In the 10+ years since Sweet B’s diagnosis, I’ve learned quite a bit about autism and about myself.
There have been a lot of tears, a lot of anger, a bit of guilt and a bit of grief.
There has also been a lot of joy and personal growth. I’ve shared a few things in the past, like dealing with the initial diagnosis and in the Autism A to Z series, I’ve also shared a bit of our story. This started as a personal blog, so I still like to keep some of my personal stories present.
That’s why today I’m sharing 10 things that autism has taught me. If I really sat down and thought about it, I could probably write a book… but we’ll start with a blog post. These are just a few lessons learned from being the parent of an autistic child.
Initially, I never would have said that my daughter’s diagnosis was a positive thing.
It wasn’t something that I was going to celebrate and I doubt that you could find a cake in the store that would say: Congratulations on Your Child’s Autism! It’s just not something that you would want to celebrate.
But, now it’s something that I can at least look at somewhat positively.
By looking for the joy in the every day and by appreciating the lessons that I’ve learned.
10 Things That Autism Has Taught Me
1. Strength. Autism has taught me strength in so many ways. Not being physically strong, but how to be emotionally and mentally strong. There have been days where I was pulling my hair out and days that I just wanted to give up. But my daughter needed me and that kept me going.
2. Perfection is overrated. I am a bit of a perfectionist so this one was definitely a hard pill to swallow. But I had to accept that in order to function. While I would ideally want everything to be perfect- it’s just not possible.
3. Plans will be ruined- and that’s okay. Even if I would love to be able to plan something to the very last minute and detail, sometimes it just won’t happen. And that’s okay. I have learned to be flexible and to accept that it’s not always going to go as intended. Yes, routines and schedules are still important (perhaps more so for my daughter than me) but even when those don’t go as planned; I need to remember that it’s okay.
4. Anger is okay. I’ve learned to accept and embrace my emotions. I’m only human and they happen. The main thing is how I deal with my emotions. And instead of holding them in, I need to learn to let it go.
5. There is joy in every day. Sometimes you just might have to squint a little to find it. But appreciating every day and finding the joy in every day things has been crucial. Instead of focusing on the things that my autistic daughter cannot do, I focus on the things that she can do.
6. Expectations will need to be lowered. This applies to expectations I have of myself, of people in my life, and those around me. I can’t always set these lofty expectations and then expect for people to meet them. And the same holds true for myself. Yes, setting goals and having higher standards is great… but I also need to be realistic- which brings me to lesson number 7.
7. Some days the glass is half full and some days it’s half empty and some days it’s best to just be appreciative that you have a glass. It’s okay to be a skeptic and it’s okay to be a little cynical and pessimistic. It’s also okay to be a little optimistic. The important thing is to find a balance. I try to be a realist and keep that point of view with everything. On the days that are particularly trying, I remember what I’m grateful for and count my blessings.
8. Patience is a virtue that I don’t always have. My patience threshold has been tested numerous times but it has also increased. I have never been known for my patience but with autism, I’ve learned that I need to have it.
9. Being stubborn is not always a bad thing. I have always been a stubborn and willful person. This has worked both for and against me. But as a parent of a child with autism… being stubborn, when applied in the right situation, is a good thing. It’s helped me to be more firm when I’m advocating for my daughter.
10. Tomorrow is another day. Some days, no matter how hard you try or no matter how much you want them to be different- just aren’t going to work out that way. And that’s okay. That’s why there’s tomorrow. So you can start fresh.
Autism has taught me a lot- about myself, about being a parent, and about life in general.
These were just 10 things that autism has taught me… but there are probably hundreds more. Being a parent of an autistic child is a challenge and there are new skills that I pick up with each passing day.
This post was originally published on April 15, 2015 and was updated on February 29, 2016.
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Great post. My oldest daughter is a very strong willed child. She has ADD and can be challenging at times. Our kids are always teaching us new things, aren’t they? It makes us stronger as parents. 🙂
Your list of 10 things include so many important lessons applicable to any kind of struggle in life. We’d never know how strong we really are if we weren’t faced with trials and obstacles. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your perspecitve.
I love your list! I think most of these can be applied to having kids in general! I have 4 boys, my oldest has ADHD my 9 and 5 year old are speech delayed and dyslexic and I struggle with each of them in a different way daily. Austism is on a whole other spectrum and I praise you for having the patience to handle the struggle everyday and realize they are beautiful children and not doing things “just to annoy you”. <3
This is a wonderful list and I have to agree that loving and caring for someone with Autism has taught me these things too!
Thank you so much, Echo 🙂
I admire parents that embrace with positivism their children’s conditions. I believe God send us special kids to make us better parents.
I really appreciate this post and your kindness in sharing your experience and lessons learned. I can just imagine what it is like, but the ten lessons you posted certainly made you a much better person. I will also keep that in mind. And also share your post to friends of mine who need to know. Thank you for sharing!
Amazing. It’s so uplifting so see parents take on the challenge and be so positive. Your daughter is lucky to have you!
For Paula Schuck
This is a really great post. Thank you for sharing what you have learned on your journey.
These are great lessons to have learned. It must be a learning experience each day.
All respect to moms who are living the autism journey with their kids. And dads, too. I know more than a few. Humbling to me.
These are all great points knowing these definitely helps you and the child.
Thank you for sharing at Waiting on…Wednesday! So many things to embrace from this post but by favorite part was where you said, “There is joy in every day. Sometimes you just might have to squint a little to find it. ” Hope you’ll link up again!
Thank you so much, Holly 🙂 I will be visiting the link-up again today so I can visit some new blogs.
This is great. I’m sharing it on my FB. Remembering tomorrow is another day when the guilt sets in is something I try to do as well with my special-needs kid.
Thank you 🙂 And yes.. tomorrow is another day got me through a lot of the early days and even some of the days now.
Life lessons are hard but they always come with the strength to bear them. Each of us has our own crosses to bear. I appreciate the fact that you are letting God give you some positive reasons why He has trusted you with this precious child. May God bless you in your journey !!!
I love your list. I can imagine it is challenging a lot of the time but you’re right, finding the joy in each day is what matters.
Thanks for sharing on the Shine Blog Hop!
As an autistic person, this does my heart good.