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Autism Series: A Day at a Time

Posted by Joanne Ma on

Below is a love letter from a mom to her daughter. This love letter is written with so much perspective. A perspective that probably took many, many years to finally appreciate. As a mother/parent, you're always worried about your child's life. Who would be in it, who would be a part of it, who would help advocate for it. Until you find peace with a team that will help her the way you'd help her (and it's only if you're really, REALLY lucky that you'll find them fast) you'll always keep fighting. And in the midst of fighting for the best care for your child, you realize, you're a pretty damn good mother despite the things you don't find. 

Thank you to this mom and her honest letter to her daughter.

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I am the mother of two amazing girls. My daughter "A", 5 who is wonderfully dramatic, thoughtful, and artistic and my daughter "B", 8, who is intensely loving, bright, funny, and who also has autism.

This is my letter to B.

 

Dear B,

I never knew feelings could be so intense until the day you were born. When you were placed on my chest and our eyes met for the first time I remember thinking “you are my daughter,” “I love you so much,” and “I am a mom.” I had only just met you, but I already knew I would give my life for you and that I would spend the rest of my life loving you and protecting you. The love I felt was total, complete, and unconditional.

Even before you were born, while you grew and developed inside me, I had hopes and dreams of what your life would be like. I would watch you grow up, go to university, find a job, fall in love, and maybe even get married and have a family of your own. Now you are 8 years old and when I look back and reflect on the first 8 years of your life I am amazed by how much we have all been through.

I worried like crazy for the first 18 months of your life because deep down I just knew something was not right. I desperately wanted to help you but just did not know how. There were countless doctor appointments and referrals to specialists and I was told by all of them to relax, not to worry, and that things would sort themselves out. Thankfully, I am stubborn and was not content playing the waiting game. Over the next 6 months I continued to visit doctors and specialists until finally someone listened. Just before you turned two, we finally got some real answers and, soon, a diagnosis. I was not surprised by your diagnosis. Nevertheless, hearing the words “your child has autism” was heartbreaking, overwhelming, and, at the time, felt like the end of the world. Within days of we were looking for the best possible team of people to help you. The process of hiring and training people to come into our home and provide you with the best quality therapy we could find was both daunting and scary. Over the years we have also aimed to find schools that understood you and your unique needs and hoped we were doing everything in our power to give you the best possible shot of living a happy and productive life.

This has been our life for the last 6 years. Our life pretty much revolves around you and making sure you are getting everything you need. We are constantly looking for opportunities to help you learn and develop. It is a never-ending challenge to ensure that you are not treated differently, and that you are constantly challenged to be your best self. I worry every day that we are doing the best we can for you.

This life is often times very overwhelming, stressful, and mentally exhausting. We are so lucky to have a support network of family, friends, and amazing therapists in our life. We are also grateful that with their help, we have always been able to give you everything you need. We love all of them, and you, more than you will ever know.

Autism was definitely not something we prepared or planned for, but there are so many things I am grateful of because of you. You have taught me what is important in life and you have helped transform me into the person I am today. You have taught me patience and strength I never knew I was capable of and that being different really is okay. I thank you for teaching me to focus on happiness and not care too much about what other people think. You have taught me how to speak up and stand up for what I think is right and you have showed me that happiness and joy can be expressed in so many different and unique ways. You have taught me that every single person, no matter what their ability is, can make a difference in this world and should be treated with dignity and respect. Thank you B for teaching me all of these wonderful lessons, but mostly thank you for being you and for being the best daughter a mom could ask for.

I love you so much,

Mom


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