The Courage I See Every Day in My Son on the Autism Spectrum


I see my son with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) struggle with something new, whether it’s surprise thunderstorms, dreaded fire drills or broccoli, every day. What might seem minor to someone else can become a big deal for him. It can take courage to confront the unknown or the uncomfortable. It can take courage to power through it like a boss.

What is courage? The dictionary defines courage as “the ability to do something that frightens one” or “strength in the face of pain or grief.” My son demonstrates this character trait daily. He comes home and tells me, “Mom, we had a fire drill, and I dealt with it!” You have no idea how much courage that takes him. Fire drills used to be more challenging for him. Vegetables are another matter entirely. Texturally, they bug him and they don’t taste so great to him. But when he eats a bit of broccoli, he’s demonstrated courage. He encountered something that causes him grief, and he showed strength by overcoming it.

Courage doesn’t come easily or all the time, but it’s important to celebrate it when it happens.

Does courage mean my son can always power through? Of course not. He’s human! I find it genuinely frightening to go up to a group of people I don’t know and introduce myself. Sometimes I’m able to do it and sometimes I’m not. My point? We need to cut our children some slack when it comes to pushing them outside of their comfort zones. Push too hard, and you’ve caused a setback. Don’t push hard enough, and you maintain status quo. But you do what you and your child feel comfortable with.

Do what you can to make it easy to obtain mastery of goals. Headphones can help with noise issues. Weighted lap pads, stuffed animals or blankets can help with security issues. Don’t expect powering through to happen all the time, but rather wait and enjoy the successes. Because the successes are oh so sweet!

Follow this journey on Embracing the Spectrum.

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