Can’t wait to see Bruno Mars in October. Love him!! 6 years, yes 6, into blogging and my head is still filled with the positive and negative wonder that is autism. Ironically I have never enjoyed writing, at all, and never considered it something cathartic or important to me, yet here we are! If someone would have asked me when I was pregnant with Bryan regarding my top 100 fears for impending parenthood, autism would not have been anywhere on my list and it certainly wasn’t anywhere on my radar. Since you know how that turned out, it’s amazing to me, seriously amazing, what a profound positive effect it has had on me and my life. There is a gift in learning, learning about something you literally know nothing about, learning about the depth of your own character and abilities, and the depth of the relationships of the people in your life. Perhaps this is why when you hear about people making great strides in anything it is often the people that are challenged the most. It’s almost as if you have to have something to get over, to excel. I’m not saying raising a child with autism is monumental, it is just monumental to me and my journey, my life. I’m not saying I have done anything great in any way, except become a much better, stronger and empowered version of myself. This may seem very heavy to you as you read this, but it’s just part of my DNA. Self-examination was put on the back burner for me for a long time because there was no time. No emotional time. For many years, just making sure Bryan was progressing, Jason was doing ok, that was most of what I was focused on. There is no playbook for autism; there is no one saying to you, well now he’s 3 he needs this or that. There is no set protocol. The only tools you used were the ones you brought to the table and the ones you borrowed from a neighbor or friend. I remember thinking to myself, well I’m halfway intelligent, I can figure this out. It just doesn’t work that way, and the exercise of learning how to pace, how to temper the need to fix, that’s what I think may in the end have caused the most growth, in Bryan and in me. As he succeeds so do I; there is some inherent joy in just feeling that. No one works harder than Bryan to learn, please, and succeed.
The last few years have brought a lot of change for me and I feared it and embraced it at the same time. I knew in my heart that changes needed to be made in my life, and whereas most things I jump into and assume I will figure it out later, this one was a slow wade into the pool.
At this point I have noticed that Bryan and I are fairly lockstep in our progress. He has matured and is independent, self-sufficient and unstoppable…and so am I. What do I hope is the result of this flourishing epiphany? What does it matter? It matters because instilling confidence and positive self-esteem in your child are probably the 2 most important tools you can provide. He can learn life skills, etc. because they are taught and he is a sponge, but believing in yourself and your ability to handle things comes from experience and confidence. For me, it came in that order, for him hopefully some of it the other way around. Either way they go hand in hand. I remember a few short years ago I took the boys to Washington, DC for 3 days over New Year’s. I was a bit nervous to take them on my own for a few days for the first time. I have had them alone for many days but navigating a trip where I was the only parent with a sometimes very challenging Bryan, well I was a little apprehensive. He was fantastic. The next adventure was to LA, a much tougher trip not only because of the longer flights but because I would have to drive everywhere and the traffic is murder. Bryan HATES traffic, one of his worst things. He even says “we’re in traffic” if it’s a long line at Publix. He was great on the flights and for most of the long car trips. Then Europe and we all know how that turned out! He may not be able to express himself like a typical 17 year old, but just watch him go.