It’s easy to feel discouraged as an autism parent around this time of year. Let’s face it, taking our kid’s to other homes with different food, different schedules, and different people around, doesn’t exactly lend itself to an easy holiday when autism is involved. While others are enjoying relaxing vacations, our son being out of school often looks a bit like a circus. Just in the last 15 minutes, my son has pulled his mattress out into the hallway, pulled all the wet clothes out of the washer on to the dirty floor, taken off his pants (still can’t find them) and slammed every cabinet in the kitchen. Full days without school are challenging to say the least. But this year, I am refusing to let it overwhelm me. There is so much to be thankful for and not only that, there is even so much about AUTISM to be thankful for. So, I decided to make a list of all things AUTISM that I am thankful for.
1. I am thankful for all the giggles Jacob gives our family when he does things my other kids don’t have the guts to do. For instance, when I sing sweet nighttime songs to them, he walks up to me and pinches my lips shut really tight and tells me to STOP. Everyone laughs. I’ve never been a good singer.
2. I am thankful for Jacob’s unique and silly personality.
3. I am thankful for how Jacob is so ultimately snuggly.
4. I am thankful that autism has opened our family’s eyes to the world of disability. It has made us more sensitive to others' needs.
5. I am thankful that autism has challenged us to work together as a family to come up with ways to help Jacob and meet his needs. When one is on cleaning duty the other is watching Jacob. When someone is bringing in groceries another person is guarding the front door. When Cret and I are outside with Jacob, we stand at opposite ends of the street to keep him from running. While those sound like chores, they actually are pretty sweet. We all have this responsibility to keep Jacob safe and it brings us very close to one another.
6. I am thankful when our family comes together as a team to help raise money or awareness. Each of the kids in the family, even extended family, wants to find cool ways to help. It’s a special and unique bond. Also, it led to Taylor Swift helping our family get an amazing service dog. That was pretty unbelievable. We can't wait to meet our new furry friend.
7. I am thankful when I see my kids explain autism to others. It’s pretty cool to witness a young child trying to teach inclusion and compassion.
8. I am thankful for the challenges that my husband and I have had to face together. It has brought us closer to each other and closer to the Lord.
9. I am thankful for the times that I just couldn’t do it on my own. The times I felt broken. It made me see very clearly how completely desperate I am for the Lord.
10. I am thankful for the friends and family that have helped us and shown us love in unimaginable ways.
11. I am thankful that I have a better appreciation for the small things, like new words, eye contact, pointing, brushing teeth, drinking from a cup, sitting in a chair for a whole meal…things I most certainly took for granted before.
My life is better with Jacob and AUTISM. That doesn’t mean I don’t have hope for him, it just means I sure feel blessed right now. Sometimes I just need to remember to choose joy and thankfulness. Thank you, Jesus, for this life.