For all the parents out there who desperately love their child on the spectrum, but struggle how best to show it; for the moms who are tired of getting lectures on how their kid would be better if they got more time outs; for the dads who are overwhelmed and want to provide for their family but don’t know how; and most of all, for the misunderstood child who is cherished more than they will ever know: you are not alone.
This open letter by Jill Finch, on her blog Dirty, Naked, and Happy was originally written back in March, in preparation for Autism awareness month in April. However, as parents of children on the spectrum know, we know that the need for awareness and understanding stretches far beyond the month of April, so we’re posting this again, in hopes of spreading more awareness. Until every day is a good day.
I stand quietly…
- While you tell the baffled shop owner that you are looking for shoes that feel hard like splintered wood because your skin can’t bear soft things.
- While the nice old lady who lives over the street tells me you wouldn’t be like this if you had siblings.
- As you diligently brush your teeth even though it feels like the toothpaste is burning you.
I sit quietly…
- while the teacher tells me she knows about autism and that you are not autistic and asks if I would benefit from some parenting classes.
- While you try to regain some kind of control over your body in a meltdown, scared and sobbing and writhing about, hitting yourself harder and harder and begging me to hit you as hard as I can too.
- And rack my brains for something for you to eat as everything you try today makes you gag and wretch until your eyes stream with tears.
I lay quietly…
- With my back to you as my smell makes you feel sick and although we both desperately want and need to cuddle, you can’t bear to.
- Beside you when you tell me that you are the wrong sort of special and the wrong sort of different and you want to die.
This is just one story among thousands of different stories of autism, not everyone is like Rainman or like my daughter. I know it’s no great piece of prose but it’s from the heart.
You are not alone. You are doing the best you can, and there is a community of support behind you. Please share this with everyone you know, so they too can understand and be comforted.Whizzco