Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The membership I never wanted, but can't live without

"Welcome to the Autism Community."  I found myself saying these words to a new mom I met recently and I realized I'd heard them before.  Another mom had said these words to me at my first TACA meeting a few short weeks after diagnosis over a year ago now.  It was an oddly reassuring feeling to be welcomed into a community that up until then I hadn't even realized existed, let alone ever imagined myself becoming a part of.

Being a parent of a child with Autism is like having a membership to an exclusive underground club.  No one on the outside can really know what it's like without experiencing it for themselves.  But once you're in, the immediate feeling of camaraderie is palpable.  It's like we have a secret handshake and speak our own language.  At every meeting, every parent support group, every event, and on every online Autism forum, I meet more and more members of the Autism Community - newbies and veterans, parents and professionals.  There are people who support me, commiserate with me, educate me, laugh with me, cry with me, inspire me and listen to me when I just need to vent.

I am so thankful to everyone I've met along the way, and continue to meet every day.  I couldn't cope, and definitely couldn't be as productive as I sometimes manage to be on behalf of my son without my membership to the club that I never knew I wanted and now can't live without.