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To the Single Parent With a Child on the Autism Spectrum

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I am one of you. I see you at the autism support events, alone with your child trying your best to keep them calm and engaged in our group activities. I talk with you all the time online, giving each other encouragement and support, knowing this world can be a tough one, especially if you don’t have support. I see you in my daughter’s classroom. I am one of you, and I want to say these things to you…

You are amazing. You have courage and strength within your heart, and you make sure your child is taken care of. You do it alone, and that takes a lot. Your little one may not be able to tell you with their own words how much they appreciate all your patience and love but I believe they feel it. You advocate for your child, and you make sure people listen and learn about autism. You are a hero to me, and you should carry your head up high because you are doing this all on your own.

It’s OK to feel lonely and be scared. I can’t even begin to say how many sobbing sessions I have had in the shower where no one can hear me. How many sleepless nights I have spent worrying about her future, wondering if I am doing enough. Am I doing enough? Did I harm her by not being able to provide for her a traditional family unit? It’s in these moments of weakness that I remember the greatest power we carry as human beings is love. That’s all she asks me for, and that’s what I have a surplus of within my heart. I may not have a partner to hold me at night and tell me it’s OK, but I have my beautiful children who give me unconditional love, and they carry me through any hardship I may encounter. I give them my best, and I know they are the fuel I have every morning to continue to work hard to give them a better life.

Find your support network and learn to rely on them. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by the most supportive and loving family in the world. My friends could not be more loving towards me, and they have really helped keep me encouraged and focused throughout my journey. Divorce and my daughter’s autism diagnosis came at the same time in my life, and I can honestly say I don’t know how I would have made it through without my family and friends. I had to learn to reach out when I felt overwhelmed and be honest about my feelings. To ask for help when I couldn’t handle the day’s challenges. Online support networks have been so positive in my life. I have met incredible friends through them and I love seeing their kids’ pictures come up on my social media feeds. I’ve learned valuable lessons from them, and I know I am not alone on my journey. There are people in the world who understand and care; don’t be afraid to find them and rely on them.

Enjoy all the little things, every milestone met, every quirk your kid may have, every smile, every hug. My daughter is the happiest little girl you’ll ever meet. She fills my days with renditions of her favorite Disney songs, belting them out to the top of her lungs. I recently taught her how to give eskimo kisses, and on my tough days, when she brings her little nose to my face, I just know we’re going to be OK. I don’t have all the answers; I’ve learned that I just need to take my life day by day. Every time she learns a new word or expression, we have a huge celebration in our household. She has brought a type of love to our family that is fierce and full of joy. So, even though I may be a single parent at the moment and not have someone to call my love, I am not short of it at all. My world has become a beautiful place of learning and growth.

So from one single parent to another, let’s go forth and conquer the world with love and advocacy for our little ones!

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Thinkstock images by monkeybusinessimages

Originally published: May 11, 2017
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