Being a parent of a child on the spectrum has made me even more aware that each person, situation and experience is different. My family’s experience living with autism is our experience; owning it has allowed us to live a little less frustrated over the years.
When I say own your experience my intent is that you stop looking into the lives and others wishing for their situation instead of your own. From the beginning and although I was scared I never wished for a typical child—meaning one without sensory processing disorder or Asperger’s syndrome.
“Never?” you ask. No, not even once.
When I was in college I worked on a project with a recovering alcoholic. At the same time, I was dealing with some of the residue left behind after enduring childhood sexual abuse. Over lunch he told me that I could never overcome my issues without admitting that there was a problem. That is when I learned about the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) 12-Step Program.
According to Recovery.org, the first step of AA is “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” The organization goes on to explain this statement.
The first step of AA is to admit that you have a problem. Those who are not ready to admit to a problem may not be able to seek the help they need, and they may be more likely to return to drinking. Accepting that a problem exists and facing it may be difficult, but it makes the person aware of it. Admitting it to other people enforces the issue.
While having autism is not the same thing as being an alcoholic, the principle of admittance is universal. If you don’t own your problem, or in the case of autism—if you don’t own your diagnosis/experience—you may never get your child the help he deserves.
Staring autism in the face allowed me to see my child. It allowed me to see me as well as the people around me. If a child never gets the help he needs he may never reach his full potential. It was hard facing it but it gave me an opportunity to do something and to meet people who could help me help him.
More than anything, staring autism in the face has helped me to own my experience. I have a bright, funny, and talented son with a British accent and a mean golf swing. Facing my own experience opened me up to be an advocate and to write about autism from my perspective. My experience has also taught me how to lean on God when I’m weary. I’m stronger because of my son’s strength.
Owning my experience forced me to participate instead of staying on the bench.
Are you owning your experience?