Some friends of mine and I were trying to decide what one thing we would say to a parent whose child recently received an autism diagnosis. Not surprisingly, these autism parents with many miles under their belts had a number of great ideas. These conversations naturally weave themselves into pages of advice because there is just so much we have to say after all our collective years as autism parents. Someone asked me this same question in an interview a while back, and I think I responded with about seven paragraphs.
It seems impossible to shorten it all into one simple truth. What could possibly distill all the challenges, joys, high, and lows into a statement of hope? What can we say that doesn’t sound hollow or fake but yet points all of us toward a future of promise and possibility we can commit ourselves to?
I’ve thought a lot about this in recent weeks, and here is at least one fundamental truth in the simplest way I know how to put it. I’ve seen this bear itself out time and time again, and I know others have, too.
If you are reading this as a new autism parent, this is what many of us would like to say to you.
You are not alone.
When it sucks, you are not alone.
When you are terrified and exhausted, you are not alone.
When you want to celebrate your child’s achievements no matter how small, you are not alone.
When you want someone to tell you that you are not crazy, you are not alone.
When you are haunted by your own demons or battling your own addictions, you are not alone.
When you want to brag on your child for doing something they’ve never done before, you are not alone.
When you have to fight against immense odds to get what your child needs, you are not alone.
When you have absolutely no idea what to do next or where to turn, you are not alone.
When you don’t want to explain everything and just need someone who understands, you are not alone.
When you think you have to do all this by yourself and don’t think you can, you are not alone.
No matter what is happening to you, someone else has walked a similar path. You are not alone.
There are other autism parents who understand what you are going through, and you will find some who will walk with you no matter what.
Reach out. Find your tribe of support. Walk with them through every high and low.
We rise and we fall together. We are stronger together than we are alone.
And we are not alone.