When we can’t be everywhere we want to be

Ahhhhh.

Fire, book, notebook, pencil…

It’s almost everything I want out of Advent.

I also want corporate worship, and my favorite of all is our Taize service.

I’ve attended only twice, but you’d think it was much more, the way I cherish it. My memories hold the music, the silence, the candles, and the contemplation. And, in one memory, I see the glow of a senior citizen I admired for years, surrounded by candlelight, wiping his nose with a hanky as he mouthed a fervent prayer. Oh, I treasure this night and longed to be there again this year.

I had to miss the service. It was exactly where I wanted to be, yet not where I needed to be.

At the same time, a hot-shot, superstar social worker and behavioral specialist was speaking locally about autism and bullying.  Students on the spectrum are more susceptible to bullying than students with any other disability. And some are also prone to becoming bullies (“bully-victims”) because they may mimic the behavior. So, it was kind of a big deal for me to be there.

I’m guessing you know what that feels like too. This happens to all of us, parents or not – this wishing we could be two places at once. And it definitely happens a lot during the holidays.

For a parent, the moment occurs when we must choose between the children’s wants or needs and our own, and it’s a tricky thing to know the when and how of this.

In all this talk of self-care and preventing our own burnout, which ultimately hurts our children, how do we discern when to say yes and when to say no?

How do we know when it’s the right time to choose them and the right time to choose us?

This week’s decision was only easy because it involved Henry’s safety. I don’t pretend to know the answers for every occasion in every family. Further, I might need to say yes today, yet no to the very same thing tomorrow or next week.  I do know, however, what values I consider when making decisions. Perhaps this list will help you sort through your own.

Henry’s physical safety and emotional welfare. Will this help him stay safe, either now or in the future?
Henry’s spiritual formation. Does this help us shepherd his heart?
Our needs. Do either of these options meet a need for Henry or me?
Henry’s wants. Is his desire in this moment also important for one of the values above?

To put a different spin on it, let’s pretend there was no superstar speaker. Let’s say Henry is in a robotics club and his team had an exhibition night for the parents on the same night as the Taize service. Let’s say he pleaded with me to be there – not just Dad but Mom too. In this case, I need to ask myself these questions:

Will my absence leave a lasting impression on him?
Has missing his special events become a pattern for me or is this a one-time thing?
Has he been particularly demanding of my attention lately? If so, is this an indicator of something else?
How important is this church service to my own spiritual formation at this point in time?

These answers can change from day to day, obviously. While most of us would say, “Hands down! I’m going to be with my child!” we know there could be situations in which tending to our own souls would outweigh the robotics night.

In these sticky situations, perhaps it is best to already have the parameters mapped out in our minds, like my 4 bullet points above. What do you think yours may be?

Might I suggest the following verse as a guide?

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

I know my decision this time was based on justice for my son, but the next might simply be kindness toward him. It might be humility. It might even be kindness for myself.

The next time you’re faced with the desire to be in two places simultaneously, how might your decision be wrapped in justice, kindness, and humility?

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New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

The Key to a Hopeful Advent

I think it is safe to say that we want our days to count for something. We want our work to produce, we want our parenting to make a difference, we want this Advent season to be more meaningful than the last one or as meaningful. We don’t want to waste our time.

But what are we really saying?

Here is a quote from Oswald Chambers that I think sums it up nicely. He says, “It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God — but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people — and this is not learned in five minutes.” (My Utmost for His Highest)

~ Emily P. Freeman, The Next Right Thing episode 17

Some years ago I wrote that I felt Advent was passing me by, that somehow I had missed something. 

No matter what I did or didn’t do, it just didn’t feel like enough. It didn’t feel… I  don’t know, special? Holy? I now realize I didn’t understand Advent, much like I didn’t understand Lent. New to liturgy and the idea of a Church calendar, I was enthusiastic in my appreciation of the season and wanted every moment to count.

I think somehow I confused Advent with doing.

Bake cookies for the neighbors!
Take treats to the firemen!
Decorate the tree!
Sing Christmas carols to shut-ins!
Look at lights!
Make a gingerbread house!
Ice skate in the park!
See the Nutcracker!

None of these actions are bad, understand. Done in the right spirit, they are faithful, fun, and festive holiday activities. But none of them have anything to do with Advent – not necessarily, anyway. I would argue even the Christian things can deplete our hope.

And that’s what Advent really is. Expectant, joyful hope.

We’re preparing for our Savior.

I’m an enormous fan of Christmas and love the festivities as much as anyone, but even I must admit that baking cookies doesn’t set my mind on things above. Unless…

Can I share those cookies with someone? Can I somehow share the love of God with them? Hmmm. Maybe this could be an Advent activity.

See, I believe Advent is less about the doing and more about the being. How will you be this season? Will you be joyful, peaceful, and hopeful?

If putting together a gingerbread house creates a family argument, maybe it’s time to stop that tradition.

If you discover no one actually likes the Nutcracker, why go?

If a family devotion wreaks havoc in your home, there is a different way to hide Scripture in the hearts of your children.

Does the Christmas Eve church service send your special needs child over the edge? If so, perhaps it is time to consider what Sandra Peoples* suggests:

The less flexible my child is, the more flexible I need to be. I’m the adult and I have to act like it, even when I’m feeling stressed or embarrassed. That means I may have to bend some of my usual standards to keep the peace.

Advent will truly feel empty – we will have missed it – if we don’t know what it is we’re trying to achieve. We will rush and do and give without meaning and purpose.

So, I ask you this important question today:

What prepares your heart for Christ?


* Sandra’s 5 Keys to a Calm Christmas is an exceptional guide for parents and other relatives who need to understand their special kiddos this season. Sign up here: bit.ly/calmChristmas

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

Ask Meredith: Holiday edition

“Meredith, what might be some gentle ways to ask for a host/hostess’ help in making a holiday gathering more comfortable for children with special needs? What are the areas where a parent could take initiative to take care of their own child’s needs (such as excusing their child from participating in a chaotic, but long-standing family ritual everyone else loves) and where are areas where it is reasonable to ask for some modifications (such as a request to play soft and soothing Christmas music vs. Alvin and the Chipmunks).”

This is such an important question that honors both the child and the host. My goal is always to advocate for Henry (and teach him to advocate for himself) while maintaining respect and kindness toward others. That desire is what I hear in this inquiry.

Let me preface my suggestions with the disclaimer that I realize only you can know the best approach to take with your family. Family dynamics are unique, and what works for us may not work for you. Please know my intent is to help you provide peace for all involved, never discord.

Additionally, the right tone and word choice can go a long way with fostering mutual respect and demonstrating your intent. You are not responsible for another person’s interpretation, but you are responsible to speak with love and clarity. Convey that your child’s needs are real and that the right accommodations will benefit everyone – not just your child. With that said, I would consider these reasonable requests:

  • Ask for an idea of when food will be served so that you can prepare your child. Example: “Hi, Cindy! I’m preparing a schedule for Johnny. Any chance you can tell me the approximate time we’ll have dinner? Will we have a special blessing or toast beforehand I should tell him about? Thanks so much; this really helps him feel excited instead of anxious about the holiday!”
  • If you need to prepare special food for your child, make sure to let the host know you will take care of it so as not to burden them.
  • Ask if there will be guests who are unfamiliar to your child.
    “Hey, Dad. I’m showing Sally pictures of all her extended family and reminding her who will be at Christmas dinner. Do we have any special guests or friends coming? I’d love to tell her their names beforehand.”
  • Let the host and other family members know the specific situations in which your child may experience discomfort, pain, or emotional fatigue.
    For example, if your child has sensitivity to touch, he may not appreciate hugging.
  • If longstanding traditions have been uncomfortable for your child in the past – or if you suspect they will be – let your family know that your child may need to separate herself from the crowd for brief periods of quiet and decompression.
  • If the host or other family members offer to change a tradition for your child’s benefit, gratefully and graciously accept. This is not the time to be a martyr or to be prideful.
  • Finally, it is always appropriate to ask how you can help the host/hostess. At the least, you have shown kindness and courtesy. At best, this request can open the lines of communication and may give you an opportunity to share what will help your child. For example, the host may enlist your assistance in preparing a calm environment. (Create a quiet zone, tone down the table decorations, avoid smelly candles, etc.) She may even offer to prepare your child’s favorite food or change the music. (No more Alvin!)

I hope these suggestions are helpful for you and create more peace and joy this season! Do you have great tips too? Please share them in the comments or on Facebook.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

When they don’t want to trick-or-treat

You may have noticed I’m in favor of empowering the disenfranchised and remembering the forgotten, even for something as trivial as Halloween. I encourage parents of neurodiverse children to tackle the holiday in non-traditional ways.

But guess what?

If your children with autism or sensory processing disorder DON’T WANT to participate in Halloween activities, that’s ok too.

Yes, really.

It’s not a requirement of childhood to wear a costume, to ask neighbors and strangers for candy, to take a hayride, or go to a carnival. It’s not. If your kids are making their own fun or even treating Halloween as an ordinary day, then pat yourself on the back for giving them the space to do what they need.

This – allowing them to do their own thing – is usually harder for the parents, who grieve what they feel their family missed. What we tend to grieve are our expectations, not our reality. Allow yourself the grief, especially if this is your first set of holidays post-diagnosis. It is normal and healthy to grieve and there’s no timetable for how it’s done. Let yourself feel it. Don’t squash it. And then… one day… it won’t sting anymore or will sting less sharply. The beauty will be stronger than the grief. Remember, love is stronger than hard.

 

“You didn’t lose a child to autism. You lost a child because the child you waited for never came into existence. … We need and deserve families who can see us and value us for ourselves, not families whose vision of us is obscured by the ghosts of children who never lived. Grieve if you must, for your own lost dreams. But don’t mourn for us. We are alive. We are real. And we’re here waiting for you.”  – Jim Sinclair in Loud Hands.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

How to trick-or-treat with autism

If your children with autism or sensory processing disorder WANT to participate in Halloween activities, there is no reason why they can’t.

Yes, really.

Your Halloween might not look like your neighbor’s or your best friend’s or even your own from childhood, but that doesn’t mean it’s less special to your child. Find out what your child wants to do, and then:

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

* Let them choose costumes that make them feel good. Superhero pajamas, a favorite hat, or even their favorite regular clothing are just fine. (Note: I hope no would make an ugly comment to a child not wearing a costume, but if they do, you have the opportunity to kindly educate! If you don’t want to use words, you can silently hand them an informational card. Don’t forget a smile.)
* Practice the words or signs to use.
* Talk through what to expect, if this is their first time.
* Make or find a social story.
* Act out the plan with their favorite toy. (Use dolls, action figures, trains, cars, blocks, crayons – anything can have a “voice”!)

2. Plan an escape.
* If traveling by car, don’t hold yourself hostage to another person’s timetable. Drive your own.
* Know the layout of where you are going (carnival, festival, neighborhood, etc.) so you can quickly get to a “safe zone” or your car.
* If your children seem nervous or hesitant, assure them that they can stop/leave at any time.
* Have comfort items on hand for decompression.

How does your family do Halloween? I’d love to hear! Leave it in the comments or drop me a line at meredithdangel(at)gmail(dot)com.

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New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

For the autism moms who dread Halloween

I see you, the moms carefully prepping for October 31.

I see you carefully creating costumes that won’t irritate.
I see you scouring the web for the perfect pieces.
I see you sewing.
I see you driving all over town.
I see you ripping out the tags.
I see you crossing your fingers.
I see your sigh of relief when it works and the frustrated tears when it doesn’t.
I see you rehearsing the way to trick or treat, preparing for the sensory assault, and fine-tuning your evacuation plan.

I see you on October 31, moms of the children who want to be brave.

I see you sending off your anxious but resolute daughter into the carnival.
I see you assuring your son it’s ok not to wear a costume.
I see you crouching, soothing, whispering.
I see you cheering them on, showering them with praise.
I see you holding everything together.

I see you, too, moms who are proud of your children’s self-advocacy.

I see how you make the night special for your family anyway.
I see your children handing out candy instead of receiving it.
I see you together inside, hiding from trick-or-treaters, watching favorite cartoons for the thousandth time.
I see you popping corn, reading books or playing games.
I see you watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”

I see you, moms who are speechless when friends show kindness.

I see your gratitude when they attempt to include you in their plans.
I see you answer the door with joy when they stop by to bring your child a treat.
I see your lip tremble as you read the text, “How are you? Is the day going ok?”

I also see you when you feel alone.

I see how you lay down all your dreams to make new ones.
I see you when the friends don’t call, don’t message, don’t stop by.
I see you when you feel forgotten.
I see you cleaning up the remains of dinner, eyes threatening to spill, as you carry the tension between contentment that your child is happy and disappointment that you aren’t.

And I see you on November 1, when life returns to normal, whatever that means.

I see your shoulders relax because you made it.
I see you already preparing for the next big thing.
I see you loving, guiding, and praying.
I see you shepherding your child to be the man or woman God designed him to be,
and I see you making the world better for your child.

I clap for you, moms. I’m proud of you. I am you.

No matter what you’re feeling this October, I see you.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

Love is stronger than hard.

I follow a lot of special needs writers, organizations, and networks, and I see 2 basic attitudes:

Life hurts all the time.

Life is hard, but love is stronger than hard.

I choose to adopt a voice like the latter, not because it’s the easiest way but because it is the best way for me. The way that builds my character to make me more like Jesus. The way that leads to life and not destruction.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  (Matthew 7:13-14)

This is not to say the writers voicing the pain every day are becoming less like Jesus. No, in fact, I believe they are making sacrifices each day that bring them closer than breath to Jesus. The other folks have their own purposes (or not) and I am in no position to judge. To look for the beauty and love is the way Jesus has called me to live, because he knows what is good for me. 

On my birthday, my dear cousin wrote to say she loved that I see the bright side in everything.

She is right. I do. My smiles aren’t false; my joy is real. Unfortunately, so is the tendency to grow stormy when I’m alone, whether I’m navigating interstate traffic or sitting on my porch in the sun. It is with my intention and God’s grace that I fight the demons of the dark.

My factory setting is melancholy. While I easily forgive others, I find it harder to forgive myself. (I am a Good Girl in perpetual recovery.) I see my flaws and failures; I feel worthless and unloved; I long for death and not life. This is my default.

But we do not have to stay in our default settings. We have a hope and a realistic power to be more. It’s called Christ.

It is neither my strength nor my gumption that makes me see the bright side. It’s Him. He fills me with warmth and gratitude. He lifts my head when I cannot and opens my eyes to life when I see death. The law of the Spirit, alive in Christ Jesus, sets me free.

My life can be hard, but greater is He who is in me than the one who is in the world.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

What I (Re)Learned This Summer

This summer I seemed to re-learn old lessons more than I discovered new ones. I’m late to Emily’s link-up, but I’m technically on time since fall is still 2 days away, right?

Can doesn’t equal should. My friend bought an Apple watch and took it back. He said it was cool, but not that cool. He couldn’t justify the expense with the little he used it. Sure, someone could teach him more functions and show him more apps, but he didn’t need them. A lover of gadgets and toys – one who waited in a line around the block for the very first iPhone – admitted the cost of the watch outweighed the functionality for him. I’m always thinking about this idea of can vs. should, but my friend’s choice renewed my curiosity. I can do this or that, but should I? Does it align with our family values, my personal goals, and God’s nudging?

I need to pick up the phone. A friend had major surgery this summer without us knowing about it. Every time his wife crossed my mind, I should have stopped what I was doing and listened to the voice that said, “Call her now.”

Not now doesn’t mean never.  Henry can now open gifts in front of friends without telling them exactly what he thinks of their gifts. Wow, what an accomplishment!

To everything there is a season, even awesome things. I canceled my membership to an online community I loved. I realized if I continued to pay for it, it would be for silly reasons – not because I needed it. The direction the group was heading, while wonderful and powerful and beneficial for many, was no longer beneficial for me, and admitting this to myself was hard. When I let go, I knew it was the right decision because I felt more free.

What did you learn this summer?

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

When you need less stress

With the start of the school year, I know many parents are already feeling overwhelmed. Here’s how I tackle the temptation to stress:

1. Claim your family values. What are the core beliefs that define your family? Once you own them, take joy in them! Delight in saying “yes” to rituals, traditions, practices, and events that match your values and fulfill your goals. Also, allow yourself the freedom to alter some values seasonally. For instance, showing God’s love through hospitality is always a core belief for us, though the expression of it can change over time. A focus on a particular person or group today may not be our focus next month or year.

2. Then, practice the delicate art of saying “no.” It’s the only way to give your most important “yes.” They say our calendars (and bank accounts) reflect our priorities, so we must schedule wisely.

In the 21st century, many of us respond to the tyranny of the urgent. One of the characteristics of a responsible adult is to recognize the difference between the important and the urgent, and then refuse to be tyrannized by the urgent; refuse to manage by crisis.  

– Tsh Oxenreider, “Create a family purpose statement”

I filter my choices through the values I’ve established. Last year, for example, I stepped down from a church committee in order to devote myself more fully to another one, which presented a greater need for my passion, gifts, and skills.

What is important? What is urgent? What might be important later but not now? What is never important? What might be someone else’s “yes” that you’ve been guilted into making your own?

3. Utilize practical systems.  What burdens you most? Whatever it is, tackle it with a streamlined system that will actually work for you. Don’t try to adopt someone else’s great idea if you know you won’t use it! The internet is full of great resources, but here are a few systems I like:

  • Plan the week’s suppers on Sunday.
  • Set up a lunch-making station or pre-make lunches for the whole week.
  • Shop once. We all forget things from time to time, but if you can plan ahead and strive for one set of errands as opposed to several stops throughout the week, you’ll save yourself time, gas, and frustration.
  • Develop routines for household chores. (Laundry on Mondays, shopping on Tuesdays, etc.)
  • Go paperless. Use online bill pay and online apps for keeping household records. (Evernote, Mint, and Google Docs and Sheets are a few we love.)

4. Slow down. James Bryan Smith offers several suggestions for how to practice slowing down in his book The Good and Beautiful God, and I love what he says here:

Slowing down the pace of our lives means eliminating hurry and limiting the demands and activities in our lives. Then we are more likely to take delight in our lives and make room for God.  (p.189)

How can you practice slowing down? Stroll through a parking lot instead of rushing to the door. (I’m the pot calling the kettle black.) Make yourself drive in the slow lane. Eat a hot breakfast. Take your time in the shower. Slow your hands as you wash your small child in the bath. Stop multi-tasking.

5. Breathe. Yes, just breathe. I don’t mean take a walk. I don’t mean turn on music. I mean sit in silence and breathe. How long do you need? 30 seconds? 5 minutes? That all depends on you, and you won’t know until you try, but I guarantee even the most thriving extrovert needs to still the noise. Our souls weren’t made for the constant onslaught of information and sensory input; they need moments of quiet.

When we sit in silence, it’s true we may not be doing anything, but we are undoing so much. The soul is made to receive. […] The soul receives input all day long from both welcome and unwelcome sources. Where is the output? When are we regularly disposing of the soul clutter we no longer need?

– Emily P. Freeman

Let me know how these ideas resonate with you. May you feel less stress and overwhelm this school year!

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

He is seen

Henry has just turned 6. The party now over, we open gifts as a family in the safe space of our living room. Henry opens a Spiderman toy from his classmate and bursts into tears.

“But he knows I like trains! He knows I don’t like Spiderman! Why would he do this?”

I attempt to gather him into my arms, but he will have none of it. His brain is on fire, reeling from this perceived betrayal. Hot tears spill over his flushed cheeks. I try to explain that his friend’s mother probably bought the present. I remind him how his classmates often draw trains for him at school. They know, I assure him. Still, Henry wails, “But why didn’t he tell his mom? He should have told her!”

The hurt in his eyes is almost too much to bear. To an outside observer it would sound bratty, but I know better.

If you know Henry, then you know how his mind works. You see the anguish on his face, and you know this reaction is more than spoiled selfishness. It’s authentic pain and genuine confusion. His heart is broken.

He longs to be seen.

*****

One day this summer, while driving down a country road, Henry declares, “Mom, this year I want to open my presents in front of my friends.”

“Ok, bud. Remember, if you open a gift you don’t like, you’ll need to keep it in your thought bubble. You’ll need to say ‘thank you’ no matter what. Let’s practice. Pretend you just opened a gift and…”

“No no no. I changed my mind. I’ll open them later.”

I understand we’ve crossed a line; there will be no more talking about this today and maybe not at all.  “Ok,” I say, “we can talk about it another time.”

Though he mentions it only in passing one more time, he is steadfast; he will not open his presents in front of his friends.

On the day of his party, somewhere between water balloons and snow cones, Henry walks up to me. “Mom? I want to open my presents now.”

“Remember the talk we had about it? Can you do it?”

“Yeah. I want to do it.”

So, he does. Henry opens gifts from friends at his birthday party. He smiles genuinely, expresses authentic gratitude, and never tells a friend he doesn’t like their selection. If negative thoughts are in his thought bubble, I see no evidence of them. It’s a morning of birthday wishes come true.

*****

Days after the party, Henry pauses in the middle of play and points to a new train set.

“Mom, remember when (my friend) gave me that Thomas set for my birthday? He thought about me, because I like trains.”

I am transported to that evening two years ago, the evening of inconsolable tears, and I am relieved. He knows now. He knows he is seen. I smile and reply softly, “He sure did, honey. He sure did.”

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New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 8-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.