Autism Lives in This House 

Autism affects my child.

Autism affect me.

Autism affects my family.

Autism does not sit in isolation within my house. It seeps through the walls and lurks around the corners. It lies in wait most of the time. Most of the time it goes unnoticed to the the untrained eye. On a day to day basis my daughter manages fairly well. If you didn’t know autism lived in my house you might miss it all together. My house may look fairly similar to every house on the street. But the truth of the matter is that we are different. My daughter is different. I am different. My other neuro-typical children are even different. Autism is a part of our family.

Parenting is by far the most challenging and demanding job that there is. There isn’t a manual or a set of rules to follow that will ensure you take that precious baby and raise and evolve them into a successful adult. Disciple, structure, rules, what food you feed them, their school, their extracurricular activities, it seems like every decision you make will be shaping them and guiding them through life. As the parent, you’re in the driver’s seat. It is no easy task, but when you have a child with autism that job becomes so much more demanding….so much more intense. Decisions become bigger and more important and carry so much more weight. How to bring your child through life can be overwhelming. You find yourself reading parenting books, taking courses, reflecting on every decision you make, making decisions you never thought you would have to and looking at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and wondering. Why is this my reality? What should I be doing differently? Who can I ask for help? When will things get better? How can I make a difference in my child’s life?

Autism is my child’s reality, but it is also my reality and the reality of my family. We hold within these walls a set of diverse abilities that are unique and they shape us all. As a parent one of our primary jobs is to keep our children safe. Within these walls there are behaviors and language that I would never choose for my children to be exposed to. But they are. Not very often, but they are. How do you explain to your children the dynamic of having a sibling with autism in their home? Sometimes it feels like their sibling gets away with things, like autism is somehow their excuse. They often have a different set of rules and expectations. How do you explain to your children that the behavior that their sibling is exhibiting is unacceptable for them? I like to describe the idea of fair and equal to my children. Being fair is giving every individual what they need to succeed and because everyone is different that can’t always be equal. We do not have the same expectations for every child because every child has a unique set of needs. We meet every child where they are at and in turn create rules and routines based on their needs. We are fluid and reflective on these rules and guide them with an overall philosophy based on kindness and understanding and compassion. I have explained to my children that autism means that their sibling’s brain works a little differently than theirs. Sometimes everything around her is too much and she can’t filter things out and the part of her brain that helps her make logical decisions just can’t work in those moments. When I think of how I want my other children to come through life this is what I want for them. I want kindness and understanding and compassion. I want them to look deeper than the behavior that they see on the surface and understand that it is often more complex than what they can actually see. I want them to learn that we are all different.

The additional stress that raising a child with autism poses on a parent is immense. It feels like a weight that you carry around with you most days. Some days it is like a small rock in your pocket. The additional weight isn’t much but it reminds you that it is there as you reach your hand in and run your fingers back and forth over the smooth and rough edges. Other days it feels like you have a heavy sac thrown over your shoulder. It feels like you might crumble beneath the weight. This weight becomes more than a physical burden. It is a burden to your mind as you are constantly in a deep thought process. It can be anything from making sure that the schedule and routines of the day are in place. You worry about tomorrow and what triggers might set your child off. You worry about next week when you know their teacher is going to be away and wonder how they will cope with that change. You worry about everything that you do and everything that you don’t do. You worry if it’s enough. You worry about what their life will look like after 18 years. Will everything that you are doing today and tomorrow prepare them for the future?

Autism has made me a stronger person. It has made me a better parent. There are days I wish my house was like the neighbor’s down the street. But those days are few and I accept them when they occur. It’s normal to compare and normal to want what we don’t have. But I am thankful for what my daughter has taught me and what she has taught my other children. As much as I am molding her, she is molding my family. My children see unconditional love on a daily basis. They see forgiveness. They see that we accept different people. They see that we come from a place of compassion even when we don’t understand. They see that we get up in the morning and try again even after a terrible day. They see that we are a family and we stick together and support each other even when it’s hard. Autism lives in this house, it is a part of our family.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wayne
    May 02, 2016 @ 04:43:48

    Another wonderful write Jessica….articulated like only you could 🙏🌙



  2. FofoFl'or
    Dec 28, 2016 @ 19:56:18

    I can only imagine the love and strength it takes but keep loving your children, and teaching them..understanding and compassion as you are doing and then trust the process because its all a journey!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. loveonastick
    Feb 08, 2017 @ 07:44:55

    Wow. Would you mind if I reblog this ?

    Liked by 1 person


  4. loveonastick
    Feb 08, 2017 @ 08:05:08

    I have two kids, one recently diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, though I’ve known since he was very small. Your post describes our household so well, living in a constant state of anxiety. And given his High Functioning status, our reality is invisible to almost everyone. That’s one of the reasons I started to open up in a few posts, just to let it out!

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Trackback: Autism Lives in This House  « loveonastick

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