It’s Okay…

Streamers fell from the ceiling and a brass marching band played “Happy Days are Here Again” as the school bus pulled up for the first day of school a couple weeks ago. Well, no, not really, but to say I was happy about the beginning of the school year is quite the understatement.

Mikey didn’t have the best summer break. He regressed a lot and his behavior was challenging at times. I always look forward to the beginning of the new school year, but this year I really couldn’t wait for it to come. Do I feel guilty about saying that? Sure. But it’s okay…

Mikey needed to be back in that structured environment and that’s how I justified my feelings. I did have some pangs of guilt about rooting for school to start back up and for thinking that being around the teachers and other students would be better for Mikey than anything I could do for him at this time. As for having those thoughts, well, it’s okay…

There is a great opportunity for guilt when you are an autism parent. And that stems from the first diagnosis: “Is it my fault?”

Through daily life: “Am I doing enough?” “Did I do the right thing?”

Then there’s that other internal guilt that just wrenches your heart. It’s a guilt that makes you feel like the worst person in the world. But I’m here to tell you it’s okay…

It’s okay to be happy about back-to-school season…

It’s okay to be happy when your child goes to bed…

It’s okay to have those bad days when everything about being the parent of a child with autismgets you down…

It’s okay to want to scream…

It’s okay to cry…

It’s okay…

We all have those feelings at some point. They come upon us sometimes at the worst moments and overwhelm every fiber of our soul. But yes, it is okay to give in to them…with a few stipulations:

  • You must be a truly loving parent who gives your child all the love and attention you have to give.
  • You must have the ability to know when your child will gain from you stepping back to let a teacher, therapist, or coach take over for a bit.
  • And, most importantly, you must be able to realize when an occasional urge to cry or scream has become a problem that consumes you on a daily basis and requires the help of a professional.

So, as I sit here listening over the monitor to Mikey still goofing around three hours after I put him to bed, I can’t help but think to myself, “Go to sleep, buddy. Go to sleep!” And you know what? He will. And I will. And in the morning…it will be okay.

Dan Olawski blogs about fatherhood and his son Mikey for the Autism Society. He lives with his family on Long Island, N.Y., where he works as a writer/editor. His time is spent following Mikey with a vacuum cleaner, watching his beloved New York Yankees and continuing his pursuit of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. He can be contacted at dantheeditorman@gmail.com.

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