Soon after James was diagnosed with autism, I knew I had to learn as much as I could so we could get him as much help as possible. I researched therapies, diets, doctors, sensory toys, and safety measures. I spent hours figuring out what would work for him and tried anything that sounded promising. I switched from worrying mom to warrior mom.
In 2011, the LA Times wrote a four-part series on autism, including the post “Warrior parents fare best in securing autism services.” It profiles different families who have children with autism and the benefits they receive (or don’t receive). As the article points out, white, middle-class families get more benefits for our autistic children than minority and/or lower-class families do. Why? Because those parents are warrior parents.
Those of us in the autism world know there are really two spectrums—there’s the autism spectrum our children are on and there’s the spectrum of benefits our children receive.
Some parents don’t have the education, opportunities, and sheer determination it takes to get what their children need. In hard economic times, resources to kids with special needs are often the first to get cut. Many parents stop asking when they hear “no” from school systems or state services. As the article points out, the parents who continue to ask, push, and even threaten are getting what they need for their children.
How can we level the playing field for all our children with autism? Since knowledge is power, the number one way we can help is to share what we learn.
We share what therapies work for our kids. We share GF/CF recipes. We share how we got our insurance to cover additional services. We share the language we’ve learned to speak from years of IEP meetings. We share verses that get us through the hard days.
We share all this online, through books, and in person.
I’m thankful for the information and resources I’ve found online. I started reading this site long before Mike asked me to contribute, and it has not only taught me, but also encouraged me. Knowing that I’m not the only one on this journey keeps me traveling down the path with more confidence.
I’m thankful for so many who share what they know in books, too. In the months following James’s diagnosis, I read books by writers on this site, like Greg’s Wresting with and Angel and Kelly’s Autism’s Hidden Blessings. They reminded me James’s autism was not a surprise to God and He had a plan for our lives. Since then, our writers have written even more books that continue to help me. (You can find links to them in our Amazon store.)
I’m thankful for special-needs parents (like my own) who thirty years ago fought battles we don’t have to fight today, battles for basic health care and the right to an education. I’m thankful for our local autism support group, who I can contact to ask questions like, “Which dentist in the area is great with your kids on the spectrum?” I’m thankful for our own support groups that encourage and pray for each other daily.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” As we continue to encourage and educate each other, all of our children benefit.