Those who live with it know that autism does become your lifestyle. You eventually learn to live with grace and creativity with it.
There are some misconceptions about children with special needs and their families with regards to what our expectations from society are .
The general population thinks we need some form of sympathetic response from them for having a child who is more dependent on her parents than theirs is. People, mostly out of their own awkwardness around special needs, blurt out unfeeling sentences like “ Allah gives you these burdens cuz He has reserved something special for you”. Or “ You are so strong, you do it so well. Minha is so lucky to have you”.
Let me tell you something. We are not any stronger than you are. We weren’t born different from you, mothers of typical children! We weren’t raised different than you. We had never heard autism just like you’re hearing it for the first time and marveling at my “ great job” with my daughter without any idea what it entails to be her parent and advocate.
Most of my friends are special needs parents. Most of them have learned that in order for their kids to thrive, they’ll have to constantly hustle. They’ll have to constantly go from pole to post looking for the right therapist, the right school and the right books. It’s not easy. Imagine parenthood and then imagine a parent’s worst fear! That their child might depend on them forever. It tugs at your mind constantly.
But then look at this picture! Look at how all our worries go up in a puff (even if for a few hours). How our kids who are considered so disadvantaged show potential beyond what their assessments show!
My then eight year old who couldn’t learn to ride a bike despite this being a part of her IEP (individualized educational plan) for four years, learns to do this in a week flat during last summer. My mom (who refuses to see autism as restrictive at all and who in her own way is pretty much the scariest force of nature I know) took my daughter around the block multiple times and continued to change bikes repeatedly, convinced that with the right bike Minha could ride.
Minha mastered the bike, needless to say. I have been in awe of my mom many times before but this is a beyond thing even by her standards.
Picture of my kids cruising the neighborhood on their own two and four wheelers.