1. There are days your child is going to drive you crazy, make you cry, make you despair. There are days that all the positive thinking in the world can't cheer you up. Some days, you can be the autism super-parent. Other days, you just can't, and you are going to just get through the day, however you can.
2. Your child might never be fully toilet-trained, despite all the books and articles and advice and school interventions and timers and special underwear and everything you try. Your child might be 10 and still in pull-ups. They might actually pass from pull-ups to Depends type underwear. I'm talking about you, Janey. They might just never get it completely at all.
3. Your child might sometimes be aggressive toward you. They might hit you, bite you, scratch you, bend your fingers, really, really hurt you sometimes. There are many reasons for this, and I do understand the reasons, but when you are at the receiving end of a huge bite, you aren't thinking reason. You are thinking pain.
4. It's very easy to get your child evaluated. It's quite easy to get involved in medical studies. What is not easy to get is respite or help. I could have Janey tested every day of the week, pretty much, and between the two insurances she now has, it would be covered. But no insurance or financial help covers even one second of respite. I could get people to come in the house, while I'm here, and help with Janey, mostly likely from what I've heard, but I'll say right here---that isn't respite. That is not what I need help with. That is like having company, company I need to talk to and entertain and clean up for. That is more stress, not more help.
5. Your life gets very, very restricted. I talked to a fellow autism mother about this, about how her non-autistic daughter might get a chance to be in a once in a lifetime performance, and all she can think about is "Who would watch my daughter (the autistic one) so I could actually go see her?" I am thinking that currently about my son Freddy's high school graduation. One night, maybe 3 hours. And even that is going to be hard for both Tony and I to go to.
6. You will get in touch with the less kind parts of your own personality. I feel resentment, sometimes, toward people with non-autistic kids. I feel angry if I don't feel like they appreciate what they have. I don't feel this all the time, but when I do, the depth of my feelings surprises me. I don't want to be that person, but that person shows up, unbidden.
Now, I could go on and on. But I won't. All the parts of life with Janey are not nearly this bleak. I adore the girl, I can say that without a second's hesitation. But life with her is hard. It has wonderful moments, I have met so many of you wonderful fellow autism parents out there, I have met far more than my fair share of fantastic teachers and therapists, I have delighted in Janey's uniqueness. But just saying those things is not speaking the whole truth. I think about the emails I sometimes get from parents who are very, very discouraged, and I think part of that is the hesitation we all have to speak the other part of the truth. It's a tough road we travel. Although I have a near-compelling urge to not end on a negative note, I will, just this once. It's a very tough road.