Chandler is now an adult and I must admit, it’s a whole different ballgame. As I reflect back on his early years, it’s truly amazing to see how far society has come with understanding and acceptance but we still have a long way to go. I wish I would have known then what I know now. I wish I didn’t make every excuse under the sun to avoid my own anxieties. I am writing this blog to help encourage parents not to make the same mistakes I feel I made.
Let’s start with what I feel I did right!
Accepted the diagnosis and ran with it. It also set the path for my career. As I was managing therapy schedules and life, I decided to start to work as an Advocate as I wanted to help others. Perhaps I realized then that this was the therapy I needed. I tell parents all the time that you need to find “that thing” that is going to help you and balance your life. Could be a career, reading, exercise, a hobby, etc but we all need an outlet and an escape. Nothing wrong with this. DON’T FEEL GUILTY!
My relationship- we are a team and together we take it all on. Still do to this day and stronger then ever. Of course we had our times of differences as in every relationship but at the end of everyday we would work through it, remind each other we love each other, and move on. Don’t hold grudges and remember that life is hard, relationships require work along with compassion, compromises, and understanding. Don’t loose each other and be sure to make time for each other. You have to make each other feel wanted and needed. Humans need that feeling. This also sets a great example for your children.
My children- Raising 3 is never an easy task but I worked hard on making sure they each had their lives and that Autism did not completely consume them. Of course at the beginning when given the diagnosis, those first few years were REALLY difficult! We were exhausted, we had years of financial distress and it was really difficult to do “typical” family things as it was draining. We tried our best to make up for things that my kids lost out on. Perhaps that was not necessary but we did it no matter how exhausted we were.
What I wish I did differently? It’s simple. I wish I would have said YES to every vacation we could have afforded, every invite, every opportunity to take Chandler anywhere and everywhere. Why was I selective? Why did I worry? I am not sure besides the fact that I was trying to avoid a meltdown or his displeasure but those are life lessons. I feel now that I should have pushed him more and worked through it all. Every situation that I questioned I should have just dove into them. Don’t get me wrong, Chandler has had a great life and as a family we have done a lot together but it could have been more. I should have pushed him out of his comfort zone (or was it mine)?
My best advice to families dealing with a new diagnosis or reading this and saying wait.... is she talking about me? Yes I am! Share every possible life experience with your child and don’t use a diagnosis as an excuse. They are individuals and no different then others. Their diagnosis does not define them, it’s a part of them. I realize of course that there may be other limitations or concerns so of course prepare yourself for those possibilities. Whatever you do or wherever you go, your child can also have the most positive experience. It’s never too late to get started but not going to lie..... it’s hard and may require a lot of work but worth it at the end.
As much as I dislike social media, I LOVE when I see your children doing amazing things. It makes my day as I am sure it makes yours and your families. In this new year, let’s get out of our comfort zone and let’s encourage our children to be a part of everything possible. If you are a family member reading this or a friend, encourage and support. Be there for them and always offer words of encouragement while being understanding.
This year will be great, a new start! Let’s make the best of 2019 and enjoy all the positives while not dwelling on what could have been. As individuals we grow and learn every day as do our children. Let’s foster positive relationships with our teams so they give 100% to our children. So they support us when we embrace challenges for our children. Let’s set realistic goals so not only are they reached but we can add more. Let’s all get out of our comfort zone and most importantly..... make time for ourselves! Do what makes you happy and don’t feel guilty for the breaks you may need. We all need them.
Here is to a Healthy and Happy 2019🍾🥂!