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Parenting & Autism – A Different Perspective Appreciating the Little Things

Parenting comes with a lot of doubt and a lot of worry.

Regrets and fears creep in all the time. When you are a parent of children with special needs those feelings become amplified.

I’m that parent. I have been there.

The blessings and things you wish for are the very same things that typical parents take for granted. That is the giftThat is the blessing. Being stripped of the ability to take things for granted. When the simplest, mundane, often taken for granted things happen – a parent of a special needs child can feel like Snoopy Dancing! It’s a big deal! It’s the small stuff that you celebrated because nothing, absolutely nothing, is taken for granted. 

I woke early this morning as my internal clock is set for a certain time, stretching my bedtime hour well beyond the boundaries of what my body is used too didn’t seem to matter.

I wasn’t up so late because I wanted to be, I was up late because my oldest son, wasn’t home – he was at a party. In fact, I was mad because I couldn’t reach him, he didn’t call at midnight like we had agreed and it was approaching 2:00 am!  (He said “Mom! My phone died” and I said “Hmmmm – and no one else had a phone – right?!?!”)

This morning as I ponder the consequence that will be imposed on him, I also reflect on my own coming to age years (sorry Mom and Dad!) and how typical his evening was (he is 18 after all).

Experiencing thankfulness as a parent

Despite the annoyance and fatigue, I feel some gratitude for the still novel yet normal teenage and parent experience.  

Call me crazy (!!) but here are some other things I have been thankful for:  

  • My youngest (ASD) getting into trouble with another boy for goofing off during swim class when he was about 6. The other parent wasn’t too impressed, I was ecstatic.  
  • When my boys began to lie, I am not gonna lie – I was pretty happy!   
  • When a family friend said “your boys are fighting more these days!”  My response …. “I know…. isn’t it great!”  
  • When I told my oldest, I was NOT comfortable with him backing the car out of the garage yet and he didn’t listen and backed out anyway … into the garage wall.   

WAIT!  SCRATCH the last one!! OK!  I wasn’t so happy about his personal drive (aka motivation) and exertion of independence on that one!  

It’s the normal typical things in life that we all want for our kids.

When those steps in development are late or not developing – we miss them so much are hearts hurt. When they happen – its cause for the kind of joy that parents of typically developing kids may never know.  It’s time for snoopy dancing!

One of my motto’s over the years has been this … “Having children with special needs has been a gift from God, because it allowed me to appreciate the simplest things in life that I would not have otherwise.”

There have been many other things beyond the naughty unexpected moments that I also treasure like first words, conversations, good manners, taking initiative, problem solving, perspective taking, planning, empathy, resiliency, kindness and most importantly my kid’s intrinsic motivation and growth mindset!

Most importantly though I am happy and grateful for the fact that my kids are happy.  

So, as I ponder this morning about whether or not I let my son sleep in until noon and the appropriate level consequence for his action. I’m also loving the fact that I get to have this fairly typical parenting experience. 

As my kids SOAR to new heights and catch some air, I’m learning to let go while striving to raise resilient responsible respectful young men.  

What are some of the surprising yet simple things in life your kids have done that you are “oh so grateful” for? 

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