I don’t have a university issued PhD, although I often wish I did; sometimes I even beat myself up for not knowing more. Yet in many ways, I know so much more than those educated PhD’s, who have no idea (ok maybe they have theoretical knowledge, but no personally invested emotional experience) about what it feels like to live in the shoes of a parent with a child on the autism spectrum. On some level, they just can’t relate, no matter how much they want to, or how hard they try.

So I am going to claim a new kind of PhD! In my world, PhD stands for “Pretty hard Days” and I have plenty of those. Days when I wonder if we will ever progress, wonder if we will ever enjoy life, wonder what will arise to be the next hurdle, wonder whether my kids will ever be able to survive on their own – sometimes I even fall into the self-pity trap, wondering why this is happening to me. These PhD’s happen every time we miss some sort of milestone, or have something that didn’t work out by “normal” standards and I have to find some tactical maneuver to get around this new obstacle and find a new open path that will allow growth. This on-going barrage of challenges often leaves me exhausted, and questioning myself and life.

I have learned the hard way that self-pity is a waste of my energy – although that doesn’t stop it from automatically arising as one of the common responses to a PhD. Today I have strategies that I have tested that work for me to help me feel better. One of them is sharing with others facing the same challenges. Through more dialogue we can share something that the medical profession, therapists, special education teachers, ministers and priests of all denominations, and countless other would-be-helpers cannot give to us – understanding born of first-hand experience. If you need some of that in your life around living with autism, let’s talk more. Please join me in the National Autism Academy family and let’s talk more. www.nationalautismacademy.com

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