As an Autism parent, life is exceptionally stressful and that’s on the good days. When things in life get rocky, for whatever reason, my body and mind simply want to shutdown. It’s a self-preservation thing and unfortunately, being an Autism Parent doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for shutting down.
There are challenges in our everyday lives that I simply haven’t been able to overcome and sometimes, that knowledge weighs heavier on me.
I turn forty in August and I’m almost compulsively evaluating my life. There are things that I’ve accepted will never happen and things that need to happen, regardless of the challenge involved.
I’m okay with the things I’ve accepted won’t happen but I struggle with the things I’ve failed to yet accomplish. I’m not sleeping or not sleeping well and that doesn’t help either.
Things like being able to replace our car or move my family into a safer neighborhood, are just two things that weigh heavy. While I was laying in bed last night, trying to sleep, the air was quiet until it was interrupted by the sound repeated gunfire. I don’t know where it came from but it was close enough that I could feel it. You know when someone drives by with way too much bass pumping from their car stereo, you can almost feel it? That what it felt like.
Truthfully, this is nothing new but the dozen or so gun shots I heard last night just seemed to hit me a bit harder than usual.
The realities of being an Autism parent are such that many, many sacrifices are required and required frequently. That’s not anything I regret because I love my family. Knowing where we are today, I would still make the same decisions that led us here. While it’s true, some of those decisions have created challenges that simply cannot be overcome at this point in time, they also addressed bigger ones in the process.
One of the things that I’ve found in my tenure as an Autism parent is that everything is a balancing act. Sometimes doing the right thing comes at a cost. That cost can make life more challenging but it also addresses a more important need that can’t otherwise be addressed.
For me, or rather us, one of those big decisions involved saying goodbye to my dream career of being a Fire/Medic, a job that I both loved and was really good at. It became clear that I needed to switch to something else that allowed me to be closer during the day and home every night. When things at home took a turn for the worse, I had to make another difficult decision to leave the outside workforce and become a full time caregiver.
Perhaps not everyone agrees with that decision but regardless, it was the best of the worst things we could have chosen to do.
Lizze was developing major health problems and Gavin was so violent, we were having to seriously consider residential placement. Making the decision to work from home, it the only reason we were able to end up keeping Gavin at home. There isn’t a price tag one can put on that.
Autism parenting often requires us to make impossibly difficult decisions, in very complicated, dynamic circumstances, where there are no clear cut, right or wrong answers. More often than not, all we can do is identify the best of what may be truly terrible options, pray that the outcome will be worth the price of admission and accept the consequences, good, bad or otherwise.
At the moment, I guess I’m struggling a bit more with those consequences. I don’t second guess myself because that’ll drive me crazy but I can sometimes feel demoralized by limitations in my life.
There are rarely easy solutions to anything regarding Autism and what it seems like from from outside looking in, isn’t always the way it is.