It's lonely being a mom of a special needs child

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April is autism awareness month and in honor of this, I want to share my heart on this diagnosis... I'm not sure I've ever shared this with anyone. I'm not sure I even realized it at the time. But, there was a time in my life where I felt isolated. I felt like no other friend could really understand what it was like to go through what I was going through. I had many sympathetic friends. But, no one to really understand. I would watch my friends' children talk, walk, develop. And, my son couldn't say anything. He couldn't even say "Momma" and it was disheartening to me. He didn't point at things, like my friends' babies would. He wouldn't look right at me. He wouldn't handle smiles from strangers. He would go into temper tantrums with seemingly no one who could console him. It was hard, day to day.

At the same time, I had a husband and all our precious family who were in this autism thing with me - together. They were precious to me -- I would call and cry to them. I would need my pep talks from them. They were truly such great cheerleaders to me.

It was the day to day times that were lonely. When our son was diagnosed with autism, not only did I not have a clue what autism was - this was 11 years ago and he was 2 1/2 - but I didn't know any child who had it. So, the daily difficulties of having a child home with you, all day, trying to navigate something you didn't know whether you were doing right or wrong, was hard. I didn't know how to discipline him. I didn't know how to get him to understand what I wanted from him.

It was {and still is} expensive. We spent a lot of money on holistic doctors, therapists, and anyone who we thought could help us with our son. You get desperate and want to do anything you can to help your child. We had wonderful therapists that offered us solutions and hope. They taught us how to handle him, as they had worked with countless children with the same diagnosis. We appreciated it. I met other moms like me, while sitting and waiting through the many hours of therapy. I talked with them. We shared our stories and journeys. It was so comforting.

I had support at church. Our children's pastor and our preschool director helped me work out a way to have a shadow {volunteer} with him while he was there, since he could become quite unpredictable and difficult. I was so thankful for that, and still am.

It was hard driving from place to place, having him start preschool away from me when he's was so little - three. You do what you can, though, to help your child. You struggle with whether or not you are doing the right thing. It was lonely for me when my son would get set off by any small thing in a public place. People stared. People spoke about their disdain for him, of my bad parenting. It hurt. We worked very hard with our son. I was very consistent with him with discipline and with his needs.

As the years went by, I began to be able to pick up on other children - noticing earlier than moms that I could see they had an autistic child. I call it my "radar" and can now spot a child in public that has autism. I am much more compassionate about a screaming child in a store, as oftentimes I know it may not be that mom's fault. It could be that her child has autism and just about any small thing will set them. I joined a group of ladies from church who had children with special needs - physical and mental - and we were able to talk about IEPs, discipline, emotions, and everything else that goes with having a child that isn't like the others. We met monthly. It was so freeing for all of us to talk about something and help one another out.

I started blogging about it a few years ago. It was amazing to see the response. So many moms understood what it was like and sought the same comfort I had longed for in my early days of being a mom of this autistic child. I pray that if you have a child with special needs that you know you are blessed. Know that this is no accident. God chose you to care for that child. It's lonely. It's hard. But, seek God through it. He is there to hold you through it. You are the advocate for your child - I fought hard for my son. I still do. God has transformed our son and we are amazed at how much he has changed. The loneliness was not in vain. The hard times have proven to be effective in both our lives and his. It has been worth it. It doesn't discount the fact that it was hard. But, it makes it easier knowing that this child is now highly praised by his teachers at his public school and is a testimony to them, telling them about his love for Christ and how we are able to proclaim the Gospel when speaking to them.

I pray for all of you who understand this loneliness. Know that you aren't alone. It's so much easier to find others, now, that are in the same place as you. Do you have a child with autism, a relative with autism, or know of a friend's child with autism?

Blessings, Becky, Organizing Made Fun