As a parent, finding our way to acceptance of this invader in our life, autism, is a tricky path to walk. We tend to hold out hope that things will be better once… (fill in the blank with “…he gets through special kindergarten and can go to regular first grade…” or “…he finishes high school and can go to college like other kids his age…” or “…she gets out of school and gets a job supporting herself…”).
Unlike parents of children with other disabilities whose long-term outcome is clear early in life, and so they grieve once and then pick up the pieces and move forward, those of us with children on the autism spectrum tend to grieve over and over again at each new crossroad that our child does not master like kids who are not on the spectrum.
It can be helpful at some point to make the decision NOT to expect our child to magically become just like other kids their age. Making the decision to recognize, accept and work with their differences is much more effective, and much less complicated than continually expecting them to rebound and be “normal,” although that doesn’t mean it is easy. Coming to terms with autism in this way can be painful, but the truth is, the number one thing we need to realize is that acceptance is our best shot at a good life for all of us.