I can’t stand when people learn of my son’s Autism diagnosis ask me if I’ve read the essay, “Welcome to Holland.”
In case you have not read it, it is about planning a beautiful trip to Italy and being unexpectedly re-routed to Holland. It uses the metaphor of the planned trip to Italy being the experience of raising a neuro-typical child, and the unexpected and desired happenstance of ending up in Holland as the experience of raising a child with special needs.
But, as we all know: raising a child with Autism is NOTHING like planning a trip to one beautiful place and ending up in another beautiful place.
If only it were as simple as learning a new language and buying a new guide book!
Yes, there is beauty, wonder and triumph AND the STRUGGLE is REAL.
This is why I want to remind you if there are days (or weeks) you are not loving “Holland” or having an “Autism is a superpower” kind of day:
There is nothing wrong with you.
Wishing your child was “normal”
Resenting other people for not understanding
Blaming yourself, God or the Universe
All of these thoughts and feelings are a normal part of raising a child with an invisible disability.
My best advice: Do not judge yourself.
This is because judgment creates more pain and suffering for you.
Instead of doubling down on your pain, try self compassion.
This simply means being kind to yourself, like you would a friend, when you are experiencing painful emotions.
Self compassion is important to 3 reasons:
1️⃣ It allows you to experience your pain, without adding to it.
2️⃣ It gives you the courage to try new things, take risks and grow. This is because when you are not living in fear of your own backlash, you are better able to recover from failures, setbacks or disappointments.
3️⃣ It grows your resilience. The more you grow the skill of recovering from setbacks quickly, the more capable you will be of handling anything that comes your way.
The Best News: practicing self compassion is SIMPLE and can be done any time you are feeling a painful emotion.
Here is what you can do:
Notice your suffering (“This is painful” or “This hurts”)
Normalize it: ” All special needs caregivers feel this way at some point.”
Talk to yourself like you would a friend.
BONUS: The more you do this the easier it will be for you to handle the twist and turns of parenting a child with Autism.
Give it a try!
P.S. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired about the mental, emotional and physical demands of parenting a child with Autism, I can help you NOW. Book a call here so we can talk about helping you feel better and we can see if it makes sense to work together.
P.P.S. If you have not already, grab “The 7 Truths Every Autism Mom Needs to Know” here.