By Pamela Rundall Mari
When my brother and I were small I can vividly remember my Mom saying “Dear Lord, Give me strength.” This was most probably uttered when we were acting up or she was overwhelmed being a single Mom. And we were typically developing children.
Now that I, as a single Mom, find myself raising a son with autism, I all too often repeat this phrase. And the other day as I did, I thought, what else do I ask for heavenly assistance with?
Dear Lord Give Me:
Strength - the strength to put in another day when I am physically, mentally and emotionally wiped out. Give me the strength to hold back the tears, the fears and the downright cries of desperation when I feel I am losing the battle to assist my son with his challenges.
Patience - to wait while my son learns to wait for things that he wants immediately and cannot gather the patience himself to do so. Wait for him to understand that not all things come as quickly as we want them. Patience to deal with those in the outside world that do not fully understand autism. Patience to answer their probing questions, their snide remarks and their ignorance regarding autism. Be patient with them, for in many cases, they simply do not know. They may seek, however, to understand if you have the patience to explain to them.
Insight - give me the insight needed to decipher what my son is telling me is his own way not being able to format the words properly as you or I do. Let me read into what he is trying to tell me in his language. Let me know from being his Mom and spending almost every waking moment with him, those things which escape the perception of others around him. I know what he means. I know what he wants. From experience.
Creativity - to keep his interest in learning new things. To take a bad situation and turn it into a laughing moment by redirecting him. To be quick thinking and use those things that are positive to him to change his mood from a negative one to a happy one in ten seconds flat. To show him he is capable of using his own creativity to sing or create stories or art.
Humility - to ask for help when I need it whether it be from therapists, teachers or other parents. When it comes to autism, none of us knows it all. Be humble enough to admit this and never be ashamed to ask for advice for this is how, as autism, parents, we learn and help others.
Bravery- to let go when need be. Allow him to participate in events or activities which from a Mom’s viewpoint might seem a bit scary or difficult for him. Encourage him to be brave but be brave yourself by not holding on too tightly.
Pride - Allow me to be proud of what I have accomplished for and with my son. There are many others who could not have done so. Although at times it is difficult to realize this, every day we scale another mountain. Instill pride in my child that he may know when he has done a good job. Teach him that being proud of one’s self is a good thing when you work hard to get to a goal.
Time - give me all the time and more that I am allotted to be on this earth to teach, love, cherish, encourage and fight for my son and all those like him. Time passes so quickly and there are days you turn around and wonder how you have gotten where you are. But there is so much more to do. Use it wisely but spend not too much worrying.
So, Lord, give me and all autism parents these things.
His answer: “You’ve always had them.”