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Dear Mom of a child who is on the autism spectrum…I just want to say something to you today.

Whether you are on the back-and-forth pendulum swinging from grief to relief with a brand new diagnosis, or if you are still wondering – somewhere in the back of your mind – if there is something more going on with your child outside of the “normal” development milestones…or if you have been wading through all of the highs and lows – the emotionally stressful and the long-awaited win – today I am thinking about you.

I wish we could sit together. Maybe in silence (because silence is oh, so rare in our daily lives). We might have some coffee (or tea, if that’s your preference), eat something super yummy, and possibly scroll through funny memes in order to take our minds off of the heaviness that we so often carry. But most importantly, if you and I could sit together for a bit, if it were for nothing else than just a chance to be with someone who “knows”, I wish we could have that moment of sitting in the “knowing” together.

I have been the bearer of scrutinizing looks, eye rolls, judgmental statements (you know, it baffles me that people actually feel inclined to make a comment to a total stranger, but for some reason they do), and the irritated scowl. In those moments, I have to admit, it really stings. Then I have to move on because Jasper demands my focus, and I can’t waste my time, internally or externally, justifying his behavior. I have to let it go. I have to remind myself that I will, likely, never see some of these individuals ever again, and I have to shake it off.

There is nothing more demoralizing than constantly feeling like you have to explain why your child is still wearing diapers at 5-years-old, or why he is unraveling over something so inconsequential, or why it does no good to come down hard on him when he begins to act out, or why he only eats 5 different foods, or why he’s starting yell because your sweet baby is crying, or why he never stops moving on the airplane and wants to pull down and put back up his tray table over and over again, or why he won’t look at you when you are trying to talk to him, or why I choose which battles I am going to fight extremely carefully, or why I let him have dessert at a restaurant even if he hasn’t finished his food, or why he doesn’t have to stay in his seat for the whole dinnertime, or why I don’t press him to wear a mask, or why he talks over his peers and will not give eye-contact, or why I won’t attend every single event that we get invited to. There is a story and a purpose and reason behind every one of these. And, fellow mom of a child who is on the autism spectrum, what is so incredibly comforting is knowing that you just “know”.

So, here is what I want to tell you – that I so wish we could sit together and do some interactive telling and encouraging with one other -

This child…

These slow down days and deliberate choices…

The non-rat race life with this little boy, or little girl…

This journey of learning and being stretched and refined…

Is a gift.

I have fought so often with thoughts like…

“I wish he was normal!” Or “I am at the end of my emotional rope.” Or “I feel like I’m missing out on something because I’m still way back at the starting blocks with this kid.”

And yet…

This slow down…

This celebration of the little wins along the way…

This life of keen intentionality…

Is a gift.

It’s hard. I know.

But just as you are raising this precious child in the very best way you can, God is raising you.

He is gifting you with treasures like real empathy, true compassion, a non-judgmental spirit, long-suffering, genuine concern with a soft heart and tough skin.

He is working in you, even today, right in this very moment, and that is a gift.

I’m grateful for the countless individuals in my life who have been a tremendous support system for us this past year. I remember talking to another mom, and friend, all the way in Japan – Japan – when we were in the early stages of discovery with Jasper. She never promised to have all the answers, but she listened and encouraged…she “knew”.

From Indiana to Oregon to various countries around the globe, God has gifted me with educators and parents and specialists who have walked alongside me and Joel…who have held us up and let us just “be”.

Jaspers’ diagnosis was a hard cup to swallow, but the gifts that have come through this journey are gifts I would never want to miss out on.

Mom of a child who is on the autism spectrum…I know it may not feel like it right now…this minute…or even tomorrow…but

This child…

Is a gift.

And if you ever need to be around someone who “knows”, please reach out to me.

I would love to sit with you.

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One Response to “to the mom with a child on the autism spectrum”

  1. Angela says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I am proud to know you and to see that you are always growing and through the sorrow and joy you always look to serve and help others.

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