An Interview with an Autism Mom

Today, we’re sharing an interview with Kirsten, a mom with three children. Her oldest is on the spectrum. She’s studying autism education with the hope of going into working with autistic children after seeing how much ABA therapy helped her son.  We hope her words encourage you today!
1. Tell me a little about yourself and your kids.
I’m a stay at home mom of 3 kids. Jonah is almost 5, Juliette is 3 and Jack is 16
months old. We’re a military family and stay very busy. Our oldest, Jonah was
diagnosed with autism when he was 2 and it’s been quite an experience since then.
2. What’s one trick, small or large, that you use to help yourself get through hard days?
Music! Thankfully all my kids love music so when things are getting rough we
turn on Pandora and have a dance party. By the end of it we’ve usually forgotten why we were upset in the first place.
3. What’s the most frustrating thing about living with autism?
The most frustrating thing is seeing your child struggle. Jonah has good days and
bad days and those bad days are the hardest. He gets so frustrated and you just want to help him but just can’t take the frustration away.
4. What’s the most joyful thing about living with autism?
The most joyful thing about living with autism is how loving Jonah is. He usually
doesn’t like to be touched but recently he will demand hugs and kisses. It’s just so
sweet!
5. What is one resource you would recommend to the parent of a just-diagnosed child?
Other parents of children on the spectrum! They are such a huge encouragement
because they are going through it too.
6. How do you handle meltdowns in public?
I usually just ignore the meltdown and let it run its course. When I’m out with all 3
kids I wear a shirt that says “keep calm I’m an autism mom”. It explains the meltdown without me needing to tell someone what’s going on. If people stare at us, which happens a lot, I just smile and tell them we are raising autism awareness very loudly today.
7. If you could sum up your daily life as a children’s book or show, which would it be and why?
I would probably choose the Little Engine that Could. Autism feels like a
mountain that you can’t climb; it’s always changing and can get overwhelming at times. You just have to keep going, tell yourself that you can do it and get over that obstacle.
8. What advice would you give to those wanting to help or support autistic families?
What kind of help do you find the most helpful and least helpful?
Listen to what the family tells you about their child. Please don’t try to suggest
new ways of doing things unless you have firsthand experience. Each child with autism is different and what works for one child might not work for another. Most likely we’ve already tried what was suggested and it wasn’t successful.
9. What sensory/therapy aids have you found most helpful, and why?
We honestly don’t use anything at home. We used to use a weighted vest to help
Jonah sit through meals but haven’t had to in a long time. Jonah is in speech,
occupational and ABA therapy and each therapist has certain things they use. Jonah’s occupational therapist uses a lap buddy, which is a small weighted blanket that he can put across his lap when he’s trying to sit still. She has also used a grotto grip, which encouraged Jonah to hold a pencil correctly. Jonah’s speech therapist uses the timer on his Iphone to help end the speech session. Jonah knows when he hears the duck quack that speech is done and it’s time to go.
10. Finish the sentence: “I know I’m a mom of an autistic child because…”
My son had to eat a banana while spinning around the room. It was just better
that way.
11. If you could go back three years, what advice would you give your younger self?
Since we found out about Jonah’s autism I have always blamed myself, maybe I
could have done something differently. If I could go back and tell myself anything, it
would be that “it’s not my fault, you can do this”.

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4 thoughts on “An Interview with an Autism Mom

  1. I love her reply when she’s out in public!!! (with the tee shirt, and when she says, “We’re raising Autism Awareness really loudly today!”). I think that’s a perfect way to handle an otherwise uncomfortable position for herself, and I wish that I handled situations in my own life with that kind of attitude.

    • Hey, Maria! I made myself a t-shirt like that and I’ve used her line since she told me about it. It’s so helpful! People seem so relieved and just move on instead of staring.

      -Audrey

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