6 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From Autism

Everyone says that when you have a child, your life changes, and having a son with autism has certainly changed my life in ways I would never have expected.
In fact, raising my son has taught me six important life lessons and skills that all parents should learn and pass on to their kids.

6 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Autistic Child camels

Tolerance

As a young traveler, I, too, used to be intolerant of screaming babies and whiny children.
That all changed when I had my own; now I smile and sometimes even commiserate with the parents when I see a child act up.
On some level, it is comforting to know mine wasn’t and isn’t the only one that has meltdowns.However, It doesn’t mean that everyone with children has learned this lesson.

Last Christmas, we were on a flight to New Orleans during which, a little girl about four years old cried for no less than two hours in the seat behind us. I felt quite sympathetic towards the mother who tried to soothe her and calm her down.But that sentiment faded fast when the same mother complained about my special needs son to the flight attendant when he threw a mini tantrum and raised his voice for ten minutes.

Advocating for our needs

I used to hate to ask anyone for favors.
In fact, I’ve always kept my troubles to myself and felt that my privacy and independence were much too valuable to surrender.
But when I became a mother to a child with special needs, I realized that it does take a village to raise and help him get a fair shot in life.
Based on that, I have learned to ask in private and sometimes in public for the accommodations he needs.I’ve come to the realization that since my son can’t always express what he needs, he needs me to advocate for him, and there’s no shame in that.

I also realized the importance of educating others about autism and raising awareness wherever we go. Children with autism aren’t “disabled,” they just see the world differently.
If more people understood that, accommodations could one day become the norm, not the exception.

Persistence

Gone are the days I’d walk away after a brief attempt towards achieving my goal or any goal, for that matter.
Nowadays, I stick to my guns and absolutely refuse to take no for an answer when it concerns my son!
And I have my strategy all mapped out: when plan A fails, I have a plan B and C  as backups.

Patience and flexibility

I have changed from being an entirely impatient person to a much more patient and flexible individual.
I used to plan every single waking moment of the day making sure I didn’t miss a beat, and while I still do that, I accept the fact that  I will probably accomplish only 50% of my plan on most days.

My goal is to teach my child both skills since ironically, people with autism are notoriously structured yet need everyone around them to be flexible.

Sense of adventure

My son, like many other individuals with autism, is a  natural born thrill seeker and craves adventure.
Along the years of parenting our son my husband and I  have become more open to trying new, even somewhat daring activities! So far, we’ve tried zip lining, paragliding,  circus trapeze training and sea trekking, during our travels, and we are open to trying many more.

Self-reliance

As a parent to a child with special needs, it is imperative you learn to become a lot more self-sufficient than ever before. True, I did mention how it is important to involve others and have them help out but by the end of the day, some people may do that while others will bail and leave you on your own.So the bottom line is that as a parent, you need to become more resilient than you’ve ever thought possible and learn how to prepare for and handle inappropriate behavior, mood swings, and even the occasional meltdown on your own.

What life lessons have you learned from raising a child with autism?

Comments

  1. I think that the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my own son is that he loving and kind. Routine and repetition are key factors into how he processes things, but he is smart and witty. Meltdowns don’t happen that often anymore, but patience is still something that goes a long way when trying to understand how he sees things. Being his parents, my husband and I have learned that we are his advocates and if we don’t stand up for him then no one will.
    He isn’t too overly adventerous. In fact he waits for our reaction to see how we will handle it before he dives in. If he knows that mom and dad are going to try and are comfortable then he is much more relaxed and willing to go with the flow.
    Things have changes in many ways for us since we found out about his diagnosis. But I am thankful everyday for the growing, learning and fighting spirit that he has. He is truly a precious gift and will conquer so much with his alway positive attitude.

    • Thank you for taking the time and sharing your thoughts,Anita.You mentioned a good point about how your child waits for your response before he reacts to events.What some parents don’t realize is that many times their own overreaction in airports settings might trigger their kid’s meltdown.

  2. My boy (12asd m/m) does not have a bone of judgement in his body. He’s taught me that it doesn’t matter if people judge you and that it’s a waste of time to judge anyone else. What a place of nirvana to live within. Imagine if the world “deleted” the concept of judgement.

    • So glad you took the time to share your story with us-it is amazing how many things our kids end up teaching us .Yes,I totally agree about deleting judgement yet some people can’t seem to ‘get it’.

  3. Interesting article about flying. My nine year old was finally diagnosed last year after a lengthy back and forth deal with the school. They kept trying to identify him as a behavioral case instead of an autistic case. Over the years, on several plane trips, we have had to deal with him having meltdown panic attacks getting onto airplanes…and some understanding and many intolerant passengers glaring at us as if to say “why can’t you parent your child”. We’re still in the learning phases of what works and what doesn’t work and trying to teach his school the same. It’s hard at times, trying at times, but for the benefit of our son, we need to keep going. I worry about his future, his ability to live in a world as an adult, but I’m hopeful that he will learn coping skills through school, and myself over the years.

    • Hi Ilene,
      I can relate to your story quite well since our own son was officially diagnosed at the age of thirteen.My advice to you is to focus on your child and his needs rather than be bothered by glaress and remarks.When our son experiences an occasional meltdown in public we just work through it.If any one approaches us( has happened) ,I politely explain that he has autism.

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