4 Hopes for Parents Embracing Autism in their Child
In 2008, we discovered our son was challenged with special needs. We were derailed and a little stunned, but thanks to my hot, amazing warrior of a wife we leaned in on life. We went out on date night and discussed our strategies in the years to come. We knew we had the choice to break down or break through. I wanted to share a few of many strategies we compiled to allow our family to flourish in the seasons that followed.
Lil Noah was three years old when we found out. He is now nine and so much has changed. Not only his character, but also our life season. First, if you’re reading this post and have a child with autism or a spectrum disorder or special needs, I want to thank you for being here. More than anything, I want you to know:
It is a team effort – You are this child’s parent for a reason. I know that God made us our kids’ parents because we are exactly what they need. Chantel and I share the weight and load of responsibilities that are essential to his growth. In addition, our daughter Griffin needs just as much care and attention. They say if you have one child with special needs you actually have two.
Go on date nights – Date nights are essential to a productive marriage and parenting. These are one of the greatest disciplines and suggestions from our premarital counseling we did over 15 years ago. Some of the greatest dreams, vision casting, and life decisions have come from date nights. If you are single, you want to do just the same. Take one night a week where you can get alone. Time you can use to journal, fill your cup, and be uninterrupted. Maybe that one night to meet with another parent dealing with the same just to exhale and refresh. Either way, whether single or married, we need that one night to reboot and talk strategy. When Chantel and I go out, we have to ask each other how we are feeling about the marriage and what can we do to make it better. So much happens in a seven-day period. It’s awesome to take inventory and know you’re not alone.
The goal post will be moved numerous times – This has a positive and negative spin. It’s great that life won’t stay this way forever and then the challenge is knowing it’s in a constant state of change. When we first embarked on this journey, we learned different treatments, diet, and aggressive early intervention. Did they pay off? Yes. Has it changed since? Big time. It has evolved to new treatments and lifestyle changes.
The truth we hold on to is that it’s all temporary. Regardless of the season or challenges, whether kids or career, etc., we realize this is the only year we will have the kids at this age. Life is happening while we are busy making plans or running strategies. We’ve learned to put things in place in where we feel called to help our kids and then enjoy life with them.
I will be writing another post about this, but we’ve even modified life in that we now homeschool too. Being self-employed, we wanted a flexible life to be able to travel but also have the opportunity to be with our kids and closely monitor how well they are learning. It’s allowed us to see realities in our kids and also gain margin with the time to create more value.
Just know this: embrace the concept of life being in a constant state of change. When we first embarked on the journey, we were dealing with autism in our family, challenges with business, investments, the recession, etc. The smartest thing we ever did was minimize our life as much as possible. We got things really small. It meant spending less, which meant needing to work less and concentrate on our kids. Be bold in where you can trim the fat of expenses, and time sucks. Most important, I wanted a life of being present with our kids. It’s paid off beyond belief.
You’re not alone – I remember when all of this first landed on us, I just felt really alone as a dad. We didn’t have a ton of other parents we knew going through the same thing. That’s why I started this blog. It was a way to vent and help as many Dads and parents as possible. You’re not alone and know you are the exact parent your child is supposed to have. You are their greatest asset. Just remember: we are responsible for the instruction, but we don’t control the outcomes. These kids are a gift and ours to manage. We don’t own them. They are on loan to us.
Our kids are the greatest blessing in our life next to our spouse. Soak up the memories and forget the culture’s pressure of your self-worth being based on your net worth. Our greatest investments sleep under our roof every night.
I’d love to hear from you and any hope that might be of benefit to others with a comment below. Also, if you know a parent or friend that could use this post, please repost and share.