good life with megan hufton
Part of cultivating a good life means finding joy and happiness in the life you have and not comparing it to other people’s lives.
April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day around the world. Families take part in the “Light it Up Blue” campaign on this day by wearing blue clothes to raise awareness and show support for individuals on the autism spectrum. Businesses and landmarks also “go blue” and shine blue light all over the world.
If only it were that easy to truly accept autism into your life. Parents to those 1 in 68 children who are diagnosed each year wish that accepting this diagnosis for their child was as simple as throwing on a blue shirt and stringing some blue Christmas tree lights around their front porch. The reality though is that accepting this diagnosis is a much harder task for many. It comes with anger, fear, and sadness for many parents. So many unknowns about your child’s future lie in front of you. So many dreams you had for them come crashing down. It can be terribly overwhelming and isolating for many.
Within two years, I found myself going through this experience twice. My older son was diagnosed with autism in 2014. I remember feeling very overwhelmed about how I was going to rise up to this challenge of being the kind of parent he needed. I was sad about all of the things I had hoped for him that may never happen now. I was angry that this was happening to my boy. Then, in 2016, my younger son was diagnosed as well. Even though I had grown a lot in those two years and learned so much about autism and knew that this would open doors to so many resources for him, I still had to deal with the anger and the sadness of facing this challenge again.
However, over time I have learned the beauty of accepting our new reality. I have found the joy and the gifts that autism can bring to our daily life. I have stopped comparing our home life and our routines and our memories to other people’s. Can jealousy still creep in from time to time? Sure it can. However, I have learned how to keep perspective on our reality and be grateful for the things that we have.
Autism has taught me to have a greater appreciation for things in life. You don’t realize how many little things people take for granted until you watch your child spend hours and hours learning how to do such a simple task that other kids naturally learn. It has taught me the value in nonverbal communication. Neither of my boys can talk, but in their own way they speak to me all the time through body language and actions.
I may not ever be on the sidelines cheering them on in baseball, but I can sit in the back of their therapy room and cheer for them as they learn how to drink from a straw. We may not take big vacations to famous landmarks, but I can see pure joy from them when we head to their grandparent’s backyard swimming pool. They may not be singing loudly with all of their classmates in the school Christmas concert, but they can stand on the bleachers, flapping their hands and squealing in pure delight. All of these things make our life amazing!
Accepting a life that is different than you planned comes with great challenges. However, the sooner you start to embrace your new reality, the sooner you will find joy in the everyday moments. You’ll learn to laugh more at minor roadblocks and find appreciation for things that seem so common to your family but maybe not so much to any other families you know of. These are the moments that make your life so unique and so wonderful and you don’t want to miss out on them by constantly comparing your life to others.
Megan Hufton is a part of the Creative Team using the Project Life App. Megan resides in Wisconsin and her family now consists of herself and her two children — AJ (who is 6) and Asher (who is 5).