I have thought a lot lately about my journey with autism. I can’t believe it has been four full years since the word autism was thrown in my face. So much has happened in those short four years. I have grown and became stronger in ways that I never thought was possible. I have learned how to become a fighter, and I have learned more about the definition of “hope” than I ever thought I would.
In my short journey, I have shed countless tears of sorrow for my boys. At the same time that I shed tears of sorrow, I have shed tears of joy over the smallest of accomplishments. I have learned the meaning of “tough love.” I have been up around the clock for days on end, which has led to severe sleep deprivation. I have fought battles that I never knew were possible. I have become a pro at foreseeing the things that will trigger meltdowns with my children. I learned to read all of Trenton’s noises and body language and know what he wants, since he can’t tell me. I have learned that severe and mild autism are nothing alike.
I discovered how to become an advocate for my children. After all, they can’t advocate for themselves, so who is going to if I won’t? I have spent days and nights researching the latest news in order to find something to help them. I have spent hours upon hours on social media talking to complete strangers because we have autism in common. I have learned that complete strangers often know and understand what I’m going through better than anyone else. I’m not sure what I would do without my “autism friends” on the Internet.
Sadly, on my autism journey I have learned that autism didn’t just bring challenges to my children, it also brought challenges to my marriage, family and friends. I soon faced the fact that the people who don’t get it are often the ones closest to you. Unfortunately, because of this, I have lost family, friends and a marriage in the past four years. However, as I mentioned earlier, I gained many new loved ones dealing with autism by seeking out the people just like me.
It has been a rocky road the past four years, filled with many challenges. If I could sum up what I have learned over the past four years and will continue to learn the rest of my life in one short sentence, it would be this: I never knew the amount of strength and fight that I had in me.
Autism has knocked me down, but I always get back up and will continue to do so. I didn’t know before that it was humanly possible to go on such little sleep and still have the energy and strength to battle each day. I never knew that two little boys could teach me so much about both myself and their disability. The past four years have been challenging, yet very rewarding at the same time. I am very blessed to travel this difficult road in life. I look forward to what the years ahead have in store for me and my children. I know, just as in these past years, that we will have many difficult times ahead of us, but we will get through it. We have that amazing strength to help us get by.
Angela and her family reside in Terre Haute, Indiana, where they moved to get more help for her son with severe autism. She was born and raised in a small town in southern Illinois where her love for animals and helping others blossomed.
She enjoys sharing the honest and real side of autism through her writing. Her writing may not apply to every family with a child with autism, but it is sure to apply to the families raising children on the severe end of the spectrum.