Learning Never Ends; Beyond My Expectations

As we step into the new year, I find myself reflecting on the biggest lesson I learned in 2023. It's a lesson that reaffirms the power of hope, resilience, and the unexpected experiences that await us on this unique autism parenting journey.

For the first time, my son Jordan traveled to Florida this year, and what made it extraordinary was that I wasn’t traveling with him. I am his guardian and fulltime caregiver but I didn’t go on this trip.

Instead, it was his 25-year-old sister, Maddie who stepped into the role of caregiver and companion for four-days. For most families this is no big deal, but for families like ours, this is a huge deal!

It wasn’t the destination; it was the realization that despite all my doubts and fears, I must have done something right in raising an amazing young woman who not only accepts but proudly embraces her brother for exactly who he is.

Traveling with Jordan is a unique experience—one that requires a level of vulnerability like standing naked in front of a crowd of strangers.

In busy public places where people are expected to "act" typical, where lines move fast and conversations are a rapid exchange of words, Jordan walks slower, moves awkwardly, talks loud, and let’s be honest, sometimes lacks a filter for appropriateness.

This experience taught me a profound lesson – one that I want to share with every family on this parenting journey we weren’t prepared for.

I learned that Maddie isn't embarrassed of who her brother is; she walked beside him through the crowds, unapologetically embracing every quirk and unique trait that makes Jordan who he is.

She faced the judgmental glances and the whispered comments and navigated the challenges with resilience, grace, and a fierce determination that left me in awe.

As I witnessed her unwavering commitment to supporting him, I realized that she had been watching me all along.

She wasn't just watching me though; she was learning from me. She learned from watching me tackle challenges head-on, navigate the unknown, and never give up.

Our children observe us, and they learn from our actions, our resilience, and our never-ending determination. They absorb the strength we display in the face of countless obstacles on this unexpected parenting journey.

I learned that Maddie gained her own strength and determination by witnessing my relentless pursuit of acceptance for Jordan and our family, a battle I sometimes felt ill- equipped to face.

So, to all the families out there in the midst of chaos, doubts, and uncertainties of today, I urge you to hold onto hope.

Believe in the unimaginable possibilities that lie ahead for your child, even when the journey feels overwhelming.

I encourage you to find strength in the face of uncertainty. Our family is proof that with unwavering determination and a refusal to give up, extraordinary moments can unfold in ways we never thought possible.

It’s not always easy, but it’s moments like these that are worth every step.

This was written by Shannon Urquiola at Not Your Average Autism Mom

Thank you for being part of our journey.