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Jer and I usually need a vacation from our vacations with Myles because let's face...
it, vacations are an autistic family's nightmare - everything I mean EVERYTHING is different, tons of transitions no matter what mode of transportation you choose, unless you pack every damn thing to eat your diet deviates, totally new sensory input, change to bedtime routine, change to morning routine, lots of new people, massive constant input, a demand to be in one place for an extended period of time whether that's in a car, on a plane, standing in line etc - and typically results in behavioral changes, hyper-arousal, meltdowns, tantrums, total opposition and just plain no fun to be blunt. But we do it because we do not treat him differently because of autism. Yes our experience is different but not less. It's taken us a few years to get in sync from a parenting perspective because let's face it, parenting period puts a demand on our potential as both individuals and collectively as a partnership. Special needs parenting is the same just to a different depth I believe. I am a youth coach of 15+ years, I have nannied, babysat and worked in dare care... nothing comes close to the autism parenting experience.
I do not say this for pity or for accolades. Autism is the greatest challenge, the sweetest gift and the most humbling experience in my life. To see the world through this kid's eyes is to see only love, to see creativity, to see a world of vibrant magic that sometimes is simply too overwhelming to manage from time to time. I have learned so much from this child - not only about picture schedules, sensory diets and meltdown management but about the heart's capacity to love and faith, I have learned the power of faith. My faith was not an important or even an existent part of my life prior to Myles and through him, through autism and by conscious choice, I have embraced an entirely new way of living and loving. Because of Myles, because of autism, I accept and love me for me and you for you.
Does that change the frustration of him ALWAYS needing to be right or having to wash the same clothes every day because for the time being that's the ONLY thing he'll wear? No. Does that change how the constant repetition of a certain word or phrase over and over and over OMG over and over and over feels like nails on a chalkboard? Nope. But it does change your patience and it does change your compassion. And it sure as shit changes your priorities. You begin to care less about stuff and accomplishments and begin to cherish the moments more. You become more present and eventually you realize you don't have a lot of pictures because you left your phone in the car or at home because nothing could possibly be more important than being with him.
I am beyond elated to report that we don't have too many pics from this vaca - this one being one of my faves, I call it the post-legoland parenting selfie - we were too busy experiencing fun as a family.
This is the first vacation in 6 years that Myles has not regressed in behavior.
This is the first vacation in 6 years that he transitioned successfully back into school.
This is the first vacation in six years we have had a truly enjoyable experience as parents.
This was the first vacation in 6 years that I have returned relaxed.
This is the first vacation in 6 years I have not returned sick from being so rundown from stress.
I am grateful for my other half, together we are stronger, together we are more love, together we are unstoppable. I am grateful for my Myles who challenges me to be my best, to be the most real and to feel with incredible depths.
Life will change you if you let it but you better be brave with your love.
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