By Cyndi Frisch
The birth of a child is one of life’s most special moments, whether it was planned or not, God gave most of us nine months to get ready for the one thing that will change our lives more than anything else. In the eyes of all new parents, their children are perfect in every way. We take them home in the new cars seat we bought to protect them…because that is our job, to protect them from everything bad in this world. Sleepless nights and countless dirty diapers consume our first few months at home, but soon our babies find their personalities. Life is perfect.
The word Autism can hit you like a ton of bricks when you hear it for the first time in reference to your child. I don’t know if this is true for all parents, but I think you go through some grief before you put on your big girl pants and start the fight of your life for your child. You grieve for the child that will never be. My son cried his eyes out and still does not accept the fact that his son is autistic. He thinks Bryan is the way he is because we baby him too much−what ever makes him feel better, I don’t fight him anymore about it.
As a grandparent, I didn’t go through any grief. I never saw a child that that would never be. I just saw a child I needed to love even more and a grandmother’s number one job is to love! Of course I am not implying that parents don’t love their children, it is the opposite, they love them so much they want the best for them. They grieve because they know life will be harder for their children.
From the moment we became Bryan’s caregivers, my determination was to give him all he love I could to make up for his rough start and to give him he best life I could. Bryan was different from the start and once we found out it was autism, it was just another explanation as to why he was the way he was, another game changer, another change in direction, but never any grief. I accept all of his little quirks and the things that make him different. It still hurt knowing that his life will always come with challenges. He has no friends, and he talks about when he grows up and gets married and my heart breaks…will that ever happen?
Young parents also tend to have friends. My daughter does and her friends have always accepted her daughter with Aspergers just the way she is. We have no friends, even dropping some who do not understand Bryan’s meltdowns as friends from our generation tend to believe that autism is just an excuse for having a spoiled, undisciplined child.
You may be a parent and I am a grandparent and we are different in many ways, but we have one thing in common…we love our autistic children unconditionally.
**This is a from-the-heart personal essay from Cyndi Frisch, a grandmother raising her autistic grandson. She and her sister make weighted vests, weighted lap pads, and weighted blankets and you can find them over at A Thread of Magic on Facebook.