Everyone expects me to have all the answers. When you walk in through the door, a distressed parent of a child with autism, I feel the weight of expectation upon me. I see the sorrow in your eyes and I feel your weariness – the result of endless meltdowns and sleepless nights. You describe peculiar obsessions and how you find your own child's behaviour socially unacceptable and embarrassing. You are sick of being stared at in public and now it's easier just to stay at home.
In a very skilled way, you have made the world a safe place for you both, but now the unthinkable is happening – your child is becoming a young adult. I can see that this prospect holds no joy for you, only fear and anxiety. You would prefer to keep them as the child you have learned to live with.
I sit and listen, and slowly but surely you let your guard slip and it's then that I see a glimpse of what's really bothering you. You don't voice the words out loud but the tears you shed say it all. This isn't what you had planned. It isn't the journey you expected to be on.
We talk through some strategies to try to make your lives easier. We share a coffee and talk some more. I offer you the tissues. What you can't know is that at times like this I feel your desperation, your desire for me to get out my magic wand to fix it all. Although I know you value my support, I feel utterly impotent because the reality is I can't fix it. I can't change it. It's your journey.
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