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I Am the Lucky One

When my son was diagnosed with Autism back in 1997, his neurologist said something I will never forget.  She said, “You did everything you were supposed to.  You are just a very unlucky person.”  I said something back to her and I never took my son to see her again.  I was also sure to warn other parents looking  for a neurologist to stay away from her.

My son’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting was held a few weeks ago and all through the meeting various participants from my son’s teacher and one on one aide to our home district’s out-placement coordinator would stop what they were saying to heap mountains of praise on my husband and I.  We were told time and time again how much we are admired for our dedication to our son, our efforts at advocating for his needs, our concerns for his well being, and our “obvious bond” with Junior.

Apparently, it still surprises experts that a child with Autism can have a genuine bond with their others.  Still, everyone agreed that Junior was lucky to have us for parents.

Just a few days ago, my son had an appointment with his orthopedist concerning a developing leg deformity.  Dr. Shaw still isn’t quite sure what is wrong with him and we are being referred to one of his partners who has more experience with children. 

However, Dr. Shaw spent several extra minutes with us asking us questions about Junior and how Autism affects him as well as us as a family.  He dished out more than his share of praise and his admiration of our patience, devotion, concern, and obvious love for our son.  He told us that over the years, he has seen many parents of many types of children in his practice and just out in the community who lose their patience or write off their children.  He ends the visit with his assertion that Junior is lucky to have us for parents.

I am always embarrassed by such praise and admiration.  I do think I am a great mom, full of love for my son but I don’t like the idea that I am something most moms aren’t.  I am not perfect.  I get frustrated.  I am afraid when I think of Junior’s future, to the point of having panic attacks and crying myself to sleep.  I don’t see myself as unlucky.  I see my son as being unfortunate to have Autism.  While I have met plenty of people I wouldn’t want to see have a child with disabilities, I still don’t think Junior is the lucky one.  I am the lucky one.

Having Junior for a son has been such an enlightening and joyful experience.  I have learned impatience serves no purpose (although it still happens from time to time).  Asking “Why” when it comes to fate or destiny doesn’t yield answers.  If I want tolerance for my son and all those like him, then I must offer up tolerance to those I made little effort in understanding.

While I was once incapable of ordering at a drive-thru, asking a clerk for the nearest restroom, or even ordering a pizza on the phone, much less standing up for myself or anyone else…I learned to speak up for myself, for my son, and others.  The things I give up for Junior’s sake aren’t sacrifices, they are just things or activities that are trivial compared to my son and his needs.

I have learned not to trivialize the accomplishments of anyone.  Watching my son struggle to learn the small things years after most other people learn them has taught me valuable lessons.  I don’t take nearly as many things for granted.  From Junior, I have learned to never give up on my own goals and to encourage others in their own.  I envy Junior’s innocence and shun the idea of original sin or the idea that if he doesn’t live by dogma, he will surely rot.  I feel free of such religious dogma and embrace the spirituality I was born with and I am happier for it.

I could go on and on about all the things I have learned from being Junior’s mom.  Maybe I would have learned all this whether Junior had Autism or not.  I can never know that and it doesn’t even really matter anymore.  Junior might very well be lucky to have my husband and I for his parents.  However, I can’t help but feel that he has taught me more than I ever could have learned without him and certainly more than I have taught him.  I confess that as far as luck goes…I am the lucky one.  I am blessed to have Junior for a son and I make every effort to let him know that whenever possible.

Have you learned anything through your child? What has your child taught you?


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0 thoughts on “I Am the Lucky One

  • many praises to you for being a very loving parent. 

    My daughter doesn’t have anything that would classify her as “different” but growing up around children that do, I have a very special understanding of what the kids and the ones around them deal with.  You are lucky you were given a child, and he is lucky he was given you to nurture and love him. 

  • go you for being an amazing mom!

  • I am the mom to four wonderful kids.  Two of them have Asperger’s Syndrome and one of them is Autistic.  It is a never ending journey, one that I have learned more than I have taught, one that has never stopped to surprise me and one that I am beyond blessed to be on.

    I too, have had the praise poured out for mine and my husbands devotion to them and yet what people don’t understand is that I am being their mom.  I love them and what I do everyday, is a blessing for me.

    We too, are the “lucky” ones because these kids have been put into our lives.

    I now see the world in a way I never would have, had these kids not come a long and I appreciate things more than I ever did before.  I have had people tell me they are “So sorry” about the Autism and I tell them not to be sorry because these kids, are some of the most joyful, content, happy people I have ever met and it is a true honor not only to know them, but to be their mom.

    Thank you for sharing this.  It is beautiful and reminded me how blessed I am as well.  Thank you

  • My mother works with children from a wide range, autism to down syndrome to kids who are “second chance.” My brother and I both have no conditions but she really lives her career and brings back amazing stories about what people are capable of. You can deny that you are amazing people all you want. But the fact is, you are brave in the sense that you take the leap of faith to see what lies beneath a “disorder” or “condition” to see people for their true worth. You are amazing because you don’t expect any gratitude from society.  And you cannot deny that you must make sacrifices to raise a child who has autism.  I know this because my mother is brilliant for choosing a career where she must help people like your son prove their worth. And whether you chose it or not, its a very large part of your life. So embrace it, you are, in fact, amazing : )

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure if I would call you lucky or unlucky but your son is truly blessed to have a parent like you.  

  • This was so beautiful. Everyone needs parents like you. I really admire your strength and your ability to see it from another side. Junior is lucky to have you as a mother. 

  • My sign language teacher used to teach special education, and she told us that countless people come up to her and say, “Oh, it takes a special person to do what you do.” She would reply, “No, it doesn’t.”

    This is entirely backwards, but I think that, because it doesn’t take someone “unique” to be brave, the people who are brave are lucky and unique for it.

  • OMG. I used to think, in ignorance, that some autism disorders were caused by neglect or bad environments at a young age.  I grew up with “special” children, and a lot of them were neglected, left out to dry — even if their problems were mild. 

    I have ADHD and am mildly schizophrenic, and I’m a completely different person on meds. However, before, I could barely read or finish a sentence without jumping topics or running around the room.  I was not loved growing up and was treated poorly by my parents. They often stacked additional odds against me.  I’m just happy that I don’t have to see them any longer.

    You are definitely a good person to think about his problem and to deal with it correctly instead of torturing him and making it even harder for him to succeed.

  • This was such a wonderful reminder of what we, as parents or adults, learn from others.  You are a special parent because you can’t see why you wouldn’t respond to your child as you do…while others can only think that they couldn’t do the same.

    Great blog.

  • i don’t have children but discovered so many reminders about how to be a truly good human in your post … thanks for posting it …

  • I think this is a beautiful, beautiful, post. My daughter does not have any notable challenges, but I understand the way you describe the symbiotic way you have from growing as a person from growing up your kids. It’s something I try to be open to  and grateful for every day. Thank you for sharing this. 

  • That’s so sad that we live in a society where  being a good mom is a thing of rarity and astonishment to others. I hope to meet more parents like you!

    I don’t “have” kids so I can’t answer your question. I do learn from my students and clients on a daily basis and love them very much, but I doubt the way a mom like you can! 🙂

  • Thsi reminds me of my sister and her annoyance at comments form ppl like my brother who talk about how hard it must be and what a great job she does “with everything she has to deal with” Her daughter has aspergers. She says, I have a great kid and if ppl would look past the label and see the kid, they’d realize that what I’m dealing with is just a great kid.

    I have a great kid too, ADHD on the cusp of aspergers. I can’t stand the comments ppl make who think they’re helping, but actually they’re thinking they can “fix” him. He doesn’t need Fixing!

    The best is when ppl just appreciate them for who they are, like any other kid. not what they “have”

    Of course we worry. About lots of stuff. Just like any other mother of any other kid. I have 3 kids and I worry about them all, just in different ways.

    Good post!

  • This was an amazing post.  I’m aspie, on the cusp of more severe autism, and it has taken me all my life to reach a point where I can understand what my mom went through.  I’m 47 now, have raised my own kids.  Yes, everything was hard, and I got no help for my challenges, but when I look back now I can see where someone like you in my life would have made the difference between night and day.  I felt unloved and unforgiven my whole childhood.  I read stuff like this from other parents and rejoice that other children get that chance I never had.  I ‘woke up’ to myself grandually, in small steps, over many years.  It took raising a full-time step with fetal alcohol syndrome and seeing a psychologist to learn how lucky *I* am, that I was able to bridge over verbally and construct understanding, although I still marvel at 20 year olds being so aware, and here I am at nearly 50 still struggling with it.  Keep heart, your son may surprise you as he gets older.  Understanding came slowly for me, as if I were an alien being in a world of humans.  My psychologist acts astounded that I can ‘still learn’, but I think *I* am the lucky one.


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