The Safety Sleeper

Autism Awareness Month 2019 and My Journey of Gratitude

Autism Awareness Month 2019 and My Journey of Gratitude

Originally published on April 25, 2019 on the Abram's Nation Blog.

As we honor Autism Awareness Month during April, so many thoughts come to mind about this journey I never imagined I would be on. Over the years, the overwhelming fear and uncertainty have been replaced by gratitude. That’s not to say that I don’t still have fears about Abram’s future or experience days more difficult than I feel equipped to handle, but I’ve experienced a shift in the way I think about autism.

I’ve reached a place of gratitude, for how our journey with autism has been better than I feared initially and for how this journey continues to make me a better parent and person.


I Learned to Not Take Anything for Granted

When I was a first-time mom with my older son, there were so many milestones I took for granted. From eating and sleeping to talking and potty training, I was confident that we would reach each milestone and fall into a comfortable routine. Raising Abram has certainly been more challenging. I realized sleep is a gift and that not every parent will have the freedom to sleep without constant fear for their child’s safety. I learned how to fight for simple and routine things and appreciate every achievement, regardless of when or how it arrives.

With Abram, I grieved the milestones that I thought would never come. I envisioned a tear jar, where I stored away the crushing emotion that I couldn’t let him see. It was a long time before I heard Abram speak a seemingly simple phrase: “I love you.” How many times had I taken that phrase for granted from other loved ones? Now when I hear it, my tear jar empties and I am renewed every single time.


Rose and Abram Morris delivering packages for Abram's Nation, LLC.


I Learned How to be Patient

No one who knows me will describe me as patient, but I have my moments now. I used to pray for patience. Then God gave me Abram. I learned that patience isn’t something that I would find or be given; I am driven by my intense love for my children to work and create patience. It’s an action, not a feeling, and it takes work.

I realized that Abram’s meltdowns are intensified by me, by infusing my own frustration and aggravation into the situation. I learned very quickly that I can’t fake calmness or mask my emotions; Abram can feel the energy I release and will feed off of it, so my calmness has to come from the inside. I center myself by visualizing a cool, crisp, serene and slowly moving river that allows me to let everything go. If we’re late, we’re late. If we miss an appointment, we’ll make another one.

I learned how to focus on what is important and what I can control in the situation. When I stopped getting angry at Abram’s meltdowns and, I’ll admit, at him, everything improved. I learned that my patience led to less intense meltdowns and that we could often head them off with happy distractions. I had to own my emotions and actions and become a better parent for him. Despite my prayers, best intentions and love for my husband and children, no one but Abram could have taught me how to change.


The Morris Family smiles for a headshot in the park


I Learned the Power of Hope

Very early on, Abram’s pediatrician made a simple statement: “It gets better.” I didn’t believe her, but I really needed it to get better so I had to at least have hope. It’s hard enough parenting a two- or three-year-old, and it’s exponentially harder when there is a diagnosis involved. Many years later, I’m grateful that I can attest to that power of hope and share it with other parents. My “better” may look different than yours, but there is a better. With time, you really get to know your child and their needs, you develop a bigger and stronger support system, and you realize what’s important and how to focus your physical and emotional energy on those things. I share my hope that every parent reaches a point where they can find the positive in each situation and celebrate every achievement, large and small.

For me, Autism Awareness Month is a time of reflection and renewed strength. I am grateful to Abram for teaching me how to be a better parent for each of my children and for how to truly appreciate the simple and routine. With a little patience and a lot of hope, we can navigate this journey. It gets better.

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