In my early days of Autism, within the first few months after diagnosis, our family was undergoing a restructuring of roles. At the time, my husband was still working outside the home which included time traveling outside of the country. This left me home with a newly diagnosed toddler and an infant. This was a time that I truly felt “Alone with Autism!” I tried enlisting a friend to help, however, the help did not last for long and neither did the friendship. I recall being truly hurt that she could easily say no, especially when I was alone and really needed the help. As I think about it, the hurt was recognizing that she COULD say NO to Autism. She did not have to experience it in her home if she chose not to. This lead me to think about how I could connect to equally minded parents. However, in my small rural town, there were no play groups that I could go to or Mommy meetings that could relieve me for a moment. Again, I was “Alone with Autism.”
Eventually, I had to rely on me. Getting out of the house was the first thing that helped. Simple things like going to the park, walking in a mall, and even driving until they both fell asleep were welcomed activities that helped me not feel so alone. Of course, being around others came with its own set of challenges to navigate. For example, was I going to make it out of the store without a complete meltdown as we were leaving or a meltdown in the parking lot before going in. Who knew that going into Toys R Us would be met with a rigid bodied screaming child with fingers locked on his car seat as if stuck with Super Glue. Good times!
Still, these events filled my day and taught me many things about location, location, location and how to be flexible and manage different environments. Over time, our family structure shifted to my husband spending more time at home. In some of my previous posts, I’ve talked about my husband as my partner and the wonderful support that I continually receive from him. That is a true blessing. However, everyone does not have a supportive spouse. Some have a supportive grandparent, best friend, auntie, or sibling. Even still, some may not have social support. If this is you, please reach out to someone. You might be amazed at the help that you could receive. Even if you don’t receive the help as requested, at least you know who you can and cannot count on. That’s valuable information in itself.
So, put on your “glass-half-full rainbow” glasses and find the very best of your circumstances. In doing so, you just might find the support that you need. You just might find that you are not “Alone with Autism” after all.