Autism from a mama who has been there. I am going to try to post every day this month. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.
Right after my son’s diagnosis, his psychologist called me out. He told me that I had given up. And until that moment I hadn’t realized that that is precisely what I had done. I was just surviving and trying to keep him alive. I didn’t have the time or the energy for anything else. My first job as a mama with a child on the spectrum was to work on me. Because if I’m not up to the challenge, who would be?
I had to put on my big girl panties and gird up my loins. My son’s psychologist helped me grow in confidence by giving me the tools and education I would need to help my son. I knew I had a partner. That made me stronger.
I had to learn a new language. I called it a concrete language—exact meaning: no metaphors, no ambiguities, no interpretation. “Put away your shoes,” means nothing except shoes. “Put your shoes on the shelf in the closet in your room.” Boom owned it.
I had to recognize that he was going to have different rules than the ones I used with the rest of the children. And I had to help them understand why.
I had to be willing to drop what I was doing because consequences and rewards had to be immediate.
I had to decide which hills were worth dying on and what things I could let go.
I had to teach my other children that this “unfair” thing was our new reality and that we needed to work together. I have to say that they surprised me with their acceptance, flexibility, and love. They taught me more than they will ever know.
Celebrate the small stuff. Be flexible. Laugh.