I am a bit late to the table but I have just had five minutes to myself to look at this wonderful hashtag that has been trending on Twitter. I adore the idea and the sentiment behind the tweets. Some are bittersweet, some are heartbreaking, some are hilarious, some are sad but all of them are familiar.
If you are unfamiliar with twitter, a hashtag before a word or words denotes tweets that have been made under a particular topic. In this case the topic is: you might be an autism parent if…you then fill in the blank. If you have one that you would like to add then pop over to twitter or post one below as a comment.
Something that I'm often thinking about is how I see myself as a parent. Parenting a child with autism is a challenge but I have always accepted this challenge with good grace. Kids are hard work and they are meant to be. They are malleable beings whose future and personality are shaped by how we nurture them. There is something, however, inbuilt in me that stops me from making a big deal about this my particular job. In real life I tend not to shout from the rooftops that I am the mother of a disabled child and in our little bubbie we can exist like this. Over the years I have put the work in to absorb all of the negativity and glaringly obvious differences and difficulties that he faces on a daily basis so he could just trot along on his merry way. In this plan I really didn't account for him becoming older, I didn't account on him prying himself away from our protective arms. I didn't account for him having to bar his disability on hs own and having to deal with it on his own, in his own way.
It feels okay for me to say now at this point in my life that it has been hard. It has been incredibly hard to raise a child who is different in a world that wants everyone to be the same. It will always be hard. My son is different and that makes me a different type of parent. I've always felt uncomfortable saying that my job is harder than the parent of a child without difficulties but it is. I think that I will start giving myself some slack when I fully accept that this is our reality. Unconsciously, I have kept friends and even the majority of our family out of loop by covering up the difficulties that we face. I have kept people at arms length so they wouldn't judge him and this has left them judging me.
A friend of mine recently celebrated a step forward in her little girls life and what struck me most was that she called it "an autism mummy moment". I realised that this is true, so very true. Not just in the hardships that we face that others do not but in the things we celebrate and what we celebrate will always be different to that of another child. Any recently acquired friends of mine on Facebook will think that my constant posting about my son is that of a smug SAHM who has nothing else to focus on. This is really not the case at all, but our moments are different and mean something very different to us. We inhabited a world for such a long time that focused on all of the things that our son couldn't do and would never achieve. Breaking free from this world means that a world of possibility has opened up for him and even the triumph warms my heart.
Days after this realisation, I found the hashtag. You might be an autism parent if... Reading them, I laughed and I cried and nodded profusely all the while being envious of the ways in which these parents could articulate our differences. I would like to share a few with you now.
#youmightbeanautismparentif you find yourself explaining autism and aspergers to professionals.
#youmightbeanautismparentif you think that neurotypicality is HIGHLY overrated.
#youmightbeanautismparentif you are amazed at how much more compassionate kids can be than their parents.
#youmightbeanautismparentif your heart skips a beat (or 10) if the school calls during class time.
#youmightbeanautismparentif u've held your head a little bit higher during a public meltdown & thought: I dare U 2 say something.
#youmightbeanautismparentif You have restrained yourself from punching an elderly person for telling you to control your child.
#youmightbeanautismparentif You are afraid of dying, but not for the traditional reasons.
#youmightbeanautismparentif you lost a bunch of friends bc they don't even try to understand.
I'd like to add some of my own:
#youmightbeanautismparentif your 12 year old can't ride a bike.
#youmightbeanautismparentif if you have become immune to your child flapping constantly.
#youmightbeanautismparentif if you been told that your child needs a good hiding.
#youmightbeanautismparentif if you've heard the phrase 'he's not that autistic, is he?
#youmightbeanautismparentif if your proud of how far he's come but fear how far he has to go.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please excuse any typing errors as my fat fingers and Apple's touch screen technology are not a good combination.