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    Posted July 14, 2014 by
    San Francisco, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Raising a special needs child

    Autism Lessons

    Seven years ago, a small word entered my life --Autism. Yet its effects on me have been anything but small. Since that time, it has angered me, shaken me, confused me, motivated me, saddened me, inspired me, and surprisingly at times, befriended me. But mostly, it has taught me some of the greatest lessons in my life. It continues to teach me everyday. In no particular order, here are just a few of my autism lessons.....
    ...bringing my beautiful new baby home from the hospital and dreaming all my preconceived mommy dreams for his life
    ...watching him rest sweetly in his crib and just knowing all was right in his world and mine
    ...hearing the words "He has autism" three years later and wondering if anything would ever be all right again
    ...feeling helpless, unprepared and weaponless to battle this mysterious new enemy
    ...having my dreams for him suddenly take a backseat to figuring out how to help him
    ...becoming more knowledgeable, more resilient, more understanding, more sleep deprived, more inquisitive, and more relentless than I ever imagined I could be, just so I can be his voice for as long as he needs it
    ...becoming an amateur lawyer, teacher, psychologist, speech therapist, behavior therapist, financial analyst, and child advocate as fast as I possibly could
    ...realizing I must use these new found 'degrees' to help all children with special needs, not just my own. They all need our voices.
    ...beginning to realize that I wasn't weaponless in this battle after all--my love for him was the 'weapon' I used to find the answers we needed
    ...seeing that when love became my 'weapon', the enemy and its minions eased up on me a bit
    ...never giving up to get his social, educational, and health needs met. Taking 'no' for an answer was not an option I, or he, could afford
    ...learning to take mama multitasking to a whole new level
    ...still having those questioning days of 'did I see the signs too late?' 'could I have done better to help him?' All the while knowing we all do the best we can with what we have at the moment. Beating up on myself has never helped a thing
    ...slowly ripping the 'enemy' label off of the word autism. Recognizing it as the teacher it came to be. Ignoring its lessons would be futile and would not serve me or my child
    ...learning from my son that joy, and a reason to smile, can be found almost anywhere if you try to find it
    ...hoping I have taught him as much as he has taught me
    ...watching him reach developmental milestones, whether on time or delayed. Remembering when I thought he may never reach them, then smiling and removing the word 'never' from my vocabulary
    ...having my dreams for him take shape once more. Perhaps a different shape, but wonderful and promising all the same
    ...seeing my child learn new skills from his siblings and schoolmates. And watching them learn just as much from him. Priceless
    ...discovering that sometimes overprotectiveness is warranted. Other times realizing it was part of the problem. Learning to loosen my grip when necessary, and allowing my child to rise to the occasion so he can become all that he is capable of when the limits are removed
    ...coming to realize that autism is only part of who he is, not all that he is
    ...literally being forced to see the world, and how to live in it, with brand new eyes. Living outside the box, and gratefully dropping the word 'normal' from my vocabulary
    ...feeling extraordinarily blessed by the family, friends, doctors, teachers, therapists, who have stepped into his life, accept him as he is, and show him immeasurable amounts of love and support
    ...learning to ask for help when I need it. Being a rock is not always possible
    ...seeing my hopes, fears, and confusion in the eyes of other parents of children with special needs and helping them along this mysterious journey the best I can.
    ...being thankful for the parents of special needs children who have done the same for me
    ...learning one of my most favorite lessons so far, the peace in living free of judgment. To delight in just being who you are and allowing others to do the same. Kids with autism have this one down. We should all be so lucky
    So to that small word that entered my life a few years ago in the form of my beautifully wonderful child....thank you for teaching me that love is the way. Thank you for teaching me to never say never. Thank you for teaching me that 'normal' is extremely overrated and that beauty comes in many forms. Thank you for teaching me that to judge others is always bad judgment. And thank you for teaching me that joy is always there if I take the time to notice it. Thank you for all of my lessons.
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