Laughter and Perspective: the Keys to Surviving a Child With Autism
This is the fourth and final installment of Danica’s series on her son’s Autism diagnosis. In her first post, The Moment Autism Changed Everything, she shares how the autism diagnosis changed her family’s world. Her second post, Avoiding the Autism Diagnosis: Ignorance Is Not Bliss, takes us through coping with the diagnosis and in her third post, Yes, My Son Is Autistic But No, He’s Not ‘Rain Main’, Danica details her son’s “super” powers. She is a stay at home mom of 3 who spends most of her time homeschooling and cleaning up the path of destruction her autistic son leaves. You can follow his antics at http://laffytaffyandwine.blogspot.com/.
Laughter and perspective. These are two of my favorite words that go hand in hand and have been essential on this journey. I’ll admit that there are times I lose my perspective and I don’t find my situation all that humorous! But as I get older, those times are fewer and farther between. In the trenches of autism it can be easy to lose your perspective and sense of humor because sometimes it feels like the only thing you’re doing is handling crisis after crisis. When I’ve felt that way and people told me “it gets easier,” I could have choked them. Please don’t kill the messenger, but for those of you who are in the thick of this and can’t find humor in your situation, it does get easier.
When I think my world is ending and my circumstances unbearable for one more moment, I remind myself (and my kids) that there’s always someone out there that has it worse than we do. There are parents who are dealing with really tough stuff with their kids. I don’t want to minimize what we’re going through, but knowing that this world is so much bigger than only us makes me feel a little better. I’ve been through some pretty heartbreaking situations recently and despite those circumstances, there are people out there who have it much worse than I do. I park on this thought, pray for those families and am thankful for what I have.
When Aaron does something outrageous (which happens on a near daily basis), I have a choice. I can let it be the end of the world, _or _I can find the humor in it and possibly even celebrate a new skill he’s acquired. Most of the time I laugh and think, “seriously, you did NOT just do that!” If he’s being naughty then, of course, I don’t laugh (most of the time) because I do have to discourage the behavior. I generally don’t like to clean up the messes he makes, but after it’s all over, I have a story to tell. I have sympathy from strangers and I can be the perspective for others (“my life may suck, but at least it’s not as bad as Danica’s”). I’ve bought more shampoo, hand soap and shaving cream in one year than most people buy in their lifetime. I’ve had to take the toilet off after he’s flushed two $400 tracking bracelets (never found them). I’ve had to hide the plunger because he kept sucking on it. I’ve walked into church embarrassed with Aaron in dirty, smelly, food smeared clothes because he asked me to wear a particular shirt (a huge feat for a mostly nonverbal kiddo).
Keeping perspective and finding the humor in the crazy things Aaron does keeps my attitude in check and quite honestly it’s a lot more fun to camp out there than in a puddle of tears.