It’s one thing to be judged by someone who has no idea what they’re talking about and something entirely different to be judged by someone who should absolutely know better.
There are far too many people who still erroneously assume that their personal experience with Autism is reflective of everyone else’s.
Similar to the lady that commented on my poll question, claiming it was awful to ask such a question and that her life has only ever been enriched by her child with Autism.
Perhaps her life has only been enriched by Autism and she’s never been frustrated or overwhelmed. Maybe she’s just not comfortable admitting that she sometimes misses her life before Autism?
Who knows..but frankly, it doesn’t matter because here’s the problem.
Families deal with kids in various different places on the Autism Spectrum. Some kids are very high functioning (which doesn’t necessarily translate to easy), while others are very low functioning (which doesn’t necessarily translate to more difficult). Still, many others are somewhere in between.
For some families like mine, every day is a financial, emotional and physical struggle. The stress, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, responsibility, guilt and feeling of being completely overwhelmed is indescribable.
There are plenty of days where I don’t think I can muster the strength keep fighting. There are other days where I experience the happiest moments of my life and find the strength to get back up and move forward.
On the other hand, for a million different reasons, some families simply have it easier. Maybe their child is less impacted by Autism. Maybe they are in a better financial situation and while that doesn’t fix anything, it does open a great many doors that aren’t available to the rest of us. Maybe they’re just stronger. Maybe they just have an amazing support system in place.
The point that I’m trying to make is that I never assume that my life as an Autism Parent is any more or less challenging than anyone else’s.
When people reach out and tell me that they thought their life was hard until they read our story, I always respond the same way. I tell them that everything is relative and we all deal with things in different ways.
It’s important that we never shortchange ourselves by comparing how we feel we’re doing as parents to how we feel others are doing. Inevitably, we compare our weaknesses to someone else’s strengths and we will always lose.
The truth is, my life may seem impossible to you but I may not be able to walk ten steps in your shoes if given the opportunity.
It’s so important to remember, everything is relative.
When we judge other Autism parents for speaking their personal truth, simply because it doesn’t line up with our own, we’re not only wrong, we’re setting Autism Awareness back. If we want the world to be more understanding and accepting of those touched by Autism, we have to first lead by example.
When you read The Autism Dad’s story you’re learning about how Autism impacts one particular family, mine.
It’s not meant to be representative of the Autism community as a whole. It’s my personal story and while you can gain invaluable insight and knowledge from my experience, I can gain just as much, if not more, from yours.
Don’t judge others because your experience has been different.
If Autism has been the best thing to ever happen to your life, more power to you. I’m happy for you, I really am. Please don’t dismiss the challenges that the rest of us face on a daily basis. For many of us, being an Autism parent is the most challenging thing we’ve ever had to take on.
While my life can be overwhelming, exhausting and many times, more than I can cope with, I know that your experience can be better or worse than mine.
When we say things like it’s awful to miss your life before Autism, you have no idea how hurtful and demoralizing that can be. It takes courage to admit something like that.
Do I sometimes miss my life before Autism?
You bet your ass I do!!!
Does that somehow mean I don’t love my kids with Autism more than anything in the world?
You bet your ass it doesn’t!!!
We may be Autism parents but we’re also human beings. I can’t imagine anyone not missing the life before Autism at some point along their way.
That’s not a bad thing. We can both love our kids with Autism and still miss our lives before. These things are not mutually exclusive.