I was going through and approving some comments, when I read one that really fired my engines. It was a comment from someone that obviously has no understanding of what it is like to raise an autistic child. It was left on a post I did about a mother and son suicide/murder. The person that left the comment said that if he was on a jury for a mother that killed her autistic child, he would set her free. Why? Because raising an autistic child was punishment enough for her.
OMG! Yes, my engines fired up and I was ready to ram into him verbally. I didn’t. I left a brief response to his comment. Then I thought about it, and I couldn’t not say anything. Hence, this post. I decided, since this is Autism Awareness Month, I needed to respond to his comment by raising his awareness.
As a mother of an autistic child, life has been difficult. I’ve suffered from depression. I’ve ignored my health and well-being. I’ve struggled with stress on a daily basis. I’ve also felt the greatest joys you can imagine. My son is so sweet. Seeing the world through new eyes, because of my son, I have appreciated so many things that I used to take for granted.
My son’s diagnosis is extreme autism and nonverbal. He has just recently graduated from speech and ot therapy. After 14 years of therapy, it’s been an adjustment to him not having therapy. I look at him and think that he still needs it. There are so many things that he still can’t do, and he still has difficulty communicating. Then I realize that things will always be a struggle for him. His therapists taught him the basic skills he needs to learn. Now, we just have to carry on teaching him everyday.
I took a picture out of his folder from school, and smiled. He colored it completely. Just last year, he only would put a few lines on a picture when he was supposed to color it. Something happened, and this year he is coloring the whole thing. No, he doesn’t stay in the lines. But, he tries. It’s a huge accomplishment. One that I thought he would never do. At age 15, he has accomplished this amazing skill. It took time, and repetition. Everything takes time and repetition. When he does accomplish a skill that I had given up, I am filled with amazement and awe. My son is absolutely amazing!
So, when I read a comment that says that parenting a child with autism is a punishment, it makes me mad. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, there are times when I want to curl up in bed and never come out. Life isn’t perfect for anyone. You get through the bad by focusing on the good. There are some days when that can be difficult. That’s when I start listing the positives, and focus on them. When I feel better, I come up with one negative and focus on changing it. I make it something realistic, and everything else is put on the back burner. Sometimes, when you are feeling overwhelmed, you have to focus on one thing and tell yourself that everything else can wait.
I also read a comment on another post from a new mom of an autistic child. My heart goes out to her. She is feeling so overwhelmed. Her child is 2 year’s old, and she feels like there is no hope for her. She has no family or friends. Her husband left her when he realized their child was autistic. She is trying to get early intervention, but that takes time. She is at the beginning of her journey as a parent of an autistic child. Life won’t be easy for her, without family or friends to support her. I hope she will be able to find a support network to connect with. There are so many online, as well as community support systems. I hope she comes back to my blog and shares more information. I would love to help advise her, and support her. I remember what it was like in the early years. I don’t know how I would have handled things if my husband wasn’t so supportive. It’s been hard on us both, but we love our son. And we have never, ever, felt that raising him has been a punishment.