To my friends who have questioned their life, their path, and their strength to keep going:
We all have had those days. It's good to admit it, get it out there and face it. Sadly, too many people will take it to the next step and act on it. Run away, leave, phase out, lash out, cheat, lie, blame, or simply become apathetic.
This life is a reality that we need to embrace as a day to day existence with life-long hopes and goals.
One of the pitfalls is comparison. We look around at other parents with typical children and wonder "Why me?". It's not a valid question, because you will find no answers.
My son is a typical boy who will be turning 5 tomorrow. By all accounts, he is progressing as any child his age would...by that, I mean he is kind of a jerk. It's not his fault, he's a boy, he's almost 5, he has my genetics...he's supposed to be a jerk.
I have often said that my son is a lot more challenging than my daughter even though she is autistic. He causes more headaches, more frustrating moments, and higher blood pressure. More than one time I have looked at him and thought "could you please just not be you today?".
If he were my only child, I imagine I would be wondering "Why me? Why did I get such a difficult child? Why couldn't I have gotten one of those nice ones I see on TV? You know, the spunky ones who ask all of the right questions and help the hero solve the murder."
I mention my son because it is all about perspective. He can be a handful, but he presents the types of challenges I expected as a father and am well-equipped to handle. Mostly because I was a jerk too, so I know where he's coming from.
I wasn't expecting my daughter. I didn't know what to do, how to 'fix' it, who to talk to or what to say. I was, at first, completely lost. There are days when I still feel that twinge of uncertainty because she throws a slider and I was expecting a fastball.
I had to let go. Let go of expectation, ego, comparison, pre-existing knowledge, and my over-whelming need to fix things. I needed to accept things as they are and accept her as who she is. Period.
That doesn't mean become complacent. Oh no.
It means that I had to embrace my new existence, build new expectations, and be proud of my life. You heard me. Proud.
Anyone who gives themselves to the challenges of an autistic household has the right to stand up and be proud of their life! This is hard. This can be defeating. That said, those that find hope in a properly held spoon or a grocery store visit without a meltdown are silent champions who deserve the admiration and respect of those around them.
You certainly have mine.
Your child needs you. There is no question about that. You are the dragon slayer, the guide dog, the warm blanket, and the barrier against the storm. Your impact, every hour of every day, is immeasurable.
Be proud of who you are, what you do and the challenges that you face. You are definitely not alone. There are a lot of us out here who are going through it as well. None of us are perfect, but we keep going because we know that our children need us, they're worth it, and, if we don't, who will?
I will be my daughter's champion for as long as she needs me and several years more. For those that choose to champion their children as well, it is an honor to slay dragons with you.