, and then again from my youngest. I learned about my limits, and how to stretch them to accommodate my children’s needs. I learned about the endless boundaries of love, and how to summon patience I didn’t know I had. I learned so much, knowledge I wish I’d had at my fingertips when my first child was diagnosed.

If I could go back in time, these are the 10 things I’d tell myself about my impending journey of parenting two children on the autism spectrum:

1. You will revel in even the smallest increments of progress, progress you would not have noticed if your children were typical.

2. You will learn to always push your children to do a little bit more than you think they can.

3. You will learn how to be flexible (this one remains a challenge for me.)

4. You will worry about what happens to them when you’re gone. This one you will never conquer.

5. You will irrevocably alter your definition of what comprises a successful childhood.

6. You will learn how to ask for help (this one remains a challenge, too).

7. You will learn how to listen — really listen — both to your one son’s vocal attempts and to your other’s complete sentences.

8. You will learn, through lots of practice, how to be patient.

9. You will learn that the inability to speak does not mean your son does not have a lot to say.

10. You will learn, perhaps most importantly, to make time for yourself.

This post originally appeared on Autism Mommy-Therapist.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: What’s one secret about you or your loved one’s disability and/or disease that no one talks about? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

10 Ways My Kid With Autism Kicks Butt

Here’s why my kid with autism kicks butt. I would say “kicks butt and takes names,” but he’s terrible with names. Anyway, here is why: 1. He doesn’t break rules. He sees things as black and white, so when he’s given a rule, he sticks with it. If he has 10 minutes on a computer game, [...]

How You Can Show Love to Mamas Who Had Empty Arms on Mother’s Day

Freshly picked bouquets stacked in bunches, lovely hydrangeas planted in bright pink pots, cards spilling out into the store aisles and 1-800-BUY-HER-THIS commercials repeating on the radio: all reminders that Mother’s Day was on the horizon. Envious, I longed to be pampered, fussed over and honored. Desperately, I wanted to expect cards in the mailbox [...]

The Emotion Parents of Preemies Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Feel

I’ve been a little disconnected lately, partially because we’re busy and partly because I felt I didn’t know what to say. So I sat down today to really think about why. How can I have nothing to say when my head is always spinning with thoughts? It came down to the fact that I realized [...]

5 Secret Gifts I’ve Gained as a Mother of Children With Special Needs

I wanted to share a secret today. It is a secret that is shared silently among those who have children with challenges or disabilities. It is one of many secrets that contribute to what makes us amazing. Today, I want to share with all who are starting this journey the following: when you confront challenges, [...]