Garden of Life

So you want to know what it is like to raise a child diagnosed with autism? I was so excited when I was asked to write this piece. Parents like me deeply desire deeply to share their struggles with others, to somehow make others truly understand our families. I often reach out for compassion, understanding, and acceptance. Won’t somebody just get it for once? I frequently feel despair over the torment within myself. Am I doing the right thing for my daughter? Have we done enough therapies? Am I pushing the school hard enough? Am I pushing my daughter too hard? Should we be trying special diets, herbs, or chelation?

I am tormented by unanswered questions, and then comes the guilt. Who really cares about what life is like for me, how must it be for my child, the one who struggles daily, minute by minute, second by second. To put up with people laughing at you and not understand why, to never be picked for the team, for your arms to ache from holding a pencil and still receive an "F" because your handwriting was illegible, to be yelled at by your family because you couldn’t look away from the TV when they asked you a question, to have the words on the tip of your tongue but be completely unable to make them come out. How frustrating to be unable to think straight because the tags in your clothing are driving you insane. To have children run from you on the playground when your only crime was being different than them. How do I dare complain about what my life is like when I can only comprehend the tip of the iceberg of what my daughter’s life is like?

I am very fortunate that it is my first child that is disabled. I had not been afforded the opportunity to know what raising a typical child was really like. I could only assume that other parents went through the same struggles I did. I wondered how they coped, and questioned my ability to parent at all. I was shocked and astounded when I was asked to find alternative childcare because my three year old ran in the street as soon as a door opened. Didn’t all three year olds run into the street? I was blinded by love, and it was good. I surely would not have found the patience to cope as well if I had realized sooner how truly unique our situation was. Things were much busier in those early days, numerous therapies, and evaluations, applying for medical assistance because we could foresee the mountain of bills her life would incur.

It has been nine years since I realized something wasn’t quite right and things have settled down a lot, my daughter has made tremendous progress at adapting to a world where she will never fit in. Some days I do not even think about autism, but then when I realize I am brushing the teeth and performing other essential daily grooming activities of a child who almost appears to be a grown woman, it hits me, I will be doing this until the day I die. I would be lying if I said I don’t have days where I ask, “Why me, why her, why my family?” Yet still we plunder on. I have to believe there is a reason for all this. There is some grand plan for all our lives even if I cannot see it now. It truly is an emotional roller coaster ride. In the same moments I feel sorry for myself, I rejoice that I was chosen for this job. I can be angry that my child cannot accomplish what others do, but I am willing to bet our successes are ten times as sweet. And boy, oh boy, does this mommy have a sweet tooth!

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Lyn is a stay at home wife and mother to 3 energetic children. She leads her county's autism support group and fights to raise awareness and understanding in her community. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and genealogy research. Thank you, Lyn for sharing a little bit of Siarra with all of us!

 

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