Guest Blog By Kelly Kennie

Kelly Kennie is the mother of a beautiful daughter who happens to have autism. Follow their journey on Instagram @buttonsaysbuttondoes

I am a mom, I have a daughter who is 4 that was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder last year and a 17-month-old son, who may or may not be neurotypical. Since the beginning of our journey I have learned a lot, grown a lot and experienced every emotion you could possibly name. If I could have other people understand a few things about my journey as an autism parent, it would be these top 4 things:

1)  #Sorrynotsorry that I forget to call/text back, that play dates slip my mind and that sometimes I am just too mentally fried to be a full present friend. It’s not personal, it’s not malicious and I hate it as much as you do. Even on our best day there is a huge physical, mental and emotional drain on us all. When it comes to our challenging days, forget about it, it’s straight survival mode!

2)  Validation is a beautiful thing. I know my fears and anxieties are illogical and the stuff sci-fi movies thrive on, but brushing them off actually makes me feel worse. It tells me I am alone and should not share my struggles/fears/frustrations. This autism journey is filled with a lot of emotions, positive, negative and some that I can’t even pinpoint, but they are ALL valid. You may not be able to relate, you may not understand. But if I can knock down walls that have built themselves up since we heard the diagnosis, to let you in, just listen and comfort. But please don’t pity, we don’t want or need that.

3)  Talking about it helps. I don’t want my daughter defined by any diagnosis but acknowledging it and discussing it helps me, especially if I am nervous or worried about other people’s reactions. I don’t want or intend for it to be all that I talk about but it is such a huge part of my life. It dictates and controls so much of what we do and how we do it. If you learn something about autism, that is a plus and I hope you remember it, please don’t ever be afraid to ask questions.

4)  Trust me. I know my daughter better than anyone. If I am concerned that something will be too much or just not simply work for her, trust me. I might be wrong, have been plenty of times in the past, but let me and my family work it out. It’s not that I don’t want her to try new things or be a part of something; we just may have to forge our own path to get there. Just because something has worked for you, your kids or other kids you know, it does not mean it will work for my kid.

Autism changes, controls and enlightens everyone it touches, the best thing about it is the love that it amplifies. That love ignites a fierce protection over our families, fear of the unknown, the future and other people. It’s not personal, it’s self-preservation. All I can ask of my support system is to love me through it, while I love my daughter through it all. A shoulder to cry on, jokes at the ready, empathy and caffeine never hurt either!