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To the Mom of a Child on the Autism Spectrum, I See You

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Dear Mama of a child on the autism spectrum,

I see you.

You’re chasing your child who runs at any chance he gets. You’re trying to stay calm, but you also know you have to catch him because there is a road nearby, and he has no fear… and he seems to get faster every day.

I see you.

You’re trying to help your child through a meltdown. He is so overwhelmed he is kicking, screaming and going “no-bones-jello-dude” on you, and my eyes go straight to you. You’re sweaty, trying to help your kid. People are staring, and you’re so embarrassed because you know what they’re thinking. “She’s a bad mom. He’s a bad kid. My kid wouldn’t act that way. He needs some discipline. They should have stayed home if he was going to act like that.” To others you may look calm, but I know you’re on the verge of tears.

I see you.

You’re trying something different, going outside of your comfort zone. You just want him to try things, to see what he enjoys… but I see your anxiety too. You’re on edge, just waiting for him to show signs he is overwhelmed. You’re trying to stay five steps ahead, always preparing for a quick exit but hoping for the best.

I see you.

You’re not really a part of the group. Other parents can have a conversation, but you’re never fully engaged. You’re always watching your child, half listening to the adult conversation while 100 percent attending to your child’s needs. When he takes off running, you don’t miss a beat, you’re always ready to pounce. I know it can be exhausting.

I see you.

You’re trying to live your life just like everyone else, but you didn’t sleep last night. You’re going on years of very little sleep. Life is hard when you’re sleep deprived.

I see you.

You’re budgeting, counting pennies, trying to make it all work. Meeting your child’s needs can be expensive. But you make it work because he’s worth it.

I see you.

You worry. Will he be OK? How will we get through this? Will he ever make a friend? Who will love and care for him when I die? I can never, ever die.

I won’t tell you that “you’re the best mom,” because I know you do what you have to do. When you become a parent, you love and support your child.

I won’t tell you that, “I don’t know how you do it, I just couldn’t do it.” I know that saying hurts, even though it wasn’t meant to. Because honestly, sometimes you don’t know how you do it either. You just do. No one knows what they can do until given the opportunity. You aren’t stronger or more patient than anyone else… you just became the parent your child needs. It looks hard to other people because it is hard sometimes. It’s just as hard for you as it would be for anyone else. I understand that.

I won’t tell you that, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” because that’s not true. I do believe though, that God will give you the tools you need, and more importantly, the people you need to get you through.

I see you.

I respect you.

Keep going, Mama.

A version of this story originally appeared on The SLP Mom.

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