As autism parents, we can do hard things. It’s just that on many days, we have such tough, high hurdles to get over. Even though we are able, it doesn’t mean that it’s at all easy.
We have our personal struggles, too. Maybe we suffer from depression or mood disorders. Maybe our bodies hurt from chronic aches and pains, or we’re seriously out of shape, eat terribly, and our health is a mess. Perhaps it’s crushing financial debt and job worries that are getting us.
As highly-motivated parents, we are wired to want to solve problems quickly, but the challenges of life, parenting, and autism defy this. This is the source of untold and unending frustration for all of us. I don’t know how to be patient a lot of the time, and I imagine you don’t either.
But here’s something worth keeping in mind. Your child can’t overcome challenges with the snap of their fingers, in a single day, or sometimes over a long time, and neither can you.
And your child can’t overcome their challenges alone, and neither can you.
You weren’t born knowing how to do this. You grow into it. If you expect yourself to have it already figured out without time, effort, or help, you’ll be miserable.
If you think you should already know how to do this, you’re on the road to doom. Shoulds have no place in autism parenting. They’ll just lead you down a terrible path. That doesn’t mean we don’t have them anyway, countless times a day, every day.
Thankfully, it’s not about figuring it all out. It’s about growing into your competence. It’s about learning and allowing the journey of discovery to unfold. It’s the art of the only kind of patience I know how to achieve – taking deep breaths, loving your child, staying faithful to the journey, and asking for help every step of the way.
Our society often places value on not needing others, of succeeding on your own without the help of many. This may be the most dangerous principle imaginable for autism parents. Knowing you’re lost and asking for help is half of what you need for success.
We desperately need each other, and by reaching out to each other and building connections and relationships, we strengthen ourselves and our families and give our children vastly better access to the resources and support they need. When we share the load, we make our whole structure stronger.
You are capable of so much. You can do really hard things. And you don’t have to do them alone. You have time to learn and grow. You have people to call on when you need help.
You got this. Just breathe. Be steadfast. Believe in yourself; believe that help is available. Believe that so much is still possible.