As an Autism Mom (I capitalize it because it’s a double-time job which deserves capitalization and perhaps a large, red cape. But I digress.), I have faced, and will face, many challenging times. I have also discovered what I can and cannot do, and/or put up with.

I can’t:

• read any autism books “just for fun.” I’m all read-out.
• see any movies about autism or the like. Think “A Beautiful Mind.” or even the Temple Grandin movie. I live it, so I don’t need to watch it for fun. For me, not so fun.
• listen to anyone starting a sentence with “no offense, but…” Think about your words first. I’m very open-minded so chances are it won’t offend me anyway, but if I’m in the middle of autism hell you may want to save it for another time.
• “Just get a sitter.” Can’t do it, so please don’t recommend it. My sitters have to be trained. By me.
• go out, even for a quick cup of coffee, without my phone face up next to me. If TJ is having an issue at school (“Mom, I forgot my binder AGAIN!”), I have to be available to help fix it before his entire day is shot.
• think too far down the road. I have so much to handle right here, right now. I can’t plan his future beyond this month. I hope that he has huge successes and accomplishments in his future, but I can’t predict his growth, or accomplishments, or desires. And if you had asked me a few years ago if I thought he’d be doing well in high school, I wouldn’t have been able to answer that yes, he is meeting his challenges in a way I never dreamed possible. In time, he will show us just what he can and can’t do, but it’s completely unpredictable.


I can:

• listen to your stories about struggles your child is going through, as a growing teenager. I can usually relate, even a tiny bit. I appreciate these stories more than you know, and it makes me feel downright “normal.” It’s a rare feeling, so keep ‘em coming.
• answer honest, thoughtful questions about autism. It’s not a scary topic, and I don’t mind when you ask about it. Education and awareness make us all a closer community, and your interest in what it’s all about promotes understanding.
• take a hug when it’s clear that I’m going through a rough time. It’s small, it’s simple, and it’s fuel for me to keep going. Sometimes a wordless hug from a friend is all I need to plow through another stumbling block.
• listen to your funny kid stories. I love them, and I have plenty of these to share too. TJ is like our own private comedy show.
• talk about other things. My life is not autism 24/7! Sometimes it feels that way, but my life is full of other joys and struggles, just like yours.
• be connected to other autism families. I love it when a friend introduces me to another mommy warrior. I find it very fulfilling to be a support to others, and love having the additional support of new autism friends.
• make jokes about my life. I find healing in laughter. Please feel free to laugh along with me.

 Lauren Swick Jordan blogs at I Don’t Have a Job.

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