Autism Parenting Magazine Issue 74 (Member's Dashboard) - Page 18

PERSONAL NARRATIVE loved ones. And I appreciated the gesture. I still do. But the truth is, in my house, autism is nothing like going to Holland. Autism isn’t lovely. It isn’t tranquil. It isn’t slow-paced. In my house, autism is more like trekking through the jungle without a map. It’s loud. It’s chaotic. It’s unforgiving. The jungle is filled with cries that I can’t understand. It’s littered with obstacles that take all my strength to overcome. There are dead ends around every corner, forcing me to fall back and rethink my approach. Don’t be fooled by the media, portraying the jungle as intriguing and exotic. I can assure you that’s only true on the outskirts. Deep in the trenches, the jun- gle is often harsh, and it rarely sleeps. The jungle can be a lonely place sometimes—it’s iso- lating. Sure, there are times I could call my friends in Italy, but I’m simply too exhausted from my daily excursions. Luckily, most of the locals are very friendly and eager to help. You see, these locals have been on their own journeys for quite a while now. They are much more knowledgeable than I am. But it seems they’ve split into different tribes. Each tribe has its own idea of the best path. And they end up sending me in opposite directions. So I try to absorb all the knowledge I can from each of them, and I continue—knowing I will wind up lost and need their help again. Please don’t get me wrong. There’s fun to be had in the jungle. There are times of silliness and explora- 18 | Autism Parenting Magazine | Issue 74 tion. It just takes a lot more planning than it would in Italy or Holland. It takes more effort to ensure we stay safe. There are also moments of intense beauty—like when the sun sets just after a storm. The entire sky lights up with intense colors that I haven’t seen in a long, long time. And there are moments of surprise and celebra- tion—like happening upon a hidden waterfall af- ter a long, strenuous hike. Those are the moments I hold on to. Those are the moments when the jungle doesn’t seem so scary. No, I didn’t ask for this journey. I would much rather spend my time prancing around Italy. But I am a war- rior. So I will continue to push through, even when I feel weary. Because that’s what warriors do. And my little one is worth it. Meghan Ashburn lives in Virgin- ia with her husband and their four sons. She owns a blog called Not An Autism Mom, where she writes about parenting, autism, and prematurity.  Website: notanautismmom.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/notanautismmom/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/notanautismmom