Katie Feavel

September 14, 2017

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Posted in autism


a place to start

I would say I'm neither the least nor the most open person on social media.

I share snippets of our days on a regular basis, though I think I try to focus mostly on the positive. Nobody needs to see a video of my four-year-old throwing his tenth tantrum of the day, right?

It's not about keeping up appearances, it's about putting out into the world that which you wish to manifest. Positivity breeds positivity.

And while there are certainly things I choose not to share, I am relatively transparent when I feel an experience might be helpful or relatable to someone else. Especially with my fellow mamas.

Another's openness can help us feel a little less alone in this inherently isolating phase of life, and in this day and age, our village is at least partially formed online. But this one... 

This new thing we've got going on... I'm not sure where to start. Do I put it out there at all?

Well, if I follow my own standards of relatability, then the answer is a definite yes. I believe it pays to be generously open with your life experiences, however intimidating that prospect may sometimes be. But how? Where? When?

To take the advice I constantly give my son, when you don't know where to start, just start where you are. So here's where we are... 

Maggie is autistic. DSC_0622 But how do I even write about this thing when I'm still trying to learn to navigate the in-person conversations?

How do I give it the gravity I feel it's due without my words weighing down others?

How do I speak honestly about the challenges involved without it coming across as asking for pity or sympathy?

I feel very strongly that this is not a situation that calls for pity, for this incredible little girl we've been blessed with is the absolute light of our world -- along with her big brother, whose patience and understanding humble us on a daily basis. 

We might be raising Maggie, but this girl has grown us. We see in her a profound drive and determination to overcome the challenges she faces, a sense of purpose that most successful adults spend a lifetime trying to manufacture within themselves. DSC_0655-2 Shirt by Honey Bee True Co

She is a wonder and a delight. 

But there are valid challenges... challenges with shredding, chewing, biting, hitting, pinching, feeding, sleeping, bathing, communicating, leaving our house, inviting people into our house.

Challenges with balancing the other needs of our family with the particular needs of our daughter.

Challenges with outlook, understanding, perspective, guilt, grief. But the weight of these challenges generates an equally profound joy in triumph. DSC_0658 And in the intersection of trial and success lies an opportunity, an open door for good conversation.

And maybe all I can do is try. So... I will try.

I will do my best to speak honestly and openly about both the challenges and the wins involved in our own particular journey -- with no presumption of anybody else's experience and at times when I feel I am able -- and open the door for whomever may want to enter and chat.

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