the weight of hope & autism

“Will Wilson still have autism when he’s all grown up?”  My little girl asked, continually curious and looking out for her big brother.

“Yes, he will,” I told her with a smile.

<enter her look of pure shock>

“But! How will get married? His girlfriend won’t understand him!”

Sometimes these conversations are hard.  

They can be beautiful moments of learning about people and their differences and all the reasons we love and celebrate uniqueness.

They can also knock the wind right from your lungs when you least expect it, while in line at the grocery store, or in the stillness of a bedtime routine.   

When your child is born, you know you’d stand in front of a bullet or a train for them. What you don’t realize is that it will likely never be that simple.

Hope in the world of parenting and autism can be heavy. 

It’s like invisible, antiquated body armor you pack on each day. You always feel the weight but know you need to carry it.

There are days when it’s just easier to set it down, to rest. And that’s ok.

Sometimes you need innocent conversations with a five-year-old to remind you to pick up your hope and keep going. That the weight is worth it. 

“Of course, he can get married! He is learning more and more every single day, just like you are, sweet girl. He just learns in a different way.”

I’m carrying hope with love and confidence today. You can bet if I ever set it down, it will not be for long.  

the big stuff

There were years where I felt like this boy could hardly see me.  Our days consisted of struggling to communicate, trying to help him stay calm and regulated, and fighting for a glimpse into his world.

I waited so long to hear him call me “mom.”

Now, every night, he doesn’t go to bed without giving me a hug and a “goodnight, mom.”  If I’m not nearby, he comes to find me.

He’s also been using manners like “please” and “thank you”—completely unprompted and enthusiastically.

Sometimes we get too caught up in the evaluations, assessments, IEP meetings, and desensitization programs that we don’t take time to recognize, appreciate, and truly celebrate the BIG stuff.

Sometimes progress is painfully slow.

But, nonetheless, it is progress.

Celebrate it. It’s huge.

The progress in your life will never look the same as someone else’s, so don’t miss what is right in front of you.

this brave boy

Who do you advocate for?

Autism moms came together by using their voices this month to demand justice for a child with autism who was abused at his school by a teaching assistant. 

These stories are becoming too much. Children with disabilities are all too often being kicked off airplanes, out of restaurants or church, abused at school or in their own homes.  Each new story stings as much as the last, like thousands of tiny papercuts while watching the evening news.

With each one, I glance at my bouncy, blue-eyed, happy, innocent boy. How could anyone ever treat a human that way? 

With each story, I pull him in a little closer. Silently renewing my vow to protect him from the evils of this world.  

The school district failed to hold this abuser accountable, but our voices were heard. The teaching assistant has resigned.

When people come together, change will happen.

The incident prompted one autism mom, a documentary filmmaker, to reach out to us bloggers to submit a photo of who we advocate for in our lives and communities. You can watch the video via the link below.

I am truly amazed by the power of community.

I also believe that ONE voice can make a difference.

Will you tell us who you advocate for? It can be anyone; a child, a student, a relative, or yourself! Tell us one thing that you wish people would know about this person. Post it in the comments below.

I’ll start. This brave boy. I want people to know that people with autism understand so much more than they may be able to express. They are human, they feel deeply. 

So be kind, always.

link to video (you may have to copy and paste it to your browser):

https://fb.watch/3PEtKfP9gM/