Walking down isle 5 in the grocery store, my head is down and I’m avoiding all eye contact My usually beautiful sweet child is having a ear piercing, attention grabbing violent melt down. I can feel the condescending looks. Just two more things-I can do this. My head is still down and finally we make it to the register. I know my face is on fire and my chest is blotchy. Still feeling all eyes on me and my son. I’m beyond exhausted and embarrassed, I’m humiliated. I look up as fast as I can to unload my cart and there are all the glares, judgement and shame on everyone’s faces.
I’m tearing myself apart on the way to the car. What triggered him? The lights? Music? Leaving the house? Failing to get his toy before going? I don’t know because my son is doesn’t communicate very well. He’ll respond to cookie, but not to his name. I berate myself the whole way home wondering. And that’s when withdrawal mode kicks in. I never want to leave the house again. I can’t take it anymore. I’ve reached bottom, I have no help and all my friends ditched me when my son ruined one too many play dates.
The fears of how others might glare, bully, snicker, or treat my son in public is too much. People now use “Autistic” as a derogatory word, it has replaced the R word. I am incredibly lonely. And the longer I stay home, the hardest it is to leave the house.
But, I do and Spectrum Parents Events – a nonprofit – is born.
The thing is, I know I’m not alone. Other parents have to be feeling this way too. I desperately needed friends who got it, gave virtual high fives and support even if it’s 2am. I’m doing much better since I started my nonprofit local support group for parents with kids on the autism spectrum. My loneliness isn’t nearly as bad. And I got to work creating my own tribe. The best part? My son is having fun too.
When we started meetup events, everything changed. Not only did I make friends, but so did my son. From there, my goal was to organize over the top events for autism families who normally wouldn’t leave their homes. I am tickled pink they are comfortable and take off their coat of armor and attend my events tailored just for autism families. They know it’s a “safe zone.” There’s no glaring, snickering, or evil glares. We all need to be accepted and you get that at Spectrum Parents Events.
Parents Who Have Found Spectrum Parents Events
-It’s a place where we blend in, when we spend so much time standing out. Sometimes you just want to be part of the crowd and not the center of everyone’s attention. My husband, James was in the hospital overseas Wendi Bush (a member who moved away) was able to connect with me here and go visit him there. That was hands down my best moment in this group. I came here just for others to understand my stress and got way more than I hoped for. – Heidi French
-There’s no other place where no question is stupid, no problem too big or too small for someone to understand, where the whole family is embraced, loved and accepted. – Karin Garrett
-It’s a way to connect with other parents on a daily basis. No more social isolation. Love the in person events where our kids are embraced and accepted for who they are. – Jen S.
-No judgement, acceptance, new friendships not only for our kids but for people who get it,
All of the advice, resources, the guidance. Can I also just put the love! I have found more friendship in less last few months that I have been in here than I have anywhere.-Ciara R.
– It has been a place where people can ask for help and not feel judged. It is somewhere to celebrate where people will understand the small victories are just as important as the big victories.