This will be my eleventh Mother’s Day as your mom. It’s a role that hasn’t always been easy and will continue to present its challenges, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, ever.
You have taught me so much about myself and others, and I don’t know how to even begin to thank you for being my teacher. When you were younger, you didn’t have the words to communicate. Now it’s my turn to be speechless.
When autism was new to our lives, we all struggled with it. I just didn’t recognize until recently how difficult things must have been for you; I was too busy trying to understand how to best fit into my new role as the mother of a child with autism.
You were only 18 months old when you were diagnosed. As a preschooler, you had virtually no words but so many things I think you wanted to say. Much of your environment was a caustic assault on your senses, and so many things were happening around you that you couldn’t control or understand. The chaos of an unpredictibale world was a lot for one little guy. It took some time – more than any of us wanted – but you worked hard and figured out a lot of things. We still have many more doors to unlock, but we’ve made progress.
I finally realize that you hate your meltdowns as much as we do, and that even though you’re the one screaming, you’d stop if only you could.
We will continue work to help you cope with an unpredictibale, loud and often confusing world.
Despite the struggles, your strength and goodness shines. Although you are my child, you are also my role model. I wish I could be more like you.
I wish others could be as pure and nonjudgmental as you are. I’ve seen you bring out the best and the worst in people. God knows you’ve brought out the best and worst in me, too.
Thanks to you, I’ve learned not to judge. Anyone. Ever. Just like I don’t want anyone ever judging you.
Your autism can be considered an invisible disability. Those who don’t know you look at you and see a typical 10-year-old boy. So when you scream and call the people you love idiots or worse, people judge. They judge you as a child and me as a parent.
I’ve finally learned not to care what other people think. Besides, you and I make a great team. When people stare at you, I remind you to smile and wave. It’s a great strategy we have developed to stop the looks, and it sometimes stops you from making further poor choices.
I’ve also learned that there are many people, like you, who have hidden disabilities. Just because we can’t see disabilities doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
But, more important, I have come to the conclusion that everyone has a struggle or challenge that we don’t always know about. Every single person has something that’s weighing him down and often it’s big, tough stuff. The kids who bully you, your siblings and your friends are mean because they are suffering with their own demons, and we have no idea what they are. It doesn’t make it right, but it puts their behavior in perspective.
Autism or no, parenting is not easy. Your brother and sister are just as challenging at times as you are. I’m pretty sure that each and every person on this planet has at least one parent still pulling his or her hair out with worry and frustration, regardless of how old the child.
But, my son, life isn’t easy. That’s one of the many lessons we are working so hard to teach you and your siblings. I hope we’ve shown you, as you’ve shown us, the things we work hardest to achieve are what we value the most. The pride and joy that comes with accomplishing a difficult task is far more glorifying. But, you already know that. You just might not realize it.
You keep trying to figure things out. I see you working hard to overcome your fears and understand your tantrums. Many times you come up short – but know that’s fine. We’ve got you back. Today and always.