In Finding Autism, Finding Myself

30 Apr

Over the last four years we’ve been on this autism journey (and that’s counting from diagnosis, from birth it’s been six almost), I find out some crazy stuff on a daily basis. I find out things about The Princess. I find out things about sensory issues. I find out more and more about various treatments/therapies. But mostly, I find out about myself.

It is so true that you never know how strong you are or can be until you have no other choice. My husband’s family took The Princess’s diagnosis very hard, in the wrong way. It was more than just grief, it was overboard unsolicited advice. I had to learn on the fly how to stand up and say nicely, “Back off, we’re her parents, we’ll take care of it.” Most vehemently when they were demanding we put her through a medically unnecessary MRI scan.

The changes since those early days are much more subtle, but to me, just as striking. The biggest of which is, I’m a social person. I put myself out there. Which is a huge deal because I was diagnosed in college with social anxiety disorder and I despise social gatherings, but when it’s for The Princess, when it’s about autism, I know no shyness.

The irony, of course, being that autism causes individuals to be apart from society because of the lack of socialization skills, communication and often times sensory issues. Yet, having a child with autism has ripped my shell off me like nothing else ever could and allowed me to reach out and to advocate and to actually engage in the conflicts I would typically avoid. It has made me friends and allies. Occasionally enemies, but guess what, that’s what happens when you stand for something.

A fellow autism mom said I was always me, but autism just brought me out. I had it in me all along. I just didn’t know it until the need arose.

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