The Denver Autism Wheel

My holiday wishes for caregivers

Posted on: December 10, 2012

We are nearing the end of another eventful year. At my household, Chris entered middle school, a trial by fire for any kid, amplified by a foundational lack of understanding about what his typical peers are up to at any given moment.

But looking back on the year, I have some specific wishes for the people who make a difference in the lives of families affected by autism.

First, for the teachers: I wish you that moment of clarity a student has when he really *gets* what you’re teaching. I wish you that flood of new realization and confidence in his eyes, that gratitude he feels that you showed him exactly which tools he needed to solve the problem. I wish you the knowledge that you have become the teacher he will remember fondly when he tells his own children about the importance of a good education.

Next, for the paraprofessionals: you see our children at their worst and have to try to make it better. You carry the bruises from the tantrums, you have to write the notes home to frustrated parents, you help bridge the gaps between teacher instruction and student understanding. And you keep coming back when others would have thrown their hands in the air and walked away. For you, I wish gratitude. I wish for parents who cherish your insights when they are not at school with their children. I wish you the respect of the teachers who don’t have the time or experience to reach your student.

For the nonprofit staff members and volunteers: I wish you the knowledge that what you do is valued and appreciated far beyond your average client’s ability to pay it forward. The light you shine on research, advocacy, support and awareness gets us where we are today. And families five years from now will be even farther down the path you are paving now. We are building better lives for the people we serve, even if those people aren’t capable of expressing their gratitude for your help.

For brothers and sisters: I wish your stuff to be right where you left it and in the same condition as the last time you saw it.

For parents: I wish you two moments:

  1. The moment your child opens *that* gift. You know which one it is. It’s the one you know in your heart of hearts is the thing they cherish, and I wish you the look on his face as he realizes you understood what he wanted. Even if he couldn’t tell you about the big ol’ bucket of Legos or the bicycle, it’s OK. You got it, and you got it right. In our case, it was a wobbly 100-year-old mantle clock he will doubtless have to take apart, clean, repair and put back together at some point. But for now, it chimes the hour and the half hour, and the pendulum swings back and forth in its lopsided tick-hiccup-tock. And he adores it. And Karl just “had that feeling” when he took Chris to the antiques shop to have a look. I wish you the look on Chris’ face when he brought it in from the car and put it above the fireplace in the living room.
  2. The moment when the house is quiet because everybody is either asleep or hard at work. It’s the moment when nobody is clamoring for you because they know what they’re supposed to be doing, and they’re getting it done on their own. Nobody yelling, nobody throwing anything, nobody crying…just quiet and peaceful.

These are my holiday wishes. They are finite moments in time, priceless because they are rare and fleeting. But for those with eyes to see, they get us through those … other moments. Most of our lives are relentless in their demands, velocity and expectations. This holiday season, I wish you a calm in the storm, a moment to relax and rejuvenate. It’s all going to start up again before we’re ready for it, so while we can take a moment, I want to thank you all for your persistence, your courage and your strength. We are there for the people who need us, some of us because we made them and we love them, and others because they are trained in that capacity and possess the empathy and tenacity to keep coming back week after week.

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2 Responses to "My holiday wishes for caregivers"

This is absolutely beautiful . I have been feeling very run down and this has lifted my spirits . Thanks

Thanks! It’s a long road we’re on, but we’re all on it together!

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