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Ten Things I’m Thankful for about Autism November 27, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Family, Parenting, special needs.
Tags: , , , , ,

Well, it is Thanksgiving. So instead of my usual “the glass is not only half empty, but it’s chipped” take on life, I decided to reflect on what I have to be thankful for with respect to autism.

1.  I am thankful for my son, who I love beyond measure and comprehension. He has autism and I love him in spite of it and because of it. It is part of him and makes him who he is. Part-time angel boy. Part-time devil spawn.  And at all times, the cutest boy in the world.  If I didn’t have to deal with the challenges of his autism, life would be so easy. But I know I would be like all the other moms of typical children and…on some level that I wouldn’t even realize…I would take my typical life and my typical children for granted. Because of autism, I take nothing for granted. 

2.  I am thankful for my daughter, who I love beyond measure and comprehension. She does not have autism. She was born with a larger heart than God typically gives, so it could hold all the love she has for her little brother. She was born to teach him and protect him. He has changed her world in both good and not so good ways and she embraces and accepts it all with grace beyond her years.  She has changed his world. And she will change our world. She is beautiful to the core and is all the best of what a child should be.

3. I am thankful for my husband, who is my life’s true soul mate. He is without question the most wonderful man in the world. Like me, his children are everything to him. His needs come last. He is his daughter’s hero and, though he doesn’t see it, he is raising her to know all the qualities she should look for in a partner. His son feels safe in his arms.  Nothing is as beautiful as watching him sharing experiences with his son…whether on a playing field or just giving him a bath.  Yet, nothing is as heart-breaking as knowing his dreams for an easy, typical father-son relationship can not be. He is loyal, honest, kind, and loving. Before autism, he was even funny. There are many times when the stresses in life cause us to walk that fine line, but there is no stronger love than that which can still survive an autism diagnosis. Had we not been challenged by autism, I would not have known the true depth of my love for him.

4.  I am thankful for my in-laws, who at 81 years old, still remain a constant source of love and support and strength to our family. They are our only babysitters.  They support our son’s special diet.  They were willing to adjust their grandparenting style… after 30 years… to accommodate autism’s quirks. They changed… but did not lower … their expectations for my son.  They love unconditionally and completely, and honestly, they don’t even notice the autism.  They are the only grandparents my children will ever know, so God made them extra special with lots of love to share. If we didn’t have autism in our life, I would not have witnessed how deeply a parent can love an adult child and his spouse.

5.  I am thankful for the very, very few good friends we now know we have. The ones who almost “get it”. The ones who try as hard as they can to “get it”.  The ones who stuck around through the toughest times, especially the early years. Those who my kids know as “aunts” and “uncles” because they are a real part of our lives…unlike the family members and fair-weather friends who initially backed away and over time have effectively deserted us.  I used to think we had a lot of friends, and a big, close family.  Thanks to autism, I have learned what a true friend really is.

6.  I am thankful for the doctors who have devoted themselves to helping our children.  All of the DAN doctors, holistic and traditional. And all of the researchers committed to finding the cause and cure of this epidemic gripping our children. I am thankful for all the efforts of all the people who raise awareness of autism, even those whose platforms I may disagree with, because they are doing something. If we relied only on what efforts we exhausted parents could make, we would not be as far as we are today. If it were not for autism in my life, I would merely have a pediatrician, instead of the wellness professional who is helping our whole family heal and live well. And I’d know no more about autism than what I learned from Rainman.

7. I am thankful for the special education teachers and therapists whose tireless hard work has brought my son …slowly, but surely…back to this world. And I am thankful for their  parents who raised them to be the compassionate and generous people they are. The kind of people who studied at least 4 years and incurred student loans and got a degree so they can get the shit beaten out of them each day by a child who can’t help himself…and earn pennies for it.  If it were not for their patience and guidance… and their amazing ability to come back for more abuse day after day… my son would not be where he is today.  If it were not for autism, I would not know that angels like this walk the planet.

8.  I am thankful for the parents I had, who have been gone for almost 15 years and never got to be grandparents.  Nobody’s perfect, but to me, they were..because they were all mine. They gave me the skills I’ve turned out to need to handle the challenges in my life. And while I would give anything for them to have been able to see my children enter the world, a part of me is thankful that they didn’t have to see what a struggle their child’s life has turned out to be.  Thanks to autism, I now know that when a child suffers, their parent hurts 10 times worse.

9.  I am thankful for the thoughtful and compassionate strangers in the world.  The ones who don’t stop and stare. The ones who don’t make mean and hurtful comments. The people who are raising children to be caring and sensitive and accepting of the differences and limitations of others.  The ones who are populating the planet with kindness, so the world I will someday leave my children in may be not only tolerant, but brighter than the one we live in today. If it weren’t for autism, I would not even notice their supportive smiles.

10.  Finally, I am thankful for autism making me a better mother than I would likely have been.  For testing me and allowing me to prove myself worthy of the challenge…more often than not. For making those toddler years last longer than they normally would have otherwise.  And for teaching me not to expect great things, but to appreciate the greatness of small things.  

That’s what I am thankful for.

God Bless all of the wonderful special needs kids and their parents. Have a happy holiday, everyone.



1. Adonya Wong - November 28, 2008

Hey there!

What an awesome post! I hope you had a wonderful holiday. 🙂


Adonya Wong
Author | Autism Advocate | Blogger

2. embracingspirit - November 28, 2008

soooo beautful, all of it…..thanks for sharing!

3. hopeauthority - November 28, 2008

Thanks guys! I did have a great holiday. Hope yours was great too!

4. katiescottage - November 30, 2008

Wow-as a teacher I see the effects of autism and I wish more people could have your wonderful attitude! Thanks so much for your perspective!

5. hopeauthority - November 30, 2008

My real goal is to keep those deep and thankful feelings more in the forefront year round, not just at Thanksgiving time. The feelings are there, of course, but to be honest, the daily stresses of raising an autistic child mask them more often than not. But I truly am thankful for all of those people and I need to express that and focus on that more than I do. Thanks for checking in!

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