When I found out my son was autistic, I needed my village more than ever before - Motherly

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Article from Mother.ly

by Megan O’Neill

When my son was diagnosed with Autism in 2014, I was handed a folder, given some phone numbers to call and was sent on my way.

I felt a range of feelings—I was overwhelmed, confused and scared. I quite literally had no idea what to do or where to turn. This was a brand new world for me.

But still—the strongest feeling inside me was the immediate desire to connect with other families in similar situations. I wanted someone to tell me about their experience and about the services and providers that worked for them.

And I wanted someone to tell me that we were going to be OK.

When something is going on in my life, my default action is usually to share it with my people. This is what helps me cope and move forward. So, I took to Facebook and shared something about my son’s diagnosis.

A friend reached out and connected me with her friend who also had a son on the spectrum. She asked if she could call me and we spent an hour on the phone one night. From them on, she’s been one of my main sources of strength and support. Since Day 1 she has reassured me, provided me with direction and comforted me. She was the first addition to my Special Needs mama tribe. She threw me the life raft I needed during a stormy patch.

My son entered school and my mama tribe grew. I found friends online and in person. These women saved me more times than they even know. We have had each other to vent, to commiserate with, to share experiences with and to express joys, frustrations and anger with that typical parents just don’t get.

We ‘get’ each other.

So, to all you amazing women who have been there for me through these ups and downs—I thank you. From the bottom of my heart. A million times over.

Thank you...for picking me up and dusting me off after a meltdown.

Thank you...for clapping just as hard as I do for my kiddo when he learns how to jump at four-years-old.

Thank you...for sneakily dropping wine off in the driveway after a big accident.

Thank you...for always seeing my child for the amazing person he is.

Thank you...for not judging me when you notice my kid has only been eating specific purple colored pouches and peanut butter on toast.

Thank you...supporting me through an important IEP meeting and for following up to see how it went.

Thank you...for listening to my fears, worries and anxieties and just being there for me while I vent.

Thank you...for trading tips on picky eating, where you can find bigger diaper sizes for your seven-year-old, what iPad apps to download and so much more.

Thank you...for spending thirty minutes writing out exactly what I need to do in order to apply for Medicare.

Thank you...for the hugs, the gentle pats on the back and the occasional “Let’s keep our heads up!” reminders. They are necessary and much appreciated.

Thank you...for always welcoming us into your home. You know how hard play dates can be and I am always so grateful.

Thank you...for our girls nights! The times when we can just be ourselves and be comfortable with one another—and enjoy these friendships we’ve created—are invaluable.

Thank you...for always encouraging my son to unapologetically be who he is.

But most of all, thank you for always meeting me where I am and for understanding every bit of this life without me ever having to fully explain anything.

Without you all, this journey would be that much harder.

With you, this journey became an amazing adventure!

Always know that I’ve got your back and I know that you have mine. For that, I will always be forever grateful.

Megan O’Neill

Megan O’Neill is the mom to three children, Certified Lactation Counselor and runs social media for Boston Birth Associates.