But we need to talk. There are some common themes that keep coming up that you are laying at my doorstep. I don't know what I'm making for dinner tonight let alone what I'm doing when it comes to all this autism stuff. Now sit down and let's have a "Come to Jesus" conversation, shall we? Because you are really wasting a lot of energy freaking the Hell out. No, you are and I know it cause I've done it. I made this a list. Parents love them some lists.
1) Not doing your research. Many of you write asking about how to get an autism service dog or how to manage a GF/CF diet. That's great but I have to ask, why? You want to feed your kid a certain diet? Did you just hear a sound bite or did you take your kid for allergy testing? Same with the dog thing? What is it you think or need that dog to do? Are you aware of the extra work taking in another living creature into your home will be? Even though they are a "working dog"? Both of the above mentioned things are also expensive as all get! So you best choose wisely before you leap in. Read up on this stuff before you commit. Learn from other autism parents' empty wallets.
2) Thinking there are autism milestones. Newsflash,your kid sets these on their own. Stop comparing your kid! It doesn't matter when my kid talked. You will drive yourself freaking insane if you ask every autism parent you meet that question. You will also drive them insane and let's face it, we don't have that much wiggle room there to go. So let's not rock that boat. This autism tenured parent wants to remind you that even if your kid never speaks, that doesn't mean they have nothing to say. They are just not going to say it in the way you expect.
3) Chill the eff out about the potty training. Like right now. Especially if you are comparing your four or five year old to the neurotypical kid across the street. Come on now. You all know better but there you are getting hung up on it. Let it be known as I type this blog I have another set of sheets in my washing machine right now. My kiddo is eleven if that helps put that in perspective for you. Am I thrilled about it? No. But it happens. So there you go.
4) K.I.S.S. "Keep it simple, stupid." When talking to your kid, keep it brief and to the point. Remember, communication isn't just them being able to say stuff. They have to process it too. Keep the sentences and directions clear. "First this, then that." stuff works for a reason. Cause it's clear as feck.
5) There's a difference between a meltdown and a tantrum. Which you can read about here: Meltdown vs. Tantrum You have to accept once a meltdown starts, you just got to ride that shit out. Keep them safe because there is no turning that off on a dime. So just buckle up and know eventually it will end. I get it. You try to talk them out of it. Nope. Can't be done. I forget that too a lot.
6) Not asking for help. Now WTF is with this? You don't win a medal in being a martyr. Remember when you told folks about your kid getting diagnosed and they said stuff like "If there's anything I can do, just let me know." Well now it's time to take them up on that shit. Seriously, you will be glad you did.
7) "My family/friends don't understand our life." Believe me. I get it. I still deal with it. There's only one solution for this problem. TELL THEM! Cause I'm betting you didn't fully get what was ahead of you at the start of all this. I still don't know most days but I know opening my mouth will always work when I tell someone why something won't work for us. I can't get mad at someone who doesn't live with it that they didn't know something. I can get mad at myself if I didn't advocate for my Kiddo and tell them. That's on me.
8) It's not a case of fixing it or them. If anything, it's a group effort. You included. You all learn as you go. Collectively.
9) Not turning off autism now and then from your life. Yes, I told up top to do your research but you have got to learn when to walk away from Dr. Goggle and crew. Autism isn't cutting you a paycheck to be it's bitch. You want to flake out and watch "The Bachelor" one night instead of reading a Temple Grandin book, I do not judge. I'm betting 90% of your social media feed are memes, stories and blogs like this one. You deserve a break. Consider reading this one post your autism work of the day.
10) Cheer up. Seriously. I came to the conclusion a few years back that if I was going to get laugh lines on my face, I might as well have fun earning them. This doesn't mean I'm in a permanent state of HAPPY. I use my humor to cope. It's survival and it's a skill I am gladly teaching my Kiddo as well. Cause he's saddled with a couple of neurotypical parents who don't fully understand the pure joy that is listening to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" for the 8355 time that day. I joke and find the silver lining. The mood is contagious. If I'm a miserable git. Guess what he's going to be?
So if we ever meet and you see me giving you some side eye, it's not because I think you are doing it wrong. I just hate to see anyone making stuff harder on themselves than it needs to be. Newb, I've been there and I continue to be there.
Autism with a side of side eye.