Choosing Love: Letting Go of the Trauma of Autism by Erin Schumacher

Living with autism is not exactly how I pictured my life; but now I know no other way. When our son Myles was diagnosed almost four years ago, we were told he would most likely never be able to speak, attend school, have “normal” relationships or be a successfully independent spirit in his lifetime.

There were times when my days seemed endless and I felt trapped: living in what appeared to be a constant state of crisis management – always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was constantly, vigilantly on the look out for triggers, for any potential meltdown material. My life swirled around me as if I had been consumed by a gigantic wave. I lost my sense of spatial awareness and searched for something to push off of – desperately trying to make it to the surface and gasp for air. There were times when panic would settle in: I doubted myself, my ability to cope and manage, and I doubted whether things would ever change. Days were long, bleak and one simply rolled into another in an endless litany of chaos.

Resentment built in me like water behind a dam, waiting to be released in the most non-productive, explosive way –the kind of display that leaves you feeling guilt-ridden and depleted. I looked at myself and wondered, “How did I get here? When will this end?” I experienced a desperation that hadno bottom, an undistinguishable beginning,and what felt likeno end in sight. I tirelessly pushed, fought hard and was relentless with doctors, service providers, my husband, family, friends and with Myles. There were of glimpses of hope. They werefew and so very far between,but these fleeting moments of optimism began to carry me through. Instead of focusing on getting through the day and lying my head on my pillow or looking forward to the five minutes I would steal on the toilet to cryso I didn’t explode, I became fixated on those moments of breakthrough. I lived for Myles’attempt to make a noise, the one bite I successfully got into his mouth without getting a black eye,or the nights that he went to bed after only 3 hours of trying (instead of being up theentire night simply because he could not regulate and fall asleep).

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