Trying to balance children, marriage, and a family takes incredible work and dedication in any family. Having a child with special needs can add to the challenge of balancing your life and relationships. I would not trade the lessons that have come through raising a child on the spectrum. These lessons I continue to learn to explore every day.

  • I learned how imperfect humanity is.
  • I am learning how to be and show compassion.
  • I am learning how to patient.
  • I have discovered how to forgive myself.
  • I have realized how to love unconditionally.

When it comes to humanity, we are flawed. We are selfish and sinful by nature. What I am reminded of when it comes to my son’s humanity journey is that he walks in it with innocence, utterly unaware of the nature that is a part of him. I must teach and model what is good; help him to understand the human relationships around him.

Brene Brown wrote,” The heart of compassion is really acceptance.” I had to learn to be compassionate before I could be accepting. As a new mom with a child with special needs, it was hard not to experience mommy guilt, shame, and blame. There were moments that I questioned was it my nutrition? Or was it stress? Or were my eggs tainted? I had to learn how to come to a place of acceptance. Only then could I be free to give my son what he needed to thrive. Brene Brown uses another quote by Pema Chodron that I feel will help me to convey my point, “When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience the fear of our pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us.” For me this was the life that comes with having child with Autism. The isolation sometimes the lack of support can be tough.

Forgiving myself was significant for me. I am sure any parent can relate to what I am about to say—the criticism, struggle, embarrassment, guilt, etc., is all very real. I can tell you many stories where my son had a meltdown or had publicly shown strange behavior, and people said things or gave blank stares. I cannot take what people say or do to heart. As Jay’s mother, I must do what is best for him, and as a parent, I might make a lot of mistakes, but that is ok too. As for unconditional love, loving and accepting him for who he is, no, he is not like other kids; his quirkiness, energy, and awkwardness make him who he is. The lessons on of forgiveness, unconditional love, compassion, and patience I will continue to learn daily, and they will forever be in practice because I am learning to do it every day.