Autism: Where Hope and Courage Springs Eternal
By Pamela Bryson-Weaver
Author of the book Living Autism Day by Day:
Daily Reflections and Strategies to Give You Hope and Courage
Autism! That one word shook my whole world. Not that I am new to being a special needs Mom (my eldest son has Tourette’s) but, quite simply because autism was not yet that “popular” 17 years ago. When Johnny was diagnosed in (2000), my husband and I felt that we were facing a blank wall. I, on the other hand, wallowed in confusion and despondency and, yes, self-pity, too for several weeks. Truth be told, my dreams for my son died on that day and I blamed myself for that.
Looking back, I had a hard time accepting that John, my sweet little boy whose smile and laughter can light a whole village, is not going to grow up in the same way I see neurotypical boys. That he will have a hard time pursuing his dreams, that is, if he will even have dreams later on. I was also afraid of him being ostracized in school and be labeled something abhorrent. I dread the thought of him struggling to be accepted in a thriving life where normalcy only meant being neurotypical.
Each day back then, I woke up feeling miserable and hopeless. Accepting autism is never easy. I almost reached my breaking point but, I am lucky enough to have the constant love and support of my family. My husband never ceases to remind me that we should be happy, we were BLESSED twice—Tourette’s with Joshua and Autism with John. This is the best thing about having a friend for a life partner. You talk. You argue. You even yell at each other but always, always ensuring that you both came out as better persons, better parents thereafter.
Another growing fear for me was that of growing old. It felt like a revering kind of fear. The enormity of the demand was staring straight at me and I was caught empty-handed. It was hard to accept that he may need me every waking moment of everyday, that he might never grow up to be a responsible adult, and what if I died early. It was nerve-wracking! The weight of my fear almost robbed me off my sanity.
One good thing though is that I kept a journal to write down everything that came into mind. My journals eventually became the inspiration for my book, Living Autism Day by Day: Daily Reflections and Strategies to Give You Hope and Courage. My journey of this topsy-turvy world called “autism” is fraught with negativity but my journals helped me cope. It became my outlet for venting out pent-up emotions, and to note down whatever progress we had over the course of his therapies. It became my extension, my shadow in chronicling the events in our lives.
My journals are what kept me grounded so I would never lose hope and to always have twice the courage when facing difficulties along the way. It also serves as a simple reminder that amid all the difficulties, there is always another blank page to begin with. Life, with or without autism, should be like that—lived one day at a time. So, that’s what Johnny and I as well as the whole family do. We leaf through each page of our lives with hope and courage, braving whatever autism throws at us.
Personal Website: http://livingautismnow.com/