The upside of autism: Joyful reflections from parents of autistic children
There are countless stories and movies about the challenges and difficulties of raising a child with autism -- dreams are dashed, expectations are lowered and life is tragically altered forever. But the reality of autism is not always gloom and doom.
All children -- especially those with autism -- come with an enormous set of needs. Cathy Pratt, chair of the board of the National Autism Society of America, tells us, "Parents report that autism is not a death sentence, but it is a life sentence. You will be your child's life-long advocate."
For many parents, autism may not completely be a blessing, it's definitely not a curse.
See what some moms and dads had to say about life with an autistic child:
"I feel blessed. I would be a different person if I had not been given such a child."
- Hamza's mom
"I love the new view of the world that he has taught me, I love the quirks that always make me giggle, and I love that he loves me, and even shows it sometimes."
- Denise Norton, mother to Blair
"I see things in a much simpler way, and I have learned to be less ignorant to people with disabilities. My son pushed me to better myself as a single mother."
- Jesse's mother
"I think every child is different, and the best that a parent can do is to be very attentive to their child's needs and learn from each child what they need and respond to."
- Willy's father
"Watching him succeed in the little things you take for granted with your other children. I will never forget the first time he told me that he loved me."
- Patrick's mother
"Having a child with autism is a very rough road...but when your child does something for the first time, it helps make it more bearable, and you learn something new every day."
"Read. Educate yourself. Never feel that you are not a good parent. Just love them with everything you have."
"He is not a horrible child, he just has difficulties along with his gifts."
- Aiden's mother
"I am learning to be open to different expectations and continue to learn what is important. Remembering that what I want for all my children is for them to be happy and safe and loved. My boys have taught me how to be a better parent and person. I have learned a lot about myself and how I handle difficult situations."
- Stephen's and Jack's mother
"I know what matters in life, and I know that everything that I used to think and worry about didn't matter! He is precious! I love other kids with special needs immediately, and I know a kind of love I never would've known otherwise! I have more empathy for people in the world in general."
- Jennifer Harman, Jackson's mom
Perhaps part of the reason autism exists is to make the rest of us – "typical folks" – become better people.
For more on autism, see: