1. It’s your beloved child we’re talking about here. You will do what it takes to help them overcome their challenges. The parenting instinct has gotten our species through a zillion generations. And I tend to think autism parent instincts are way stronger than the instincts of more typical parents.
2. You can do hard things. You will learn how to do even harder things. You are now a very capable, lifelong learner, and you will gain the experience and wisdom necessary to do what you need and want to do.
3. In addition to what you gain from knowing your child, there are countless autism parents, books, and online and local resources to help you. We live in an age where there has never been more information and resources about autism and parenting available to all of us. And we live in an era where endless connections to other parents through social media and e-mail are possible in a way unheard of even a few years ago.
4. We are an army of advocates working day in and day out to make the world a better place for our children, and we are on your side. We are preparing our children for the world and the world for our children. Parents, autistic adults, teachers, therapy professionals, family members, and allies are all working to change the world. We are a force who will not quit until we do.
5. We cheer for each other. We support each other. We know what it’s like. And we are ready to lend a shoulder and a listening ear when other autism parents need us. Some days you will be the one who needs help, others you will be the supporter and cheerleader, and many days you’ll be both. Together we are a team.
6. There are so many of us that there will always be people who completely understand what you’re going through, no matter if you think you’re the only person in the world with your challenge. (You never are, by the way.) Reach out, and you will find them. And together you will figure out how to overcome your difficulties.
7. Autism brings with it many gifts. Sometimes you will be overwhelmed by hurdles. You will have any number of difficult days. But you’re going to have plenty of grateful days where you realize how much your life is being transformed by your child and their unique personalities and gifts.
8. You can learn to cut yourself some slack. Being a perfect autism parent is neither required nor possible. You can give yourself an A rather than an F. You are not failing your child; you are doing the best you can. If you remember that, you will be kinder toward yourself and a better parent as a result.
9. Your child is more able than most anyone gives them credit for. Because of this, they will overcome so much of what right now seems almost impossible. Presume competence always, and demand others do the same. You will never run out of ways to be amazed by your child.
10. There is always hope. Hope isn’t a specific outcome. Hope is acceptance; acceptance is hope. Hope lives in what is here with you right now. And be clear that accepting autism is not giving up. Acceptance lets you focus on the essential. And then when you overcome great challenges or witness the smallest of wonderful things, hope reigns. Never stop looking for everything good and wonderful.
And know that love is always available, even here in the midst of every challenge and hurdle. Acceptance, love, and hope live together. And these will see you through.
“Dum spiro, spero.– While I breathe, I hope.” – Cicero