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My Promise to Fellow Parents of Children on the Autism Spectrum

I gave birth to my son just before I turned 25 years old. By that time, nearly every person in my small circle of friends and larger circle of co-workers/Facebook friends I haven’t spoken to face-to-face since high school had already started families of their own. So when my son was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old and I began delving into research about neurological developmental disorders, I made a connection with the staggering statistics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data identifying one in 42 boys on the autism spectrum. One in 42.

I didn’t personally know any other children on the spectrum at that time. I didn’t know any parents facing the questions and concerns my husband and I faced. We walked a very lonely road for some time. But I did the math. I thought of all the young mothers and fathers I knew, and I came to a realization: As they continued to add to their families, another set of parents would find themselves in our position, navigating life with a child on the autism spectrum. As more of my friends announced pregnancies, I secretly wondered who it would be.

In the last two years, two of my friends’ young sons have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. During those same two years, the world of social media and blogging introduced me to even more beautiful families of children with autism — shout out to my girl Shannon and my favorite Instagram follower, Little Aidan. I am so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to bond with these parents.

Recently, one mother text-messaged me to discuss some frustrations she’s been facing. I listened and I promised her I always would. Because we need each other. So this is my public promise to any mother or father of a son or daughter with autism spectrum disorder:

I promise to let you vent if you ever need to. I promise to always remind you of how far you’ve come. I promise to ask about your child. I promise to ask about you. I promise to laugh with you and your child, and I promise to love his/her quirks. I promise to support your relationships and be there if you need to walk away from unsupportive people. I promise to share resources. And I promise I will celebrate every milestone and every bit of progress you and your child make.

We’re in this together. I promise.

Image via Thinkstock.

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