The thing about being the parent of a child with autism is that you are often so overwhelmed by the relentlessness of your job that you can’t think straight. A lot of well meaning and unsolicited advice comes your way during these moments of confusion, so much so that it’s easy to filter out the good stuff. Once in a while, though, you hear something that resonates with you and fortifies you. For example:
I was on my way to pick up Matthew at preschool when a mother, holding the hand of her crying daughter approached me.
“See these bite marks? Your son bit her. It was completely unprovoked. We’re on our way to the pediatrician, thank you very much.”
I was mortified.”I am so sorry,” I said, “Sorry doesn’t cut it,” replied the angry mother as she rushed away.
Luckily, my dad called later that day to say hello. I told him about the incident. “I feel sick about it,” I said, “not only that Matthew hurt this girl, but that the mother will spread the word that Matthew is a trouble kid. What should I do?”
“Write her a note, reassure her that you’re working on Matthew’s behavior, “he said. “Drop it off with some flowers or a bottle of wine and things will settle down.
1) But don’t take this too personally. Maybe there was more to the story–maybe the woman’s cat scratched her that day–maybe her husband is having job troubles. You never know what’s going on behind the scenes.”
His words of wisdom did three very important things:
1) They made me smile
2) They filled me with hope and resolve–and clarity
3) They helped me manage a lot of uncomfortable situations through the years in a community minded way.
Thank you, Dad.
I asked parents to share the words that helped them:
What piece of advice resonated with you and made a difference in your life?
2)My husband said to me once (after a devastating, huge failure of an outing where my son stimmed to blues clues for 2 full hours)”Babe, sometimes, ya just gotta skadoo.” This became our family motto. In other words, if it’s not important in the long term, just go for the ride.
Liz Turner Zurn
3)Learn to accept offers of help
Madeline Mckewan Asker
4)You are your child’s best advocate.
Jacki Gilbert Hensley
5)Happiness is a choice. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.
Jamie Menning Regier
6)Put your emotions on the back burner, your kid needs you NOW.
7)Always build on your child’s strengths and don’t compare your child to any other child.
8)The world will not collapse if you are five minutes late. Relax.
9)You know your child better than anyone, never forget that.
10)Never assume anything.
11) Someone once told me”It’s just the word ‘autism’ that you’re afraid of.” I went from “how do I deal with this?” to “let’s deal with this!”
Amy Jo Patton
12)CELEBRATE THE SMALL STUFF. It’s amazing how, “Mom – you might need a jacket – it’s cold outside” is such a monumental leap forward of awareness and concern for others wrapped into one simple sentence.
13)You can’t take care of him if you don’t take care of yourself.
Shannon Marie Haworth
14)My sons pediatrician said “Arm yourself with information. You’re going to meet a lot of doctors, teachers and therapists along the way and they won’t know your boy as well as you do.”
Katie Smith Bachman
15)Always assume competency.I am different not less. And I am more like you than not.
16)Treat your child like they are normal and talk to them like a normal person not like a baby.
To be continued!