My friend called me courageous today.
I don’t think anyone has ever called me that.
I’m kind of reserved, a book worm, if you will, and I am definitely not the life of the party.
I am deathly afraid of heights and would never, ever go bungee jumping or hunting in
Africa. I’m not much of a thrill seeker.
No, I’m just stay-at-home mom of three kids, one of whom happens to have autism.
A mom who sees a huge need in our area and has decided to do something about it. We have no social skills group in our town, though there are plenty of kids who desperately need one.
Instead, I have recently decided to start a social skills group in our area myself. One that uses LEGOs to teach kids to work cooperatively. I found a center that will train me in this program, but it costs money.
A lot of money.
This is why I applied for a Pepsi Refresh grant; the money I win from this grant will cover training and many of the supplies I need.
It is because I started this project that my friend, who happens to be the most active autism advocate I know, called me courageous.
My first instinct was to deny her compliment. Who, me? Courageous? Pffft. Not me!
But the more I thought about it, the less I dismissed her opinion. I realized that parenting a child with autism does take courage.
It takes courage to take your child in for a diagnosis and listen white knuckled as some stranger puts a label on your wonderful little boy.
It takes courage to seek out help for your child, to take her to numerous therapists and specialists and to follow their advice.
Taking your child to a birthday party takes levels of courage I imagine would be necessary for going to war, because you know things could turn ugly faster than you can say “Sensory Meltdown.”
Courage is imperative when you sit your child down and explain his diagnosis with him, desperately trying to convince him that he’s not strange or weird or bad in any way, that he’s just different.
You need to be brave when your child has been made fun of because of her differences. And it takes courage to do your best to convince her that she’s perfect just the way she is.
Courage is a necessity as you fight the schools to ensure your child gets the services he needs.
And I suppose it is brave when you decide to quit waiting around for the system to provide the services your child needs. When you take matters into your own hands and start a support group or a play date or a LEGO social skills club.
So, I will no longer scoff when someone says I’m courageous.
Because I am courageous.
And so are you.
Please consider voting for my Pepsi Refresh Project. Throughout the month of May I need as many votes as possible, so I can win the $5,000 grant which will pay for my training and supplies. Thank you so much! To Vote Now click on this link.
Patty O. is the mother of 3 kids: a 7 year-old boy, a 5-year-old daughter, and 2 year old son. Her oldest son has Sensory Processing Disorder and is on the autism spectrum, while her daughter also has SPD. Patty is currently stay at home mom, but used to be a college and high school English teacher. Please follow Patty at Pancakes Gone Awry.