Friday, June 18, 2010

Feature Friday: Jo Ashline

You are not alone.
After the initial shock of my son’s Autism diagnosis wore off I was faced with trying to get back to “business as usual.” Meaning, children had to be fed, clothed, cuddled, and entertained. Meaning, I could only avoid parks and play dates for so long before the boys stopped resembling children and began to resemble wildebeests. The thought of venturing outside of my safe and judgment-free abode though was enough to make me break out in head to toe hives; I knew that past my front door was a world filled with questioning glances and shaking heads. I knew that my special needs son would be a constant source of unsolicited attention, when all I wanted was to disappear into the background and wallow in our family’s pain privately.

Let me tell you something.
That is no way to live.
Not for You and not for your Child.

Tantrums, arm flapping, elopement, and a robust preoccupation with other people’s strollers; if your child exhibits any of these behaviors, you’re almost guaranteed that others will sit up and take notice of you and your family while out in public. Sure; some will scoff, some will avoid eye contact, and some will even assume that you’re the world’s worst parent as you attempt to calm down your over stimulated and misunderstood child.
But unless they’re right, and your parenting skills are in need of some intervention a la Child Protective Services, then guess what?

It doesn’t matter what they think.

Easier said than done, I know.

But there is a life out there, and it’s not going to wait around on pause until you finally get up the courage to face your fears about social situations with your special needs loved one. It’s going to pass you by, one cancelled outing after another, until you wake up one day and realize that you haven’t seen the inside of a restaurant or movie theater in years.

You may feel alone right now.And you may feel tired of the shame that comes when complete strangers look at you in disdain when you can’t control your screaming son or daughter.You’re probably tired of the anxiety that sneaks up on you when your child begins to stim or have a meltdown in the middle of the canned goods aisle in the grocery store.

And no doubt you’re tired of the claustrophobia that you experience each time you are faced with a situation that may not look favorably on a child whose main method of communication involves high pitched shrieks and head banging.

I know what I’m talking about; mainly because I’ve experienced each and every one of these scenarios, and many more, over the last six years of parenting my autistic son. And though sometimes I’ve headed home from a social outing with tears of frustration on my face and utter exhaustion in my bones, I know that my perseverance and willingness to try again and again are key to my son’s success in this world, and that for every ten outings that go horribly wrong, there is always one that gives me the hope, strength and endurance I need to keep going

For his sake and mine. 
Read more by this featured BlogCrush Member by visiting her blog here.


  1. Jo is an amazing writer - great inaugural choice!

  2. What a brave and articulate and moving essay. Thank you!