Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I find the main focus of my blogging is directed to educating the public who don’t deal with autism on a daily basis, revealing the emotions, some well known, some not, as well as being a voice for those whose lives are similar to my own and let them know they aren’t alone. It was excruciatingly hard to write my post The Hardest Thing. In fact since I wrote it, I have only been able to reread it a few times since then. Yet it was amazingly less difficult to click the “publish” button. You get to a point where you can’t hide what is happening anymore, and it just pours out.

I also want to clarify “normal”. People balk at the word “normal” as though it is some derogatory term or a minimizing and marginalizing description of a life. I find many people dealing with autism feel “normal” is offensive and insulting to the value of their family member, who may not be considered “normal”. On the other side of it, I find that many people not dealing with autism find the term to be minimizing or marginalizing their own struggles that they might face. Yet, we unconsciously are aware of normal. Why is it that we have regular classrooms and special needs ones (and I might argue “regular” is just “normal” in disguise)? Autism families like to use the term “neuro-typical”, but I feel that, in reality, it means the same thing. If “normal” is said in a non-shaming or unashamed way than I see no problem with it. “Neuro-typical” is only as safe as the way the person says it. I feel like it has just the same amount of danger in the chances it will be misused. In short, I feel like what’s more important than the “correct” term is that you make your child feel loved, valued, and important just like any other child is.

For many autism families, “normal” means living life without restrictions that autism can bring. Now that isn’t to say I wish away my son or his person-hood and personality, but we have to be honest and say we would wish away the hardships autism causes, for them and us. So for us, “normal” is you, the family without autism’s effects.

I don’t want you to feel like we see you as perfect with the perfect life. Every “normal” mom I am friends with struggle with things personal to them. Children may be getting into trouble, mild and severe, and be saying the same thing; “I just wish we could be a normal family.” Infertility, depression, finances, abuse, marriage strife. They all can say the same thing, and all have a valid complaint. “Normal” can very well be “in the eye of the beholder”.

It also serves as a descriptor for average. The average of society have children who are in regular classrooms. In every elementary school where I am from, there are only 1-2 special ed. classrooms for the whole school, while the regular classrooms have 3-4 classes per grade.

One of the hardest parts socially for parents with autistic children, in my opinion, is that you tend to feel isolated; As if you don’t belong to normal society because of the difference of life with autism and life without. There is a segregated feeling to it.

I have my friends with special needs children and they are invaluable to me. My special needs moms have an understanding and support that can’t be matched, in that this type of understanding and empathy can only come from sharing the same experiences.

My friendship with the “normal” moms. With them, I am just me, who happens to have a son with autism. They offer empathy and support that makes me feel like I belong to society as a whole, and am seen as a valuable person someone without autism in their lives would like to befriend. I feel less tempted to go into discussion over Taylor and his current therapies, his schooling, his progress with treatments, and so on. It doesn’t mean that I don’t talk about our struggles; It’s just I am more likely to talk about other parts of my life as well. I’m not saying this is every autism mom; I can only describe me.

Now mind you, my friends are my friends because I like them and they like me. Nothing else. I’m not looking to fill a “normal mom” and “autism mom” quota. I’m just noticing some of the impacts they make on my life.

Many “normal” people have shied away from us because our life paths don’t match theirs very much at all. It hurts because so many times they are great people who we would love to have a friendship with, and when they shy away (or in some cases, avoid), it really hurts.

 

So to the “Normal Mom”-

Please don’t shy away. Please don’t let my unique situation get in the way of forming a friendship, and I will promise the same to you. I value your problems and struggles and think they are valid and important, just like I would hope you will mine. I like you. You seem to be a great person who I have a lot in common with. I am a “Normal Mom” too.

…I just happen to have a child with autism (an awesome one 🙂 )

 

With Much Love <3,

 

p.s. Sorry about the billion quotation marks 😉

Sarah

As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.

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Sarah