Autism Unexpected: Happy Mother’s Day to All the Autism Moms


My family doesn’t usually do a lot for Mother’s Day. Generally they let me sleep in—without guilt—and I get some lovely handmade gifts, which are the best kind, in my opinion. I know that I feel like I get a wonderful Mother’s Day gift every single day, and that is having the privilege to parent my three beautiful munchkins.

One thing that mothers—all mothers—don’t always get enough of, however, is thanks. So I have a few thank yous to give to all you autism moms out there:

Thank you for taking the time to listen to your kids, even if they can’t talk, and for trying to figure out what they mean. Thank you for realizing that even if your child can’t speak, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have something to say. And for those of you, like me, who interpret script after script from television shows and movies to discover the meaning underneath them? Thank you too.

Thank you for sacrificing an income to stay home and take care of your child. Or, if you choose to or have to work, thank you for providing for your child financially, while still being there for her at home.

Thank you for learning everything you can know about special education law, IDEA, and IEPs so you can advocate for your child. Often your child doesn’t thank you, the school doesn’t thank you, and you probably don’t thank yourself, so I’ll do it for you: Thank you.

Thank you for researching therapies and then driving, waiting, and dragging along siblings to appointments. Thank you for putting up with the whining from your typical kids about not wanting to sit in another waiting room.

And thank you also for knowing when it’s time to just take a break and let your child have some down time. Thanks for remembering that it’s not all about therapies, learning, and treatments, but that it’s also about making sure your child gets to have fun and just be a kid.

Thanks for facilitating playdates for your child even if it feels like pulling teeth. Thank you for throwing birthday parties for your child so he and you can meet some other kids. Thanks for following your child’s lead on those birthday parties, whether it be just inviting one friend or twenty and also for letting him pick a weird theme. (Like magnets, which is what my son has chosen for his birthday party next week.)

Thank you for taking your kids out into the world and teaching people about our wonderful autistic children. It makes the world better for everyone.

Thank you for fighting the isolation that having a special needs child foists upon you. And thank you for extending a hand to another autism mom so she doesn’t feel so alone.

Thank you for working through potty training that happens at age four or six or not at all.

Thank you for keeping your child safe, whether it be because he is a “runner,” or whether it be because she has self-injurious behavior.

Thank you for wanting to punch mean, teasing kids in the face but for not doing so.

Thank you for going to bed late, if your child has trouble going to sleep. Thank you for getting up early, if she rises at four. Thank you for getting up multiple times in the night if he does too.

Thank you for going on long walks with your child if that is what calms him.

Thank you for learning all about Star Wars or space (or magnets) or whatever your child is obsessed with, without complaint, and with a laugh in your heart.

Thank you for accepting your child for who he or she is.

Thank you for all the things you do that I can’t possibly know about because I don’t walk in your shoes. Thank you for being the best mother for your child that he or she could possibly ever have.

Thank you for loving your child. Even if sometimes it feels like it’s not making a difference, it is everything to him or her.

And, lastly, because you probably don’t hear it enough, you are doing a great job. You really are. Try to remember to take some time for yourself and to breathe. (And, yes, I really do get how hard that is. And thank you for sacrificing that time too. But try to get it.)

Happy Mother’s Day. May you get an extra hour to sleep and a nice hug or drawing—or whatever it is you need to feel happy today. You deserve it.

Originally published at Autism Unexpected on May 8, 2010.

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