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What People Don't See When They See Me With My Child With Autism

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I’m that mom.

The mom you roll your eyes at because I’m watching my 3-year-old like a hawk at the park.

But little do you know my child has hypotonia of the ankles and flat feet which causes him to be “clumsy” or “floppy.”

I am that mom…

The mom who you judge and say I need to “cut the cord.”

But little do you know, my child has autism spectrum disorder.

The mom who won’t let anyone babysit my son.

But little do you know, my son has childhood apraxia of speech; he is non-verbal.

The mom who is cleaning my son’s hands over and over.

But little do you know, my child has sensory challenges and does not like to be dirty.

The mom you think is too defensive when it comes to her child.

But little do you know how much she loves and protects her son — even more so since his diagnosis.

Jacquelyn's son sitting on a park bench..

I’m that mom…

A mom to a son with invisible disabilities.

A mom to a child who sees the world so differently.

We live in a world where different and unique are often viewed as “weird.” We need to respect their world and the many special gifts they bring to us. Autism is a different way of thinking. We can learn from each other. Our society needs to embrace autism instead of fearing it. These children deserve acceptance! Why must we try to change those on the spectrum to “blend in” and make the rest of the world less uncomfortable? Why can’t we simply accept them as the unique beautiful people they are instead of trying to “cure” them? People with autism are not broken.

I get it, the unknown often scares neurotypical folks. To be blunt, get over it. Imagine how someone with autism feels.

Be the change and embrace differences. One person can make a huge impact on someone. Be that person.

Please teach your children about other kids with differences and that they should befriend them. Don’t be the cool kid, be the kind kid.

I am that mom…

The mom who buys every book on autism. I’m that mom who taught her son sign language so he can communicate without frustration.

I’m that mom who educates herself so no one can pull a fast one on her when it comes to her child and his diagnosis.

I’m that mom who blows up your social media newsfeed with autism and apraxia awareness.

Jacquelyn's son.

A quote from a book by Bill Nason I read says:

“We often teach them how to talk before teaching them how to relate. We teach them social scripts before teaching them the functional value of relating. We teach them to look at us in the eyes without teaching the value of referencing others to share information, emotion and experiences. We called them weak in theory of mind and empathy, unable to read the thoughts, feelings, perspectives, and intention of others, while ignoring what their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives are. We often force them to learn correct behavior before understanding what their behavior is saying. We want them to do it our way to be like us without understanding and appreciating their way. We are often more rigid and inflexible than them, and less empathetic and understanding. We need to meet them halfway. Always understand, validate, and appreciate first before trying to guide and assist change. Value their world first before teaching them to value ours. Be a working partner to become a trusted guide. They will enjoy following our lead when we understand, value, and appreciate them first.”

I’m that mom who can’t be everything to everyone right now.

The mom who is trying her damndest to do everything for her son.

Please, stop and think, have some empathy because you would do the same if it were your child.

To all the mothers of kids with disabilities in the world, you are my people now. I admire you all!

I’m that mom, and a proud one!

Jacquelyn and her son.

Originally published: May 20, 2021
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