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Tiny Victories... (Our Life With Autism)

When a doctor looks into your eyes and tells you all bets are off for your child... life as you planned it is over... it has a way of rearranging your priorities a little.

This may sound odd, but sometimes I feel sorry for parents of neurotypical children.  (Well, other times I hate their guts, but that is a character flaw that I am working on ;)  Let me explain...

When a doctor looks into your eyes and tells you all bets are off for your child... life as you planned it is over... it has a way of rearranging your priorities a little.

In an instant, everything you envisioned parenting to be is thrown on the floor like a jigsaw puzzle.  (Notice, I didn't say "shattered".  I refuse to say "shattered".  It wasn't shattered... just rearranged). Play dates, Little League, kindergarten, prom, girlfriends, weddings, career ... none of it is a given for your child any more.

Sure, you mourn the demise of your "typical" life. You cry (a lot). You curse God (guilty). But then something happens as you follow this new path. You start to appreciate the tiny victories in your child's life... victories that neurotypical parents very often take for granted, barely notice and certainly don't rejoice in like we do.

His first eye contact with you, the first time he seeks you out for a hug, the first time he shows genuine excitement for an upcoming holiday, the first time he shows disappointment when the Christmas decorations start to come down, the first time he tells you a joke, the first time he shows interest in playing with his sister... 

I will never forget July 4th, 2009 at 9:25 P.M.  We were driving by the beach with my parents.  My son screamed from the back seat and pointed out his window, "Look!  Fireworks!"  My wife broke down in tears.  I stopped cursing God and began thanking Him.

Jerry recently began writing about his family's experiences with Autism in his personal blog (Bacon and Juice Boxes:  Our Life With Autism). You can follow him on Twitter @jturning and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/baconandjuiceboxes).

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jerry Turning March 20, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Hi Ladies! Thank you for taking the time to read my post and share your opinions! Amber, I fear that my attempt at humor with the "hate their guts" line missed the mark for you. I apologize that I was not able to better communicate my feelings. If you notice, there is a "wink" symbol at the end of the sentence to convey that it was written tongue-in-cheek. I really don't hate neurotypical parents (well, sometimes I do... See, there I go again! ; ). You make valid points about not feeling guilty sharing your child's accomplishments. I agree 100%. We celebrate the milestones of our friends and family too. Yes, sometimes the ugly monster of self-pity and envy creeps into our heads, but as I said, that is a character flaw that we need to work on, not your responsibility at all. My simple message was one of gratitude and excitement for all of life's little milestones. I sincerely hoped to inspire a few neurotypical parents to celebrate the tiny victories in their child's life more and not take one second for granted. I am sorry if my tone and message was not better communicated. I'm still new at this blogging thing!
Amber Wright March 21, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Jerry I was just expressing my feelings that your blog and others evoked in me - I have the utmost respect and empathy for your daily struggles. I enjoy your blogs and thank you for respecting my opinion as well!
Sarah Blue Kunde March 21, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Amber, I can certainly feel your passion in your comments and I appreciate your point of view. One point of contention though, Autism is a diagnosis and not a disease. It is not contagious and can't be caught or cured like the common cold. I have an 8 year old with Autism and he is thriving, despite his diagnosis, because of some amazing therapies that help him with the symptoms of Autism. One of my favorite milestones to date is my son being told to stop talking to his friends in class because it wasn't time to be social it was time to listen!!! It is all an amazing matter of perspective that gets me though the day and makes me smile.
Robin March 21, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Amber, Again, you don't actually know and you can't know unless you experience it. It's like the old my friend has a baby so I know what it's like to have a baby or I know how it feels to take care of a baby because I babysit, but yes I guess you are entitled to think you know and being I also have a typically developing 7 year old I have and always will celebrate her milestones. The fact my 12 year old boy has difficulties doesn't diminish her acheivements and as Jerry pointed out it was tounge in cheek and certainly wasn't meant to offend.
Sarah Blue Kunde March 21, 2012 at 03:53 PM
I feel like we have missed the point here. One of the most difficult things for kids with Autism to achieve is empathy. Empathy is the ability to put oneself into another person’s shoes and experience what they experience. I don't have Autism but I can certainly empathize with my autistic sons difficulties and manipulate the environment so that he can be successful. I believe that someone with or without children can empathize with those of us who do have children, neuro-typical or otherwise. Empathy gives us that ability and I appreciate everyone who takes the time to dream about what is must be like to be me. Thank you again Amber and Robin for your personal perspectives and I know that the world is changed by people with passion for common goals.

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