Dear New Autism Mom,
The other day I was messaging with a friend about the struggles we have raising our "spectrummy" kids. Her son is younger than mine so dealing with obtaining a correct diagnosis and a reasonable IEP are big issues for her.
I love sharing with her the things we learned when we were in that stage. It makes what we endured worth it because it is helping her and her family now.
Dealing with unusual and hard-to-believable behavior from our children is a problem we both are dealing with most of the time. And you know what? It helps to know that there is someone out there who understands even a little bit of what we're going through.
It is a tremendous help to know you will be believed when you tell your story of what is going on at your home.
It is a huge help to know that the person listening to you isn't going to judge you or your actions in dealing with your child.
It isn't true for everyone you meet--that they will "get" you and not judge your parenting decisions. But when you do find those people--do not let go of them! They are gifts from God.
Seek those people out, search for them. You need them and they need you.
We weren't meant to do this alone. And alone is exactly how it feels if we (especially special-needs parents) aren't intentional about reaching out and making connections. Isolation is easy, and sometimes (oftentimes) forced upon us-- like it or not.
If you are isolated and stuck in loneliness--unable to find your voice to connect with others, if you are trapped in the pain of a newly diagnosed child, then you need a friend like this most of all.
Sometimes friends offer advice that is not good for us or our children. When they do (even though out of the goodness of their heart and desire to help in some way) we can feel even further apart from them than we did before. Oceans suddenly appear between us and it's easy to feel like no one gets it.
It's easy to think we are all alone in this struggle with our kids but that is not true. You just need to keep searching for "those" friends. You will find them. They are out there waiting to find you too!
When I was in Kindergarten, I remember feeling like I didn't have any friends in my class. You know what helped? This simple advice: Ask someone you would like to play with, "Will you be my friend?"
Sometimes, the advice we need is so simple it slips by unnoticed. So if you are looking for a friend who will join you in this parenting thing, here is my simple advice for you: Be that friend to someone else. Then ask them, "Will you be my friend?"