Autism is in the news, social media, and even old fashioned print more than ever. The increasing awareness is great. The influx of research and funding options is even better! The heartwarming stories are nice, the success stories are inspiring. Still, misinformation and slanted headlines annoyingly abound. Such is this strange, complicated, passionate and ultimately very special autism community. We are glad to be a part of it, and do our best to honor and respect the many contributing voices. As a community we are making progress in many ways and we continue to have optimism that together and individually we can make great strides. But we have no doubt, the most important person to each and every parent, day-in and day-out is your child with autism.
So what will this year’s 365 days mean for you? We suggest this simple but powerful idea: Progress. When your past the notion that there may be a quick fix and come to terms that the pursuit of cure won’t help you with today’s challenges, progress is the name of the game. Forget quantum leaps, each milestone met will offer its own reward. Know there will be set backs and rough patches, and keep moving forward.
BE PRESENT: There are lots of amazing therapists, doctors and teachers in the world. These are brilliant folks that have taught me so much about development and parenting. But you are the one that is with your child every day and for real progress to take place, you gotta be in the game. And don’t forget to take time to just BE with your child, to appreciate all the beautiful, unique ways he expresses himself and what he enjoys.
BE CONSISTENT: What is the 12 step motto…”the more you work it, the more it works”? Working consistently with your child’s team to implement strategies and teach him…even when it is hard or inconvenient, propels the process.
BE A FRIEND/SPOUSE/PERSON: You can’t focus on autism 24 hours a day. You just can’t. Make time for yourself, your friends and your family. When you do, life just makes more sense, has more balance and you will likely have more stamina for the work ahead.
BE GRATEFUL: Count those blessings, celebrate the wins and enjoy every single bit of progress. This is the real juice of life that makes it all worth it. No one else will feel the joy quite the way you will. It’s awesome.
Of course we will keep reading the headlines, keeping up to date is valuable and research is exciting. In 2015 we will continue to be moved, enlightened and sometimes annoyed by it all. Stick to the plan that works for you and your family and know that come December 31, 2015 you will be able to look at another year passed – and call it good.