Well, National Autism Awareness (Acceptance) Month has come and gone for 2016. I always learn something new during the month of April. This year, I learned some think it should be National Autism Acceptance Month. Sigh. I suppose. But, in order to have acceptance (and to accept and to be accepted and to learn to accept) there must first be awareness.
There are still plenty of people out there…they must live under a rock, but I digress…..who don’t know what autism is. And there are plenty of people out there who THINK they know what autism is, and they truly don’t. There are all sorts of misconceptions of what autism is…and isn’t. It is our responsibility, I believe, as Autism Parents to help others in our communities and in our extended families understand autism and our children. A month once a year seems like a good idea, and speaking as someone who lived *back in the day* having a child with autism with NO National Autism Awareness Month, I can you, IT IS a good idea!
As far as autism acceptance is concerned…..we must first accept OUR OWN CHILDREN. It is difficult to expect others to *accept autism* when we do not. Does that mean NOT trying new things to help our children be the best they can be, autism or not? NO! Does that mean giving up? HELL NO! My Kiddo is 36 years old and we still try new things all the time! What it does mean is loving the person and accepting the disability as fact. We can all get crazy with the *autism cure* stories but there comes a point when striving for a complete cure is counter-productive to our child. They are whom they are…accept it and move on. Accept it and move on.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday here in the U.S. My first Mother’s Day, Hubby asked me what I would like for my gift. I remember telling him I wanted some time to myself, and not much else. Our Kiddo was about three months old that Mother’s Day. I was nursing and always seemed to smell like sour milk and spit-up. The luxury of going to the bathroom or having a shower or shaving my legs without an interruption sounded like such a big deal. Feeling and smelling clean for a change made me giddy and, as I got into the bathroom that Sunday morning knowing Hubby would handle the baby, I thought I could handle being constantly “on call” for his childhood because his childhood wouldn’t be forever. I didn’t know how long it would actually last.
That first Mother’s Day, my mother and mother-in-law told me, as my kids got older, I would have more time to myself and I would have more freedom. I believed them; why wouldn’t I? But, now I’ve been a parent of someone with special needs for over 30 years and I’m still waiting for some time for myself. It piles up, that lack of “me” time and it festers and eats away at you as a person.
Mother’s Day is different things to different mothers. The pictures of loving children with their adored Mother, with their flowers and breakfasts in bed and trinkets made of gold spray-painted macaroni conjure a certain image of a typical motherhood. While I have received my share of flowers and pasta bedecked items, it is not the motherhood I have often experienced.
Special needs mothering is motherhood in its most condensed, purest form. Most of us in the autism and special needs trenches have to be hands-on at all times, and have been for many years. We don’t get a break and we are tired. All. The. Time. We are vigilant and detail oriented because if we aren’t, something important may fall through the cracks and our child will suffer for our relaxation of the moment. Our motherly love transcends the type those typical mothers feel…it has to. Our kids, to outsiders, may seem unlovable or impossible to love…but we love them. Unconditionally. And the only other people who understand and *get* us are other special needs mothers.
Happy Mother’s Day to all my fellow Autism and Special Needs Moms. I wish a nice afternoon nap for you on Sunday. Or, if you aren’t able to take a nap, some chocolate (hid it from the kids!) or a glass of wine or a nice cup of coffee (tea?)or some dandelions in a juice glass hand picked by your child or…..a gold spray-painted macaroni trinket!