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Challenge: Perfectly Imperfect Parenting

To the parent who just heard the word ‘autism’

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People ask me all the time how I dealt with hearing that my son had autism.

Honestly, the effects autism has had on me have nothing to do with him.

They are about autism itself.

The way it changes your world...

The isolation and how it seems to make everything for us and him harder, simple things are challenging, like going out as a family, or celebrating holidays.

Even through the moments of aggression towards me, when he is tearing apart my house, making another mess, or clearly on the verge of destroying something..The way I deal with it is still the same.


I loved him despite how scared I was to be pregnant at almost 40...scared I would lose him or something would happen to me.

I would sing Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds daily..

“Don’t worry bout’ a thing, cause’ everything little thing is gonna be alright.”

I loved him before he was the size of a pea, growing inside of me.

I loved him whether I knew if he would be a girl or a boy.

I loved him before he had a name... when it was going to be Lucky, Serafina, or any other that we were throwing into the wind.

I loved him as I carefully picked out baby blankets and bedding that had foxes..because I somehow knew he would be smart, clever and sly..and I was right..our Finnie Fox is all those things.

I loved him when I pushed him out of me, my tiniest baby of three, with legs so a bird..which seemed to completely fit our “Baby Bird.”

I loved him when he smiled his first know..the closed eye, sleepy ones..the involuntary ones that make you melt.

I loved him when he skipped crawling, walking on his hands and feet..eventually steadying them and holding himself up on the ottoman.

I loved him when he took an entire smash cake and literally picked it up with two hands on his first birthday... getting chocolate cake and frosting everywhere.

I loved him through every sleepless night that began at fourteen months when he climbed out of his crib.

I loved him as I watched him spin and walk into circles until he fell over.

I loved him when he threw food at me and refused to try new things.

I loved him when he screamed for hours.

I loved him when he slammed his tiny head into our ceramic tile..repeatedly.

I loved him when when he had words.

I loved him when he lost them.

I loved him even when he didn’t notice me. When he didn’t respond to his name or want to engage and play.

I loved him when he had no sense of danger..when I fell, shattered my arm chasing him..because he took off toward the ponds..A fall that led to a year of excruciating physical therapy.

I loved him when he kept me awake until four am for three years straight.

I loved him when he couldn’t say Mommy or I love you.

I loved him when he didn’t care about Birthdays and Christmas.

I loved him when he dislocated my jaw...twice.

I have no secret formula how I got though everything.

I just..loved him.

And now my son has words.

He can speak in sentences.

He can do math.

He can sleep...a little better.

We play.

We try to go’s hard, but we try.

He still hits and kicks.

He still screams and the loud noises from blaring TVs and iPads can be unnerving.

He still smashes his head into things..his favorite being our large flat screen tv.

But I lead with love.

I have never looked at my son differently.

In fact sometimes I forget he’s behind or isn’t doing what other kids his age are doing. It’s only when I see kids his age around him that I seem to notice anymore.

At home he’s just Finn.

He’s just my baby boy.

He’s the only him I’ve ever known, he’s my son with all those labels attached..

Autism, anxiety, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, a little OCD.

But he’s not those things.

He’s not just his acronyms and disorders.

He’s handsome, born with two dimples in a smile that will just make you want to have more babies.

He’s so silly and playful with an instigating style that makes you want want to chase him or tickle him for hours just to hear him giggle.

He’s cuddly and warm, affectionate and kind. He gives the best kisses and wraps his body tight around you like a koala bear.

He’s empathetic and apologetic..I have the hundreds of empty bandaid wrappers he puts on our boo-boos to prove it.

He’s mind-blowingly intelligent...reading and writing. A memory like his sister..entire scripts he will log into his brain and hold them there for life.

And amidst the chaos, honestly he can be my calm.

In someways we are more alike than any of my other children.

We share similar emotions that come from anxiety and PTSD...we both struggle at times to regulate. Maybe we just understand each other..we know that the only things we need in those really hard moments are...



To be held.

To feel safe.

To make all the noise in our heads go away.

So real magical potion that I could share.

Of course therapy had been a life saver.

But it all goes back to how it started.

And it’s still really simple.

I fight for my son.

I learn about him.

I educate others.

I advocate.

Because I love him.

It’s the most powerful force and strongest tool that you have.

It will guide you through the storms...leading you to make the right decisions as you navigate these unchartered waters.

I promise you..that’s all you need to begin this journey..the rest will fall into place somehow💙

Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow-River Phoenix



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