I am a happy mom to an autistic child and that is OK.
My son is eight years old. He was diagnosed on the autism spectrum two months shy before his third birthday. I’ve been through a wave of emotions since then, but I’ve always remained positive, accepting, and happy. It’s just in my nature of who I am.
This doesn’t mean everyone feels this way about their child’s diagnosis. Autism is hard, heartbreaking, and some days exhausting. No one wants to see their child struggle or hurt. I get that because I wouldn’t either. I in no way fault or condemn anyone who says this is hard. It is.
Acceptance is a process. There may be many stages you go through before accepting autism means a different life for your child. Angry, sad, or bitter. Some might say they even grieve. Whichever one you feel, I hope that in time you will find support, hope, and positivity. You would be amazed at what those three things can do for you mind set. Most importantly, when you have those things, your outlook may change, and you may begin to find that joy and positivity go a long ways on this journey. I know I have.
Some haven’t always enjoyed my positivity on autism. I think people question me a lot as to how I can be so happy when my child struggles in areas of speech, anxiety, eating, and sleep. The truth is, I do get sad about those things. Like I said before, I don’t want to see my child struggle. But, I can’t wallow in that sadness. I don’t want to. I don’t want to grieve because my child is living. He is here, alive, and he is healthy and happy. Once when he was two years old, he had two febrile seizures. They lasted minutes, but felt like hours. He was hospitalized for almost a week undergoing many tests and observation. It was the worst week of my life. I had a glimpse of what life might be like if my child weren’t here. While Oakley hadn’t been diagnosed yet at that time, that was it for me. Anything that came following those seizures has been nothing compared to what those were. Autism isn’t cancer. It isn’t a disease I’m fighting against. It’s a neurological condition that makes my child think, feel, and see differently. That is beautiful to me.
Like I said before, acceptance is a process. I don’t expect everyone to be where I’m at on this journey. What I do preach is respect for all autistic children and adults. That as we the parents maneuver our emotions, we think about our children and how they might feel with our words and feelings towards autism which is something that is apart of them. Your words, actions, advocacy- it all matters on how our kids are going to look at themselves. Their dignity, confidence, and happiness is the most important thing and believe it or not, that is all going to develop based on how we choose to see them and autism.
So, feel what you need to feel. It’s okay. Just don’t get stuck there. Find support, find your tribe, find the joy, and find the happy. It’s okay to be a happy parent to an autistic child. It doesn’t have to be sad. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.