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Just a single mom of two small boys somewhere in the middle of Minnesota. My older son has been diagnosed with autism. Both sons have been diagnosed with awesome.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Autism Awareness Month: If I only knew...

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this entry can be found there at:

It's April. Autism Awareness Month, and the month is almost over. As the mother of a seven (almost 8 year old son) on the spectrum, I felt like I should say something. In fact it's been weighing on me greatly, just what I should say.

The truth is I have written and re-written this post what feels like a million times and was never happy with it. I wanted to say something, but I'm no expert of any kind. I'm just a mom, not even one of those Autism Warrior Moms you hear tell about. I'm just an ordinary mom of two regular type kids, one of whom happens to have autism.

So then I started over from scratch. I thought, if there was one thing I wish someone could have told me about autism before my son was diagnosed, what would it be?

So here goes...

There is a saying you may or may not have heard, "If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism." It's seems sort of obvious doesn't it? Not all typical people are exactly the same, why would those with autism be. But it's a truth that I think many people don't fully grasp. Before my son was diagnosed, I didn't get it. Not at all.

I thought I knew a fair amount about autism. I'd read a couple of books. I'd met a handful of people who'd been diagnosed with it. I knew about Temple Grandin from when I was taking animal husbandry courses in jr. high and high school. 

But the truth is the image I had in my mind was a very stereotyped one, and it was an image that did not match up with my son. Even when family members suggested I look into it, I just couldn't see it. I did mention it to the pediatrician who didn't see it either. She saw some delays, as did I, but not autism. If I'd known, I mean really known? I don't think I would have left it at that.

I'd wish I'd known that kids with autism can be goofy, and silly and giggly and cuddly. I wish I'd known just how smart and talented and loving and amazing children with autism can be.

I wish I'd known all that, I mean really known that, when Max was little and first showing the signs. Would an earlier diagnosis have made much of a difference for him? It's hard to say, but at least I would have known I had done my best for him from the start.

I would have understood why he struggled with things that other children seemed to sail through. I like to think I would have been more patient with him. A lot more patient.

And maybe... just maybe... I wouldn't have felt so alone.

Because there are so many of us. Not just parents of children with autism, but all of us parents of children with special needs, children who struggle to fit in a world not made for them. We are not alone.

We don't have to be.


  1. This was so beautifully written. I think we all question ourselves with what would we have done differently if we had known then what we know now.

    As a mom of 2 boys who were both diagnosed early (at or before age 2) I can tell you that I was the most impatient person on earth before my sons were born. I feel like they are the ones who taught me to be patient.

    But, its definitely a work in progress!

  2. Goofy, silly, giggly...absolutely!! And we are definitely not alone :)

  3. Beautiful post and you're not alone. My son is two and has been recently diagnosed with sensory processing disorder...a disorder shared by many autistic children. Every day is different....some days I struggle but my son is such a blessing! It's important that we as parents know that there are others out there and that our kids know...there are other kids like you but no one JUST like you because you're so special. =) Thanks again for the post and for sharing.

  4. Thanks for reading my post!

    I have definetly learned to be more patient. I almost feel like haven't had any choice. If I don't remain calm there isn't a chance in heck Max will!

  5. I found my here after seeing a tweet from Sunday @ Extreme Parenthood to check it out. SO glad I stopped by! Great post! I just used that quote about "one person with Autism" in a post of mine this week. So true but yes, Autism is quite stereotyped.

    I am a teacher for kids with Autism. I've been blogging all month for Autism Awareness. Hope you'll stop by - I've had a ton of great guest posts!

  6. Thanks, I'll be sure to check your blog out too!

  7. Well said! I have two kids on the spectrum (Asperger Syndrome). The oldest wasn't diagnosed until he was 15+ years old. My daughter was diagnosed earlier because I was able to see the similarities between her and her brother and insisted on testing after her brother was diagnosed. That said, their traits are manifested in many different ways that make them responsive to different therapeutic methods. Differing gender adds to the mix.

    I, too, wish my children had been diagnosed earlier. Many of the signs of autism I saw and inquired about to pediatricians, friends, and relatives were dismissed as something they would outgrow. Only when life became an epic fail for my son did a high school counselor listen to my stories and suggest re-assessment for Asperger Syndrome.

    For them, a diagnosis meant a welcome explanation as to why they were different from other kids. For me, it meant learning new parenting skills to help them reach their potential. The diagnosis was not a label, but a sign-post to a new path that could lead them to success!

  8. "The diagnosis was not a label, but a sign-post to a new path that could lead them to success!"

    I love that, what a great way of looking at it!