As Another Year Draws to a Close…

As another year draws to a close, I realize that the little piece of my heart that had once seemed forever broken is growing bigger and bigger with each passing year. I have heard that grief and pain get better as time passes, but they don’t. A person’s way of coping gets better, but the pain is forever there. The same is true for a family dealing with a child who has a severe disability. The pain from the daily struggles is always there—we just find better ways to cope with it as time goes on.

When Trenton was first diagnosed at the age of two, my outlook and hope were much bigger and brighter. However, as I watch him grow older and get bigger, there seems to be a dimmer switch on my hopes for the kind of future that I longed for my son.

The years go by. The therapy sessions come and go. Have we made progress during these years of therapies? We most certainly have. However, his progress as a child with severe autism is very slow. The steps and progress are huge for us, but in the autism world, as most of you know, we travel at our own pace and it’s very slow. However, this year we did achieve potty training! That was the hardest task that I have done yet with my sons. It was an 18-month process with lots of tears and meltdowns, but we did it!

I am grateful and forever thankful for each passing year with the progress that we make. But, if I am totally honest, it pulls at my heartstrings. I can’t help but think that, in a way, it gets a little bit worse emotionally as time goes on because he gets older and his disability is more obvious. He doesn’t blend in as well with peers his own age. He is getting older but is still not able to communicate. I could go on with the list, but I am sure many of you understand exactly the areas that I am talking about.

As parents, we want nothing but the best for our children. I know all the sleepless nights we have been through this year. I have witnessed the hard work at OT, ST, and ABA. I am there each step of the way with him and, if I could make the progress go faster, I would. However, at the close of each year, I find myself changing my goals a little bit. I will always hope for the best outcome in life, but there is a time that I have to accept what it is looking like.

So, am I looking forward to what 2017 will bring us? I sure am! In every year that comes and goes, I have met and become aquainted with many amazing fellow autism/special needs parents. We all know that we couldn’t get through our journeys without each other. So, to you, my fellow autism/special needs parents, I wish you nothing but the best in 2017. I hope you and your children are able to make huge strides and achievements this year. We have another full year to see what we can accomplish in our exciting world of special needs.

Angela Conrad

Angela Conrad is a freelance writer, mom to two boys on the autism spectrum, determined autism advocate, and fun-loving person. When she is not doing her advocacy work, she can be found managing her son’s therapy schedules and all the other crazy things that life brings. She enjoys reading, exercising and helping others.

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