Madison’s Story: The Myth I Wish Were True

Madison’s Story: The Myth I Wish Were True

As most of you know, April is Autism Awareness month. At Pathfinders for Autism, the organization I helped found 17 years ago, we are sharing #AutismMyth videos, busting myths such as:

  • People with autism can’t have jobs
  • Non or low verbal people with autism aren’t listening when you are talking about them
  • People with autism don’t have empathy
  • Non or low verbal people with autism aren’t intelligent
  • People with autism don’t have feelings

This week, I made a video about my Madison, tackling this myth:

Honestly, I wish it weren’t a myth. I wish it were true for my Madison and for me.

But it’s not.

The truth is, there are times when I wish I didn’t know about autism at all. I wish it had never touched my beautiful daughter or our family.

But it did.

In my better moments, though, I am amazed and strangely grateful for I’ve learned from my daughter. What has Madison taught me?

Acceptance changes everything.

Once I stopped looking for answers and started looking for options, life got easier. I may never understand autism—the “why” of its existence—but once I accepted it, I could get on with dealing with day to day life.

A spectrum disorder demands a spectrum of services. Always.

Forget cookie-cutter approaches and one-size-fits-all thinking. If you have met one child with autism, you have done just that: met one child with autism. Complexity comes with the territory; it is part of life with autism. Expect it. Be persistent in making sure appropriate services are offered.

We are more alike than we are different.

Our children introduce us to worlds we often know nothing about, sometimes requiring us to parent a child unlike ourselves. Beyond the world of disability, the overachieving parent may have to parent the “just enough” kid. The athlete may have to parent the artist. The rule-follower may have to parent the risk-taker. Yet, no matter what our parenting challenge, we want the same things for our kids—a full life, filled with compassion, choices, and acceptance, regardless of the child’s gifts, talents, abilities or disabilities.

Attitude matters. The storms of life are inevitable. I’ve weathered many with Madison as well as my other children. Embrace the turbulence, see what it has to teach, and then share it with others, if helpful. Stay positive, curious, and determined, I’ve learned. Cherish the highs and approach the lows with confidence.

So, here’s my video. Gulp. It’s so uncomfortable to watch myself on film! But the message is sincere. Madison represents one part of the spectrum of autism that people don’t often see. She is doing SO much better! But she would not be where she is now, preparing for a new adult residential placement, without a ton of folks in this boat with me. I am grateful for the good people at Pathfinders, who don’t mind rough seas and uncharted territories.

Thanks, too, for your thoughts and prayers for my Madison. She should be moving next month to her new home and day program! I’m so excited. There’s still time to contribute to a banner in her honor for our Pathfinders for Autism Golf Event. She’s one cool kid these days!

Contribute to Madison's Banner

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

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