Sunday, April 14, 2013

Autism Understanding & Acceptance 2013, Day 14

Helpful Advice

Let me start by saying that any friends of ours that stayed by our side during this time, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have a permanent place in this very grateful heart of mine.

Two pieces of advice came on the very same day, in the very same location: our church. They were different from the other, but both have stuck with me to this day as advice that truly helped me.

First bit of advice came from our interim minister, with whom I had developed a trusting relationship due to my serving on the church board at the time. After the hearing about the official diagnosis, he said something close to this: Take about two weeks to grieve. Feel it. Don’t do anything for that time. But only two weeks - because after that, you’ve got work to do.

Some may feel that may have been kind of harsh, but it was exactly what I needed to hear, and here’s why: it acknowledged that grief needed to happen and it was okay to grieve. But he did not pity me. I didn’t know it at the time, but pity would have allowed me to wallow in the grief for too long. His advice let me know that I needed to pull myself together for Thomas’ sake before too long, a gentle nudge-in-the-butt. I needed to hear all of that.

Second bit of advice came from another mom in the church, who happened to be about 40 years older than I, and who raised a son with autism during the time of “refrigerator mothers”. (If you don’t know the term, Google it. Psychology has come a LONG way, baby.) She told me this: Look toward the light. There is always going to be darkness. But just look toward the light.

Her adult son now lives in his own home. He not only has a good job, he has a career. He walks to work with his helper dog every day. He’s doing it – living as independently as he can, contributing his skills & talents to society, has relationships – what so many of us want for our children.

I think it is fair to say that Rob & I have both taken her advice to heart. We look for the light, and despite the darkness around us, we have found that there is always plenty of light to see.

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