By Janel Mills
July 9, 2014
My friend told me once that I could find the silver lining in anything. Here's a big one that I've found: being a parent of an autistic child has humbled me and made me a better parent.
Specifically, I've stopped caring about what strangers think of my parenting skills. It took me a lot of searching to find that particular silver lining, and it wasn't easy to find.
Sometimes Bella can't handle all the people at the store. Sometimes she doesn't want to leave the spring fair at the elementary school. Sometimes she can't share or take turns the way other kids can at her age. It could be anything, or nothing at all. But her reaction is often huge, her meltdowns epic, and when they're public meltdowns, well, you can imagine how fun that is.
I've been screamed at full-blast in Target over a toy I didn't buy. I've had to coax an anxiety-overloaded child off of the floor at Jo-Ann Fabrics because she'd just had enough. I've left parks carrying my child like a sack of potatoes, kicking and screaming, because she wouldn't leave any other way.
I've been slapped, scratched, kicked and almost bit while strangers watched (or pretended not to watch, but lingered just a little too long to leave any kind of doubt as to whether or not they were shopping or watching).