Every team needs quality players. When your child has autism, you’ll learn pretty early on that you need to assemble your autism team.
In part 1, today, we’ll talk about why and in part 2 I’ll address how.
Because it really does take a village.
Here’s the catch – it can’t just be any village. It has to be one where you handpick the people of the village.
There’s a few things you’ll have to get over first, if you aren’t already.
Do not buy into the lie that you are a better parent if you do this thing on your own. It’s simply not true. Asking for help now and then is very different than handing your child over for someone else to raise.
2. Your Pride
By inviting people into your family and especially your child’s life, there will be some people who see…everything. The good, the bad, and the really ugly. This is why you handpick the people you allow into this tender and precious realm of your life.
3. Your Fear
Believe it or not, there are actually people out there that you will be able to trust, alone, with your child. And the bonus – they will love him nearly as much as you do and add a beautiful layer to his life.
4. Your All-Knowing Powers about your Child
Yes, you are your child’s advocate. I always say, “I may not be an ‘expert in autism’ but I am certainly an ‘expert in Ben’.” While that is true, it may surprise you that someone else might actually have some worthwhile advice for you about your child because they see him from a different angle than you do. Again, see point 2 if this sounds scary (like it was for me at first).
If you notice, there is a common theme above…yourself.
I’m going to be really transparent here for a minute and say something that might make some people mad (sorry, that is not my intent)…
Autism can be a very selfish disorder.
What I mean, is it’s very easy for the family to fall into a few evils like selfishness, pity, pride, and martyrdom. (See, I told you some people were going to get mad…)
I’m telling you this because I’ve done it. Every. Single. One.
Advocacy can quickly toe the line of selfishness.
A vent to your spouse or friend can quickly turn into an unproductive pity party.
Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps can quickly become you against the world frustrated and screaming, “I’ll do it myself.”
And coping with the realization of what your life is going to look like versus what you thought it was going to look like can quickly ride a slippery slope into martyrdom.
Why do I say these things? Why do I expose these raw nerves?
Because your child needs you to be strong.
Like, really strong, from the inside out.
How do you get that strength? I’ll give you a hint…it’s not from yourself.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”
– Isaiah 40:29
Your child needs you to keep perspective on the hard days (it truly could always be worse).
He needs you to be his warrior in the face of adversary without making autism parents look like crazy people who can’t be taken seriously.
He needs you to have real emotions but deal with them in a way that doesn’t get in the way of the big picture and big goal.
He needs you to take care of yourself so you can give him the stability he can’t find within himself.
And when you blow it (you will…I do more than I’d like to say…), he needs you to get up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and charge forward with perseverance and tact and unshakable faith in him.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way…
We’ll talk about that next week.
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