2017 was our first Autism awareness day – Join us as we celebrated our first World Autism Awareness day together as a family celebration in our home after diagnosis. Though I share a lot of our life through examples, it’s not common I write “personal” blog post. With it being World Autism Awareness Day today, I feel though I must reach out to you (my readers). I hope this post is that it will reach someone who needs it. So here goes:
Our Very First World Autism Awareness Day
Today is April 2nd, 2017. It is World Autism Day was first celebrated on April 2, 2008. This was just six weeks after our youngest daughter Lilly was born. At that time, I knew nothing of the day nor the impact it would make in my future. Though it has been celebrated for nine years now, it is our first year to observe it.
On September 13th, 2016, our world changed forever. It was the day our youngest child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 2. Walker was just two weeks shy of turning two years old. We had expected this diagnosis with him. What his diagnosis led to, we never could have expected. Just two month later, our youngest daughter was diagnosed with autism. After years of psychiatrist and psychologist, it took one doctor to connect the dots for her. Our daughter born just six weeks prior to the first World Autism Awareness Day was diagnosis autistic at age eight.
So here we are, on April 2nd, just six months after we received our first of two autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. I sit here writing this in one of my new autism awareness shirts. It is my favorite because one of my daughter’s obsessions has always been Dr. Seuss. The rhymes and creative bring her so much joy. The mess in the other room doesn’t bother me at all. This is because I am ecstatic there is a mess. My two youngest children, who both have autism, are happily playing together. They are relating to each other, they are working through issues on their own, and both just happy.
On April 2nd, 2016 and every year prior, it was much different. In years past, I might have seen on social media that it was autism awareness day. It wouldn’t have sunk in much though. Sure, my younger brother has autism, but autism didn’t affect my family (or so I thought). So my mindset just wasn’t the same.
Sure I was understanding and accepting, but I didn’t know all the signs and symptoms. I would have been losing my mind because my daughter was screaming because she couldn’t do what she wanted to do. Her meltdowns, I saw as being a temper fit. I didn’t realize that when she wanted me to sing “Give me oil in my lamp” three times at bedtime that it was Autism. Nor did I understand why she was so mad if I dared sing that same song to her brother. The children would fight because Lilly couldn’t understand their emotions and had no sympathy. I didn’t know her inability to express her own emotions or understand others was Autism.
A year ago, our world was much different. Today though, it is also much different. Today, I feel a sense of peace and purpose. I have found my life’s purpose is to share our journey. It is to help inspire and inform others about autism. I am a better parent today than I have ever been because I accept my children for who they are. I am learning to embrace autism, as autism makes my children who they are.
Being a better parent doesn’t make me a perfect parent though. There are many days I struggle. Last night, I yelled at Lilly because she had been yelling at me all day and I snapped. I walked away because I knew I needed to breath. Not five minutes later, I was in her room holding her. She was screaming at me she wanted me to go away. I didn’t go away.
She couldn’t understand that she had been yelling at me and hurt my feelings. All she knew is I “broke her heart because you yelled at me.” My heart broke in that moment. I felt like the worst parent in the world. How could I yell at my autistic daughter and break her heart like that? At that moment, I cried to God why he chose me to be the parent of not one, but three autistic children. I didn’t feel worthy at all to be their mom, I felt like a complete failure.
God does answer, and you just have to listen. God chose me to be their mom and God doesn’t make mistakes. I am not a perfect parent, and at times, I will fail. While holding her, I realized I didn’t need her to understand why she was wrong or that she hurt my feelings. I told her “I’m sorry, I am your mom and no matter what, I shouldn’t lose my temper and yell at you, I am sorry and I love you.” That’s all she needed to hear. She needed to hear I love her and that parent’s make mistakes too.
By the time it was over, we were laying on the floor talking about glittery bat girl symbols she wanted on her walls. She told me she wanted to make bat prints on her wall. She wanted five of them. Each one made of two handprints, one of her’s and the other of each family member. There in that moment, was the joy and blessing of having autistic children. They have made me who I am now. God blessed me with being the mom of four children, two with autism. Not because it is easy or without pain, God chose us to be their parents because it would make us all better for it.
So on this, our first World Autism Awareness Day and the beginning of Autism Awareness Month, I find peace. Those little puzzle pieces, they mean everything to me. April 2nd is much like a birthday celebration in my mind. It brings hope for my children’s future. I know not always will their lives be easy, but I know they are growing up in a world that accepts them for who they are. In a world that is bringing awareness and acceptance to autism spectrum disorder. I pray I will to be a light in this world to help spread that acceptance and awareness.
Alicia @ The Mom Kind