I Learned Invaluable Lessons Alongside Autism

Jordan with Woodyfeat

I’ve spent a lot of time recently reflecting on our journey living alongside autism. The road has been far from easy, but through the challenges, I learned some invaluable lessons.

This is my son Jordan. He is 27 and on the autism spectrum. I am his guardian and full-time caregiver.

Maybe you are in the thick of it, feeling exhausted, uncertain, and maybe even defeated. I get it. I was there more times than I can count and didn’t know how I was going to do it another day. But you know what?  I did it again the next day and the next, just like you will.    

Parenting children on the spectrum can often feel like navigating through a dense, dark forest, where the path is blocked by fallen trees and each step forward seems impossible.

I’ve had days when it seemed like the world around me was flourishing, and we were barely making it.

You may feel isolated, comparing your family’s journey to others around you, and wonder why your victories seem so minuscule in comparison.

It’s time to let go of that.  Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.  He is so right.  You have to look a little harder for your joy along this journey.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is to cherish small wins, no matter how insignificant they may seem to others. Whether it’s making eye contact, mastering a new communication skill, or showing empathy, these moments are significant in your child’s development.

You see, it’s too easy to get caught up in society’s view of success and milestones. The truth is, our children’s victories don’t mirror neurotypical families and that is ok. Don’t underestimate the power of consistency and patience.

Your children’s progress may unfold in unexpected ways. Let them surprise you.  You don’t know what their future holds, don’t hold onto your story so tight that you lose hope.   They might just surprise you one day.  

In the darkest moments, it is easy to lose sight of hope. Always remember that HOPE is a powerful force that fuels your determination to push forward. Hold onto it tightly. Take each day as it comes, with grace and patience.

Above all, remember that you are not alone on this journey. While each path may be different, this unique parenting journey unites us.

Embrace the wins, no matter how seemingly insignificant, and cherish the unique journey you are on with your child. The triumphs may not mirror those around you, but they are no less worthy of celebration.

While I might be a few years ahead of you on this path, I can tell you, my heart is full of pride and gratitude for Jordan and the journey we’re taking together.

I know you will reach this place too, stronger and wiser, with a heart filled with love for your amazing children.

Hold on to HOPE, for it will guide you through the darkest days and lead you to the brightest moments.

Written by Shannon Urquiola of Not Your Average Autism 

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Shannon Urquiola

Shannon is mom to two young adults, her son Jordan is 27 and her daughter Madison is 25. Jordan was diagnosed with autism when he was 5 years old and she is his full-time caregiver and guardian. Shannon founded Not Your Average Autism Mom, a non-profit organization whose mission is to equip families with resources, training, coaching, and community support.

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