Finding Joy in Autism

This post was originally published in September 2015.

He’s 5.  He has brought me more smiles than I ever could have imagined. Entered our world from across an ocean.  I’ve changed nearly every parenting tactic I had with our older three and have been reminded that even if you’ve been a parent for years, every child is different.

I’ve learned to follow my gut as a mom, even when it’s often not very popular.

He lays on the ground and spins the wheels of a car, over and over and over and over.  “Eeee!  Eeee! Eeee!” His voice inflection is loud and high.

He recites a Curious George adventure he knows by heart, only half understandable to me and scarcely understandable to someone who hasn’t seen the clip 1,153 times.

I serve his pancake, and he yells to me, “Mom! Romania!”  I look down. Oddly, yes: his pancake is shaped like Romania.

It’s 6:00 am. He’s up, and I urge him to climb in bed next to me so I can keep track of him. I fool myself into thinking I can get a few extra winks of sleep. Instead, he crawls in with me and brings his US President placemat.  He starts to sing: “Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison…” He finishes all 44, then starts again.

I was struck with a question the other day.

If I had a choice, would I wish for a “cure” for our son’s special needs?

I surprised myself with the answer.


I don’t wish for a cure.

To be completely honest I had a hard time admitting it to myself, and feel guilty thinking it. Typing it is even more difficult.

But here’s the thing: if I say I want him to be “cured” of Autism and his other struggles, I’m not just taking away his greatest struggles; I’m taking away his greatest strengths. And I’d be taking away an opportunity for him to grow from his greatest difficulties.

I’d also be taking away an opportunity for us as a family to continue to learn and grow, to be challenged to see things in a new and different way, to think about things from a different perspective that may have never occurred to us.

Are there days I wish it was easier? That his challenges wouldn’t be such a struggle for him?  Yes.

As a mom, we don’t like to see our kids struggle.  But as moms, don’t we also know that often with great struggle comes great reward?

I’m learning a lesson, not just as a mom but as a human, a lesson long overdue.


Of the struggle, somewhere between not overlooking it, yet also not wallowing in it.

I feel like it has taken me a long time to get here, and some days I’m still not there. I want to live in a spot where I don’t wish away a difficult circumstance, but rather celebrate progress, and–on those days where there is no progress–choose to hope anyway.

Is it hard for you to choose to accept your child’s struggles and not just overlook them or wish them away?


  1. Lindsie, I’m so glad to hear that this paradigm shift is occurring in your life. It’s difficult, and isn’t likely to be finished…. Ever? But it is a fascinating and worthy journey. Love you all.

  2. Thanks so much for this article, Lindsie. While my son doesn’t have autism, he has had a few hiccups in life (some past, some present, and some that will continue for the rest of his life). Often times, I’ve just wished that he wouldn’t have all of these extra things to deal with. It would have been so much easier for him and me. But you are so right. Taking away these things would have meant taking away so much joy and positive experiences that make up who he is and who he will become. And when I think about it that way, I agree with you. I can’t wish for it to be taken away or for a cure to be found because then, parts of him and the joy that he has brought and experienced would be taken away, too.

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