From one parent to another – my advice to the new parent of an autistic child.
You can land.
From the moment my beautiful Conor was born almost 12 years ago, I have been hovering.
Like a Rescue helicopter I stay close, just ahead, watching from above, always on call, preparing and planning to instinctively act and react when the moment would most assuredly arise.
Even when almost out of fuel, I stay ahead, holding my position, on guard.
I have hovered, trailed, tracked, observed, anticipated, prepared and planned for my lovely Conor and his two little brothers.
Almost 12 years ago my life as I knew it changed irrevocably in an instant.
With Conor’s first intake of baby breath in our world that night in March 2010, everything I had ever known or felt I understood changed so immediately I did not have a single second to prepare for what lay ahead.
My life as I had known it was wiped clean of everything and everyone I had ever known.
My new life was one of land mines, blank maps, unexpected twists and turns.
There was no General or Commander in Chief, just me; a new recruit to the world of additional needs and my compass didn’t work just yet.
I had no logistical guide, just my heart and soul.
I had a little boy who needed me to be the mother he deserved but I was falling short of the planned route of what I felt a good mother should be.
I ran for cover and braced for the judgement that was abound.
I stayed undercover, on the outside, smiling when asked if I was okay, falling apart on the inside, so lost and unsure of how to help my little boy or where to even start.
Then one hot sunny August day over a decade ago in Mayo General Hospital, the word Autism marched gallantly into Conor’s hospital room and commanded my attention. It held out a map. I took it and look down at my beautiful Conor.
It was the first day in such a long time that my lovely Conor had smiled. I took out my phone to capture his huge grin that spread from cheek to cheek.
Conor didn’t speak with words anymore but in my heart, I could hear him clearly.
A New Life
He was saying – “I’ve been trying to tell you for so long mom, we were never lost we just needed some directions”. I still have that photo of my lovely Conor smiling as he lay in his hospital cot looking up at my face with pangs of love straight into my heart.
In the years since, Autism has been my guide, my compass, my roadmap and it has been transformative.
Autism has told me what to expect and when the unexpected happens it shades and colours all my and my little boy’s life experiences.
It has helped me learn who I am and who my little boys truly are.
It has taught me as a parent, you can land.
Advice to the new parent of an autistic child
You don’t always have to hover.
Be kind to yourself.
What you are doing right now to support your child is enough.
You can rest, you can take a break and it will be okay.
You are doing your best and that is MORE than enough.
Support your child with the best of your ability and THAT is enough.
It is time to land.
Rest and when you are ready, begin again.
It is time to land.
For more advice on parenting autistic children go to my Instagram.
If you are an autistic adult or feel you may be autistic go to this article.