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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mixed Blessings

When I first suspected that something wasn’t right about my daughters, I was nervous and anxious. When I realized they both had autism I was depressed and angry.
I love language and reading, so when my twins were a little over a year old I started trying games that would increase vocabulary, teach proper pronoun usage, and build conversation skills. I know that’s a tall order for a one year old, but the games were developed by speech and language experts.
It was then that I realized my daughters didn’t have the fundamental skills to play these games. Their attention would wander to anything else remotely interesting in the room.
It was also around this time that I realized my daughters were no longer using the words they used to know. No more “mom,” “cup,” “cookie,” or “ball.”
It’s been almost six years since autism became part of our lives. I’ve learned many things and met many wonderful people through my daughters’ autism that I would never have otherwise.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is tolerance and understanding. If I see another parent with a child who is throwing a tantrum or having a meltdown I don’t stare. I don’t make loud remarks about how I’d handle the situation differently. I know how embarrassing and frustrating it is to be treated as a spectacle in public.
A trip to the grocery store is all it takes to remind me of the ignorance of disabilities that the public in general has. If I can help on person understand my daughters and autism better, I hope that it may save another parent of a child with a disability a rude remark or stare from a stranger.
I’ve also learned that as long as I’m not intruding on someone else’s rights, I shouldn’t care what others think of me. If someone sees my children and me out and think that we act weird, oh well. I can’t educate everyone I meet everyday about autism.
Autism has been a mixed blessing; thought I’ve gained a tolerance and understanding that I may not have learned without autism, I know my daughters will face difficulties due to autism. Though as long as I’m alive, I’ll share the blessing of knowledge, tolerance, and understanding my daughters have given me.
(Note: I wrote this about two years ago; my daughters were diagnosed over eight years ago...)
(This writing also appears on Associated Content :

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