In the past, I thought I would be teaching Amin to be prepared for his future life, but in the end I was the student. He taught me what really matters in life, what is really valuable, which is often overshadowed with superficial views. He helped me to see life with all its beauty and struggle in it. All that I valued in life before Amin’s diagnosis had to be reevaluated, and put in a different order of priority. I realized that there will be times of victory as well as times of failure in our lives. Before that time I could never accept failure for myself or for my children. This was a new and very scary experience for me, but it taught me something more important – life is full of trial and error and we learn and grow from our failures, and those experiences make us stronger.
Someone asked me “did your life change overnight after his diagnosis?” Honestly, for a long time my answer had always been “yes”. But now that I think about it, it didn’t. Between the symptoms and the diagnosis, our life started to spiral out of control over time.
The other day, I had a dear sister visiting me. She told me that her friends told her that they would love to see her, but only without her autistic child. They slowly disappeared and became unavailable for her. She blamed her child’s autism for losing her friends.
Many of us have experienced these type of feelings, but I realized one day that I did not lose any friends. In truth, they were never my friends. When someone tells me “come over for dinner, but please find a babysitter for your autistic son first”. Well if my son is not good enough to visit that house, obviously I am not good enough either.
I have a few close true friends now that I value, and they are always there for me when I need them. One must realize that autism will change your life, and it is up to you how you look at it. If you blame everything that happens to you on autism you will become resentful toward your child.
An important lesson I learned was that most of the things that I was taught were negative, actually worked out for the better for me and my children. Sometimes we do not do housekeeping in our lives, and after a serious event we are forced to get rid of some of the trash that maybe lingering in our life. My point is that we should not get so sad and depressed about losing something that was never ever ours, but instead look forward to new and better friendships that can enrich our lives.
Taking care of an autistic child may make you feel like you’re swimming upstream, but it has very unusual benefits. When you feel that you are at the end of your wits, you discover something amazing about your child, and that gives you more energy to continue.
Another question that pops up way too many times, “have you ever been embarrassed or ashamed of your child or his behavior?” My answer has always been, and will always will be, that I have been disappointed of him at times, but never embarrassed of him. He is my son, and he is autistic. He struggles with things that others take for granted, and that makes him only courageous for his struggle.
I like to think that I have become a much better person since Amin’s diagnosis. I can see things in a different perspective. I notice and appreciate the little wonders of life.
Patience was instilled in me with such a force that I was even able to restrain myself from going after a person who told me not to do CPR on my son when he stopped breathing. Yes, someone told me that, and their argument was based on Amin’s diagnosis… autism. As you can see, we are not going to be spared from the cruelty of the world, but we are certainly being spared from the ignorance that so many people are carrying.
Another ignorant question I have to deal with too often is when someone trying to be caring toward me tells me, “I just feel so sorry for your daughter, she has to grow up with an autistic brother. She must be missing out on so many things, how will she ever get married?” For those of you who always ask this question, disregarding my answers and requests to stop talking about this issue, please stop.
The answer is always the same and it will never change. Safiyya became a mature, compassionate young girl, who probably has more tolerance and an open mind, more than others in her age group. See the article I wrote about Siblings of autistic children.
I would have never chosen this path for my life, but I was chosen to walk it, and learn from it. God had blessed me with a wonderful boy who is autistic and a wonderful girl who is typical. I experienced both, and I was given the blessing to understand and appreciate all that they do, and to realize and live the joy of every moment of my life.