Being a parent of a child on the spectrum is a very emotional experience for most of us. Before the autism is diagnosed, we frantically try to make life work, and often find that we aggravated the pain and frustration more than calm it. None of us wants to push our child to the point of seeing them suffer. Sometimes when the anxiety overtakes them, we see all kinds of behavior that we know is an indicator they are hurting: chewing on shirts until there are holes in them; stressful humming and rocking; or panicky meltdowns. Even before the autism was identified, we knew this was an indicator our child was hurting, and not being able to stop it can be very frustrating.

Once we received a diagnosis, we might have gotten help with those issues, or we might not have found the answer yet, and we are still struggling at watching our child suffer. Either way, it is bound to create an emotional reaction in us. For myself, I know I worried about the future…. Would he ever be able to have friends? Would he be able to get through school? Will he be able to hold a job and support himself? Will he ever find love and get married? What will become of him when I am not here to provide a safe haven for him to live in? What if…? What if…? What if…???!

How many times have I been overtaken by my self-doubt, wondering if I was doing the right thing to help him. How many times have I emotionally collapsed when I should have stuck more rigidly to a boundary, only to doubt myself later and wonder if I actually am causing him harm by not being tougher or staying strict with my boundary. How many times have I wanted to protect him, and in doing so, failed him by keeping him from learning something he needed to learn?

Being a parent of a child on the autism spectrum can be a very emotional experience.