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forgiveness

Forgiving anyone is no small task, but it’s doable.  Forgiving yourself…now that can be tricky.  In order to forgive anyone, you have to acknowledge the hurt, pain, disappointment, and/or frustration.  You can’t keep walking around acting like it’s ok.  As parents we go into “it’s ok” mode quickly, it makes it easy to move to the next task.  If I sit and think about how hurt I am, then I’ll start crying and then I may want to talk and I just don’t have time for that right now so let’s just push these feelings over into a nice little corner and move on.  We’re good, right?  On the outside we all know how to make it look like we’re good but on the inside not so much.  Me being a mom (of a beautiful autistic young lady might I add), I can say that I can be extremely hard on myself as a parent.  You can try to encourage me all you want but all I hear is wah wah wah wah wah (Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice).  I’ve had family and friends tell me: You’re doing a great job, You can’t do it all, It’s ok, You need to take a break, You’re too hard on yourself, I don’t know how you do it…..wah wah wah wah.  Because my self talk is the total opposite…I’m telling myself, You suck, You can be so stupid, You’re not a good mother, She deserves more…that’s my self talk…kind of horrible.  If I talked to anyone else like this, I’d need to ask for forgiveness because it’s not acceptable…I deserve that same courtesy.

Being an autistic mom (or mom of an autistic child), there has been and will always be times when I need to be the advocate.   There has been and will always be times when I see what she doesn’t and I need to be her voice.  Whether it be at school, at church, or just in the grocery store.  There are people that still don’t understand autism, they still stare at her (adults moreso than children), they still try to give me criticism dressed up as advice on basically what can be done to make them feel comfortable with my child being autistic & sharing space with them.  I have to forgive myself for all of the times that I was too afraid to…or felt that I didn’t know enough to…or was just too shocked at the time to stand up for my daughter and be her voice.  But I also have to make sure that the next time, I’m ready.

There’s so many more things that I need to forgive myself for, and until I started writing this post I never even thought about it.  At the end of the day (I hate that I typed that phrase) I want to be the best mother that I can be and be the mother that my daughter needs me to be.  And to do that I can’t be drained from the negative self talk and beating up myself for every decision.  In the words of the oh so wise Else from Frozen I have to (sing it with me) Let It Go & embrace what is, accepting the complement sand encouragement without saying “yeah but”.  Just let it go 🙂

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Labels Labels Labels, they’re tricky I tell you.  When we’re kids, we could care less about them it’s when we get older that we start to allow labels to dictate who we will and who we won’t get to know.   You know how we label people without even knowing it…she’s cute, he’s smart, she’s selfish, or he’s autistic.  Yes autistic is a label.  Why would you say it’s a label if the person is actually autistic?  Good question!  The same way a pretty girl is pretty but she constantly is saying there’s more to her than her pretty face.  She’s probably smart, funny, and a talented dancer…but all people accept her for is the fact that she’s pretty.   Pretty has become a label, it’s a positive label but she’d prefer that people go beyond that label and get to know her.

Labels sometimes allow people to take the easy way out.  They kind of allow a person to say…Instead of getting to know you, I’ll trust what this label says and then decide whether or not I want to put forth the effort.  Sounds harsh but it’s true.  I wish people could push past the label and get to know the individual.  Autism doesn’t diminish creative, smart, funny, and talented.  All of those things still exist in an autistic person but if you can’t get past “autistic” you’ll never know.   When it comes to autism, there are so many people that don’t understand it.  The individual is on a spectrum, it’s a wide range that goes from mild to severe.  So you can have individuals on medication and some that aren’t, you can have some that have speech and some that don’t, you can have some that are able to socialize with their peers and some that aren’t…..but all are autistic.  So you see, you need to know the person to know where they are on the spectrum.   But that means going beyond the label.

When observing my daughter at school, I see a lot of the children doing just that….looking beyond the label.  One day I was picking my daughter up from latchkey and normally my daughter is on the computer while everyone else is doing something else.  And when I come, the children announce my presence by yelling to my daughter “your mommy’s here!”  So on this day, after the announcement was made my daughter got off of the computer and began getting her coat and backpack.  As she was putting on her coat, one little girl came up to her and said “here, you’re invited to my party” and she handed my daughter an invitation.  Now just seeing that, I thought it was cute because she’s accepting that my daughter’s not going to be the most social and she might not even say anything to her…but she still wants her to come to her party.  We can learn a lot from our children.  Make an effort to go beyond the label and get to know the individual.

Here’s the invitation…

I was helping my daughter with her homework the other day.  And I was so happy and proud to see her writing, counting, sounding out words and….well…let’s go back about 4 years so you can understand.

Four years ago my daughter was 3 years old and she had a vocabulary of about 20-30 words, she was barely writing, not answering questions like “what is your name”, and when playing she didn’t interact with other children.  My daughter was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, and I had no clue as to what I needed to or should do next.  Initially, I did get caught up in what I wanted for her because autism was not on my agenda.  But I soon adopted the motto “it’s not about you” when it came to her.  It’s not about me and my parental ego.

  • But she’ll have to see a therapist….it’s not about you
  • But we may not be able to go everywhere everyone else goes due to sensory issues now….it’s not about you
  • But she can’t be in a regular class in school right now….it’s not about you
  • But this isn’t what I wanted for her….it’s not about you

My daughter could care less about the particular class she’s in or seeing a therapist, that’s just my parental ego.  What will benefit her most?  That’s the question, and whatever the answer is…that’s what I need to be doing.  Autism isn’t the end of the story, it’s a condition that we must learn as it pertains to the individual and make the proper adjustments in our lives.  It affects the nervous system, which allows us to perceive/comprehend/and respond to the world around us.  So autistic persons just perceive/comprehend/and respond differently…that’s it.

Temple Grandin said it best (and if you haven’t seen Temple Grandin’s HBO movie you should) by saying she sees the world in pictures.  That’s not to say she’s not able to see the world, and comprehend what’s around her…she just processes it differently.

NOW let’s fast forward 4 years to me watching my daughter do her homework the other day.  She’s writing very well, she’s counting & writing numbers, she’s telling me objects that begin with the letter she’s writing…..now can you see why I’m a happy and proud mom J  As long as there’s no regression, you’re moving forward and that’s progress!